Tuesday, 25 September 2007

What comes round........

" I give him thanks in the land of my captivity,
and I show his power and majesty to a nation of sinners.
Turn back, you sinners, and do right before him;
who knows if he will accept you and have mercy on you."

This is a verse from the second reading in today's Morning Prayer of the Church. The verse stood out for me as I read it and it seemed to speak directly to the state of Christians today in this country. We are not physically exiled from our homeland, as were the Israelites; but we are spiritually exiled from the mainstream of life in this our homeland. We worship different gods; we follow different patterns of living; we are culturally very different: that is if we are truly following Jesus.
The life of an exile is difficult and often painful in the seperation from the homeland; but what does the writer of the book of Tobit say? "I give him thanks in the land of my captivity" is his response. He still believes, trusts and hopes in his God, though all evidence and experience seems to suggest that God and his people have been vanquished by a stronger people, leaving only the options of pining for what is lost or assimilating into the new culture. As Christians we must follow his example and give thanks to God for our present situation and not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by that situation.
He goes on to say that he shows the power and majesty of God to a nation of sinners and exorting the sinners to turn back and do right before God in the hope of seeing his mercy.
Reading this, it does not seem to me that he is referring to the nation that holds his people captive; rather he is referring to the people of Israel who are rightly punished for their iniquity,but still have God to redeem them.
So if we can parallel the Israelites situation with our present situation, we can also apply the writer's analysis and his exortation to ourselves. True we live in a sinful nation; but is that not a result of our failure to preach and to live the Gospel? We have compromised the Good News.The captivity of the Israelites was seen as God's punishment for their failures. We see all around us the evidence of our failures.
So let each of us, and each Church thank God for his mercy; let us repent and do right and live and preach the Christian Way. It is the only way out of this land of bondage.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

The man in the next room

Suppose you had someone staying with you in a room in your house. You really liked the bloke and spoke about him and occasionally, say once a week, he prepared a meal for you and you went along, had the meal then went back into your own part of the house until the next weekly invitation came. If anybody asked you about the man, you might be a little bit embarrassed and reluctant to talk about him, although to yourself you would say that he had become the most important person in your life. And you still just kept seeing him for this weekly meal and having told yourself again how wonderful he was and how important he was, you went back to your 6+ days of life and he stayed alone in his room. You didn't think of him much during the 6+ days and certainly didn't share that part of your life with him or involve him in it. When he talked during the meal he talked of things that were very different from your "other life" and when he was talking they made sense. But after the meal was over it was as though the words had to be kept between the two of you inside that room and could not be carried out into the rest of the house and the rest of your life; they had no place there. It might be because you thought the words were so precious and beautiful that they had to stay in the special surroundings of his room; or it might be that the words seemed different outside the room and made the rest of your life less comfortable and more challenging than it had been.
Imagine that there are lots of rooms all over the place and the same man is sitting down with many other people to a weekly meal only to be left alone until the next week. Is this how we should treat the most important person in our lives? Isn't this how we so often treat Jesus?

Sunday, 16 September 2007

There is somebody out there

A comment and an encouraging one at that. Please, if there is more than one reader please add your comments. Thoughts, opinions, experiences, suggestions all are welcome, positve or critical.
So you are out there,now let me know.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Is anybody there? Does anybody care?

The bell has rung and Round 2 of Fit For Mission is well underway; this is the consultation on the first consultation and I heard something that makes we wonder if it really matters to anybody in the pews what happens. One parish, trying to be open and consultative sent out 500 simple questionnaires with acccompanying information to their parishioners. The response? 20 were returned: 20 out of 500! Questionnaires are a notoriously uncertain way of opinion finding but this is a truly desperate response. So why this desperate apathy? Even given the level of cynicism and the common view that decisions are already made, surely people have enough interest in their faith to want to express a view about its future, let alone fight for it. Surely more than 20 out of 500 have something to say.

We talk about the lapsed who don't attend. This response suggests that there are many more lapsed who just happen to turn up. Sorry if this upsets any more Traditional Catholics: but turning up for Mass on Sunday is not enough! It is not living your faith and it is probably not a Living faith. Get the message people. We are dying as a faith in this country. We are under attack from powerful secular influences and we respond with apathy and indifference. I forget sometimes that this is Lancashire and the soil of Lancashire Catholicism is drenched with the blood of martyrs. Do I hear them whisper "why did I bother"?