Newsletter 7th April 2019
Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent also known as Passion Sunday.
From today until Easter Sunday the statues and crosses in the Church are covered with purple veils. It is intended that our thoughts and prayers should be concentrated on the death and Passion of the Lord.
Next Sunday is Palm Sunday. Palms will be blessed in the garden before the 9.30 Mass. Please remember to arrive in good time and come to the garden.
During the Masses we will be reading the account of the Passion from St. Luke’s gospel. Readers may like to take one of the books so that they can look at the readings in advance. Please let me know if you would like to borrow one.
As a Lenten devotion there are Stations of the Cross at 6.30 this evening.
I have put up a list for 12 people to have their feet washed at the Mass of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday.
First Communion classes again this week at 10am on Saturday morning in the hall. The children will have a special role at the Palm Sunday Mass.
To Canary Wharf on Tuesday for an investment meeting. Work still has to continue during the week!
I hope to go to visit the boy and his sister on Wednesday. Their mother now has a new job at the hospital so I will be kept up to date about this.
The new Pascal Candle has arrived and I have decorated it with the transfer and the date. It will be blessed during the Vigil Service on Easter night. The old candle from 2018 has served us well during the many baptisms during the course of the past year.
Another tax year completed and I will be submitting the claim for a tax refund on the Gift Aid donations. It is necessary either to make your donations my means of a standing order or by using the weekly envelopes. If you have a pack of envelopes, please remember to use them each week. If you would like to use the envelopes, please let me know and I can give you a pack.
The garden is doing well now that the spring days have arrived. I am sure that the pool will be in use in the fairly near future.
Quite a lot of work is taking place on the railway at present. You may have noticed the new signals, some of which are not in use as yet. Complicated pieces of equipment are appearing between the tracks. It is possible that we may be moving towards a new generation of rolling stock with automatic control.
A poem from George Herbert:
Then let each houre
Of my whole life one grief devoure;
That thy distresse through all may runne,
And be my sunne.
(It has been suggested that his deep faith helped to give an intensity to his poetry).
Thurber on the Goldilocks story: …but the wolf, even in a nightcap does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.
After this you will need a recipe. You may be able find some thin red Spanish chipolata sausages. You will need to cook them gently in some lard until coloured on all sides. Add a glass of dry sherry and some slivers of garlic, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. You will need some bread to mop up the juices.
Just room for a prayer: God our Father, source of unity and love, make your people one in heart and mind, steadfast in faith and secure in unity.
Best wishes to you all,
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon
Fifth Sunday of Lent 2019.
So far our Lenten gospels have told of symbolic events – the 40 days in the wilderness and the transfiguration – or parables, the barren fig tree and the prodigal son.
But now on this last Sunday before Holy Week, a story from John’s gospel of a specific event – which took place in the courtyards of the temple – during one of the Lord’s visits to Jerusalem.
From the point of view of Scripture scholars, it is one of the most controversial parts of the gospels. Some suggest that it was not written by John himself, as the style differs from other parts of the gospel. The text is not included in some of the early manuscripts – or codex – for example the Codex Vaticanus from the 4th century – and yet this story is quoted widely by several early Christians writers as a familiar event from the life of the Lord – quoting his exact words – possibly some of the writers found it hard to accept this part of his teaching – but it was included by Jerome as part of the Vulgate Latin version of the Scriptures and has been accepted by the Church as an authentic part of the gospels.
Some of the scribes and the Pharisees are trying to trap Our Lord – it is similar to the question of the coin and the tribute to Caesar. The Jewish law, as given in the book of Deuteronomy includes the death penalty for adultery. But about 30 years previously, the Roman authorities had withdrawn the right to impose the death penalty from the Jewish people. This is why the High Priest brought the Lord before Pilate on the early morning of Good Friday with the demand that Pilate should agree that he should be put to death. And yet curiously, within a few years, there seemed to be no problem with the stoning of the St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
The scribes think that they have an unanswerable case. The woman herself, to them, is of no importance. She is no more than a pawn in their wider game to entrap the Lord. If he agrees with them and says the woman can be put to death, he can be denounced to the Roman authorities, but if he does not agree, then he can be condemned for ignoring the mosaic law.
But then after the Lord’s words – he who is without sin – he starts to write in the dust with his finger – some say he was simply playing for time and also, there is a suggestion that he was writing down the hidden sins of some of the accusers in a way that only they could understand – or a link to the way in which the ten commandments were written on the tablets of stone when the law was given to Moses.
And there is really no answer to the Lord’s challenge – he who is without sin – and with a touch of humour, the gospel tells how they went away. Beginning with the eldest.
And how are we to interpret this story today in the circumstances of our lives today. I think particularly of the response of Pope Francis – when he was questioned – Whom I am I to judge? We live in a changed and changing world – certainly very different from the world in which I grew up – and when I was first ordained as a priest. There is the temptation to condemn the present and to wish to go back to an idealised former age. Certainly we give thanks for the blessing of those who are happily married with their children – But if we are honest, even in our families, in our circle of friends, there are those whose marriages have not worked out, younger people finding their way towards married life, those with different orientations, even for me great friends who have left the ministerial priesthood. And I would suggest to you that today’s gospel at least gives us an opportunity to reflect about this. I think of the words of the Lord to the woman “has no one condemned you” – one thinks of her terror as she was dragged through the streets to the courtyard of the temple by the scribes – and then realisation that all her accusers have vanished – with just the Lord looking at her with compassion and understanding, but not wanting to hold on to her or to try to own her as a special disciple – quite simply – just, in fact, go away. Perhaps not an easy lesson – and we might even think of it as a distraction when we should be focussing our minds on the events of the passion of the Lord – but one of our lessons for Lent – this is the word of the Lord.