The first reading for Mass today, the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, comes from the prophet Jeremiah.
In the days of Josiah, the word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying:
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.
‘So now brace yourself for action.
Stand up and tell them
all I command you.
Do not be dismayed at their presence,
or in their presence I will make you dismayed.
‘I, for my part, today will make you
into a fortified city,
a pillar of iron,
and a wall of bronze
to confront all this land:
the kings of Judah, its princes,
its priests and the country people.
They will fight against you
but shall not overcome you,
for I am with you to deliver you –
it is the Lord…
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The psalm sung at Mass tomorrow, the 4th Sunday of the Year, confesses the help and protection afforded by the Lord for his children, his people.
My lips will tell of your help.
In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, free me:
pay heed to me and save me.
My lips will tell of your help.
Be a rock where I can take refuge,
a mighty stronghold to save me;
for you are my rock, my stronghold.
Free me from the hand of the wicked.
My lips will tell of your help.
It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth,
from my mother’s womb you have been my help.
My lips will tell of your help.
My lips will tell of your…
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Many people will be.
The film has had great reviews and seems to be a film of integrity.
It explores the uncovering of a shameful aspect of the very recent history of the Church – and attitudes and practices which have caused and continue to cause great pain and hurt to many people.
Whether you see it or not, you may find other people raise it with you.
The following statements may be helpful: one has been issued on behalf of our own Bishops’ Conference and the other comes from the Archdiocese of Boston in the USA (the local Church which is the main focus of the film)
Response from Bishops’ Conference Communications Office:
A spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said:
“The film Spotlight shows how victims of abuse were failed in Boston, USA. The Church deeply regrets all instances of sexual abuse and accepts that grave mistakes were made in the past. Victims must come first.
“In this country, following two independent inquiries, there is no place to hide for those who commit these horrific crimes. All allegations of abuse reported to the Church in England and Wales are immediately passed on to the police and the statutory services of the local authority. The Church in this country works closely and cooperatively with the statutory authorities as these allegations are investigated. Following this investigation, which follows UK law, the Church in England and Wales conducts its own internal investigation, following Canon law.”
Statement issued by Cardinal O’Malley:
Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley’s statement regarding release of “Spotlight”
“The Spotlight film depicts a very painful time in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States and particularly here in the Archdiocese of Boston. It is very understandable that this time of the film’s release can be especially painful for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.
“The media’s investigative reporting on the abuse crisis instigated a call for the Church to take responsibility for its failings and to reform itself — to deal with what was shameful and hidden — and to make the commitment to put the protection of children first, ahead of all other interests.
“We have asked for and continue to ask for forgiveness from all those harmed by the crimes of the abuse of minors. As Archbishop of Boston I have personally met with hundreds of survivors of clergy abuse over the last twelve years, hearing the accounts of their sufferings and humbly seeking their pardon. I have been deeply impacted by their histories and compelled to continue working toward healing and reconciliation while upholding the commitment to do all that is possible to prevent harm to any child in the future.
“The Archdiocese of Boston is fully and completely committed to zero tolerance concerning the abuse of minors. We follow a vigorous policy of reporting and disclosing information concerning allegations of abuse. Any suspected case of abuse should be reported to civil authorities and to the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach (866-244-9603 or 617-746-5985).
“More information about the protocols and programs run by the Archdiocese to assure safe environments for children and to address the needs of survivors may be found at www.bostoncatholic.org.”
The Second reading at Mass on the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, i.e. this coming Sunday, speaks to us of love and the works of love.
Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.
If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
Love is always patient and kind…
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The Gospel for Sunday, the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, follows immediately from last week’s Gospel, of Jesus’ reading from Isaiah and winning approval from all.
That latter point is repeated this week in the reading’s opening words. It needs to be for what follows next is surprising and shocking.
Jesus began to speak in the synagogue: ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’
But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”’ And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
‘There were many widows in Israel…
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The Collect at Mass on the 3rd Sunday of the Year (and used through this week, saints days permitting!) highlighted the importance of good works.
Why? Surely because the good works will witness to the glory of the one responsible for them. As our prayer manifests the One who above all is responsible for them is God. We have our part to play, but God’s direction is necessary!
Almighty ever-living God,
direct our actions according to your good pleasure,
that in the name of your beloved Son
we may abound in good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
- From what do you want God to guide you?
- To what do you need his direction?
St Isaac’s Cathedral, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris
Prejudice and Racism
This Sunday was Race Awareness Sunday, and today is Holocaust Memorial Day.
Pray with and for all those who suffer from prejudice and discrimination.
In our own day there are so many: Jews, still; Christians; Muslims; people of all religious faiths and none who work for freedom, justice and the health of the whole human family.
remember not only the men and women of good will,
but also those of ill will.
But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us;
remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to this suffering
– our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility,
our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart
which has grown out of all this.
And when they come to judgement
let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness.
By a prisoner in Ravensbrück concentration camp and left by the body of a dead child.
Cloth for the cutting of identification badges. Jewish Museum Berlin – Jüdisches Museum Berlin. (c) 2004, Allen Morris
The Holy See recently released a document on Catholic-Jewish relations to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council document on interreligious dialogue Nostra aetate.
Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Chair of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales’ Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations, has commented on the document:
The Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews has published a document to mark the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate and its title is significant. It is a quotation from Chapter 11 of St Paul’s Letter to the Romans which takes us to the heart of relations between Christians and Jews and in doing so takes us to the heart of the mystery of the Church.
Since the publication of Nostra aetate, 50 years ago, the Commission has published a number of documents that have sought to explore, clarify and implement its teaching. The Commission is housed in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the document explains the reason for this arrangement, namely that “ the separation between Synagogue and Church may be viewed as the first and most far-reaching breach among the chosen people” (3). These words set the tone for the whole document which is really a sustained reflection on the relationship between the two – “Christians and Jews are irrevocably interdependent, and the dialogue between the two is not a matter of choice but of duty as far as theology is concerned”.(13) It is our relationship with Judaism that grounds us in the history of salvation and without it Christianity would be a form of gnosticism.(13)
The point is made that it took several centuries for Christianity and Judaism to take on the profile of two distinct religions and the subsequent relationship became a deeply troubled one. It was not until the publication of Nostra aetate 50 years ago that the Church created a framework for a new relationship when it definitively rejected the idea that Christianity superseded or replaced Judaism. The dialogue with the Jews therefore is not really an “interreligious” dialogue: “one could, however speak of a kind of ‘intra-religious’ or ’intra-familial’ dialogue.”(20)
The document compares very interestingly the significance of Christ in Christianity with the place of the Torah in Judaism. It goes on the explore the fundamental issue or dilemma in Christian – Jewish relations – a dilemma that is written into the New Testament itself. It states that the Church is “the definitive and unsurpassable locus of the salvific action of God” but quickly follows that up by saying that this ”does not mean that Israel as the people of God has been repudiated or lost its mission (cf Nostra aetate,4)” (32). That kind of balance and nuance characterises the document as a whole.
The document does not shirk the difficult questions that lie at the heart of Christian-Jewish relations in particular that fact that Jews are participants in God’s salvation without confessing Christ explicitly. This ”is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery” (37)
On the question of the Church’s mission to evangelise it says that ”the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards the Jews” but affirms that “ Christians are called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews , although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God’s Word, and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah “(40)
The document puts the dialogue in a wider context when it says that when it comes to addressing with the great crises that afflict our world today religions should not be part of the problem but part of the solution – “Only when religions engage in a successful dialogue with one another, and in that way contribute to world peace, can this be realised also on the social and political levels” (46).
One only has to watch the news in order to realise that good and positive relations between religions are vital for peace in our world and at the very heart of those relationships lie the relations between Christians and Jews.
Archbishop Kevin McDonald
Chairman of the Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God,
that they may continue to grow in the love of his name
and in faithfulness to his covenant.Let us treasure our unique and special relationship with the JewishPeople …. May Christians everywhere commit themselves to genuinebrotherhood with the People of the Covenant.Let us pray for an end to genocide, for the purification of our heartsfrom prejudice and hatred of any kind and for the courage never tostand by in the face of evil….. May we keep the memory of the pastalive so that the future may be free from the evil of genocide and allinjustice.