Services will continue in the short term as usual, that is Parish Mass at 9.30am every Sunday and Said Mass at 10.00am each Thursday. However in a few weeks changes will have to be made to either the frequency or times of services, any new information will be posted here and on the church noticeboard as soon as it is known.
The Coffee Mornings will continue to take place each Tuesday from 10.00am. Come along for a drink and a chat. Every-one welcome.
The month of June is a month that is consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On Friday, the Church kept the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and then yesterday, of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In our culture, the heart is a symbol of love. Often this is seen in terms of sentimental or romantic love. The Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us that there is something much deeper than this; a love that is practical and that knows no limits. This is the compassion in which Jesus looked upon the crowds in Matthew’s gospel. Although it says he “felt sorry” for them, this is quite a mild version of the feeling of pity or compassion that moved him deep within.
Jesus was moved by the sight of a people who seemed lost and confused. He saw that they had many different needs, but apparently no one to turn to in their need. Matthew’s gospel says that they were “harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.” This was first century Palestine, but it could just as easily apply to our own time and place. Our part of the world is, thankfully, a much more peaceful and less dangerous place then the Middle East back then or even today. We are also fortunate to live in a time when scientific advances have made life much more liveable. But people still have to reckon with stress, loneliness and suffering. The world can often be a confusing place and the future can seem unclear.
The book of Exodus shows us Moses, who has climbed a steep mountain to be alone with God. Moses was the one who was called to lead the people of Israel through the desert. The release from slavery in Egypt was a wonderful thing. The Israelites also had the promise before them of a land flowing with milk and honey. But right now, it was tough. It was a long journey; the terrain was arid, and the people were rebellious. On the mountain, Moses found reassurance. He was reminded of God’s faithfulness and the wonders that were done as the people were liberated from Egypt. There is that wonderful imagery about the people being carried on eagles’ wings and brought into God’s presence. They could come to experience consolation once more. All they had to do was to live by God’s commandments and to remain faithful.
When the burden of leadership seemed too much, Moses knew where to turn. Our human strength and ingenuity have their limits, but what we offer in response to God’s love for us will always reach beyond those limits. Recently, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in an interview that he felt personally responsible for the numerical decline in the Church of England over the past decade. I’m sure that this is a welcome example of honesty in a culture where it is not unusual for public figures to lie or to pass the blame onto others. No doubt we might have our own thoughts about the current direction of the Church of England, but is success or failure all down to one person? I get the feeling that both Moses and Jesus are reminding us that we are not God. In the end it is our faithfulness that makes the difference. God is bigger than any of our strategies.
Jesus sometimes needed to remind his disciples of this. In the gospel today he seems to have a big task for them, to say the least: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out devils.” But he also tells them earlier on: The harvest is rich, but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.” If those few disciples went out there and relied only on their own strength, they would not have got very far. But Jesus points them back to God and reminds them to begin with prayer and to continue in faith. God would work through their failures as well as through their success. This is how faith works.
Above all, they, like we, are moved to respond to the love that has been poured into our lives by God. St Paul, in the letter to the Romans, tells us that this is a love that does not have to be earned: “… but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.” The sacrifice that was made for us on the Cross is for us a pledge of God’s commitment to us even when all else seems to fail. From the Sacred Heart of Jesus flows an unconditional love. It pours life into the sacraments of the Church, from which we receive life-changing grace. We can only respond to that love by the compassion we show towards the people around us. But in the end, what makes the greatest difference is not what we do for God, but what God has done for us.
So, as Jesus has opened his heart to us, let us allow God’s love to flow through our own hearts and into our world.