. “Rejoice, Jerusalem, be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice for her, all you who mourned her!! Jerusalem city of peace, once the womb space for birth of God’s chosen people had fallen, like Ampleforth, on hard times..now bereft emptied pitied & mourned for.. where in times past, blessedness led to arrogance..a mighty fall & barrenness.. ..a lost generation a gap into which complacency indifference hopelessness entered & affected the Jewish community then, & now us.. familiar territory indeed as we wait faithfully hopefully for “the Lord to reveal his hand” & he will..without a shadow of a doubt he will.. ..calling us out from being maintainers, rearrangers of the deck chairs, to begin again as servant missionaries.. “..it does not matter if a person is circumcised [has a UK passport a baptismal certificate ] or not “ ; Lord have mercy “..what matters is for him/her/you to become an altogether new creature” ..as from now.. ; Christ have mercy “..peace & mercy to all who follow this rule” ..the rule/the password is forgiveness.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..come, wise up, shut up & get cracking..Jesus had just given his prospective followers a reality check..if you want to toe dip, have a taster week, & ask about holiday pay/ sickness benefits its not for you..this is the domain of front line disciples not the logistics corp..no counting collections or timing sermons..& with such an unconditional & unconventional invitation no wonder labourers are few then & now..a rich harvest indeed; look no further than St Benedict’s PS Clare Jennings or Bill Teasdale; disciples with no baggage no great expectations but with healthy relationship with their God to die for..”the kingdom of God is very near to you” indeed he is to them..the young vulnerable the unable crippled & sick ..& far from the labourers/disciples taking peace to the homes/lives of those on margins as one way traffic, it is a dual carriageway..it is they who so often give us peace..the work of the Holy Spirit “peace to those on whom my favour rests”..favours blessings & peace in each direction..”the kingdom of God is very near to you”..to those open to receive it & to those who, for time being, seem closed to it..those countless brothers & sisters of ours who no longer join us here for Mass, subsisting very well without us, whilst breaking hearts of parents & grandparents as they are seemingly lost to God “where did we go wrong?” we ask..think again; not for a minute are they lost.. I met man last wk who goes weekly to Mass with his Catholic wife & humbly distances himself from us “I’m not of your faith Fr Bede” having listened to him & his wife on their journey seeking peace on a hard difficult & anxious path I told him “I wish some of our cradle Catholics who come to Church week in week out had the authenticity of faith you have..thank you for all you bring & season into Mass each week”..who are we to judge time yield quality of crop?.. those of us who are blessed to harvest are beneficiaries of those who sowed seeds much earlier..& what quality of seed & in what abundance are we planting for our children’s childrens future in faith?..small simple initiatives..like the campaign to take the plastic in which your weekly shopping is wrapped back to Morrisons with firm polite note “we don’t want plastic any longer”..David Attenborough at Glastonbury last Sun on pyramid stage..got ovation of festival “our grandfather” as it became plastic water bottle free zone ”the kingdom of God is very near to you” have you read Laudete Si yet? Pope Francis & David Attenborough, synchronised labourers & worldchangers..if only our young people would come back to us with an even more truthful & caring response “we don’t want any more “right religion”, as opening prayer at Mass last Sund sadly said..“we want to grow alongside you organically in real spirituality..let us together fill our Churches with it & our generation will return in droves for a festival a Glastonbury not annually but weekly.. the 72 “came back” rejoicing, full of story, realising just what live spirituality out there on front line can & does achieve “& I was there”..full of passion & conviction “when we use your name” a name no longer taken in vain but used in real conversation & in healing ministry..34yrs ago as a rookie monk studying in Oxford I went for pastoral experience to Churchill Hospital each Wed to visit sick..one lady been in months with hip wound which wouldn’t heal..her husband back home in Corby looking after 4 children & his work..he’d visit each Sun; a 200mile journey & tell his family story with all its lows /struggles whilst Mum listened “cure those in it who are sick” & he left for home healed for another week on front line..”& who cares for the carer?” I went with what he couldn’t give..with time to listen to her story..each week her story got deeper, real more alive, & 7/8wks later she beamed for England..“the doctors can’t believe it..my wound has started to heal”..a Glastonbury & all because someone made time to pray & to listen..Cardinal Vincent Nichols asked his priests week last Friday on feast of Sacred Heart “what does being a missionary priest mean today in an age of established parishes?..perhaps this; that every day, at least once a day, we find ourselves in uncomfortable places saying uncomfortable things; to be where we are needed to be present; in a hospital classroom or nursing home; to struggle against being rendered private or professional” a wonderful mission statement for each of us..”to be where we are needed to be present..to struggle against the privacy of living right religion in here, alongside a parish priest who spends too much time holding keys & would struggle to say of himself, with the passion authenticity & honesty our young people hope & yearn for, in him from him & from us..”the kingdom of God is very near to you..”..so let us together begin..with Our Lord’s/Pope Francis’s buzz word “start off now”..now..”remember I‘m sending you out”..to be where you are needed to be present.. [14thSunYrC Lk10;1-12.17-20]