..just over a week ago I celebrated the Sacrament of Confession with each of our five young fledgling disciples..& this morning they come of age as they become full members of this faith family in receiving Holy Communion for the first time.. ..the Body & Blood of Christ in bread & wine..in the five of them & in each of us..Christ bearers..showing by word & example the real presence of Christ in loving service of him & of our neighbour.. ..a particular word of welcome to all who have come this morning specially to join in our Mass of Celebration..Mr David Harrison our Executive Head, Mrs Barrs our Head of School & some of our teachers from St Benedict’s where our young ones seedlings of faith are fed & watered..& parents & families of our five disciples, some who have come specially from Italy & Poland..& even from Stillington..to be with us.. ..Olly Thompson will on our behalf call each of them forward & introduce them in person
..as we begin this meal let us call to mind the times we have put our full presence at the meal in jeopardy by our faults mistakes & failures.. “..the abundant free gift” ..food for the journey of a lifetime .. ; Lord have mercy “..the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero” ..at my side & in my heart.. ; Christ have mercy “..Lord in your compassion turn towards me” ..keep me in your sight & in your heart.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“.so if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father”..have you anything to declare as you arrive here at this weekly point of entry into the life of the Church?.. are you entering this spiritual customs zone confident, with no hidden contraband & a clear conscience, or with a façade of assurance without & a trembling guilty child within?..our five youngsters have been declaring their faith in Jesus for some weeks now, our precious little sparrows eager to be here each Sat morning for an hour to learn, & then to go to teach what they discover..& if they were to ask you in their innocence “what has been your contribution so far to the relief effort in helping survivors of the Kensington tower block tragedy?”, what would you say?..you, in full communion with the full Body of Christ, commissioned empowered authorised proficient in meeting the needs of Christ in person..front line Catholicism at its best, universal & inclusive..”the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall” the gift is the food for a journey of peaks & troughs; good days & bad days..food for fall days when we have absented ourselves from faith community for one reason or no reason, & then, like prodigal son, finding our way home with regret remorse humiliation, & in the enduring hope of mercy & forgiveness..& as the son found, the warmth of return & the feast of celebration made his fall worth every moment of exile & self certified solitary confinement..remember it is the lost sheep not faithful 99 that get the cream & milk.. ”taste & see that the Lord is good”..full cream not semi skimmed..Pope Francis spoke recently to little sparrows “dear young people, have a big heart..do not be afraid to dream big things!”.. At the heart of the garden was the noble Bamboo. In the cool of the evening the Master would walk past & smile at the grace & beauty it displayed. Year after year, conscious of the Master’s love & watchful delight the Bamboo became more noble & gracious, yet still modest & gentle. When the wind played in the garden, the Bamboo would cast aside its grave stateliness & dance merrily, tossing & swaying & bowing with joy. It would lead the Great Dance of the Garden that most delighted the Master’s heart. Then one day, the Master approached Bamboo & looked thoughtfully on its branches. The Bamboo, with passionate adoration, bowed its head in loving greeting.”Bamboo” said the Master, “I want to use you” Bamboo flung its head up in delight. The day of days had come, the day for which it had been made, the day when it would find its completion & its destiny. “Master, I am ready” said the Bamboo “use me as you need” “Bamboo” said the Master “to use you I must cut you down” at first the Bamboo trembled & shook “cut me down?” it exclaimed “Oh please, Master, not that!” “Beloved Bamboo” the Master’s voice grew grave “I cannot use you unless I cut you down” the garden was still; the Wind held its breath. Bamboo bowed its glorious head & in a whisper said “ if that is the only way to use me..then your will be done” “Beloved Bamboo, to fully use you I must also cut off your leaves & branches.” “Master, no!” exclaimed Bamboo “spare me that. Lay me in the dust but spare my my leaves & branches.” “ Alas” said the Master “if I do not cut them away also then I cannot use you” the Sun hid its face, the birds were silent, & Bamboo shivered then whispered quietly “Master, cut away.” “Beloved Bamboo, I must also cleave you in two & cut out your heart if I am truly to use you” at this Bamboo was bowed to the ground “Master, oh Master..then cut & cleave & hollow me out.” So the Master of the Garden took Bamboo & cut it down, hacked off its branches, stripped its leaves, split it in two & cut out its heart. Then, gently lifting the pieces, the Master carried Bamboo to a spring of fresh sparkling water in the midst of the dry fields. Putting one end of the broken Bamboo in the spring & the other end in the water channel in his field, the Master gently laid down his beloved Bamboo…& the spring sang a welcome & the clear sparkling waters raced joyfully down the channel of Bamboo’s torn body into the parched waiting fields. Then the rice was planted, & the days passed by, & the shoots grew & the harvest came. In that day, Bamboo, once so glorious in its stately beauty, was more glorious in its brokenness & humility. For in its beauty it was life abundant, but in its brokenness it became a channel of abundant life for the Master.” Ursula Mateusz Bertie Otello & Arthur, Jesus says to you this morning as he did to Bamboo “I want to use you” the day of days has come, the day for your First Holy Communion, the day when you find yourself becoming fully one with us, ready to voice a special prayer from your heart “Jesus I am ready..use me as you need” ..& Jesus will have a very special task for each of you..& there will be times when you, like all of us here, we think from our head it will be mission impossible to do it “Jesus no, spare me that!” but when we begin to feel from our heart, where the love of Jesus for us & for our world is stored & made ready, we will gradually find ourselves gently whispering.. “Master cut away”..& from this morning he begins to use you in a very special way..he has chosen each of you to be channels of the clear sparkling waters of his life & love we call grace..to carry his grace out from this spring into the parched dry hearts of those who have never tasted the water, the grace of Jesus’ love, or have tasted it a long time ago but lost touch with it & found themselves in a dry channel.. & now from this morning, when you receive Our Lords Body & Blood, you take on his heart his grace his love, & you take that sparkling presence out into your families, our School. & into every part of your life..helping to bring a harvest of love not just into our valley out there but into our world.. ..we are very very proud that the Master has chosen all five of you for such special loving work..a work for each of you which only Jesus & you can do together..our prayer for you this morning is that you will have the faith love & courage to voice Bamboo’s prayer of self surrender “use me as you need”.. ..& the rest of us here now, we are each on that journey, at some stage of that journey, from being noble & gracious, modest & gentle, into eventually offering ourselves to become fully part of Jesus the Master’s love life & work.. ..so that when we are asked the question “what was your contribution to the relief effort for the survivors of the Kensington fire tragedy?” our efforts & results will speak for themselves..seen felt & tasted, & they will answer their own question “in their brokenness & our brokenness we became a channel of abundant life for the Master..”
“..so there is no need to be afraid..”do not be afraid to dream big things”..” you five little sparkling sparrows “are worth far more than hundreds of sparrows..”