Jesus lives in state of constant tension with individuals, groups, institutions, & symbols that constitute the centre, the elite of that society – such as the temple & the priests around it, the religious judges & dignitaries, those who “have taken their seat on the chair of Moses,” above all the scribes & the Pharisees who incarnated moral & intellectual authority. Eventually, he comes into fatal conflict with the political power of the Roman Empire, even though He Himself avoided such a confrontation. In his best seller What Jesus Meant, Garry Wills is undoubtedly right to describe Jesus as an explicit opponent of the “religion of the temple elite” – Israel’s spiritual centre at that time - & to interpret in the same vein, not only the well-known scene of Jesus & the money changers, but also several other passages in the Gospels, including the cursing of the barren fig tree & His subsequent avowal that “this mountain” – the Temple Mount! – could be lifted up & thrown into the sea by the faith of His disciples (Mark 11:22-24). It’s no coincidence that that passage ends with a promise that prayers will be heard: faith & prayer are all that are required for communication with God; temple offerings are no longer necessary.3 In John’s Gospel, in much the same way, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that the time is coming when there will be no need for temples, neither the one in Jerusalem nor the Samaritan one at Mount Gerizim, because true worshippers will worship the father in spirit & truth (John 4:21-23). Jesus’s entire ministry, His teachings & his actions, could be characterised using Nietzsche’s expression “re-evaluating values.” It is poignantly foreshadowed in Luke’s Gospel by Mary’s hymn to “God’s revolution”: “[God] has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind & heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry He has filled with good things; the rich He has sent away empty” (Luke 1:51-53). Blessedness & its counterpart “woe” are expressed in similar paradoxes, such as His well-known statement that “the first will be the last, & the last will be the first” (Matt. 19:30). (Patience & God; Tomas Halik)
On Data Protection progress, thank you to those of you who have completed a Consent Form. We need a Consent Form for each family member over the age of thirteen; please name children under thirteen on your own Consent Form. As we welcome home some of our students from College &University, could I ask you too to complete & sign a Form? 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 20 occasions since the legislation was introduced on 25 May 2018 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.
St Benedict’s RC Primary School began their summer holidays last Friday, when Mrs Emma Barrs left us as Head of School to take up her new appointment as Headteacher of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs School in York. It is a tribute to all that she & her young team have achieved as she moves from one of the smallest schools in the Diocese with 73 pupils to one of the flagship schools of the Diocese with 420 pupils. We are deeply grateful to her & her staff for the significant improvements they have made in every aspect of the life & faith of the School. The results of our recent Section 48 inspection of the Catholic Life of the School was sent to all parents this week. It reinforces our belief that we have begun a journey towards being acknowledged as Outstanding; the Inspector noted the improvements in teaching, learning & behaviour across the School, with the Section 48 grade indicative of that progress. The School was graded Good 2, the grade achieved at the last inspection in January 2013. From my own deeper & more frequent involvement since our new team was appointed, I would suggest that the recent grade is much more robust in quality & spirituality, & as the Inspector relates “St Benedict’s RC Primary is a good Catholic school with some outstanding features. It has rapidly improved after recent changes in leadership & staffing thanks to the dedication of its leaders & staff, & the commitment of its Governors, in ensuring that the Catholic education of its pupils is given the highest priority. There is a deep sense of a united community, warm, friendly & welcoming, where every child is seen as a unique & special part of its family. All members of the School community feel a strong sense of identity & commitment to the School motto “We grow in faith & knowledge.” At the last Parish Forum on 9th June 2018, there was a plea for the Parish to be kept more informed of the life, progress & events in our School. Sadly, at out Leavers Mass last Wednesday there were less than 20 parents & family, in which should have been a wonderful opportunity to show the life, joy & weave of the School within the Parish. To help both the eager & the distant to appreciate what an outstanding School we are becoming, there are copies of the full 12 page Inspection Report for each of you to take home &, please, read & pray in thanksgiving for the faith in progress in our “School of the Lords Service.” Please pray for Mrs Barrs & her exceptional team, & that more parents within our locality will make a firm commitment to entrust their children to us for the best possible education in life, learning & faith. With love & prayers, Fr Bede.