..next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, one of greatest feasts in Church calendar..& tragically it is denied an octave; an extra 7 days of celebration for us to savour the significance of the moment.. .so Church tries to compensate by giving us a first sighting/preview of it in anticipation of the day itself..promising us live screening next weekend or opportunity to catch up on iplayer in the comfort & safety of your own home.. 1st rdg is worthy of a tv 10pm watershed warning as it describes story of Stephen being stoned to death, by a villain Saul soon to turn whistleblower & convert Paul.. a story of Stephen’s courage faith & his reliance on power/grace of the Holy Spirit.. & the challenge is for us to do likewise, in our own moments of crisis hardship & fear, when we too sadly, like Saul, try to deny the truth & live pretensiously ..”not I Lord surely!”
“Lord Jesus receive my spirit” my last breath breathes me into heaven ; Lord have mercy “Lord do not hold this sin against them” ..forgive the unforgivable.. ; Christ have mercy “the Spirit & the Bride say “come all who want it & have it free..” when for so long we have tried to earn it buy it & deserve it.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..one of our elderly housebound disciples I take Communion to each week is a great knitter..various colours of wool some with a sparkle in it are gradually woven into most beautiful tapestry of colour & design..she reminds me of some dedicated knitters who would deliver bags full of woolly hats & gloves to AoS Chaplain at Hull Docks for her seafarers, to keep them warm when out in atrocious & dangerous seas..& as she thanked knitters they smiled & said “every stitch a prayer”..in our gospel are echoes of divine threads being knitted together to bring off page into life most beautiful image of divine countenance..”may they all be one..for these [ for you] but also for those who through their words [ your words ] will believe in me.” at a Requiem Mass here recently with 6 close family & perhaps 80 friends, evidently struggling to be in a Church & at a Catholic Mass doing their very best in their Sunday best, one of them was so moved by what he experienced here said to father of lad who had died “I thought I was an atheist when I went into that Church” “may they all be one” & we celebrate that unity of belonging especially today as we welcome 11 of our young disciples into full Communion as they receive the Body & Blood of Jesus for first time..I’ve had tremendous 15 wks of meeting with them each Sat morning as they have taught me so much more about our faith..from lad few wks ago, having bad class & low level misbehaviour ; after 4 warnings I gently threatened him with red card..4 more incidents worthy of straight red..last 5mins of class we go into Church to pray in front of Lady Statue..one of them reminded me I hadn’t chosen the disciple of week..one worthy of accolade for things done or said..I asked who they thought..one girl nominated our miscreant & he/they smiled like Cheshire cats..& I try to teach them how important it is to learn to forgive the unforgivable..one of them I was explaining how when we come to say sorry we feel “this big” [tiny] but when we say sorry from heart Jesus forgives us & we grow tall again..& he said with smile “even taller than we were before”..his the theology of St Augustine word for word..they/we don’t learn this from a catechism or Communion book, it comes from heart where every stitch in their family & faith life has been & remains prayerful..so ”are we blessed or are we blessed?” our youngest are our best teachers & knitters..parents & grandparents, please.. we need them among us, not housebound or playbound of a Sunday morning, we need them & you in our crew here to help keep us warm & focused on the essentials..I will tell them my story of young lad their age skipping down high street of local town; he sees door of workshop open & puts his nose inside; a man at workbench starting to chip away at block of marble..watches then runs off..2wks later skips down same street remembers ; looks into workshop..on bench sculptor is just finishing off his work of art; boy entranced goes up to sculptor, pulls him on sleeve looks into his eyes “how did you know there was such a beautiful lion in that cold block of marble?” & I will remind them of what I have shared with them in our classes of who is inside an ordinary small piece of bread at Mass ..& how the miracle happens; 2 ingredients/threads knitted together..through our prayers our stitches & the Holy Spirit blessing bread through priests hands & heart..& of equal importance, their/our belief that it really becomes the Body of Jesus..2 stitches 2 threads ; 2 ingredients, the Holy Spirit & our belief, & the miracle happens..at every Mass..”every stitch a prayer, every Mass a miracle”..& if your belief is wobbly look into eyes of our 11 young disciples in next few days & see in person the Risen Christ..at work at prayer & at play..life in OL&SB doesn’t come any better..”may they all be one” may we all be one.. leave them with London eye image catechists with Conf Gp from Leeds, on retreat with me some years ago, knitted for their young disciples then, & now for ours” describes life of parish ; round rim of eye “this is always in motion & you are welcome to get on & off when you need or want to. It belongs to you & you belong to it.God is at the heart & you are always in God’s heart.”..& will you really believe it?.. [ First Communion Mass OL&SB 2 June 2019 ; 7thSun Easter Yr C; Jn 17;20-26]