“Jesus wanted his followers to be seekers, the teachers to be learners, not people who had all the answers, who doled out enlightenment like commodity brokers, but people who were aware of their own need to seek truth, who would continue to question until the day they died. In Peter’s blindness lay the seeds of his sight. & what about the simple fishermen, unversed in religious language, untutored in the subtleties of theology. Fishing was in his blood; it was his vocation. In trouble, his instinct was not to pray or organise but to go fishing. But Jesus didn’t seem to want a priest or a theologian, he wanted a fisherman. When Peter was first rushed to Jesus [in this weekend’s gospel] by his brother Andrew on the shores of Lake Galilee, he didn’t know that he had taken a long road that would lead to Jerusalem & then to Rome. But it was the fisherman who was needed on that road when the priests & theologians lost their way. It was the language of fish & water & catches that spoke to the hearts of men & women, not the pieties of the religious..& it was the ordinary man, truckled with the cares & responsibilities that are the lot of most of us, who took his wife & his life with him, who affirmed the life of faith as a possibility for all the people burdened by life, not just something for those set aside & apart. There are many forms of ministry, & we are all called to walk in different ways. But all of us are called as the people we are, not to some received picture of ministry. I find one of the most reassuring things about Peter is that he continued to be himself..impetuous, misguided, often getting it wrong. We read about him later on arguing with Paul & being severely dressed down for it. This endears him to me greatly, as someone who has many arguments with Paul. How comforting. It is sometimes hard for us to make sense of how we experience God working in our lives; sometimes there seems to be so little rhyme or reason in what we are doing that it’s tempting to try to make ourselves into what we think we ought to be, rather than discovering what we are. It is hard to believe that we are exactly the people needed, so inadequate do we feel. Well, Peter felt like that, & Moses & Samuel, & so even did Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. We are never alone in our fears. But, like Peter, perhaps we can learn that our love, however feeble, however flawed it seems, will be used, will matter, if we don’t give up on it; & it will be imperfect love, not the ideal love of our illusions, that will enable us to walk on water.” [Getting Personal; Cathy Galloway, then in 2014, minister of Church of Scotland, since converted to Roman Catholicism] Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 18-25 Jan 2021
With covid restrictions we will not be celebrating any Unity Services either in Ampleforth or Gilling this coming week, which is a small yet vital contribution towards keeping as many of us as possible safe from additional contacts & resultant risk. As a way to celebrate our continuing commitment to the journey in Christianity towards one Church & one Body, could I suggest each of you identify three people you know locally of different denominations to Catholicism, & you commit to pray for them by name each day next week from 18th to 25th January, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, & at some stage, be in contact with them by remote means to tell them of our initiative? Unity Week theme “Abide in my love” [& you shall bear much fruit ; Jn 15;1-17] prepared by Monastic Community of Grandchamp Switzerland & their vocation to prayer, reconciliation & unity in the Church & human family. Download resources.
The weekend before last we had 58 parishioners at our three Masses; with the introduction of the latest lockdown & its restrictions, numbers last weekend fell to 38, & many of the missing thoughtfully emailed me to explain the increasing risks of infection meant they had decided not to attend Mass for the time being. Such decisions are understandable, & the fewer will keep the flame of faith alive in Church as the rest of you in full unity with us, do the same in your homes..indeed each week, until we are able to gather again in safety as one Body, will be a series of weeks of unity in prayer between us, witnessing spiritually to our ongoing togetherness & mutual need.
Our Parish continues to provide food through the Food Initiative at a cost of £200 a month. I hope those in our own Village who may be struggling to provide food for their children in this ongoing & increasing crisis in health & in the economy, will be warmly encouraged to benefit from our Food Initiative, where it is possible to approach Ray & Deb in the Village Shop, & quietly ask for a bag of food essentials which will be delivered to your door. This has been working well since the lockdown began, & it could be more of us in the Village will find themselves in ever deeper need of help, & we would encourage them to ask..it isn’t charity, it is basic good bread & butter Christian discipleship which, at such times of crisis, is asked of us in our plenty. Across the Village there is deep appreciation for the good natured & generous service given by Ray & Deb throughout the crisis, who regularly go the extra mile for us. Food donations to Middlesbrough Food Bank via cash in envelope to Parish House or direct via firstname.lastname@example.org