“..do not let me hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor look any longer on this great fire, or I shall die.” ..the chosen people, having lost patience with God, as Moses was taking too long to come down off the mountain with the divine instructions, built a graven image, a golden calf, to worship.. & from the mountain God saw it all, lost his patience, & sent Moses down to give them the mother & father of all hidings.. ..& pray, who was the peacemaker? who brought them back from brink of extinction? Moses.. he went quietly to God, calmed him down, & asked for divine favour.. that God would relent, & renew his relationship with his beloved chosen people..
& we gather here at this very moment, to hear the same God relent, in the face of our impatience & our shallow faith.. “..if there is a God, why doesn’t he rid our world, his world, of the virus?”
“O that today you would listen to his voice” his voice explaining his plan for ending of covid.. ; Lord have mercy “..harden not your hearts” ..stop whinging, grumbling, murmuring & testing God from the safety of this valley of privilege.. ; Christ have mercy “when they tried me though they saw my work” ..my work on covid wards & in helping discover not one but three vaccines.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“they went as far as Capernaum” when someone from the West Riding gets in touch & says “we are going to Whitby for the day tomorrow & we’d call in to see you” it is special.. when they say “we’d like to come specially just to see you” then it is extra special.. President Biden’s first phone call to a European leader was to Boris Johnson.. who will Abbot Robert ask to meet on his first day when he eventually arrives in the Monastery?..& of all towns & villages Jesus could have visited in his first journey out into ministry, he chose Capernaum..& why not Ampleforth Village, here, if he was to begin again?.. “as far as Capernaum” end of line.. like folk who come here to Mass rather than half mile east of here.. to this small rural synagogue with a familiarity homeliness & holiness to it.. this is Marks gospel story not Matthews.. Matthew wrote for Abbey Church attenders, the country set, whereas Mark wrote for country dwellers who liked their faith simple rustic straightforward, as Jesus, a country dweller himself, spoke & taught on their wavelength.. they recognised something different & he made a “deep impression on them ..he taught them with authority”.. with conviction realism.. “unlike the scribes” difference between Chris Witty Chief Medical Officer in his creased ordinary suit, & Boris Johnson with his purposely dishevelled hair.. for me one lives & speaks his calling passionately, welcomes enquiry, emanating depth & humility, & not afraid to say now & again “I don’t know”.. the other speaks, having learned a text & then struggles with any enquiry off text, betraying little depth & a shallow humour which attempts a cheap escape from the truth.. & answers which soon prove too soon or empty.. “he [Jesus] made deep impression on them, taught them [on covid] with authority”.. ”in their synagogue just then” here & now “ a man or woman possessed by an unclean spirit” a case of spiritual covid, a life-threatening dis-ease diagnosed as “an unclean spirit”.. evil spirits constantly at work, in dispute with truth, recognised immediately like black ice.. notice an evil spirit not an evil individual.. a good person sadly in self-conflict.. addicted.. becoming a sanctuary for evil not by choice but by default.. the real person a beloved disciple, loved needed belonging in family & faith who finds themself ”possessed” by an addiction but still, always & especially now in special need, a dwelling place for their divine companion, Christ himself.. the shout comes from the addictive self “what do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” human self-overwhelmed with self-guilt, self-remorselessly facing extinction, a goat seemingly destined for fires of hell..& in midst of it bless him, their act of faith shouted far more convincingly than we could ever voice “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” a Chris Witty moment, voiced gently deeply & impressively with conviction & realism.. crying out from depth of despair for spiritual vaccine we call grace.. 100% success rate..& Jesus the doctor responds “be quiet! Come out of him” ..”& with a loud cry went out of him” a broken alcoholic, en route to off licence for their daily fix suddenly pauses, & “just then” turns round, makes for home, & has been dry for last 15yrs..”here is a teaching that is new, & with authority behind it; he gives orders even to unclean spirits & they obey him” “for nothing is impossible to God” ..how else could our loved ones in their addictions, how else could we in our addiction [we each have one be sure] discover the spiritual vaccine which restores us to life, to real life again.. a road to Damascus experience, a road to an off-licence, to inappropriate programmes on a personal computer, to on-line betting four times a day, to iplayer or Netflix, to retail therapy, & to worshipping my iphone six times an hour 24x7..& on this Racial Justice Sunday, my bigotry prejudice against a Muslim a Jew, & the worker from Eastern Europe who, pre-lockdown, I would have used [used ] to wash my car.. “I would like to see you free of all worry. I say this only to help you, to simply make sure that everything is as it should be, & that you give your undivided attention to the Lord.” so says the reformed addict Paul in 2nd reading.. a Chris Witty testimony not a Boris Johnson whitewash.. “here is a teaching that is new, & with authority behind it”.. & what do you think Jesus smelled of in the heat of the moment?.. now there’s a new question.. what you think Jesus smelled of in the heat of that moment?.. my expectation would be two things.. ointment & fish... ..enjoy thinking & praying about it.. [4thSunYrB Mk 1;21-28]