September has arrived and there don’t seem to have been any months between now and last March. What a strange year! Reading the bible as I have to, one gets into a way of expecting a prophet to turn up and say God is displeased with our faithless behaviour and will not relent until we do penance and turn back to our God.
It all seems far more complicated in this time of the ‘Christian Era’, but we can still plead with God to take away the universal scourge that is the corona virus. Today any bad things that happen tend to turn people away from God rather than make them come back to Him. I’m sure God knows this, and no longer uses plagues and famines as warnings. We are reacting by feeling helpless and frustrated: ‘But they cried to the Lord in their need, and He rescued them from their distress’ (Ps. 106/7 four times).
Thank you all for phoning and booking a place at Mass. We have just the two Mass times that have been filled again. The 10.30am still does not seem so popular. People can book for 10.30am next week if they wish – get in first with your request so it will be more difficult to cancel. Don’t forget, phone Wednesday afternoon from 2.00pm onwards, until 10.00pm. Some of you seem delighted to be back at mass. Others had a look and didn’t come again. It isn’t the same as normal, but will gradually get that way before too long. We thank God that he has spared us all till now.
I am hoping to hear good news from those of you who have been involved in the return to school, and trust that everyone will stay safe. Also it seems that there were none of our young people who were casualties of the mix-up over the results of the A-level awards. At least we don’t know about them. Do please keep in touch. Will the others get to leave for university? Yet another uncertainty…
On Tuesday 8 September there is the ancient celebration of Our Lady’s birthday. The date was later used to establish the date for the feast of her Immaculate Conception, December 8. Perhaps your family could have a little celebration in honour of Mary on Tuesday. In the readings at Mass on the twenty-third Sunday in ordinary time, the prophet Ezekiel was told that he must warn people of their bad behaviour or himself share in their guilt! We are similarly obliged, but to offer correction only if there is some hope that it would do some good. The gospel gives Matthew’s take on this, (presumably the custom in the first days of the Church).
Our (furloughed) green Mass books comment that Matthew says “… people who won’t listen to correction are to be treated ‘like a pagan or a tax collector’ ” – but evidently treated the way Jesus himself treated those people: not permanently excluding them, but seeing their potential for good. St Paul reminds us how important that simple rule is, ‘Love thy neighbour’.
Have a good week. The weather forecast seems quite good. It can only improve!
Fr Tony Elder