Newsletter 10th February 2019
Today is the Fifth Sunday of the Church’s year.
Thursday is the anniversary of the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Lynch and we send him our prayers and best wishes on this day.
Monday is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
To a meeting of the priests of the Deanery on Tuesday and to Lewisham Town Hall on Wednesday evening.
I am busy preparing my papers this week as I am off to the College in Spain next week to prepare the accounts and all the papers for the meeting of the Trustees later in the year.
All are welcome to meetings in the Angelus Room on Wednesday afternoon for prayer and Christian mediation – arrive by 1.55 for a 2pm start. Please speak to Virginia Clements or Hazel Wilkinson to find our more or just come along.
A promise to bring back a recipe from the recent visit to the south of Spain. Lunch began with a small pancake which seemed to be some small prawns and pieces of potato friend in a batter until crisp. I did not see how it was made but I must experiment with this.
I have been looking at the trees planted in the garden by the First Communion groups in recent years. The cherry trees seem to be doing well and there are plenty of buds. The magnolia is now well established. The olive trees have survived but it is too cold for them to produce much fruit. I hope the plum tree planted last year will produce some fruit. Fairly soon I must start on my herb pots once again.
Some more money from the Myra fund. I hope to provide a water slide for use later in the summer but have you any other ideas? Maybe it might be sensible to invest in a new liner for the big pool as they have a limited life. Also I will have to order the chemicals fairly soon. I look forward to some warmer days.
And another poem from Walter de La Mare:
If I were Lord of Tartary
Myself, and me alone,
My bed should be of ivory,
Of beaten gold my throne.
Now some words about the Eucharist from John’s gospel:
As I, who am sent by the living Father, myself draw life form the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me. This is the bread come down from heaven; anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.
You might recall some recent notes on versions of “cool” in other languages. During the recent visit to Spain I undertook some further research – you might try – “ muy chulo” – or even “cookie” to express your approval.
It is interesting to see that the red London bus still remains in a field beside the approach road to Jerez airport. It is not all that old. I once examined it in detail and was able to work out that it was delivered new in about 1980. How it arrived in Southern Spain is a mystery. Certainly it looks now as if it will never move again.
Lent not too far away and as a Sunday devotion I propose that we continue with Stations of the Cross at 6.30pm. As yet no date for the special Lenten service and I will give you the details in due course.
The boy has been quite busy with rugby in recent weeks and tries to encourage his sister to play with him. He prefers cricket and is looking forward to the summer days. A new cousin is due to arrive in the coming weeks which for me, will increase the number of “greats” to six. A few more and we will be able to field a cricket team.
Best wishes to you all,
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon
Fifth Sunday of the year 2019.
One of the great problems in reading the gospels is to work out the exact sequence of events. We come to realise that we are not reading an exact historical account of events, but rather a series of memories put together from many sources: as Luke puts it at the beginning of his gospel, many have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place amongst us. Today we have an account of the call of Peter and his compansions: bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him. Yet seemingly, from the other gospels, this is not Peter’s first contact with the Lord. In John’s gospel, Peter and his brother Andrew travel to Bethany on the banks of the river Jordan to listen to John the Baptist. The Baptist points out the Lord to his followers: look there is the lamb of God and the gospel goes on to explain that the John the apostle and Andrew spoke to the Lord and spent the day with him. The next day they found Peter and introduced him to the Lord. Later, at the beginning of Mark’s gospel, the Lord visits Capernaum and the gospel says he saw Simon Peter and his brother Andrew with their boat and simply said to them “Follow me.” This also corresponds with the account in Matthew’s gospel.
But here in Luke it becomes a more complex event with the story of the miraculous draft of fish. One wonders what Peter is really saying when he speaks to the Lord: “we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.” It could be taken as an act of faith in the Lord, but it might also be seen as a teasing and even insolent response. Peter, the experienced fisherman knows that in the strong sunlight of the early morning there will be no fish near the shore, they will have gone back to the dark deeper parts of the lake. He might be saying that I will just humour you by following your suggestion, but you will soon see that it will not work. And so he is overwhelmed when the two boats drag back their nets filled with fish. It is most unexpected and there is no doubt that Peter is overcome by this. His response is: Leave me Lord, I am a sinful man. But the Lord’s response his very different ; Do not be afraid. (Curiously the same phrase that the Lord uses to re-assure the women on the day of the Resurrection). In Matthew and Mark’s version there is a specific call to Peter and his companions: come follow me. But this does not happen in Luke’s version: rather seemingly the reaction is a personal choice on the part of Peter and his companions: they left everything and followed him.
So which version to follow: a direct and immediate call, or a more extended process leading to a personal choice as if there is no alternative. In our own complex world, I would suggest that the second interpretation represents the experience of many people. Certainly there are sudden conversions, Paul on the way to Damascus, but this is rare. I have been looking through the lives of the Saints and realising that the process on conversion is rarely sudden and immediate – Augustine gradually coming under the influence of Ambrose in Milan before his conversion, Ignatius the soldier, recovering from wounds after the battle of Pamplona and beginning to read the lives of the saints, even Thomas a Beckett turning away from his friendship with King Henry II to defend the rights of the Church.
And I suggest that all of this is encouraging: faith is not something sudden and immediate, it is something that we might discover and unwrap through an extended part of our lives. It can take various forms: conversion to Christianity, a vocation to the priesthood, the vocation of marriage. But then the moment is decision arrives: yes, this must be true. And so I think I prefer the version of the story from Luke’s gospel. Peter, on the edge, curious, but continuing with his daily work of fishing – even possibly slightly hesitant and cynical about it all. But then finding himself almost overwhelmed by events – Leave me, I am a sinful – but the Lord does not impose his command – he simply says – do not be afraid – and it is Simon Peter and his disciples who find finally that they are able to make their decision – they left everything and followed him.