“I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength.” On this Peace Sunday it is wonderful to open with a passage which celebrates the peace in relationship between prophet Isaiah & God..”Peace be with you..my peace I give you; a peace the world cannot give..” ..the peace between you & your God.. Population of UK is 68m & how many will be at Church this weekend, as we settle back into Ordinary time after the joy excitement & experience of full Churches & family Christmas’? we are here “formed in the womb to be children of God” to be peacemakers not peacekeepers.. to bring Jacob back to him..all those Jacob’s who came back to us, bringing their Jesus to us at Christmas .. ..& to gather Israel to him..to gather home 8 out of 10 Catholics who never come home here but choose another stable or a different route / relationship with their God..our God.. the one same God..
“..it is not enough for you to be my servant “ ..your God expects more of you.. ; Lord have mercy “..restore the “lapsed” & “bring back” your distant Catholic neighbour.. ; Christ have mercy “..I will make you” [ & them through you ] “the light of the nations” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..if I tried to convince you that this 100 watt lightbulb could help save the lives of 1700 passengers on a Viking Princess cruise liner, you’d be sceptical doubtful; well it happens 35 times nightly, 30miles south-east of here at Flamborough Head lighthouse, where light emanating from this lightbulb is concentrated through series of glass prisms, & becomes so powerful, it beams a light 26miles out to sea, to warn shipping & to give consolation to those who see it, that no matter how dark the night or how rough are the seas, there is close by, land & a safe haven in any need “I will make you the light of the nations” every lighthouse has different series of signal so you can tell which headland or harbour it is.. each of you is a light/lighthouse taking what little energy/wattage you have, & allowing that energy intensity to pass through the prism of Our Lords presence we call grace, to find that the two together, your light & his grace, can lead the frightened the lost & the distant back to the safety & calmness of this harbour we call a faith commmunty/family ..a crew, & what a motley crew we are, at home in any one of our three local harbours, Gilling Oswaldkirk & Ampleforth; & during the day, to protect the prisms & bulb in Flamborough Head lighthouse from heat of sun, the lighthouse gallery is curtained off; rather like curtain we pull across front of our tabernacle..I sometimes feel we pull/ close curtains across too often, too conveniently, too safely in this our lighthouse; as in 1st rdg “it is not enough for you to be my servant” to continue to be restorers, lighthouse keepers, peacekeepers, custodians of status quo..harbourmasters, Ministers of Word, Ministers of the Eucharist, flower arrangers, Church cleaners, a priest safely this side of altar, but to bring back home survivors, seafarers, even passengers, who have been lost, shipwrecked, drifting at sea & in faith, hoping praying for someone to notice & to rescue them, to offer them a lifeline or tow-rope..a light & a lifeboat crewed by you, our parishioners, alert & on the watch..six of you for a week every eight months..& would you sign up? to keep the light alive, the curtains open, & to welcome the newly come, & restore those wrecked beached or damaged..to go out to find them & tow them home..would you sign up? .. would you?..”it is not enough for you to be my servant” what you & I are doing at the moment isn’t enough, & if we are honest with ourselves, we know that..a disturbed conscience, the chill of a winter of discontent..closed curtains, the light of life of Christ within us, is held/owned instead of being given..for what it was built for..in a spirit of hope, I hope you will write this above lintel of your home & lintel of this, our spiritual home “when a great ship is in harbour & moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt; but that is not what great ships are built for..” open curtains set sail not just for 45mins of a Sat night or Sunday morning; cooperate with grace, sign up for a place in our crew “so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” to ends of this village & of Gilling & Oswaldkirk, where at least 70/80 Catholics are waiting for you, the fourth emergency service, to notice their breakdown, their brokenheartedness, & to respond..you ”first- responders” not paramedics but paradisciples; not peacekeepers but peacemakers “yes I have seen & I am the witness that he is the chosen one of God” John the Baptist pointing beyond himself to the very first first-responder, whom you have seen, & into whom you have been baptised, into his crew, a Christian life saver..now please go home, open your curtains, turn your hearing aid back on, & wait for your mobile phone to ring..& on your watch; six of you for a week once very eight months; from this harbour & in our lifeboat ..& does it make sense?..of course not; ask crew of Whitby lifeboat if it makes sense for their crew of six to turn out at midnight in a force 10 gale & mountainous seas, & return eight hours later, exhausted & elated, with three survivors.. “when a great ship is in harbour & moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt; but that is not what great ships are built for..” [2ndSunYrA Jn1;29-34]
..on Tuesday looking at BBC news headlines for some football scores only to find an article title that distracted me “night rider ; 21 years sleeping on a London bus” It was a Church minister,clearly not a RC as “she” a woman of unwavering generosity who bought him a monthly bus pass, to save him multiple nightly fares. She continued to do so month after month, & other friends of hers would chip in if she wasn’t around. Sunny is a refugee from Nigeria..by day he would volunteer at Church’s; when his work was done he would often make for Westminster Reference Library where he could catch up on the days news or pick up where he had left off in book he’d been reading. He might ask a restaurant manager if they could spare some food & says he was rarely turned away. No later than 9pm he’d be invariably stepping aboard a bus for the first of three or four nightly trips across the capital. He soon discovered the best buses for a good rest N29 from Trafalgar Square to Wood Green ; N25 gave longest uninterrupted sleep of two hours where, if he was lucky, the driver might take pity on him & leave him sleeping on bus at terminus until it went back again. The lower deck, he concluded, was the preserve of reasonable people, of families & the elderly; trouble rarely erupted close to the driver; the back seats were optimal not just for the head rests but for peace of mind. [peace..Peace Sunday ] After the journey he would head for McDonalds ; he never begged but friendly staff would give him food & let him shave in the bathrooms. Fellow customers would be kind too. When he applied to stay in the UK he needed documentary evidence to show continuous residence from 1995 to present day; evidence such as utility bills, bank statements, tenancy agreements. He asked friendliest bus drivers to write him a letter of support, confirming he was a “regular rider throughout the night” Churches he had visited to volunteer provided supportive statements & dug out old photos showing his presence at charity events. In 2017 he gained permission to stay age 55; he finally had the right to shelter to work & to exist..& he was thankful… Last Monday I prepared my homily for this weekend Peace Sunday..& in my introduction for Mass as you heard earlier I included a quote from Scripture “peace be with you..my peace I give you; a peace the world cannot give” John Ch 14 v 7 ..& the day after, the Tuesday, in middle of the article about Sunny was a photo of him, holding up to the camera one of those little plastic wallets in which you & the bus driver could see his oyster card ..his bus pass..& next to pass in plastic wallet was a card same size as his oyster card & on it a prayer “peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give to you; a peace the world cannot give; this is my peace to you” John Ch 14 v7.. ..coincidence or the work of the Holy Spirit ?.. ..if I was to choose a crew of 8 to be with me in a force 10 gale a companion in the stern on back seat, it would be Sunny..peacemaker life saver night rider & no curtains..
“..go in peace peace to love & to serve the Lord..”