Dear Members of our Parish Community
When my eldest daughter was about 20 months old we were adopted by a dog, which we named ‘Solo’.
Mary was out walking with Teresa and engaged in conversation with a dog, also out for a walk, albeit without a companion. Mary’s new canine friend proceeded to accompany them on their walk and then followed Mary and Teresa home. After a series of telephone conversations with the authorities, Solo took up permanent residence. Three daughters later and Solo had become a key member of the family. This was fortunate in that our house bordered on a large playing field, which in turn was bordered by woods, a major road and allotments. The girl’s had the freedom to play in the field and in the wood, guarded at all times by Solo, who would circle the girls as they played and warn off any strangers. Solo was a firm friend, companion, confidant, guardian and protector. I am reminded of Solo in the readings for this week-end.
Sunday marks the end of the Church’s liturgical year and we celebrate the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King. The readings invite us to consider our relationship with God. They reminded us that God is love and the Christian life can only be a life which reflects that love. The Readings also tell us much about true leadership: a leader looks after all of his sheep.
In the first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel introduces God as a Shepherd reminding us of Christ’s claim that he is the good-shepherd, leading, feeding and protecting his sheep. Ezekiel, like Matthew, emphasizes that God will seek out the persecuted, the troubled, the sick, and will bring them under his protection. Matthew extends this theme by describing Christ the King coming in his Heavenly glory to judge us on how we have shared our love and blessings with others. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians presents Christ as the all-powerful ruler-king who raises the dead and to whom every form of power and authority must eventually give way.
Our Bishops are encouraging us to come together in prayer at 6 pm every day so that we remain faithful to a pattern of prayer. Some of us are already doing just that since we launched Praying Together in March. Wherever we are, we are part of your Parish Community and part of a Universal Church, one body in Christ. I would encourage you all to join us either at midday or at 6 pm to pray for an end to the pandemic and the health and well-being of our nations.
The Church in England and Wales is also conducting a Novena during November. As the labourers working in the vineyard found, it is never too late to join: the rewards are the same! Details may be found at https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/events/prayer-for-the-nation/
Our Bishop, Philip, has called the Diocese to join together in prayer on Friday, 27 November for an end to the Coronavirus Pandemic. We will open our Church for Private Prayer for that purpose but may I suggest that we come together, wherever we feel safe and secure, and pray for that intention and for all those affected by the virus.
At an audience this week Pope Francis reminded us that we must use our gifts for good. And on twitter he wrote: ‘Even a smile that we can share with the poor is a source of love. An outstretched hand can always be enriched by the smile of those who quietly and unassumingly offer to help, inspired only by the joy of living as one of Christ’s disciples’.
On that note…….
Keep safe. Keep smiling. God bless you.