From 10.00am every Tuesday throughout the year.
Thur 5th Sept 9.30am Said Mass.
Sun 8th Sept Joint Parish Mass. (for the Benefice held at St Andrews at 10.30am)
Next Parochial Church Council Monday 9th September.
WW2 Brass: Thur 5th September. Themed Concert to coincide with the start of the Second World War. Will also include a pictorial presentation. Some music of the period will be played by Worsbrough Brass and song-sheets will be provided for audience participation! See the poster on the previous posting for further details.
The Christmas meal has already been booked for the Rockingham Arms on Monday 9th December.
Xmas Brass: Thur 12th December. Usual mix of seasonal and contemporary music with Worsbrough Brass.
I remember that at Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan, now Duchess of Sussex, over a thousand ordinary members of the public were invited to be present for the occasion. My own invitation must have been lost in the post. To be fair though, some of the people invited had done some praiseworthy things. One was a former soldier who lost a leg in an accident out in Afghanistan and another was a schoolgirl survivor of the Manchester concert bombing, who had raised money for other survivors. We hear a lot about the privileged people who normally get the spotlight and we know too that there are plenty of unsung heroes in our world. So it is good when such people are not overlooked and overshadowed by the more obvious celebrities.
This brings us to today’s gospel, where Jesus is proposing something that goes much further and much deeper than the worldly example I have just given. It would seem that he has been invited along so that the Pharisees, who were unsettled by his teachings, could appraise him away from the crowds. They watch him closely, but Jesus is unperturbed and he watches them in return. He notices that when people were coming in they were making for the most prestigious positions, nearest to the host, and so he tells them a parable.
It can be embarrassing enough if we go to an event and we inadvertently sit in a place reserved for someone else. How much more embarrassing would it be if we deliberately chose to take a front seat and were then asked in front of other people to move further back to make way for someone more important than ourselves? The parable Jesus tells sheds a light on the insecurity and anxiety that status-seeking can produce in people. People with sharp elbows are striving for recognition and for the highest place. There are times when that tendency can lead to humiliation. Far better, then, to take the humble approach, as Jesus suggests. “Come up higher, friend” sounds much better than: “I’m sorry, but you are sitting in someone else’s place.
Of course, this teaching was not meant to be some kind of lesson in dinner party etiquette, but a teaching about life. There is nothing wrong with trying to be the best we can or with being competitive. What Jesus has to say really speaks to a tendency towards entitlement and self-importance. In order to make sure we always have the exalted place, we have to be prepared to step on other people and to push them down the pecking order. This happens in all walks of life and it can even happen in the life of the Church. Jesus points out the futility of jostling for position in God’s kingdom. There we may find that it is the poor and the marginalised who are the first and that the egotists are left behind.
Humility probably wasn’t a popular concept in the lifetime of Jesus and I’m not sure that it is now. The people who are most admired and emulated are often the rich and the ambitious types. Humility is seen as weakness. This is not how Jesus presents it though. There is a quiet strength in recognising that our self-worth and our true potential is not achieved by comparison with other people. Putting others down does not make us greater. It certainly doesn’t bring us peace and lasting happiness, but instead keeps us insecure and always threatened by the position of our neighbours. Jesus wants us to recognise that we find the peace we long for through our closeness to God and our concern for others.
As we are told in the passage from Ecclesiasticus: “The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly.” Being thankful for what we have and being concerned for the well-being of others can bring us joy and peace. There are so many people who are overlooked by society but who are precious in God’s sight. Giving up something of what we have to serve their needs makes us aware of the ways in which we are blessed and of the gifts that God has placed into our hands. This is not weakness. Through this we identify with Jesus, who was not concerned with status, but who willingly gave of what he had, even his own life, and opened up for us the way to everlasting treasure.
Today we have been invited to share in the Eucharistic meal. In the words form the letter to the Hebrews:
“But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in which everyone is a “first-born son” and a citizen of heaven.”
So to God we are made first-born sons and daughters in Christ. No need to worry about our status, because it is secure with God. All we have to do is discover for ourselves the joy of knowing God and serving one another.