newsletter 27th January 2019

St. Mary’s,


Newsletter: 27th January 2019

Mass times: Saturday: 6.30pm (first Mass of Sunday)

Sunday: 9.30 and 11am and 7.30pm

Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 10am

Tuesday, and Thursday, 7.30am

Eucharistic Service: Tuesday 10am

Confessions: Saturday 12 to 1pm

I am off to Spain once again on Monday to visit the old chapel of St. George at Sanlucar de Barrameda. We were last there two years ago for the 500th anniversary of the foundation. This is one of the few pre-reformation churches owned by the Catholic Church and at present the Trust is registered in my name. I will be accompanied by Canon Peter Webb, a retired priest from the Diocese of Plymouth. He is my contemporary from days in Valladolid so we always have a very enjoyable few days.

This will mean that I will not be here for Mass from Monday to Thursday. I will see if the Bishop is about for any of these days and will let you know the result on Sunday.

Monday is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas and Thursday the feast of St. John Bosco.

Next Saturday, 2nd February is the feast of the Purification, also known as Candlemas day. Candles will be blessed before the 10am Mass.  This day commemorates the presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple, 40 days after his birth, and is shown in one of the stained glass windows in the Church.

Normally we bless throats on 3rd February, the feast of St. Blaise – most important during these wintry days. I will arrange the blessing after the Mass at 10am on Monday 4th February.

A new book of recipes from Spain – thanks to Maria. Salted cod is common in Spain but you may be able to find some here. Cook some tomatoes, crushed garlic and parsley in some oil and add some cloves and a pinch of saffron. Then add some rice with some water and cook until the rice is soft. Season, add the cod and some more water and continue cooking gently until the fish is soft.  Decorate with strips of red pepper before serving.

Congratulations to Bishop Howard Tripp who celebrates the anniversary of his episcopal ordination on Wednesday. He was ordained priest in 1953 and his first appointment was to this parish. He always has very fond memories of Blackheath, not least of a parish priest who set him to work to cut the grass in the garden with a hand mower.

Gradually the works to London Bridge station are nearing completion.  The forecourt has been opened up and I think the new building will include railway offices.  It seems to be working very well – trains arrive before time and sometimes have to wait a couple of minutes for their departure time.  Obviously very popular as in a short space of time most of the shops have been tenanted.

Now some Eliot:

The river’s tent is broken; the last fingers of leaf

Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind

Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.

Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.

And a prayer from the Armenian liturgy:

O God, creator light: at the rising of your son this morning, let the greatest of all lights, your love, rise like the sin in or hearts.

Best wishes to you all

Monsignor Nicholas Rothon


3rd Sunday of the year.

At the beginning of each year I usually give an introduction to the gospel that we will be reading on Sundays during the course of the year, hence some of you will have heard this before, but I hope that you will not mind a repeat.

This year it is the year for Luke. So who was Luke? We know him as the author of two books in the New Testament – his gospel, and also the Acts of the apostles. Jerome gives the tradition that he came from Antioch and was a Jew but of Greek origin. We know him as the companion of Paul in his journeys, as in the second part of the book of the Acts, he suggests that he is writing from his personal experience and was the companion of Paul on his journey to Rome.  Paul mentions him with affection in his epistles, and in particular in the epistle to the Colossians, when he speaks of “my dear friend Luke, the doctor”. There has been a debate as to whether Luke uses medical terms from Hippocrates in describing miracles of the Lord.

The gospel was probably written about the year 80 – after the death of Paul. It was not written for any particular community, but possibly for the early Christian communities in Greece and Syria that had been founded by Paul – the places mentioned in the book of the Acts. The prologue to the gospel today gives a dedication to Theophilus, who is addressed as “your excellency”. It is not clear if this is a particular individual or rather a fictitious name, as “Theophilus” when translated means “all who love God”.

Luke’s is the longest of the four gospels, so slightly longer than Matthew’s.  Luke explains that he has consulted a number of sources:  it is clear that he knew Mark’s gospel, and indeed he follows the same order of events, although he has consulted other sources as well – possibly the various versions of Matthew’s gospel, and other sources outside the written scriptures. Generally, the style of his writing is good – though sometimes it becomes less perfect when it is obvious that he is quoting a source such as Mark.  There is no doubt he is a good story teller – the parables of the Prodigal Son and of the Good Samaritan only appear in Luke – by any standards these are carefully constructed pieces of writing – so that the stories are familiar to many – even those who know little else of the gospels. Dante described him as the faithful recorder of Christ’s loving kindness. There are events which only appear in Luke such as the consolation of the women of Jerusalem during the way of the cross and the dialogue with the good thief. There is none of the hostility to the Jewish high priests that we find at times in Matthew and in John.

Possibly at times his style can be ponderous – such as the formal introduction today – “I in my turn after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning have decided to write an ordered account”. At times he likes to set down details to give the exact historical context e.g. “in the days of King Herod of Judaea, there lived a priest called Zechariah of the Abijah section of the priesthood”. Some of these details have caused endless debate – for example the census which Luke says took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria – some recent archaeological discoveries suggest quite simply that Luke got it wrong.

Today’s reading begins with the formal prologue but then moves on to the beginning of the public ministry of the Lord in chapter four.  The first two chapters of the gospel include the account of the events surrounding the birth of the Lord, including the stable at Bethlehem. These details are only found in Luke and not in the other gospels. There is a tradition that Luke visited Our Blessed Lady towards the end of her life when she was living with the apostle John at Ephesus. It is said that he heard these stories from her at first hand and that he recorded them and incorporated them into his gospel at a later date.  I have told you of the portrait of Our Lady in the Church of St. Mary Major – in Rome – the first church in Christendom dedicated to Our Blessed Lady: it is suggested that this might have been painted by Luke. For this reason, some of the early images of Luke show him with a paint box – though another interpretation of this is that he has a special skill as an artist with words.

Certainly the full gospel is a long and a complex work, but I find as we read this gospel every three years it is frequently possibly to find new and fascinating interpretations – details and meanings that we have not noticed previously.  As with any great work of art, I find that we can go back to it over and over again with joy.




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