Holy Saturday

Office of Readings: Psalm 94, 4, 15, 23; Hebrews 4.1-13

By ancient tradition no mass is celebrated on this day of rest.  After all his work God rested on the seventh day.  Good Friday is the analogue of the first Friday of creation: on that day God created humanity [Genesis 1.26-31], and on Good Friday humankind is reunited with its Creator.   After that culminating work of Creation, the Creator rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. [Genesis 2.2]; so after the excruciating labour of new creation Our Lord rested.

Rest, though, is different from idleness.  Rest is the satisfaction taken when a work is thoroughly completed. [John 19.30; cf 4.34] Jesus the Redeemer continues constantly to redeem and save, just as the Creator continues his work. [cf John 5.17] ‘He descended into hell’ we declare in the Apostles’ Creed; ‘he went to preach to the spirits in prison’ the apostle
[I Peter 3.19] explains.  He went to the place of desolation, of utter forgottenness, and brought there the good news of great joy which is for all people. [Luke 2.10]

‘The hour is coming’ he promises ‘when the dead will leave their graves at the sound of his voice’. [John 5.28]  That hour is coming soon.  Are we ready to greet the triumphant Lord when he rises to take up again the life he had laid down? [John 10.18] And are we ready to rise with him, rise to live life worthy of the name? [John 10.10]

Good Friday

Isaiah 52.13—53.12; Psalm 30; Hebrews 4.14-16; 5.7-9; John 18.1—19.42

At the centre of the Paschal celebration is a Lamb.  At Passover every Israelite is ‘counted in’: the number of lambs is exactly related to the number who will eat; small families are to unite for the meal.

And so the Lamb who uncomplaining goes forth represents the totality of the people.  Everyone is counted in to his sacrifice; everyone is touched and healed by his sprinkled blood. He is mute alike in the face of supercilious interrogation and a torrent of ridicule and ribaldry.  He is undeterred even by the scorn and hatred of those he has come to save.

The events of the Passion show human beings at their worst—callous, craven, cowardly.  Yet our focus is not on the political machinations and manoeuvres.  This Lamb, we are reminded, was ‘sacrificed from the foundation of the world’. [Apocalypse 13.8] The sacrifice of this Lamb is the perfect outworking of the immutable will of the Love who is the Maker, Redeemer and Sustainer of the world.  He goes forth with trust in the power of that Love.  He invites us to follow him and, counted into him, to share in his triumph over Satan and sin and death. For ‘the Lamb who was slain has begun his reign.’ [Apocalypse 5.11]

Maundy Thursday

Exodus 12.1-14; Ps 115; I Corinthians 11.23-26; John 13.1-15

The Eucharist is the meal of a people on the march, not a leisurely banquet. Priestly vestments are outdoor clothing; when the Bishop celebrates wearing his coat and hat, carrying his walking stick, the point is inescapable.  Even the name mass, from the Latin word missa, cognate with the familiar word dismissal, is redolent of action. 

This stems from the prescriptions of the Passover: ‘You shall eat it like this: with a girdle round your waist, sandals on your feet, a staff in your hand.  You shall eat it hastily.’  It is a meal unlike any other, meat roughly pulled from the carcass, served with a slab of unleavened bread and a mess of bitter greenery.  

Yet care is taken in the choice of unblemished animals, their proper slaughter.  Even leftovers must be properly disposed of.  Most significantly, everyone who is to eat the Passover must be prepared, cleansed outwardly and inwardly.  And when the Lord and Master of the feast himself strips off his outer garments and kneels slave-like to wash the feet of his disciples, the Perfect Love that over and over calls his people out of darkness into light, out of slavery into freedom, out of death to Life that is worthy of the name, is seen uniquely and unmistakeably. 

Wednesday in Holy Week

Isaiah 50.4-9; Psalm 68; Matthew 26.14-25

‘Spy Wednesday’ this day is traditionally called, a day in which darkness and danger are palpable.  ‘Where shall we go to prepare?’ the disciples asked Jesus, and the question is pertinent to us as well.  To follow Jesus on the way of the Cross in the coming days will demand reservoirs filled with strength.

We follow not as observers of a play but as participants, as sharers. [Philippians 3.10] We find ourselves in the midst of a fickle crowd, acclaiming Jesus one day and the next demanding his death.  We are the Pharisees and Scribes and Sadducees, zealous to protect our interests and wellbeing.  Ours is the cravenness of Pontius Pilate, the narcissism of Herod.  And when all the disciples desert Jesus and run away [Matthew 26.56] we gallop as fast as any of them.

‘Not I, Rabbi, surely?’ Judas slickly inquires.  But I did is written across the pages of the Passion Gospel.  And our confession makes possible our forgiveness, our healing, our restoration.  Our reservoirs are re-filled with the strength we need to bear our own crosses and follow Christ.

Newman Talk: Nature, Grace and Glory in Theology







North Gloucestershire Circle

An Afternoon Talk


Duncan Munro

He is a non-stipendiary minister and a Councillor on Charlton Kings Village Council.  He has recently completed an MA dissertation on the significance of E L Mascall (1905-1933), a leading theologian and priest in the Anglo-Catholic tradition of the Church of England.  He will introduce us to the life and work of Rev Mascall and speak on the subject of his dissertation:

Nature, Grace and Glory in the Theology of E.L.Mascall

in the Lounge of Sacred Hearts Parish Hall,

Moorend Road, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, GL53 9AU

Tuesday 2 April 2024

at 2.00 pm

All are welcome

(Admission to include refreshments:  Visitors £3)

For enquiries, contact: S Jamison; Telephone  01242 539810

Tuesday in Holy Week

Isaiah 49.1-6; Psalm 70; John 13.21-33, 36-38

One of you will betray me.  Long earlier, in a cryptic aside, Jesus had told his disciples that he knew one of them was ‘a devil’ and his betrayer. [John 6.70-71] No one, apparently, took much notice of the remark; remarkably, though, Jesus didn’t separate himself from Judas Iscariot, as any of us would have done.

Some have concluded, in ancient as well as modern times, that Jesus and Judas were in some kind of collusion; or that Judas ‘forced Jesus’s hand,’ demanded that Jesus be heroic, wield his sword to cleanse the holy lands of the taint of sacrilegious colonisers. 

Jesus, though, was sent to be a different sort of Servant of God.  His life, his death, his triumph over death would fulfil prophecy to make him ‘the light of the nations’.

Night had fallen when Judas departed from the presence of the Lord, the longest night imaginable, ‘darkness’s hour and its reign.’ [Luke 22.53] When light again dawned for the disciples, with it came both pardon and vocation: a call to follow Jesus’s own path of servanthood, so that salvation, not condemnation, would reach the ends of the earth. 

Monday in Holy Week

Isaiah 42.1-7; Psalm 26; John 12.1-11

Strikingly, Judas Iscariot is the only one of Jesus’ twelve disciples not native to Galilee, the region far to the north of Jerusalem.  Iscariot is probably a reference to Judas’ home, Kerioth, a town in the south. [Joshua 15.25] How did he come to be in the north? How did he come into contact with Jesus? We can only speculate.

What is apparent from the Gospels, though, is that Jesus and the others trusted Judas.  He was apparently their treasurer, and in that capacity he complains about the profligacy of a woman who had poured spikenard, the extraordinarily expensive lavender-like spice used in the burials of the well-to-do throughout the ancient Middle East, over Jesus’ feet.

‘It could have been sold, and given to the poor’ Judas complained.  Three hundred denarii was pretty much the annual wage packet of a working man.  But Jesus retorted that ‘You have the poor with you always; you will not always have me.’   He is that Servant of God who will not ‘break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame,’ he who ‘became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty.’ [II Corinthians 8.9]

Holy Week for RCIA

Reflections to journey with in Holy Week

Here are the slides used at our session on 21 March.

We shall try to make this last week of our RCIA Journey in Faith as a Pilgrimage: Follow the slides during the week. Also if you can not get to Mass each day, then read and reflect on the readings of Mass starting with Saturday, 23rd. If you do not have a daily Missal, these are available online at several places: I use Universalis myself.



Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

2 Samuel 7:4-5,12-14,16; Psalm 88(89):2-5,27,29; Romans 4:13,16-18,22; Matthew 1:16,18-21,24

Today is a solemnity - and we remember such an important person in the history of our relationship with God - Joseph, husband of Mary. The Gospel todays starts with just the ending of Matthew's Genealogy of Jesus - Jospeh was Jacobs son, Husband of Mary, Mother of Jesus.

Joseph was either enraged to find that his betrothed was pregnant, or, I think more hopefully, was trusting and not willing to interfere in this remarkable intervention of the Holy Spirit in Mary's life. Either way - he responded with no difficulty to Gods call in the plan, and kept Mary as his wife and protected her and in due course, the child from those with evil intent.

Later, Jesus taught us that the name of God our Father - Abba. He must have personally experienced a superlative role model in Joseph's foster-fathering to be Abel o do that.

Joseph, pray for all Fathers, that they might follow your example and welcome Jesus into their families lives.