Thursday of week 4 in Ordinary Time: 1 Kings 2:1-4,10-12; 1 Chronicles 29:10-12; Mark 6:7-13

Mark continues in his relentless way, and now we are sent out in haste - travelling light, to add speed. Us? Yes, you and I. We were we not baptised as Priest, Prophet and King? As prophets we are set the task of taking the good news out into our world, this is the duty of us all. The same message came to us last Sunday, in a less 'Markian' and certainly more expansive manner, Luke 4:21-30 and Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19, both urging us to be prepared to use the gifts we have been given. The good news, that we have been entrusted with, is not for just you and I - it is for the world. Perhaps there is some comfort, and certainly wisdom, in the message from St Francis - "preach the word all the time, when necessary, use words". Well - actually, he did not say quite that, his words were:

“Calling together the six brothers, Saint Francis, since he was full of the grace of the Holy Spirit, predicted to them what was about to happen. “Dearest brothers,” he said, “let us consider our vocation, to which God has mercifully called us, not only for our own good, but for the salvation of many. We are to go throughout the world, encouraging everyone, more by deed than by word, to do penance for their sins and to recall the commandments of God. Do not be afraid that you seem few and uneducated. With confidence, simply proclaim penance, trusting in the Lord, who conquered the world. Because by his Spirit, He is speaking through and in you, encouraging everyone to be converted to him and to observe his commandments”

In this day and age travelling light, fast, wearing no tunic and just sandals on our feet, unless we are Carmelite Friars, would brand us something of a 'new age' or 'hippy' type - but nevertheless we are sent. When we meet any kind of opposition to our message - as indeed we will - we are not to persist, but to move on. There will be others willing to hear. Remember from yesterday's Gospel we do need to preserve our joy in the Lords presence, and this joy will bring light into our world.

Urgent Need for Clothes

A very significant number of asylum seekers have been placed in the county by the Home Office in the past few weeks.  Many of these are newly arrived in the country and there is an urgent need for clean, good quality male clothing and shoes.

GARAS has been working with local churches and now have a team of volunteers receiving and sorting donations

They are based at St Aldates Church, Gloucester, GL4 6TR (just off Finlay Road).  They will be open Monday – Friday, 9am – 2pm. 

People can drop off donations by parking at the church, following the signs through the main doors and into the main hall space and simply leaving them there.

Volunteers:

If you are able to help to receive and sort the clothes, contact info@garas.org.uk and they can put you in touch with the organisers.

The Presentation of the Lord – Feast – Malachi 3:1-4 or Hebrews 2:14-18; Psalm 23(24):7-10; Luke 2:22-40

Those able to say the Morning Prayer from the Office each day will have no trouble recognising Simeon's words in todays Gospel. His song of praise and thanksgiving for being in the presence of the Lord is echoed every day by all clergy, all religious and many laity, in the Benedictus. It is a beautiful prayer, full of joy and awe just for being there.

His praise is taken up by Anna - a woman who devoted her life to prayer in the synagogue, and I am sure like many Annas we see in our church, also devoting her life to caring for others in some way. We get the sense that she came by upon this moment of Simeon's ecstasy, and picking up on it, just carried on with her day - perhaps cleaning the synagogue, arranging flowers, or taking food out to the poor, still prising God.

Both are the perfect example of how we should respond to being in God's presence. Perhaps take up a practice of reciting the Benedictus (privately) as we enter the church, and definitely by taking the joy of christ with us as we leave to continue with our daily work and activities. That joy in Christ is very 'catching' and some day, perhaps, someone might be curious and ask you why. You can then tell them - you had an encounter with Christ our saviour and risen Lord, in your church this morning, and are just so blessed! The Lord will do the rest for that person.

I chanced upon a painting by Rembrandt today - it seems it was possibly his last painting. It shows Simeon holding Jesus, with Anna passing by - the face of both reflecting their joy.Rembrandt: Simeon, Anna and Jesus

When his parents brought in the child Jesus, Simeon took him in his arms and gave thanks to God.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel!
  He has visited his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up for us a mighty saviour
  in the house of David his servant,
as he promised by the lips of holy men,
  those who were his prophets from of old.
A saviour who would free us from our foes,
  from the hands of all who hate us.
So his love for our fathers is fulfilled
  and his holy covenant remembered.
He swore to Abraham our father to grant us,
  that free from fear, and saved from the hands of our foes,
we might serve him in holiness and justice
  all the days of our life in his presence.
As for you, little child,
  you shall be called a prophet of God, the Most High.
You shall go ahead of the Lord
  to prepare his ways before him,
To make known to his people their salvation
  through forgiveness of all their sins,
the loving-kindness of the heart of our God
  who visits us like the dawn from on high.
He will give light to those in darkness,
  those who dwell in the shadow of death,
  and guide us into the way of peace.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
  and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
  is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
Amen.
When his parents brought in the child Jesus, Simeon took him in his arms and gave thanks to God.

Tuesday of week 4 in Ordinary Time

Tuesday 1 February 2022

2 Samuel 18:9-10,14,24-25,30-19:3; Psalm 85(86):1-6; Mark 5:21-43

Women are right in the heart of Marks Gospel. Here, to emphasise their importance to Jesus, Mark crafts a sandwich, with one story (the healing of the woman with a heamorage) placed as an interlude inside the healing of the little girl. In each, Jesus treats women with tenderness and respect, despite the low status they would have endured in society at that time. One, untouchable because of the flow of her blood and the other, who was but yet a child, barely worth considering.

Both would have been loved and cared for by someone - Jesus restores them each to their own. So his healing touches not only those cured directly, but all of us.

We also have in this reading, some of the few words recorded, verbatim, of Jesus in his own tongue - "Talitha, Koum". Little Girl, wake up. Just as millions of parents, rouse up their little ones for the day, Jesus speaks in her tongue, directly to her. The command to give her something to eat touches on the need to give evidence that she is human and alive - not some sort of ghost. It is also a command to care for her - possibly even with a tinge of rebuke for not having done so before?

Although our society today is very much fairer than that of antiquity - we have no cause to rest easy. We should always be looking to help those in need - to be the one who can be touched and can heal, or to be the one who can care for a child or other weak person and protect them. Who will I allow to touch me today? Who will I wake up, and feed?