Takehomenews Sunday 20th June
Fr Colin writes:
On Thursday we celebrate the Nativity of St John the Baptist, 6 months in the calendar before the birth of Jesus. We first encounter John the Baptist on the occasion of Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. It is there that the child leapt in the womb of Elizabeth as she heard that Mary was to give birth to the Saviour of the World. I find John the Baptist a most interesting character in the Bible. He is seen as the last prophet of the Old Testament and the first of the New Testament. We encounter him most of all in the Gospel readings during the season of Advent. He is an ascetic: in the way he dressed, in his simple diet and in where he preached. He gained many followers despite or because of this He preached a message of repentance and baptised with water. Many thoughts that he was the long-awaited Messiah. John the Baptist had a task on his hands when Jesus began to appear on the scene. He had to explain that Jesus was the Messiah and he would baptise with the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist’s well-known quote ‘There goes the Lamb of God’ pointed his disciples towards Jesus, and then John the Baptist was able to take a back seat. However, he must have been well-known during the first part of Jesus’ ministry and the next we hear of him is when he is imprisoned. His unsavoury death when Herodias demands the head of John the Baptist on a plate, marks him our as a prophet martyr. John the Baptist is one of the few who have a feast day for both their birth and their death. We keep the Feast of the Passion of St John the Baptist on 29th August, although this year we will miss out as it falls on a Sunday.
Next Thursday’s Feast is an important step in the history of our salvation, just as our own Parish Feast Day of the Annunciation is an initial step towards our redemption. St John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ our Redeemer.
First Communion Programme
On Tuesday there will be the final meeting for the 1st Holy Communion Parents at 7.45pm in the Canon Smyth Parish Centre. Both Group A and B have a session next Sunday 27th June, at 9.15am.
Meeting for new Altar Servers
We are blessed with excellent servers in our parish who give faithful service throughout the year, but we are always on the lookout for other parishioners who would like to join our ‘team’. The ministry of Altar Server is open to all who have received their First Holy Communion and demonstrate a wish to uphold the aims and objectives of the Guild of St Stephen.
If anyone who meets the requirements is interested in becoming an Altar Server, they are invited to attend a meeting in the church on Saturday 3rd July at 11.00am. All under 16s must be accompanied to the meeting by a parent/carer.
Finance Committee Meeting
The Finance Committee meet at 7.30pm on Thursday in the Canon Smyth Parish Centre.
12th Sunday of Year (B)
Today’s readings provide us with a lesson in intercessory prayer. The Scene on the boat when a storm brews up and the disciples begin to panic is similar to any occasion when we are in difficulties and need God’s help. Jesus is in the stern of the boat and is asleep. The disciples wake him up and he duly calms the storm and all is serene again. We can meet all types of storms in our life. One such storm is over our current pandemic. We have been worried about our health the health of others, the NHS pressure, the number of deaths, the poor and deprived, people’s jobs, people’s holidays, the variants, those suffering worse in other countries, and so on. Probably there have been more prayers in the last year for God’s help than there have been for a very long time. But God does listen. He is awake. There have been many blessings in these times. Prayers HAVE been answered. Perhaps the greatest one is the discovery of effective vaccines to counteract this pandemic. The Holy Spirit has guided the scientists and laboratory workers to produce effective vaccines. But these prayers have been answered in all sorts of ways. The goodness, kindness generosity and selflessness of many has come to the fore. It has given us an opportunity to assess our life and our ultimate destiny. Today is a day for life when we particularly value the great gift of life that God has given us and think of those who have particular burdens in their lives. The pandemic has shown us just how much we value life as a society. On this day we are asked to pray for a culture where life, in all its vulnerability, is cherished and to promote authentic compassion in the treatment of those who are sick or dying.
Job, who we hear about in today’s first reading was often put to test by the Lord. Some of the things that he had to suffer were quite horrific, both for himself and his family. But Job was not given more tragedies then he could cope with. This meant not only that he remained faithful to God but his faith increased. Often through tragedy and inconvenient happenings and disappointments, our faith can shine through. The reading from Job is part of God’s response to Job who demands an answer to his misfortune, God’s response is simple—put your trust in God and you will survive. However, we must not forget to thank the Lord when our prayers are answered. Today’s psalm response reminds us of this: O give thanks to the Lord
for his love endures for ever.
Today is a Day for Life
The fragility of life and the reality of death have been brought into sharp focus during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the UK alone, more than 126,000 people have died from Covid-19. Each of these lives is precious and every life matters. Behind each statistic there is a person, with a family, with friends, with a story, with a life of infinite value and worth. Each death has rightly been mourned as a tragedy. This tragedy has been further compounded by the inability to be physically present with loved ones at the end of their life, due to the restrictions of the pandemic. The pain of this separation and the preciousness of a loved one’s final moments has been keenly felt by many.
Yet against this bleak backdrop of suffering and separation, we have witnessed the extraordinary dedication of healthcare professionals and their loving care for the sick and dying. Their presence at the side of a dying loved one has been a source of comfort and consolation for many grieving families.
The gift of life in all its beauty and fragility now faces a profound challenge through attempts to legalise ‘assisted suicide.’ That legislation which proposes hastening death is now being seriously contemplated, is deeply alarming following a year of pandemic which has caused the untimely deaths of millions around the world.
Assisted suicide, as Pope Francis reminds us, is a ‘false compassion’ and its remedy is one of true compassion, a patient ‘suffering with’ the vulnerable, sick and dying. A ‘true compassion’, he says, is ‘the just response to the immense value of the sick person.’ This is a compassion which finds expression in treating the dying person with love, with dignity and by making use of appropriate palliative care. Life is a gift to be valued until its last breath and countless people have witnessed to this holistic vision of dying, encompassing the relational, spiritual, emotional and physical dimensions of a person and their family.
This pandemic has shown us just how much we value life as a society. Please help us to build on this and fight against the legalisation of assisted suicide by donating to Day for Life. Your donations will support the work of pro-life organisations as they seek to promote and protect life from conception until its natural death.
St. Michael’s Catholic Grammar School
Require a Technician Physics, Part-time 25 hours per week, 39 weeks per year (term time only). A Support Staff application form and Job Description are available on the School website. Please send completed applications to applicatiomichaels.barnet.sch.uk. Closing date: Friday 25th June
Saints for this week
Monday - St Aloysius Gonzaga was born in Castiglione, Italy. The first words St. Aloysius spoke were the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. He was destined for the military by his father (who was in service to Philip II), but by the age of 9 Aloysius had decided on a religious life, and made a vow of perpetual virginity. To safeguard himself from possible temptation, he would keep his eyes persistently downcast in the presence of women. St. Charles Borromeo gave him his first Holy Communion. A kidney disease prevented St. Aloysius from a full social life for a while, so he spent his time in prayer and reading the lives of the saints.
Tuesday - St John Fisher & St Thomas More St. John Fisher (1469-1535) was ordained a priest when he was about 22, and was appointed Bishop of Rochester in 1504. He lived an intentionally simple lifestyle and was an intellectual. He studied theology at Cambridge, where he became chancellor. Among his writings is a commentary on the seven penitential psalms. His mission as a bishop was to perfect how the Church's teachings were conveyed by his diocese.
St. Thomas More (1478-1535) was a humanist and intellectual - he worked as a lawyer and explored theology through his written works, many of which were defenses of the Catholic faith against heresy. He studied at Oxford and briefly considered religious life, but he eventually followed a vocation to marriage and fatherhood. More was appointed by King Henry VIII to be Lord Chancellor of England in 1529.
Thursday - The Nativity of St John the Baptist.