..a real treat this morning as, in 1st rdg, we meet Job again..such a familiar character, one of God’s favourites..& God & the devil get into conversation about him.. “did you notice my servant Job?..there is no one like him on earth..a sound & honest man who fears God & shuns evil” & the devil smirks & says.. “Job is not God fearing for nothing is he? have you put a wall round him, blessed all he undertakes, & his flocks throng the countryside?..but put a finger on his possessions [ bring covid into his household ] I warrant you, he will curse you to your face” familiar territory as it seems we have a covid wall round us & all our blessings.. “covid would never come into our village or into your monastic community would it Fr Bede?” ..would it?
“..is not our life on earth nothing more than pressed service?” ; Lord have mercy “..restlessly I fret till twilight falls” ; Christ have mercy “..remember my eyes will never again see joy” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..one of a number of encouraging signs of hope in current pandemic is speed & efficiency in which our vaccination programme is being implemented, & in our own villages..covid victims in our own graveyard & yet 50yds away our most vulnerable being immunised against virus..gospel good news alive & well, if only we could see it, believe in it & be healed by it..story of Simon’s mother in law, related by Mark, typically brief straight to point, no frills, not even her name, leaving us somewhat of a distance from her..some say that is as close as you want to get to anyone’s mother in law!..it is a community gospel..Jesus told of illness “oh, we thought someone would have told you Fr Bede; she’s in hospital & critically ill” ..well no, they haven’t..few weeks ago, our children in St Benedict’s PS made a full contribution to healing of a young 7yr old girl Carla; she needed open heart surgery in Newcastle RVI & her family told me, asking for my prayers, & I told & asked SBPS to pray, & 3days after operation we had photos of her, back home with her family, no less a miracle than cure of Simon’s mother in law..”believe” “..& they brought to him all who were sick & possessed by devils ”those with physical ailments; Fr Alban going to St James’Hospital in Leeds each day for 6wks to have treatment for his throat cancer; Bill Spence & Ellen Flynn in care homes, the sick elderly housebound in our villages, those possessed by addictive behaviour, dementia, domestic violence in our own homes & monastery..all brought by us, in our own illnesses of poor health & poor behaviour, to Our Lord & to his faith Community, crowding in the many you bring here in thought love & prayer “suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he cured “many”; notice not “all” but “many”..we are not just witnesses, we are beneficiaries of such miracles, of healing restoration improving health & wellbeing, not just photos of Carla having been made well, but the real presence of those of us who have been healed here & now among us..& how do I know? because they or a loved one told me, & I brought their situation to you, to this faith community, for our help in prayer & unity..& in many [many] cases our prayers have or still are being answered “but he [ Jesus ] would not allow them to speak because they knew who he was”..he didn’t want us to go round broadcasting it loudly, he wanted people to gradually realise, from inside of this faith community, that great things were happening here among us, & that that very good news would gradually emerge “did you know x is now back home & recovering from covid, a hip operation, heart surgery or alcoholism?” final 2 stages in gospel crucial then & now; “he got up, left the house & went off to pray; “how long do you spend in prayer each day Fr Bede?” Yr 11 retreatants ask me..”5hrs a day” I tell them..then ask how long they pray for..2mins a day?..”& what is more powerful, my 5hrs day if it comes from head, or your 2mins if it comes from heart?..teacher who emailed me from Scotland to ask for prayers “I’ll always remember what you said to us on retreat 12yrs ago, that to think of my grandma is a prayer for her..& that never leaves me”..& what did they do to Jesus & his prayer in gospel but selfishly ruin it..“everybody is looking for you” searching him out on wave of easy cheap excitement, even his disciples set out in search of him, an unhealthy dependency “we want more of it please & now” his was & still is a deeper message, of calm gentle distance..space/distance to listen to Jesus & for Jesus to listen to you..5mins out from iphone/x-box/netflix..you & him together, 2mins or 5mins, heart to heart, twice a day..& tell me in a month if you feel different..when you & I put prayer first not third..& why, pray, did you come to this synagogue this morning/evening? to hear Word of God, receive Word of God made flesh in bread, & to pray..& then to go home to preach/tell what you’ve heard, & what you now believe..& believing you go home to heal the devils who bring spiritual pneumonia to our homes, a spiritual covid far more life-threatening than one being fought 50yds away in Surgery..a spiritual vaccine you’ve just been told about, which you perhaps now believe in, that will bring a miracle to life later this morning/evening, through you, the trusted beloved vaccinator “did you not notice my servant Job, my servant John Catherine Robert Trish Anne & Andrew..there are few like them on earth, sound & honest disciples of mine who fear God & shun evil”.. ..last Saturday email from a distant herdwick “Dear Fr Bede. prayers please for my mother who tested positive for coronavirus today. She is a tough cookie but I don’t think she can win this one! love & prayers to you Fr Bede” I emailed back “thank you for being in touch. I am so sorry to hear about your Mum, & she is on my prayer mat from now “for nothing is impossible to God” & we know from Our Lady’s experience that when we surrender to the divine will, that our “yes” & divine grace working in partnership achieve the most amazing miracles. Keep me in the picture. Take care, with my love.” on Sunday lunchtime came news of the miracle “Dear Fr Bede, our prayers have been answered. Mum went to heaven this morning about 11am, peaceful & calm with the nurse she liked most in attendance. Knowing she was on your prayer mat was a great consolation to me. thank you. bless you” I was told, included, & asked to pray. I did with her daughter & the miracle happened. A covid death? or a spiritual covid healing miracle, a Resurrection? “do you know what my reward is? It is this; in my preaching, to be able to offer the Good News free..” [ 5thSun YrB Mk 1;29-39 ]