Fr Jim’s Reflections Feast of St Peter & St Paul – 28 June 2020

The Feast of St Peter and St Paul reminds us of the energy and urgency of a rapidly growing Church that necessitated the human cooperation with the will of God.

Peter was the rock with the awesome responsibility of leading the Church. The fisherman was chosen from a humble background with the human weakness of denial, and the impulsive streak of spontaneity, yet chosen for the institutional foundation of leadership. “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16.18). The Lord builds his Church on the rock of a modest and unassuming man to elevate what is lowly and can be built and moulded into the newness of the Lord. Furthermore in the lucid and thorough description of the life of St Paul we are reminded of that gripping and monumental encounter of God’s riveting desire to stand with the” chaos of human behaviour and basically say in modern terms, WAKE UP! The urgent and humane conversation Jesus has with Saul (who becomes Paul) is the questioning conversation Jesus has with our world today. Saul! Saul!” the voice said “Why are you opposing me?” Words that hover around the world today, not “Saul Saul,“ but “World World why are you opposing me?”

Paul’s inner conversion is powerfully and explicitly revealed in today’s second reading to Timothy, “The Lord stood by me and gave me the power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.” (2nd Letter to Timothy 4:6-18, 17-18).

Inner conversion is on-going because life is a continuously unfolding human experience.

In the words of Pope Francis, broadcast last Monday as part of the BBC Rethink Programme on the Today Programme, taken from a longer interview he gave to his biographer Austen Ivereigh, he challenges us to rethink poverty.

I quote from him.

“Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity. Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world. We need to reconnect with our real surroundings. This is the opportunity for conversion.

I see early signs of an economy that is more human. But let us not lose our memory once all this is past, let us not file it away and go back to where we were. This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it. We have lost the contemplative dimension; we have to get it back.

And speaking of contemplation, I’d like to dwell on one point.

This is the moment to see the poor. Jesus says we will have the poor with us always, and it’s true. They are a reality we cannot deny. But the poor are hidden, because poverty is bashful.

In Rome recently, in the midst of the quarantine, a policeman said to a man: “You can’t be on the street, go home.” The response was: “I have no home. I live in the street.”

There is such a large number of people who are on the margins. And we don’t see them, because poverty is bashful. They have become part of the landscape; they are things.”

End of quote.

The voice of the successor of St Peter challenges us all today. Let us be inspired by St Paul. Change is possible for everyone!

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Fr Jim’s Reflections 12th Sunday of the Year

There are moments in life when things don’t turn out the way we thought. Sometimes we can face difficulty after difficulty. Often this happens in the unexpected places. Without a doubt they test us. Often related to relationships, our health, financial instability, growing old, or the death of a loved one. Maybe you have already experienced several of these? If not you will at least experience one!

In today’s first reading the prophet Jeremiah, one of the major prophets of the Old Testament, often referred to as the weeping prophet who lived probably between 650-570 BC, is faced with terror on every side. His ministry was active from 13th year of Josiah king of Judah 626 BC to the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 587 BC.

He is tested by the difficulties of his life. All those who were on good terms with him watched his downfall. They wanted to get the better of him. They wanted to take revenge!

Yet in the midst of Jeremiah’s life there was a secret unfolding, a dual relationship between the secular and the spiritual; between emotion and the Higher Power; between his external experiences of people and the internal experience of God. The words of the Roman stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger, come to mind. “If we let things terrify us, life will not be worth living.”

Jeremiah refused to be defeated. In fact this was a moment of immense revelation for him. It was an inner discovery of the Divine in the midst of his life. It was a moment of a powerful awareness, of enormous significance; a flowing self-awareness of the presence of God where Jeremiah’s led into a deeper relationship with his God. He knew that Yahweh (the name of God by the ancient Hebrews) was with him. He knew that God was at his side like a mighty hero.

In the words of Richard Rohr “the mystery of presence is that the encounter wherein the self-disclosure of one evokes a deeper life in the other.”

Have you ever realised that your life is an unfolding spirituality? That your experience of your “being” is taking you into a deeper understanding of the Divine.

I know there will be many who can relate to Jeremiah’s story. Can you remember the staggering moment when you shuffled with emotional or physical pain? Or the time when you wept for whatever the reason? Or the time when you were blank because you did not know how to respond to the situation? Or the time you felt let down?

Like Jeremiah we have been there, at least with one of those times! Yet these are the times when we witness the spirituality of BEING. When we stand humbly before God! These are the moments when we are renewed with new insight but often it takes time for us to realise what God is revealing to us.

These are undoubtedly the moments when our faith is renewed!

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