“I am coming to gather the nations of every language” ..how quick we are to expect, even demand, that our Polish brothers & sisters learn English..& how few of us would think of learning Polish? ..tragically I’ve only one word in Polish ; boogsnamee “the Lord be with you”..& they beam with delight..
“..the nations of every language..” ..even English.. ; Lord have mercy “..I will send some of their survivors to the distant islands” more distant after Brexit ; Christ have mercy “..they will proclaim my glory to the nations..” they to us?..or us to them?..once a land of hope & glory.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“making his way to Jerusalem” he didn’t enjoy going to Jerusalem..too uncomfortable..it was occupied by the establishment with their rule keeping & precision liturgies ; full of traders, religious & secular, wheeling & dealing; hypocrites & law-abiding Jews thinking themselves God’s gift to mankind..almost everything they stood for Jesus struggled with ..so his visits to Jewish HQ short/swift..he’d not stay there overnight but with his friends Martha Mary & Lazarus in Gilling before walking across valley to Abbey for 8.45am Mass, his meeting & back out as quickly as possible..familiar to some of us perhaps of a Sat night or Sun morning? take heart we are in good company..”Sir will there be only a few saved?”..if he’d been asked it in Jerusalem, the enquirers would have been preening themselves for the one & only answer “yes, you few” however, it’s rank & file outsiders, country folk intent on listening to Jesus rather than learning by rote 613 precepts of Law, who asked him..”try your best” a lovely phrase of gentle realism, care & compassion..for a son/daughter about to sit a crucial exam..an elderly terrified parent about to go into a consultants room in YDH for results of tests/scan..a beloved Yr 6 pupil of SBPS about to go to Ryedale School for first time week on Monday; a timid parishioner with a wound reopened by Abbey prayer card, & about to approach their priest hoping to be heard for first time in lifetime “what prayer card?” some may ask; many have seen it & some have written to me on it..many more have yet to see it..so many narrow doors in life & in faith, which we have to go through, seemingly on our own, to meet & to face the truth..in such bleak frightening challenging situations, I have a short prayer to offer; to gifted teacher on retreat who explains her Gethsemane; an unruly unteachable riotous Yr 11 class she has to meet & teach 3 lessons each week; she suffers sleepless nights, panic attacks, she snaps with family at home, & has lost all self confidence to go through narrow door into the classroom again & again..share with her story of the Canaanite woman, up against a Jerusalem bound Jesus in a foul mood, who dismisses poor lass & her desperate plight; swots her off like wasp until in utter desperation she kneels at his feet & cries out in tears “Lord help me”& he begins to melt..so each time you cross threshold into classroom 6, pray the three words & email me in a months time to tell me how it is..”many will try to enter & will not succeed”..the many who are disappointed are those who “expect” who read the menu, wear the t shirt & jump through the hoops..& on a self assessment evaluation form rate themselves “good with some outstanding features” really?..the expectant will be disappointed “Lord open to us” by right, performance & expectation.. whereas the small humble disciple who hopes & prays to be considered at best for a “requires improvement” on their spiritual report card will find the way simple & familiar; no queues because few choose the narrow door & the three word prayer..& the expectant persist waspishly on outside “we once ate & drank in your company”..a long time ago.. ”you taught in our streets” ..even in classroom 6..we saw you..but we can’t recall much of what you said..”& what was Fr Bede’s homily about last week?..”I do not know where you/he comes from” ..where did you begin? tell me your story & explain your pedigree..a striped red & black tie & Aidans ’84 on your CV may have been good enough then but no longer..”from east & west north & south they will come to take their places” their places.. places undeservedly reserved for them & for you, are not performance related but pure gift ; bought paid for by Jesus Christ who encountered many a narrow gate, many a hostile Yr 11, many a demanding/ undemanding 8am 930am 11am Sunday Mass congregation, & prayed his way into room & into the hearts & minds of the receptive & of the hard of heart & melted them..recipients of liquid grace & a journey towards feeling & being “outstanding”; will you at last take the first step & voice the three words 7 times a day? ..will you?..& let the last..the last, feeling themselves last & the least for so many years, let them be one of the first to come to tell me how it feels now..”Fr Bede, open to us” & he will say “welcome home, tell me your story, & melt me”.. [ 21stSun YrC Lk 13;22-30]