“Lord, has the time come?..are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Feast of the Ascension, 40 days after Our Lord rose from the tomb; 40 days of appearances of the Risen Christ in disguise.. & now “has the time come?” yes indeed.. “are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”..& he gives you a Yorkshire answer “no, I’m not going to restore the kingdom to Israel..you are”
“..not I Lord, surely?” ..is that a question or a statement? ; Lord have mercy “..how can this come about?” ..do you want an explanation or a share of the action? ; Christ have mercy “..why are you men & women from Galilee..from Ampleforth & Gilling..standing here looking into the sky?” ..looking for a free passage or a calling into discipleship? ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..many of you well know I have “a passing interest” in football & in a team called Leeds United..followed them for 57yrs through thick & thin..they are just back into premiership after 16yr absence, & they have been a revelation in open honest style of play & in goals they score, which more often than not are team goals not individual solo efforts..their coach a charismatic South American Marcelo Bielsa, lives in Wetherby & goes to Mass there each Sunday..he has transformed ordinary championship journeymen into top grade footballers who respect & love him. When he first arrived two seasons ago, he got first team squad together at training ground, gave each of them gloves & black plastic sack, to go round grounds & pick up litter for 3hrs..at end explained people who paid their wages to come to watch them, do what they had been doing not for 3hrs but 5days a week for 45yrs. Weekend before last, Leeds played at Brighton, played abysmally, their worst performance of season lost 2-0..after defeat Bielsa spoke to media calmly saying it wasn’t good enough; the integrity of game was paramount, & that they give of their best every match; last Saturday they beat Spurs 3-1 performance of season, showing just how good they are, & from now on a level expected of them, in ofsted terms “good with some outstanding features” & so to today’s feast..our charismatic coach & shepherd Jesus Christ..the Risen Christ 40 days of intense coaching on this our training ground, where he has been really present among us..showing speaking explaining retraining with a meticulous eye & heart for detail.. ..we need a litter day..a Saturday morning when each & every one of us comes with bin bags, windowlene, shears, trowels, coffee & home baked scones..3hrs to transform this our training ground & beautiful stadium, to remind us of what Sheila Maureen John Teresa & Tracey do for us, many of us mere spectators, week in week out...& we need an awayday one Saturday when we go to Leeds, not to Elland Road, but to Corpus Christi Church in Halton Moor, where, in their High School next to Church a beloved fellow disciple of ours, Anne Maguire, who brought students here for retreats with me, was stabbed to death by a pupil in the classroom..for us to see the ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal who come here to Mass perhaps once a month with us..great disciples who gain an extra special ingredient in their spirituality by coming here & training praying breaking bread with us.. ..all to help you realise just what a special spiritual lifestyle we have here in this safe secure manicured corner of leafy North Yorkshire.. “Lord, has the time come?” “yes”.. “are you going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” “no” says Our Lord “I could do it, but I want you to have the joy & blessing of preaching teaching healing evangelising in my name” “it was at Antioch..or was it at Ampleforth?..that the disciples were first called Christians” not practising Roman Catholics but professional Christians, who go out to proclaim the Good News “going out, preaching everywhere, the Lord working with them [us] confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it” notice no longer not just what you say but what you do, not litter picking but picking up the sick & curing them..not solo but teamwork.. you ask any avid football supporter throughout the land who is their second favourite team they like to watch after their own always beloved team & they will smile & say Leeds United..my prayer is that when folk from other parishes near & far ask you gently “which parish do you belong to?”, & you tell them, they too will smile & tell you of the very good news which is on the street about us, our prayer life, our healings & our teamwork..home & away.. [Ascension Yr B Mk 16;15-20]