Blessed are you on the fringes, for you shall be at the centre, at the heart! – that could well sum up the bulk of what Jesus said & did,. Jesus completely ignored much of what was normally regarded by another people to be the immovable centre – this is particularly apparent in His attitude to the ritual provisions of the law. & he placed at the centre just one value, a value that was absolute for Him – love. & He invited everyone “on the fringes” to that centre. The Kingdom He came to proclaim, the promised eschatological future, which is to show itself in fullness at the end of time, is now also here & now – in Christ through Him, with Him, & in Him. That is the Good News of the Gospel. Those on the fringes are now at the centre, because Jesus sat at one table with them& took them into His heart. But His heart may be more hidden than one might think from some pious paintings. “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be,” Jesus says (Luke 12:34). & doesn’t His treasure consist precisely of all those people on the fringes – including those doubters & seekers? Throughout the history of the church, solidarity with the poor & socially deprived, care for the sick & handicapped, & courage to stand up for the oppressed, the exploited, & the persecuted, have been part & parcel of Christian witness in this world, & maybe it is now more necessary than ever before. By performing such things, by being the salt of the earth & by bringing the scent of heaven to the dark & malodorous corners of the earth, one can be sure of walking in the footsteps of Christ & the thousands of saints of the past. However as I meditated on Jesus’s encounter with Zacchaeus & the many other examples of His “prior interest in people on the fringes,” it struck me that perhaps something extra was needed today in order to fully follow in Christ’s footsteps: an interest, or better still a prior interest, in people on the fringes of faith, in those who remain in the anteroom of the church, should they actually come that close to it. It is an interest in people in the “grey zone” between religious certainty & atheism, an interest in the doubters & seekers. Of course, missionaries of almost every religion, church, & sect already fish these waters of the “seekers.” & many priests, scribes, & Pharisees of today would no doubt praise my interest. My chief interest is not to convert them, nor to bring certainty to the uncertain. There is naturally a need for teaching, for persuasion, & conversion, & for providing answers to the questions from the seekers; after all, Jesus Himself healed the sick & directed that the hungry be filled. The injunction “to teach the ignorant” is also found in the traditional list of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. However as we shall see, Jesus did not fill all the hungry, nor did he bring the marginalised to the centre by means of social revolution in order to make them powerful & wealthy. He did not provide good consolation for the mourner or heaven on earth for the persecuted, let alone a just society in the near future or the enticing prospect of a life without risks, obstacles, or crosses. He proclaimed that the poor, the mourners, & the persecuted were blessed. That master of paradox congratulated them. (Patience & God; Tomas Halik)
On Data Protection progress, thank you to those of you who have completed a Consent Form since the legislation was introduced on 25th May 2018. There has been ample opportunity for others to respond. Until we receive your Form we are not permitted to make contact with you, as you have yet to give your express permission. There have been over 25 occasions where I have been unable to make contact with individuals for whom I have as yet no consent. Could I encourage you to ask members of your family who do not attend our Parish, or who attend elsewhere, to consider being registered with us here? We hold pastoral responsibility for all baptised Catholics who live within our parish boundaries, & it is vital for the spiritual, administrative & practical well-being of the Parish that we are fully aware of those to whom we owe the love & duty of care.
As the summer holiday period begins, certainly for those of you who are tied to College & School terms, I would like to thank you for your faithful service to our Parish over this last year, to those of you who serve in various ministries, & particularly to those who support us with their regular attendance & steady prayers. We wish you safe journeys & happy times. We welcome those who are on holiday in the locality & are joining us for our weekend Mass. It can be a source of concern to some who find it difficult or impossible to meet their Sunday Obligation whilst on holiday. In such genuine circumstance, please consider transferring your Obligation to a weekday Mass of your choice within a reasonable period of your return. To miss the moment is to miss the grace, rather than to incur a penalty. With love & prayers, Fr Bede.