I came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfil them. Saint Matthew’s Gospel was written primarily for Christians who had belonged to the Jewish community. His Gospel is structured with many references to the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament.) In it there are five main talks or discourses of the Lord modelled on the five books of the Torah. The first main discourse of the Law is the most important – the Sermon on the Mount. Just as Moses went up Mount Sinai to bring the Ten Commandments, God’s Law to the people, Jesus climbs the mountain of the Beatitudes to present the New Law to the people. The attitudes and lifestyles of the Christian must reflect the Law. We are called to be selfless givers, to be eternal lovers of the Father. We are called to rejoice in His presence in our families, and not to be minimalists in the faith. We are called to find meaning in the laws that God gave us so that our external actions might truly be a reflection of our internal attitudes. A tall order – definitely. That is why we go to Mass and why we pray that God, by His grace, make us be better Christians.
LENTEN SOUP: The First Friday of Lent is 28thFebruaryand we will be beginning the Friday Lent Soup.There is a sign-up sheet in the church porch if you would like to volunteer to provide (doesn’t have to be home-made)and serve soup on a Friday through Lent after the 12.15pm Mass. Many thanks.
As Catholics we are called to bring God’s Light to the world. Our faith is not just a matter of what we believe nor is it just a matter of how we live our lives. We exist so the world might find its salvation in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Faith is a matter of what we are and who we are and we are sons and daughters of God. God, the Creator of the Universe, the One who knows what is happening on remote planets in solar systems millions of light years away from here, looks at us and says, “They are mine! They entered my family when they were baptised. I did not just give them life. I gave them my life.” Many of us are confirmed, the Lord looks on us and says, “These are the leaders of my people. They are my front line. I am giving them my Power, my Holy Spirit so they can bring others to me. They are mine and I am theirs.” What are we? We are the people of God. May we have the courage to be the people God created us to be.
RACIAL JUSTICE SUNDAY: This weekend the Catholic Church in England and Wales will celebrate Racial Justice Sunday – the theme is: “You are at the heart of the Church”. We will celebrate the contribution of Travelling Communities to the Church in England and Wales. It is an opportunity for us to pray for, reflect on and respond to racial justice matters within the Church and wider society. There are plenty of leaflets for this in church – please take one.
HCPT CHILDREN’S PILGRIMAGES TO LOURDES – There will be a meeting at 12 noon on Saturday 15th February in the parish centre if you are interested in finding out more details about the HCPT & Lourdes Pilgrimages.
Some years ago now, the Church changed today’s feast from a Feast of Mary, the Purification, to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Since Simeon called Jesus the Light of the Nations, this feast is also the day that candles are blessed and for that reason is sometimes called Candlemas. In the Eastern Church, today’s feast is called the Feast of the Encounter; the first encounter of the Old Testament, represented by Simeon, Anna and the Temple, with the New Testament represented by the Lord. Jesus is presented in the Temple following the ancient Jewish Laws. In the New Law of the Kingdom of God, Jesus’ own body will become the New Temple. For us any encounter with the Lord is a step into the spiritual; a step into New Life. The material things we have now will be lost at the end of our lives, but Christ and His love and the way we love Him in others, that is the new life that is forever. On this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, we ask God to transform us from people tied to the material to those whose encounters with Christ leads us to live for the new, for the spiritual.
We will be having a POWER OF ATTORNEY AND DNR MEETING in the parish centre on Saturday 8th February at 10.30am. We will be joined by a nurse and a doctor who will talk to us about the use of Power of Attorney and ‘do not resuscitate’ forms. If this may be of use or helpful to you please do come along.
Peter and Andrew, James and John heard the Lord’s call, dropped everything and followed Him. They weren’t the sort of people anyone would suspect of being religious; they were simple fishermen. They weren’t the sort of people anyone would suspect could convince others to change their lives nor were they the sort of people that anyone would suspect could take the position of leadership in the conversion of the world – but they were! They responded to a call and God worked His wonders through them. They, and their companions, weren’t an easy bunch to train in the Lord’s way. They wanted Jesus to call down fire and brimstone on the Samaritans. They fought over who would have the greatest authority in the Kingdom of heaven. They ran in fear when Jesus was arrested. There must have been times when Mary just rolled her eyes! But they did learn and as a result we are here, members of the Church. The disciples had a secret teacher, a mystical teacher; they had the Holy Spirit. Filled with the Holy Spirit they were able to transform their lives and convey the joy of serving Christ to their companions… …and so can we!
First Holy Communion Children
This weekend we welcome the children who are setting out on their journey to making their First Holy Communion. The first part of their journey will be to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Please keep them all in your prayers as they are presented to the parish today.
Delight at new latrines! Parishioners at Sitima Parish extend their greetings and sincere thanks to the parishioners of Holy Trinity and St George for their generosity in funding the build of two new latrines and the restoration of others.
Today’s Gospel follows the Baptism of Jesus; John tells us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Saint Paul points out that Jesus came that we might be holy, for Paul being holy is being set aside for God. Jesus suffered death and rose again to give us His life, setting us aside for God: He died so we can be holy. Holiness is not something that we do; it is something that Jesus has done for us. He made us holy. We all want to have wonderful, full lives; how can we live life to its fullest? How, basically, by committing ourselves to God and abandoning ourselves to His Truth. This is how we respond to the call to be holy. Behold, the Lamb of God, who accepted the way that would lead to the cross. He is calling us to join Him and sacrifice ourselves for others. John said that he saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus. The Spirit has descended upon us too, calling us by name to trust in God; calling us to be lights in the world, lights guiding others to Jesus.
SITIMA DELIGHT AT NEW LATRINES: Parishioners at Sitima Parish extend their greetings and sincere thanks to the parishioners of Holy Trinity and St George for their generosity in funding the build of two new latrines and the restoration of others.
Sitima Parish is very rural, covering around 40 square miles south east of Zomba in Malawi and actually has eight Catholic churches forming the parish. The main church in Sitima is dedicated to St Joseph and it is here that the new latrines have been built.
Sitima parishioners say ‘Zikomo kwambiri’ (thank you very much).
EMAIL: We are compiling a list of email addresses to send the weekly bulletin and also the parish magazine. If you haven’t already given your details to the parish office and would like to receive items by email then please put your name on the list in church. Options are ‘bulletin’, ‘magazine’, ‘both’
Jesus saw John baptizing. He saw people there with John, sincere people, responding to John’s call to plunge into a new way of living. Jesus went down into the water and was baptized. And the voice from heaven rang out, “This is my Beloved Son with Whom I am well pleased.” Take the plunge! All of us have to seize the day to take advantage of the moments that God gives us to allow us to change our lives and His world. We seize the day to prepare for tomorrow. There are many graced moments in our lives. There are many times that we can allow God to draw us closer to Him. Some of these times are obvious, like confirmation, marriage, the celebration of the critical moments in the faith life of our children and grandchildren. There are other times that might not seem so obvious, ordinary times when we are called to make the ordinary extraordinary by seizing the day, respond to God’s call and plunge into the river. We are called to seize the day and be One with all who are seeking the Kingdom of God. May Jesus, baptized by John, give us the courage to join Him in the Jordan River.
FIRST HOLY COMMUNIONS 2020 – The first meeting, which is for the parents of the First Holy Communion children, is on Wednesday 15th January at 7.30pm in the parish centre. We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.
It must have been quite a sight as the Magi arrived in Israel. These were powerful foreigners, worthy of an audience with Herod. He was troubled by their visit: who were they and what did they want? They wanted to pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews. Was there a baby who would replace Herod? His advisers told Herod of the prophecy that a ruler would come from Bethlehem. If these three could create such a stir in Jerusalem, imagine what it like when they arrived in Bethlehem! There these rich Gentiles prostrated themselves before the child and gave Him gifts. Why would rich pagans be interested in the Jewish Messiah? That the gentiles could be part of God’s plan for His people was beyond the consideration of the Jews. But the mystery, hidden for generations was now revealed: the gentiles were to be co-heirs with them, co-partners in the promise of Jesus Christ, as St Paul tells us. Jesus Christ came for all; none were to be excluded from the Grace of God that He brings. Today we ask the Lord to free us from our prejudices, and allow us to be truly Catholic, truly people of a universal Church.
HAPPY NEW YEAR AND HUGE THANKS for your very kind cards and gifts over Christmas and thank you also to everyone who helped with the Christmas services. I know you’ve put in a great deal of time and effort and it really worked. The church looked wonderful and the services went really well. Fr Hugh
The Word truly became flesh and has dwelt among us. The image of the infant Christ, Son of God, son of Mary, is placed before us that we might know with confidence the Mystery of God’s love. Commercial Christmas is soon over; ours is not. We are given the Season of Christmastide – which we may legitimately extend to 2nd February, the Feast of the Presentation – as a time for staying with the Holy Family. It is a beautiful gift for each one of us and for the world. Let us take time, itself a gift, to reflect on how Our Lord came. He ‘took flesh’ within the womb of Our Blessed Lady. He literally ‘took flesh’ from her. This is how all unborn children grow. His life was completely dependent on her health and well-being. And Mary entrusted herself to St. Joseph, a worthy spouse, step-father and guardian of the Holy Family. Pray for young parents. Pray for unborn children. Undoubtedly, they were members of an extended family. The Genealogies of St. Luke and St. Matthew make us aware of grandparent figures. Details are lacking but we may imagine elderly members of the family taking an interest and being given a role in the up-bringing of this new Child. Imagine the concern caused by them having to flee to Egypt to escape harm. Imagine the joy at being reunited when eventually they returned, even though it was to Nazareth. These were the days long before any welfare state. Families were close; they had to be because there was no alternative. It is still the case in many parts of the world. In our own society family must still be seen as the primary place for care and education for life. Pray for extended families. Pray for those who work to support families that struggle.Marriage is of Divine institution. Christ raises it to the dignity of a Sacrament. It is a vocation, and for many, the way to heaven. A story is told of a young priest conducting a wedding ceremony. At the appropriate time he delivered a well prepared homily on the joy and bliss of marriage, emphasising the privilege of so intimately sharing in the Grace of Divine love, nothing less than Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church. During the homily, one elderly woman in the congregation turned to her neighbour and whispered, ‘my word, Ethel, I wish I knew as little about marriage as that young man seems to . . .’ Pray for those who must preach the truth of the Gospel.It is easy to mock the experience of marriage. It can be tempting to dismiss the Church’s teaching as too idealistic, no longer relevant in our complex times, particularly where suffering and misunderstanding are present. However, the young priest was doing the right thing in presenting the Christian teaching on marriage rather than ‘lowering the bar’ and presenting a merely human experience.Christian love is not an ideal but a reality. We are not ashamed to appear ‘old-fashioned’ in our religious practice and teachings. We will not abandon Christ’s teachings to follow secular novelties and fashions. Pray for those who have been hurt in marriage. Pray for those who work for healing in our marriage tribunals.
Pope Saint John Paul II noted how the family, a fundamental institution, is experiencing a radical and widespread crisis. He said that the Church cannot yield to cultural pressures, no matter how popular and even militant they may be. Pray for those who have fallen away from the practice of their Faith because of temptation. Whatever our experience of life, the Holy Family is there for us, somewhere to find shelter, acceptance and belonging. I pray this year for all grandparents. Yours is an indispensable role. You offer support and encouragement to young families. Your relationship with grandchildren gives them memories they will carry into their own later years. May your example and memory be amongst their richest inheritance, especially when the world’s riches leave them empty or unsatisfied. Let us pray for our grandparents.
Finally, this year we set ourselves to become more familiar with the God who speaks. Imitate Mary and Joseph, young mother and step-father, waiting eagerly to hear Jesus, the Divine Son, speak his first word. It would be a word that brought great joy to them. They would be quick to tell their relatives and neighbours, ‘He has spoken!’ As we approach the new year, may we also wait patiently for the Lord to speak to us, whoever we are, whatever our circumstances and needs.I encourage you to attend Mass on New Year’s Day if possible, it is an opportunity to begin the year by listening to the Word. He has a word for each of us. It will bring us comfort and hope.
With my prayers for you and your families as we prepare for the new year,
A virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call Him, Emmanuel, which means, God-is- with-us!
St Elizabeth was married into the heart of the Temple tradition. She represents the best of the ancient chosen people of God. The Temple was a sign pointing to God. The ancient Hebrews struggled with the concept of building a Temple, while the pagans built temples everywhere and limited their gods to their buildings. The Hebrews, however, knew that God could not be limited to one place; but they wanted a place to honour God, a place that would hold the special presence of the One whom the universe could not contain. Elizabeth’s body was like that ancient Temple; it contained the one who would point out the Lord to the world. John the Baptist. Within Elizabeth, he leapt for joy in the presence of Jesus within Mary. John, the last of the ancient prophets became the first of the Christian prophets pointing to the One he would later call the Lamb of God. He embodied and brought to a conclusion the Temple Tradition of Israel, the tradition of reminding the people that God is among them. Jesus is Emmanuel, God-with-us!