“& then I realised the problem; it is so comforting to follow Jesus the healer, the Jesus who cures the sick, multiplies the fish & even raised women, in all their uselessness, from the dead. But that is only half what it means to do the will of God. Jesus the healer, you see, is also Jesus the prophet, who contended with those in the Temple & on the throne, who condemned his condemnation of the system.” [ Sr Joan Chittister OSB ] & in our 1st rdg prophet Jeremiah “there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones.” & a phrase I read last week “those who risk nothing, risk much more.” I wonder about your uneasiness over migrancy, black lives & foreign holidays in midst of pandemic.. ..& will you risk putting your head & your conscience above battlements to speak up for, to speak out for, the burning issues in your burning heart?
“..do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world” Yemen..our world & our crime ; Lord have mercy “..let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind..” a new you, post Covid.. ; Christ have mercy “..the only way to discover what it is that God wants..” wants of you here & now.. ..take the risk & ask him.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
A fortnight ago we had the gift/blessing in Community of Br Edmund’s first profession, his simple vows, for 3yrs; his “engagement” you might say; the rule under which he asks to live is Rule of St Benedict, grounded on scripture & Jesus’ loving acceptance of his disciples into the faith community. Ch58 of Rule St Benedict speaks of making trial of the spirit of the newcomer, to see if they are from God; if they truly seek God, a real love for the work of God, combined with a willing acceptance of obedience, & of any demands on their humility & patience that monastic life may make on them; & in gospel you have just heard, we hear wobble/temper tantrum from an early postulant; Peter Cephas rock, whose humility, patience & willing obedience are blown out of water by the first real trial & obstacle. Jesus begins to make it clear to his rookie followers his destiny, & by relationship theirs, destined to include suffering death & resurrection; poor Peter, as ever, first to impulsively react rather than patiently consider a respond, hears the first two words, suffering & death, & never reaches the third crucial & the saving of him & us, “resurrection.” “Heaven preserve you, Lord, this must not happen to you!” he wants to throw a protective comfort blanket round his Master, put him into self-isolation/shielding, from a life threatening virus Peter himself & we suffer from called “self-preservation”, to which vaccine/antibody is called “self-sacrifice”, taking up the Cross, Jesus Peter & thee & me..& Jesus, not for last time with his deputy, lets rip “get behind me Satan! you are an obstacle in my path..” if you read it with your divine spectacles on, rather than your specsavers varifocals, it isn’t a red card of dismissal, it is a “get in line again behind me” “you are an obstacle in my path” when you think you know best & try to lead from the front & get it wrong again..St Benedict’s clear wise advice to the novice would fit well for Peter “this is the law under which you ask to serve; if you can be faithful to it, enter; if not, freely depart.” I remember well my own clothing in habit as a novice; in front of whole Community, I knelt before the Abbot as he spoke those words to me; on left in front of me was a table with a folded monastic habit on it; on right side, a table with my lay clothes, jacket & trousers on it; a stark choice, the habit & stay, your own clothes & go home..”if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself [into monastic life or married life ] & takeup his cross & follow me.”..a lifelong commitment, for better for worse, in sickness Covid in health, for richer & now in recession for poorer, less jobs less students in College, less parishioners prepared to take up the cross & risk coming back to us. “what, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world” if he gets through this & further pandemics, self-isolating/shielding, physically safe & well “& ruins his life”, his spiritual & his eternal life? & Matthew, ever one for the frightening chilling ending, to put the fear of God into you rather than His infinite unbreakable love, “when he comes, he will reward each one according to his behaviour”. I think not..the stick & carrot Catholicism many of us were brought up to comply with, if not to believe in..crime & punishment; keep to the rules & a reward well & truly earned is yours..Ch 72 of RSB explains the good zeal which should inspire monastic life “which all who follow the monastic way of life should strive to cultivate; they try to be first to show respect to one another with the greatest patience in tolerating weaknesses of body or character; the pure love of one another as of one family should be their ideal. As for God, they should have a profound & loving reverence for him. They should love their abbot or abbess with sincere & unassuming affection. They should value nothing whatever above Christ, & may he bring us all together to eternal life.” key word in community/ your family life is “together” on my Beach Prayer Walk retreats 16 of us descend on Filey beach; coffee & biscuits at the bus a prayer then monk/shepherd becomes a sheepdog as keen eager fit healthy set off hiking for England, whilst the unhealthy suddenly realise what a beach prayer walk means..a walk not a deckchair..to keep them together is essence; Martha & Mary, Peter & Judas, Mary of Nazareth & Mary Magdalen, wise & foolish virgins, the prodigal & sour son, rich man & Lazarus..nine lepers & a tenth..not “if” but “when” we reach eternal life, Our Lord won’t cross examine us crossly..all he will do is welcome us with a smile to die for..& count us in..in the field in front of monastery since lockdown, we have had a flock of sheep & lambs..spent much longer than usual with us as market for lamb chops has plummeted..our gain..one sheep I always look out for each day, at 520am each morning & through day, is my favourite & the Good Shepherd’s favourite ..the black sheep..the one He carries into heaven on His shoulders, together, together, with the other 99 of you, counted in lovingly, like you to this Mass, with great great joy, an everlasting relationship never ever to be earned or awarded as a reward for services to the shepherd nor the flock..pure wool pure gift.. [ 22ndSunYrA Mt 16;21-27 ]