“..we had to proclaim the Word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not feel yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans..” bless them, God’s gift to mankind, the Jews, had been raised in a culture of compliance & guilt..breeding the cancer of “never being good enough” ..they never thought they would ever be worthy of eternal life..never realised the message & promise was of redemption & resurrection.. ..they never loved & trusted themselves deeply enough to believe they were worthy of forgiveness..& we meet someone we know very well.. & tragically, given such a culture of low self esteem & religious unworthiness, all Paul & Barnabas could do was to move on..
“we must turn to the pagans “ those who want to learn the secret .; Lord have mercy “I made you light for the nations” ..to be a lighthouse out there to welcome others home to this a safe harbour.. ; Christ have mercy “it made the pagans very happy to hear this” music to the ears & love to the heart.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..a fine gospel, a rare breed sheep from St John..not his usual long poetic reflection but brief & factual..maybe it warrants a homily in kind brief & to the point? check your watches now ! Good Shepherd Sunday Christ the Good Shepherd “the sheep that belong to me listen to my voice..” last Friday week Anthony Shepherd’s Requiem here..he died age 49..in Church his immediate family of 6 & maybe 80 others..it was obvious from start the 80 were not used to being in Church & certainly not at a RC Mass..singing was hopeless, no responses in those warm moments of Mass when we converse/dialogue together; needed to be shepherded to know when to sit/stand..at Communion I explained gently if painfully why we discouraged non-Catholics from receiving Communion..ultimate sign of our common unity one bread one body..that we are on shared journey in faith & the pain of acknowledging our separation for time being is prayer in itself towards day we will be one; not when Pope Francis/Archbishop of Canterbury decide but when Holy Spirit feels we are ready..all ready..at end of Mass, as we were about to go to graveside, I gave them piece of my mind & straight from heart; thanked them, told them we expected maybe 10 to come & we mustered 86, a tribute to their relationship with their Anthony & family that they had taken courage to come into this strange Church to find themselves up to their knees in a Catholic Mass; I told them there wasn’t a spectator among them, each & every one of them fully present in body & spirit, contributing with their thoughts tears & their own form of prayer “congratulations & thank you for being here; until we meet again; next time in heaven be sure” “the sheep that belong to me listen to my voice” by gum were they attentive listeners “they will never be lost” & we’d like to think that about ourselves wouldn’t we? wouldn’t we?..sheep that belong albeit different breeds..”no one will ever steal them from me”..they the Herdwick’s..out & away from this protective pasture with its boundaries tidiness & limitations; from us Swaledales, safe secure well fed & watered; content knowing some of flock by name, & most of flock by face..well aware of the outsider & stranger..”who were they, Fr Bede?”..the Herdwick’s rarely see shepherd; out on distant fells roaming hefting; equally content as us Swaledales..for them fells a place of adventure wide horizons & the bigger picture..& brought down 2/3times a year to this sheepfold to be checked over, affirmed & heard..& then released back to where they really belong, & enjoy belonging..as one said to me not long ago as we met some distance from here “I’m one of your Herdwick’s Fr Bede” he smiled to say it & I beamed to think he could feel it..until next Christmas or funeral or wedding..pagans, Herdwicks & Swaledales “very happy to hear this & they thanked the Lord for his message” his message notice not mine..”& all who were destined for eternal life became believers” “the sheep that belong to me listen to my voice. I give them eternal life” is it only “them” Herdwick’s? or “them & us” Herdwicks & Swaledales? “I know my own sheep & they know me” essence of hefting is that we know how far to roam, & Christ knows how far he needs to look to search & to find us when he needs/ wants, not to check up on us, but to have a precious few moments looking at us with great joy & deep pride “you are precious in my eyes, the apple of my eye, & I love you” “I will do anything for you..what you ask for I will do” our Methodist brothers & sisters choose their language kindly gently; for them it isn’t practising or lapsed, Herdwick or Swaledale, it is that they “ceased to meet” how many folk here & now have we ceased to meet with I wonder?.. perhaps a moment for us to take a day out onto fells, to take in the fresh air & the Holy Spirit?..& a word to you from our Good Shepherd through me this evening /morning? “congratulations, & thank you for being here..” now look at your watch & tell me.. [4thSun Easter YrC Jn 10;27-30]