Category Archives: Sunday Homily – Archive

4th Sunday of Easter Good Shepherd Sunday

It’s the first Saturday in May. The sun is shining today; there’s a spring warmth in the air; birds are singing, trees are becoming greener by the day, plants and flowers are in bud – but there is something vital to this day and to this weekend which is missing. Today and tomorrow should be our First Communions and we know that they cannot take place at this fraught moment in time. So our thoughts and indeed prayers go out to you in a special way today, boys and girls. You bring joy and life to us. Your presence is a sign of hope for us and the future of the body of Christ here in our parish family, in your own families and in your schools.

We need to celebrate your First Communion with you because in so doing, while we celebrate with you, we are also reminded again of who we are and what is truly life giving for us. For many of us it opens up the channels of precious memories in our own sacramental lives. It calls us to appreciate anew the gift that has been ours in the Eucharist over many years.

The Sunday liturgy speaks to us this weekend about the one whom we call our good Shepherd. For many years, the Church  has also focussed on the ongoing need for more Vocations  to the priesthood. It is sometimes even termed “Vocations Sunday”. Frequently there is a letter from one of the Bishops to reinforce that message and appeal. Always, there is an extra collection! Whenever there is a First Communion Mass, then obviously that is what should and would take pride of place. The homily would be surely directed above all to the children and their families.

Perhaps today when we are forced to postpone our first communions and when we sense the ongoing pain and sorrow at the forced temporary loss of celebrating Eucharist, we can reflect on the truth that, just as we need the celebration of First Communions for the ongoing life and spiritual health of the Church, so we also need the ongoing service of priesthood to help that spiritual life and health to continue. First Communion, and the commitment to see that as something vital in life, must operate in full harmony with the call to serve the Lord in the priesthood. One requires the other in order that the Church continues to live.

So today let’s pray for our children. Let us pray that the delay for our children in going to the table of the Lord to be nourished and formed as Christ’s brothers and sisters may be as short as possible. Let us pray also, that there may be a continued awareness in our Church and in our parish of the great need to ensure that there is a continued supply of priests to serve our Church.

Let us pray that our Good Shepherd’s voice may be heard by us all today as he says to us in the Eucharist and through the priesthood,  “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full”


Good Shepherd Sunday

May 2020

3rd Sunday of Easter, WALKING TO PENTECOST – a reflection

During this covid-19 lockdown many people are seen walking in pairs, as they take their open-air allowable exercise.  Such link-ups encourage conversation.  This would have been the experience of Cleopas and his companion, as they made their way on the road to Emmaus just after the Resurrection, in the Gospel of Luke.  This passage, used often at funerals, is used to give a reflection on the Christian pilgrim’s journey of life.  Every journey has a destination, given or chosen, wisely or unwisely picked.  Cleopas and partner have chosen unwisely and travel in the wrong direction away from Jerusalem, where the Resurrection has just taken place. Their direction is dramatically changed by their encounter with Christ.

The pilgrim journey of every faithful disciple of Jesus is not an easy one:  difficulties are encountered, opposition is met, temptations to divert from the straight road come.  But for every individual, pair, group or community of believers, Christ guarantees us his presence.  He walks with us and shares our sufferings and problems in his humanity and directs our focus to the divinity of the Father in heaven.

Travellers need food to sustain them.  For us believers that food is Christ, the Bread of Life, coming to us in the celebration of the Eucharist.  He comes to us in both Word and Sacrament. Sadly, at this time we are deprived of the sacramental experience, while our church doors are closed.  Happily, the words of Holy Scripture are always available to sustain us on our journey.  Jesus supported his companions on the Emmaus road, as he opened up the scriptures to them and in the breaking the bread.  Today’s difficulties are an encouragement to us to read the holy word more and allow the Lord to explain it to us in the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is Christ’s promise to us on our next immediate destination:  the Feast of Pentecost.  May this time be a period of serious preparation for the coming of the Spirit, when, hopefully, the doors will be open for our communities.

There is one thing I ask of the Lord, for this I long:  to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to savour the sweetness of the Lord; to visit his holy temple.  (Ps. 26)

2nd Sunday of Easter; Gospel John 20:19-31

Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe

Like so many of us in these times, I am each day looking out for any and every piece good news there might be in relation to Co-vid 19.  The hope of a vaccine; a reduction at last  in the tragic number of deaths, less people in Intensive Care units, people leaving hospital, having come successfully come through the illness. . Anything….  and everything which can give the sense and the hope that the virus might be retreating.

There is certainly plenty of good news and plenty to be thankful for, in terms of the response of people . There are the heroic fundraising efforts by Captain Tom Moore. We have the weekly displays of appreciation for the key workers in this health crisis. Then there are also the increased levels of neighbourliness, kindness and generosity of spirit. Personally I have been a recipient of these in many different ways – Thank you!.

But then, wherever we look for good news we should never lose sight of who we are –  of the fact that we a people who are brought to life through the good news, and who are called to be that good news for each other and for our world? In this Sunday’s gospel, that good news comes to us from the lips of Thomas. In Thomas’ words, “My Lord and my God”  the one, perhaps unfairly labelled as the “doubter,” brings us, the deepest and most profound acclamation of faith to be found anywhere in the Gospels. In uttering those words of faith. Thomas becomes the mouthpiece for all believers in all times and places and situations, good and bad.

Thomas had been at the level of imposing conditions for faith and trust. “Do this and I will believe. Show me this and I will place my trust in you. Here are my conditions for belief and unless they are met I am not going believe in the resurrection”. What happens of course is that Thomas, through the gift of God, is able to move on to an entirely different level.

The demand – show me your hands and your side – becomes redundant, as Thomas moves into the land of faith and trust. There faith is indeed unconditional and not dependent at all or our demands or impositions.

That acclamation “My Lord and My God” needs to be ours. Our Queen gave a powerful witness to the resurrection in saying that “This year we need Easter more than ever”.

We pronounce our Easter faith in these times when we do not have access to the sacramental life of the church or even to the building which is our spiritual home.  

We might long for a miracle and we may well be praying for that miracle. But our faith is certainly not in any way dependent upon that. It endures whatever comes. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe – Blessed therefore those early Christians living in difficult days after the time of the eyewitnesses, those for whom the gospels were first written. 

Today, we can declare in truth, with them, with Thomas, and with fellow believers of every generation,  that Jesus is our Lord and God. We make that declaration and continue to proclaim that faith  in front of everything and anything that life may bring before us.

2nd Sunday of Easter 2020

Easter Sunday

To believe in the resurrection of Jesus is to be comforted;
comforted at a level so deep that nothing in life
is ultimately a threat any longer.
In the resurrection,
the hand of God soothes us
and the voice of God assures us,
frightened children that we are, that all is good
and that all will remain good for ever and ever.

Ronald Rolhesier
The Passion and the Cross

The Lord is truly risen, Alleluia!
In the middle of these days of darkness, loss and sorrow, when our world is afflicted in a manner which is “unprecedented”, to use that recently overused yet fitting word, the Body of Christ and we the members of that Body, celebrate the resurrection.  We celebrate it because we believe in the God who, at all times, has the last word over even death itself. Our hope in the resurrection is in the one who brings his son from the cold deathly tomb to the bright radiance of Easter morning

Today, even as we face up to the harshness of reality, people look forward to better times.
We long for the day when to hug our loved ones and be hugged by those who are precious to us will again be normal, when going for a walk or a drive in the countryside will be seen as a good thing rather than an offence, when sitting down in our thousands to enjoy a football match will again be second nature to us.  

But there is also another level
The world will never be the same again, people predict. But then they add – but it can be a better place. It can be better!! We hear it so often. The hope people express is that thoughtfulness, care for one another, gentleness, love and straightforward kindness and goodness can become more abundant in this changed and transformed world. Hope in the resurrection is surely truly present in that wish.
At my desk as I write these words, I have another phone call from one of our parishioners. People have been so kind and thoughtful to me over these weeks of lockdown and isolation. Our parishioner on the phone and his wife have been both battling cancer and doing so with all the added difficulties which the coronavirus brings.

Yet he phones to ask how I am and how I am doing. –  Me, sitting here in these massive parish house quarters and huge grounds and with no lack of my brothers and sisters in the Lord looking out for me. He thinks of me and his voiced concerns are also are for the way in which the poor are singularly suffering today in the United States and elsewhere.
He displays to me the inner and deep power of the resurrection of Jesus. In spite of his cross, he is deeply empowered with the risen life of his saviour. So these green shoots of hope are not lacking. The new life of Easter is not gone from us. The risen Lord continues to speak and live and love through many people. The resurrection we can still celebrate. Happy Easter is still an authentic wish, since we encounter that life of Easter at the deepest and most authentic levels of our lives.

To finish this short reflection, I turn again to Ronald Rolheiser, who writes
          “To say, “Don’t be afraid,” and mean it is to say that, in the end
           the power of goodness is stronger than the power of malice
           that dead bodies come out of graves, that all our mistakes will
           be forgiven, and that all terrors are phantom.

          That is the power of the resurrection! That is what we mean
when we say: I believe in the resurrection of the body and
life everlasting”. The resurrection means more than just the
fact that God raised the body of Jesus from the dead.
It means that God’s power to raise death to life buoys up
every moment of life and every aspect of reality.

Do you want to understand the power of the resurrection?
Meditate on Michelangelo’s Pieta:
A woman holds a dead body in her arms,.
But everything about her and the scene itself
says loudly and clearly: “Do not be afraid. It’s all right.
Everything is and will be all right!”
     Fr.Ronald Rolheiser
                                                The Passion and the Cross

Easter Sunday 2020

Good Friday

Jesus Passion – Our Passion

In our churches on this day, our narrator would normally begin the gospel with the words “The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John”. While we would seldom stop to think of the word “Passion” and its root and origin in the language, perhaps there is something there for us if today we do just that. We think, surely, of the word in terms of its connection with suffering. The Passion of Jesus is about his sufferings and his death. To have com-passion is to suffer with another. Its meaning, however, is not exhausted in terms of the connection to suffering. The Passion of Jesus brings before us another aspect, expressed in the word passive.   The word passive is also linked and bound up with the Passion.  

When we think of Jesus life on earth, we constantly see him as a person of action. We encounter him preaching, teaching, healing, forgiving, travelling, meeting with people, confronting the religious authorities, sharing food and enjoying table fellowship with people. Jesus is a doer. He constantly does things for people., He is active almost constantly. The gospels bring home to us also the fact that because of the demands on him, he can scarcely find himself a minute to himself.

However, the last days of Jesus life on earth are such a contrast to those three years of action. As we  move away from the table in the upper room, such a change takes place. The activity stops. From doing things for and with others, Jesus now has things done to him. – he is arrested, put on trial, condemned, scourged, mocked, stripped, crucified, put to death. There is true passivity in Jesus’ situation.

Jesus brings humanity to life by all that he says and does. When the shadow of the cross grows larger and larger, that life giving continues. It even intensifies in its saving aspect. The redemption is ongoing even in Jesus time of passivity. By his holy cross and by his Passion and in this time of being subjected to the cruelty and humiliation of others, he continues to bring about our salvation. Through his Holy Cross he has truly redeemed the world.

In this tragic and anguish filled time which afflicts us and our world just now, we are constantly presented with the “mantra” like call – stay at home. Stay at home: – in doing so we are told that we will be playing our part and saving lives. Much of what has always marked daily life and relationships has been taken from us. Our normal daily patterns of doing and giving have gone for the moment. On one level, it is a call not to action but precisely to passivity, in a sense to actively do nothing other than sit and wait. Of course, that is a gross over simplification. There is so much going on in our homes, in our hospitals and in the way that people are helping each other and looking out for each other, . Then there is the “front line” of crucially vital involvement by our NHS workers and many more. There is the witness also of the sick and the dying. The presence of Christ to this situation is made manifest in so many ways and people.

But this is a very real and deep passion of humanity. It is a passion of pain and suffering and loss. It is also a Passion which binds us to Jesus in the passive aspects of his work of redemption.

If this virus were a visible and physical enemy it would already have been dealt with. With all our force and strength, we would have defeated it. We form part of a world where we are so used to problems being met and overcome. In the world of medicine we have long been able to rely on vaccines to take care of diseases and flu’s, where pills and other medication work to make countless medical problems easily manageable.

So it is little wonder that we find this time so agonising and difficult. This truly is the cross given to us. This indeed is the Passion in which we find ourselves passive and to some extent even helpless.

But the Jesus who went to the cross of Calvary is the one who saves us and redeems us even in those moments of our forced passivity. He invites us in this time when we are, for the moment, beaten down and made passive, to join our passion to his. He tells us even now that we too, in him, are made able to truly live and to truly give, even through this time of passivity and trial.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

Fr. Peter

Good Friday 2020

Holy Thursday

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Gospel:-John 13:1-15

If I then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet.

Is it not ironic that the “normal” pattern of our worship this evening at the beginning of the great Easter Triduum would bring us to washing, not of hands, but of feet? It would see the presence of “chosen ones” or, far more likely, “volunteers,” basins, jugs of suitably warmed water, towels, extra chairs, priests removing chasubles and going down on their knees to wash feet.

All of this, of course, is in order to allow this visible scene to point to and reflect the unconditional love and service of the Lord. It should be the sign of a people united in proclaiming this truth and recognising what this  call to service means in  our Eucharistic community.

In the “new normal” of today, of course, we are brought before the tragedy of the locked doors of our churches; to the presence of just the one representative, the priest, offering Mass for God’s people, but without the presence and active participation of God’s holy people. So the mandatum, the washing of the feet, obviously will not take place this year.

The gospel of course will still be proclaimed and those words of Jesus  retain their truth and their power “If I then, the Lord and master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet.

Just for a moment, allow yourself to let those words truly penetrate.

At the very same time as I will utter that gospel proclamation in our empty church this evening, those same words, thank God, will be incarnate in the lives and actions of so many who, consciously or not, will be imitating this supreme act of loving service of Christ the Lord.

At eight o’clock this Thursday evening, again we will witness the sight and the sound of applause ringing out the length and breath of our country – an applause which surely represents also a deep affirmation and true appreciation of service. The service of those who care for the sick and the dying: the service of those who risk their own health and indeed their own lives, to give to others. It is given, as people also recognise, not only in the hospitals and care homes, but is delivered also by our shelf stackers and our bus drivers, by our checkout assistants and our care workers, by our police officers and our ambulance crews – and by many more.

It is service that is on going and vital in so many ways, taking so many forms throughout the land; service that we are called to give, even  in our own homes and to the people we live with.  The service of those who look out for the needs of others; the service of those who carry out acts of kindness in a myriad of forms. Think of it and then hear the Lord’s words  spoken to us again. You must wash each others’ feet. The washing of the feet may not be taking place in the Church tonight but it is certainly still taking place before us in many beautiful and precious ways

That it is recognised and appreciated for what it means and represents, is also surely a sign that people continue to know and believe that it is in this way that we are truly brought to life. It is in giving of ourselves that we receive, as St Francis tells us.  

For us, as people of faith and trust in the presence of the Lord,
rejoice that we can recognise this service for what it truly is and let your inner voice quietly sing

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

Where there is love and loving kindness, God is truly there.

Homily for Palm Sunday 2020

In what seems little more than the blink of an eye, so much has changed. Reflecting that change, new phrases and words come into our way of speaking: expressions which declare the unprecedented nature of what our world has encountered through the presence of this terrible coronavirus, covid -19.

One of the many ways in which the media presents this change is simply in bringing before us the different settings of the people brought before us on our televisions. From the normal studio environment, we are now often invited into the sitting rooms, the bedrooms and even the lofts of those brought before us as presenters, interviewers and interviewees.  We have even taken to the living rooms of royalty and the self isolation quarters of our prime minister.

 While we listen to what they have to say to us, our natural inquisitive natures mean that our eyes travel quickly also to the background, to the backdrop to the scene.  

There are many books on the shelves – sometimes neat and tidy, sometimes not; sometimes there are even unseasonal Christmas decorations!

But what is most significant of all, surely, are the photographs –  Images of family, of loved ones, of people who are unique and precious to the people speaking to us.

They are not intended to be the story that is being told, but in a very real sense, they indeed are the story. They represent the story of people’s lives, the ones who make life worth living. They are those who love and are loved in return.

There truly is indeed something called society, says our prime minister.  There truly is something so precious called family and friendship.

St. John of the Cross brought before us the idea of the via negativa – the God who is revealed to us in the darkness, in absence.
The jewel that is family and the precious gem that is true friendship is surely revealed to us just now through something akin to that via negativa, to the light that shines in the darkness!
It is seen through the very fact that we cannot gather together just now. It speaks to us that we are prevented from doing so much of what we have always just taken for granted We can’t visit grandparents nor can we  play with our grandchildren. We can’t enjoy the company of close friends or just play with or hang out with our pals.  
It is so painfully experienced above all, is it not, in the depths of anguish of those who cannot be present at the bedside of the dying or attend the funeral of a loved one ?
And through the “not being able to”, we realise still more how much we
love and treasure one another.

Let us move now, not back to the TV screens, but back to Jerusalem and to that entry into the Holy City and ultimately to the  coming days Passion.
And there we meet the suffering Christ who comes past us, heading to the hill of Calvary.
Jesus has taken so long to bring this family of his disciples together To form them, to teach them, to reassure and encourage them and to raise them up when they have fallen. This time of formation and bringing together has indeed been a long one.
Who is my mother and my brother and my sister? – Those who do the will of my Father, they are my brother and sister and mother.  
Now, though, it seems the relationship is beginning to disintegrate. For the family of his closest disciples, fear has begun to take over, trust evaporates and eventually Jesus will be left alone.  

And yet it is in carrying that experience of loss and loneliness that Jesus goes to the cross. Even as he endures this disintegration of relationship, he is able bring together the scattered and frightened children of God in a new and unbreakable bond. Through his death, he brings the world to life in him. Through his death, life will ultimately triumph; the power of death and sin will be overcome for ever.

So today, even as we see the disappearance, albeit temporary, of many of the normal signs and expressions of family life, as we practise social, or more accurately, physical distancing. Today, as we experience a type of liturgical disintegration in not being able to gather and walk together in procession to enter into Holy Week, to celebrate together the ultimate paradox of death and resurrection in Eucharist, even now we are still touched by the presence and the power of the one who brings life through death.

In these days, we hear people comment, again and again, that we appreciate now so much more the things and the people who really matter. In these days, we continue to be held together by the touch and embrace of the God who is totally one with us in our suffering.
The one who by His Holy Cross has redeemed the world and all its tragedies.
That is what we recall and make present in these days.
Even if we are unable to come physically together to do what the Church has done every year, the death of our savour is the process not of disintegration, but of our being born to eternal life in him.  

May the Lord continue to bless you
and keep you family and your friends safe
during this Holy Week and always.

Have mercy, Lord, on your Church,
As she brings you her supplications,
And be attentive to those who incline their hearts before you:
Do not allow, we pray, those you have redeemed
By the death of your only begotten Son,
To be harmed by their sins or weighed down by their trials.
Through Christ Our Lord.

Prayer over the People
                   Mass for 5th Saturday of Lent

Father Peter
Palm Sunday 2020

Homily for Sunday 29th March 2020

Gospel:- John 11:1-45
I am the resurrection and the life

Martha longs for life to be as it was before.
She longs, above all, that her brother, Lazarus, was still with her and her
sister Mary: that family life would still be as it always was.
In her typically practical approach to life,
somehow she has also decided that if Jesus had been present
this tragedy would never have happened.
Lazarus would still be alive and still with them.

We are joined in solidarity today with Martha
Because we too long that things once again
Would be as they always have been.
That life would be as it was for us, for our loved ones,
for our church and indeed for our world.
We may even be tempted to say with her
“Lord, if you have been here, this would not have happened”.

We long to move forward from the depths
of this awful viral threat to take up normal life again.
To enjoy the countless things we took for granted.
So many things that we seldom stopped to think about them.
We long for the touch of our loved ones.
We look to be able to hug our grandchildren again.
We long for the normal patterns of everyday life, the company of friends
and even the banter at work.
We long, also, to be again the active Eucharistic parish family, physically
gathered together, young and old, around the tables of God’s word and

Martha in her longing is presented with the question,
“Do you believe me?” She is invited to travel into the land of true and
deep faith.
The question continues,
“Do you believe me when I tell you that I am the resurrection and the
Do you believe me when I tell you that I can transform and redeem even
the most terrible of situations?”

Jesus promise, of course, goes far beyond what Martha had sought.
And Martha can say, “Yes”.

Martha declares her belief when life could scarcely have been worse for her.
She proclaims her faith in the Lord of life, even when surrounded by the darkness of death. 
We too are invited to say in the midst of this darkness, Yes, Lord, I believe.
The same Lord who invited Martha to belief is the one who makes our “yes” possible. The one who, by his initiative of love, makes true, deep and enduring faith possible.

We can say “yes” today also because we can see also the Lord at work in
the transparent goodness of so many people around us in these days.
In the skills and the courage of all our National Health Service workers;
in those who are serving others with the many tasks of daily life.
We can see it even in our media at times in these days. A media which
has been  able to speak with a voice which is truly and deeply spiritual.

Unbind him. Let him go free.

Those final words of our gospel had the power to bring Lazarus out from the tomb.
Those words speak with power also to our elect, still in our minds and our prayer, and point towards the new life to which they will be called in the waters of their Baptism.
They speak to us all in relation to the weakness and death of sin still present in all of us, but which is destroyed by the power of the Lord of life.

And surely in these days of anguish, the Lord invites us to make his words
our own as we cry out to him:-
Unbind us, Lord. Let us go free.
Unbind our world and bring an end to this time of suffering and pain.
Unbind us, Lord,  
And bring to us all
Your healing and peace.

5th Sunday of Lent, 2020