St Etheldreda's

Roman Catholic Church

Homilies from St Etheldreda's

Cast all your anxieties upon him

Published July 4, 2021

Year B, Ordinary Time, 14th Sunday What was this ‘thorn in the flesh’ that caused St Paul so much distress? (2 Cor. 12: 7-10).  Was it some kind of temptation?  Was it an illness?  Was it the tragic fact that most of his fellow Jews had rejected the Christian gospel ‒ a fact that caused […]

A secret Messiah

Published June 27, 2021

Yr B, 13th Sunday of the Year It is very strange that Jesus should order the family of the girl whom he had just raised from the dead not to tell anyone about it.  (Mark 5: 35-43).  Mrs Cohen next door must have known the girl was dead.  She must have had a heart attack […]

Don’t you care?

Published June 20, 2021

Yr B Ordinary Time, 12th Sunday The disciples yell at Jesus, ‘Don’t you care?’  ‘We’re going down!’  Jesus wakes up and puts everything right in a jiffy.  And there was a great calm; and they were filled with awe.  (Mark 4: 35-41) There are lots of stories like this in the Gospels, where Jesus with […]

Become what you are!

Published June 13, 2021

Yr B Ordinary Time, 11th Sunday The parable in today’s Gospel Reading (Mark 4: 26-29) compares God’s Kingdom to a seed.  Once sown, a seed grows of its own accord, without human intervention.  The earth yields its fruit ‘of itself’ (automatē), St Mark says.  The harvest does not depend on our efforts nor is it […]

From glory to glory

Published June 6, 2021

Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord The Feast of Corpus Christi is a bit like a birthday.  I mean: life is a process.  We don’t often reflect on the fact that we have been born.  We don’t often say with the Psalmist: ‘I thank you, Lord, for the wonder of […]

In God’s image and likeness

Published May 30, 2021

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity 2021 ‘We believe in one God … And in one Lord, Jesus Christ … the only begotten of the Father … of one being with the Father.’  And ‘we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son: with […]

Pentecost in our ordinariness

Published May 23, 2021

Feast of Pentecost 2021 You’ve got to admire those first Christian preachers in St Luke’s account of Pentecost (Acts 2: 1-11).  At a moment’s notice they were able to stand up and tell of the mighty works of God before a very mixed congregation and, with only a bit of help from St Peter, they […]

A Pastoral Letter


Pentecost Sunday 2021 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ I am very pleased to share with you this Pastoral Letter, prepared by the Bishops of England and Wales for use in churches on 23 May 2021, Pentecost Sunday: The Solemnity of Pentecost reminds us that everything which exists, every person and the whole of creation, […]

Protect them from the Evil One!

Published May 16, 2021

7th Sunday of Easter, Yr B.  World Communications Day. Today is World Communications Day.  This annual event was inaugurated by Pope Paul VI in 1967 to give voice to the Church’s recognition of the opportunities and challenges that modern means of social communication present to the Church and the world.  Of course, no one would […]

The stuff we are made of

Published May 13, 2021

Feast of Ascension 2021 The Feast of the Ascension is the final consequence of Christmas.  At Christmas, Christ came among us to share with us his divinity.  At Ascension, Christ returns to God, bearing our humanity.  When we speak of ‘our humanity’ in this context, we are not talking about an abstract idea.  Jesus does […]

Love is all you need!

Published May 9, 2021

6th Sunday of Easter, Yr B ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another.’  Love for one another is not just a commandment.  It is first and foremost a gift.  It means sharing in the love that the Father has for Jesus and that Jesus has for us.  We are still in that part […]

The vine and its branches

Published May 2, 2021

5th Sunday of Easter. Yr B Jesus is the vine, we are the branches (John 15: 1-8).  We draw sap from him. Every page of St John’s Gospel tells us that this sap is the life that originates in the depths of God’s being.  Of this life Jesus is the reservoir, and from this reservoir […]

The kenner

Published April 24, 2021

4th Sunday of Easter, Yr B Vocations Sunday ‘I am the good shepherd: I know my own and my own know me.’  Moments earlier Jesus has said:  The sheep hear the voice of the good shepherd: ‘he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.’  (John 10: 11-18) Jesus is the ‘good’ shepherd.  […]

Grilled fish at Easter

Published April 18, 2021

3rd Sunday of Easter, Yr B St Luke in today’s Gospel Reading wants to tell us that the risen Jesus is the same Jesus that the disciples had known and loved.  He has flesh and bones, and he eats fish.  In St John’s Gospel too, Jesus is solid and physical enough to invite Thomas the […]

Let him Easter in us!

Published April 11, 2021

2nd Sunday of Easter, Yr B Jesus came and stood among them, and said: ‘Peace be with you!’  They were filled with joy.  Again he said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’  Then he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’  (Jn 20: 19-22) This episode in St John’s Gospel marks the fulfilment […]

Behold, all things have become new!

Published April 4, 2021

Easter Sunday 2021 From the earliest days of Christianity, Easter has been associated with baptism.  Or rather, baptism has been associated with Easter.  For baptism gets its meaning from Easter.  Baptism is the means by which we share in Jesus’ death and resurrection.  As St Paul puts it:  ‘Do you not know that all of […]

Es ist vollbracht!

Published April 2, 2021

Good Friday 2021 While there is something dark and terrible about Good Friday as a manifestation of evil, we never forget that it is Good Friday.  It is the day when God overcame evil with goodness; the day when Jesus, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to perfection.  More than […]

Afterwards you will understand

Published April 1, 2021

Maundy Thursday 2021 ‘Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, and having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end’ (‘jusqu’à l’extrême’, as one French version has it).  Coming after this solemn introduction, the foot washing is a bit of […]

Our part in the drama

Published March 27, 2021

Palm Sunday, Yr B Judas betrays Jesus; Jesus’ disciples forsake him; Peter denies him.  An unjust court finds Jesus guilty.  Pilate finds him innocent yet sanctions his execution.  The guards and the soldiers assault him.  They strip him.  They nail him to a cross.  They mock him.  The innocent one dies a painful and desolate […]

Your sorrow will turn into joy!

Published March 20, 2021

5th Sunday of Lent, Yr B   Unlike the other three Evangelists, St John gives us no account of the garden of Gethsemane, no account of Jesus asking the Father that the cup of suffering may pass him by.  On the contrary, in St John’s Gospel Jesus expressly rejects the idea of making any such prayer […]

Channels of eternal life

Published March 14, 2021

4th Sunday of Lent , Yr B Today is Lætare Sunday – the Sunday that tells us to rejoice.  It’s also Mother’s Day  – the day that reminds us, if we needed reminding, of all that we owe to mum.  And, thirdly, a major theme in today’s Gospel is the gift of eternal life.  I […]

The temple of his body

Published March 7, 2021

Year B, 3rd Sunday of Lent    We can see that St John attaches great importance to this episode of the Cleansing of the Temple.  Not only does he bring it forward to near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when the earlier evangelists had placed it near the end.  He has also attached to the […]

Bordered all around with light

Published February 27, 2021

2nd Sunday of Lent, Yr B There is a very sombre section in St Mark’s Gospel where first the shadow of the cross falls abruptly upon the narrative, then gradually it thickens into darkness, until finally the section culminates in those frightening words, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’  Near the beginning […]

God’s tips on Lenten penances

Published February 21, 2021

1st Sunday of Lent, Yr B After the carnival come the rigours of Lent: for forty days and forty nights not one sip of pink gin, not one spoonful of rose and violet ice cream topped with crystallized ginger and swirled with raspberry coulis shall pass our lips.  As Cpt Mainwaring was wont to put […]

A Pastoral Letter from Cardinal Vincent

Published February 13, 2021

For the Sunday before Ash Wednesday 2021 Shortly it will be Ash Wednesday, a day rich in associations and symbolism. It marks the beginning of Lent, a time for turning again to the practice of our faith, in prayer, self-denial (fasting) and practical generosity (almsgiving).  Ash Wednesday is the doorway into this season of renewal. […]

Another world

Published February 7, 2021

5th Sunday of the Year, Yr B There are eighteen miracle stories in St Mark’s Gospel.  Most of them are packed into the first half of the Gospel.  When, halfway through the Gospel,  St Peter, at Caesarea Philippi, blurts out to Jesus: ‘You are the Messiah!’, it is doubtless because he has been impressed by […]

4th Sunday of the Year, Yr B

Published January 30, 2021

For a sermon on today’s Reading from St Paul to the Corinthians, see below: ‘Undivided devotion’

Successful disciples

Published January 23, 2021

3rd Sunday of the Year, Yr B In today’s Gospel Reading (Mark 1: 14-20) the fishermen, at Jesus’ behest, make a leap of faith into an unknown future; they don’t hesitate and they don’t look back.  We are invited to admire and imitate the simplicity of their faith, their unhesitating obedience.   We do admire […]

2nd Sunday of the Year, Yr B

Published January 16, 2021

For a sermon on today’s Gospel passage (John 1: 35-42), see below: ‘In the bosom of the Father’.  See also: ‘God is three and God is one’.

Jesus joins the riff-raff

Published January 9, 2021

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Did Jesus go to receive John the Baptist’s ‘baptism of repentance’ by private appointment?  No.  He joined the queue. He took his place among the sinners and the riff-raff.  This creates a wonderful picture of Jesus’ humility.  But it also creates a theological problem, for according to Christian […]

The Word was made flesh

Published January 2, 2021

Second Sunday after the Nativity When I see a tiny baby like the many who are brought here for baptism, something in me draws back in awe.  Here is something of God unfolding dramatically before my eyes.  Here is a being gifted with life and intelligence, straight from God’s hands, as it were.  This tiny […]

The God-given matrix

Published December 26, 2020

Feast of the Holy Family The Feast of the Holy Family belongs with Christmas, for the family is a key element in the process by which God takes our humanity to himself.  Family life for Jesus was, as for all of us, the first unfolding of his humanity: the first experience of encountering others, of […]

Delighting in our humanity

Published December 24, 2020

Christmas 2020 I read recently of a priest who outraged parents by telling a class of infants: ‘Father Christmas isn’t real.’  ‘How could he do such a mean thing?’, asked one parent.  I can only surmise that the priest’s intention was first to tell the children that Father Christmas isn’t real and then to go […]

Mary, did you know?

Published December 19, 2020

4th Sunday of Advent, Yr B The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is to be the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1: 26-38).  But what would Mary have understood by ‘Messiah’?  The short answer to that is:  we don’t know.  To suppose that when the angel addressed her she already understood the word […]

Secret epiphanies

Published December 12, 2020

3rd Sunday of Advent, Yr B    St John’s Gospel is all about God becoming visible.  That is why the theme of light is so prominent, from the Prologue onwards.  And that is why the Prologue reaches its climax with the statement that the Word, who is with God, who is God, became flesh.  ‘No […]

I did it God’s way!

Published December 5, 2020

2nd Sunday of Advent, Yr B The theme of ‘the way’, or ‘God’s way’, is important in the Old Testament.  It evokes, first of all, the Exodus – the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, when God made his way through the wilderness to rescue his people.  Later, as in today’s Reading […]

The end is nigh!

Published November 28, 2020

The Gospel Reading for this, the first Sunday of the new liturgical year (Mark 13: 33-37), repeats the message that we heard towards the end of the last liturgical year, namely: Stay awake!  The end is nigh! The event that the early Christians were to be on the alert for was the Second Coming, ushering […]

The Last Judgment

Published November 21, 2020

Feast of Christ the King On this feast of Christ the King the Lectionary presents us with the passage from St Matthew’s Gospel that portrays Christ the King as Christ the Judge (Matt 25: 31-46).  Depictions of God or his Messiah executing the ‘Last Judgment’ upon the nations, rewarding the righteous and inflicting dire punishments […]

Now or never

Published November 14, 2020

Yr A Ordinary Time, 33rd Sunday The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) is sometimes understood as Jesus’ blessing upon capitalism or as encouragement for budding Deborah Meadens.  More often it is supposed that the talents in the parable represent natural abilities.  Jesus told the parable to provide some staple jargon for head teachers […]

Remembrance Sunday

Published November 7, 2020

Today we remember those who gave their lives in the two World Wars and in more recent conflicts.  We remember those who displayed unimaginable bravery in unspeakable circumstances.  We remember the wounded, whose lives and limbs were shattered; and the bereaved, who with a knock on the door and a telegram suddenly found themselves deprived […]

God’s kaleidoscope

Published October 31, 2020

Feast of All Saints All Saints is a lovely Feast because it brings together all the saints in heaven in one huge celebration.  We see how powerful the love of Jesus has been throughout history and in all the nations of the world.  All of these countless saints have one thing in common: they all […]

Doing the truth in love

Published October 24, 2020

Yr A Ordinary Time, 30th Sunday Today’s Gospel Reading (Matthew 22: 34-40) speaks of loving God and loving your neighbour.  The two are intimately related. Your love for God must be enfleshed in your love for your neighbour, otherwise your love for God remains formless and can even be delusory.  It is not unknown for religious people […]

The things that are Caesar’s

Published October 17, 2020

Yr A Ordinary Time, 29th Sunday of the Year ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’  This saying of Jesus in today’s Gospel (Matthew 22: 15–21) has often been taken to mean that Caesar’s realm, the sphere of the secular, is not important to Christians, for […]

Out of Place at the Banquet

Published October 10, 2020

28th Sunday of the Year (Yr A) A sermon on today’s Gospel Reading (Matt 22: 1-14) can be found below under the above title

Generous Minds

Published October 3, 2020

27th Sunday of the Year (Yr A).  A sermon on today’s Gospel Reading can be found below under the above title

We are what we do

Published September 26, 2020

Yr A Ordinary Time 26th Sunday of the Year   Jesus applies this Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21: 28-32) to two groups in Jewish society, namely, the religious leaders on the one hand, and public sinners on the other.  The religious leaders had, by definition, originally said yes to God’s covenant with Israel, […]

The Gift and the Giver

Published September 19, 2020

25th Sunday of the Year (Yr A)   A sermon on today’s Gospel Reading (The Vineyard Workers) can be found below under the above title

Was it not necessary?

Published September 12, 2020

Yr A Ordinary Time, 24th Sunday of the Year   Today’s parable (Matthew 18: 21-35) consists of three scenes. In the first scene the man owes the king a phenomenal sum.  He will never be able to repay it.  And yet he pleads: ‘Give me time and I will repay everything.’  Of course, the promise […]

Love and law

Published September 5, 2020

23rd Sunday of the Year (Yr A) Today’s Reading from Romans (13: 8-10) is about the relationship between love and law.  Not civil law, like having to pay tax or not parking on double yellow lines, but moral and religious law – the ‘Thou shalt’, ‘Thou shalt not’ kind of law.  How is love related […]

His own sacred tears

Published August 29, 2020

22nd Sunday of the Year (Yr A)      ‘If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Matt 16: 24).  Every human being will sooner or later be confronted with suffering.  There is nothing especially Christian about suffering.  In one sense, there is nothing […]

A singular vocation

Published August 22, 2020

21st Sunday of the Year (Yr A) ‘Thou are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.’  What an enormous impact these words in today’s Gospel Reading (Matthew 16: 13-20) have had on the history of the Christian world! But it is not the history of the Christian world that I want to […]

Christ the first fruits

Published August 15, 2020

Feast of the Assumption Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  For us Roman Catholics the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is a dogma to be believed in as an essential part of our faith.  It was defined as such in 1950 by Pope Pius XII in the document […]

19th Sunday of the Year (Yr A)

Published August 7, 2020

A sermon on today’s Gospel Reading (St Peter walking on the water) can be found below under the title Faith and the Feel-good Factor.

The love of Christ

Published July 31, 2020

18th Sunday of the Year (Yr A) In the passage from the Letter to the Romans that we have just heard St Paul is reminding the community of the grounds they have for looking forward with complete assurance to their final salvation.  So when he says that nothing but nothing can separate us from ‘the love of Christ’, he […]

The pearl of great price

Published July 24, 2020

17th Sunday of the Year (Yr A) ‘Out of joy, he went off and sold everything he had!’   So we read in today’s Gospel (Matthew 13: 44-46).  This looks like a classic case of putting all your eggs in one basket.  The buyer was taking some risk, to say the least.  No cooling-off period, either.  […]

Praying with God

Published July 17, 2020

16th Sunday of the Year (Yr A) The Spirit intercedes for us with groans, St Paul tells us in the second Reading (Romans 8: 26-27).  What kind of groans are these?, I hear you ask.  St Paul does try to tell us, but unfortunately the Greek adjective that he uses to describe them is ambiguous.  […]

The redemption of our bodies

Published July 10, 2020

15th Sunday of the Year (Yr A)   In today’s second Reading (Romans 8: 18-23) St Paul envisages a future event when we shall be set free and transformed in glory (he calls it the ‘redemption of our bodies’).  We human beings, he says, will not be the only beneficiaries of this liberation.  For the […]

A humble God

Published July 3, 2020

Fourteenth Sunday of the Year (Yr A) St Matthew seems to have been particularly struck by Jesus’ gentleness and humility.  So, for example, while all four Gospels tell of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem mounted on a donkey, only St Matthew calls attention to the fact that this action fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah about the […]

On the foundation of the Apostles

Published June 25, 2020

Feast of St Peter and St Paul What a phenomenal part St Peter and St Paul have played in the history of the Church!  If it were not for St Peter, the Church would not exist, for it was upon him that Christ built his Church: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will […]

St Etheldreda and her fellow saints

Published June 18, 2020

Today we celebrate St Etheldreda, our Patron Saint, and some related saintly figures whose heritage merges with hers. You have heard St Etheldreda’s praises sung many times, and we don’t need to rehearse them here.  She was a strong woman with a powerful sense of vocation and a single-minded devotion to God.  Though caught up […]

Remember! (Corpus Christi)

Published June 12, 2020

I remember my First Communion day very well.  It was a lovely Sunday in March 1936. It was a sunny day, the church looked very beautiful, there was music.  There were so many beautiful things that I remember. There were about thirty of us, boys and girls from my little village of no more than […]

In the bosom of the Father (Trinity Sunday)

Published June 3, 2020

There is a brief narrative in the first chapter of St John’s Gospel where two of John the Baptist’s disciples start walking behind Jesus.  Jesus turns and asks them: ‘What are you looking for? ‘ And they reply: ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?’  Jesus replies: ‘Come, and you will see.’  And, St John tells us: […]

Pentecost Sunday

Published May 27, 2020

The Church that comes into being with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the gathered disciples is a missionary Church.  Impelled by the Holy Spirit, the apostles begin to proclaim the gospel to people ‘from every nation under heaven’.   The Acts of the Apostles is an account of the rapid spread of the […]

Gazing up to heaven (Ascension)

Published April 30, 2020

Today as we see the apostles gazing up to heaven as the Lord ascended (Acts 1: 1-11), we may be reminded of St Paul’s words:  ‘Our homeland is in heaven’; and again:  ‘Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.’  To be a Christian means to […]

The fruit of the Spirit (6th Easter)


Today, the sixth Sunday of Easter, the Church is beginning to prepare us for Pentecost by giving us a passage from St John’s Gospel that speaks of Jesus’ promise of the Spirit of Truth that he will send to his disciples when he returns to the Father (Jn 14: 15-21). I suppose when we think […]

Shepherds by vocation (4th Easter)


The fourth Sunday of Easter has come to be known as Good Shepherd Sunday, obviously because the Gospel reading is taken from that chapter in St John’s Gospel where Jesus presents himself as the Good Shepherd (Jn 10: 1-10).  As well as ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’, this Sunday has also come to be known as ‘Vocations […]

Their eyes were opened (3rd Easter)


There are two important respects in which we can identify with the two disciples in St Luke’s Emmaus narrative (Luke 24: 13-35).  First, we can identify with them as they journeyed on the way, because our experience of faith is a kind of journey, through childhood, and adulthood and old age.  It’s not always easy […]

Epiphany as life task

Published January 5, 2020

Today we celebrate the feast of Epiphany.  Epiphany means: becoming visible; shining forth.  Christmas Day itself is already the fundamental epiphany, because on that day God became visible in Christ.  God became visible not first and foremost in a doctrine, or in a system of ideas or in a collection of sacred writings, but in […]

Be imitators of God

Published December 29, 2019

On Sunday afternoons, when I was a small boy, we used to attend what was called ‘Catechism’.  (It was the Catholic answer to Sunday School.)  The priest would ask us questions on the Penny Catechism.  ‘Now, then, children’, the priest asked on one occasion, ‘who can tell me, who is the Third Person of the […]

A glimpse beyond the darkness

Published March 19, 2019

The story of the Transfiguration (Luke 9: 28-36) occurs in the Gospel narrative just at the point where the darkness begins to thicken.  Jesus has just spoken openly to the disciples, for the first time, about his death. He is heading for Jerusalem. The Transfiguration is the prelude to the painful drama that leads to […]

Talk of the devil!

Published March 12, 2019

What do you imagine the devil to be like?  It’s fascinating how his profile has varied down the centuries.  Even in the Bible (where, admittedly, he is not mentioned all that often) he turns up in different guises.  In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 4: 1-13) he comes across as a mischievous but not-very-bright rabbinical student who […]

Love your enemies

Published February 26, 2019

‘Love your enemies.’  That’s a tall order.  There’s enough in the New Testament to suggest that the early Christians did not always live up to the ideal.  St John’s Gospel has Jesus calling some Jews ‘the children of the devil, who is a murderer and a liar’.  Elsewhere too in the Gospels some very harsh […]

That Primordial Ephphatha

Published September 9, 2018

‘His ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. … And they were astonished beyond measure.’  (Mark 7: 35-37). I suppose you would be astonished too, if you were deaf and spoke with a great stammer and a man came up to you and stuck his fingers in your ears and spat […]

Keeping Faith

Published August 26, 2018

‘Many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him’ (John 6: 66). People lose their faith for a variety of reasons.  Some lose it as the result of some personal trauma, or as a result of witnessing the sufferings of a loved-one.  How could God allow this?  Where is that loving […]

Something beautiful for eternity

Published June 12, 2018

Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.  This feast has a character all of its own.  Most of the other great feasts of the liturgical year commemorate key Biblical events, like Easter, Ascension and Pentecost.  Even Maundy Thursday, the celebration par excellence of the gift of the Eucharist, is part of the great historical and liturgical drama […]

Undivided devotion

Published January 30, 2018

In today’s second Reading (1 Cor 7: 32-35) St Paul tells the Corinthians that a married person is too busy trying to please their spouse to be wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord.  ‘The married man’, he says, ‘is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and he is divided’; whereas ‘the unmarried man […]

The Things that are Caesar’s

Published October 22, 2017

‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’  This saying of Jesus has often been taken to mean that Caesar’s realm, the sphere of the secular, is not really important to Christians, for their homeland is in heaven. But why can’t we allow Jesus occasionally to use […]

Out of Place at the Banquet

Published October 15, 2017

The parable of the wedding banquet (Matthew 22: 1-14) is about God’s grace unexpectedly lavished on all and sundry.  That’s how Christians saw themselves in St Matthew’s day.  They had suddenly been called from the highways and byways, so to speak, and brought into fellowship with the King’s son. It was not because they had […]

Generous Minds

Published October 8, 2017

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 21: 33–43) Jesus says that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from the Jews and given to a people who will produce its fruit (namely Christians).  I wonder if Jesus ever spoke those words.  We cannot deny that Jesus clashed with the Jewish authorities during his ministry; and the […]

The Gift and the Giver

Published September 24, 2017

I don’t know if the Union of Casual Vineyard Workers existed in those days, but if it did, its reps will have had something to say about this parable (Matthew 20: 1-19), and understandably so.  For it was crazy, surely, that the workers who had worked just a couple of hours should get as much pay as […]

The Beatitudes

Published January 29, 2017

In today’s Gospel Reading (Matthew 5: 1-12) certain kinds of people are pronounced ‘blessed’.  ‘Blessed’ (makarios in Greek) is a religious word.  It means near to God, favoured by God.  What’s very surprising, however, is that even though ‘blessed’ is a religious word, the people whom Jesus here declares ‘blessed’ are not in any obvious […]

Today salvation has come to this house

Published November 2, 2016

There is a happy little Sunday-school song that begins ‘Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he’.  It tells the story of the wee little man who got singled out by Jesus (‘Zacchaeus, you come down!’).  Jesus entered his home, shared a meal with him, and thrilled him by what […]

Who Could Believe That?

Published August 14, 2016

Today’s second Reading, from ch. 11 of the Epistle to the Hebrews, brings together the ideas of believing and hoping:  ‘Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.’  I don’t know about you, but I find hope a far warmer, inspirational thing than faith.  We Catholics, especially, have tended to associate faith with creeds and […]

Dealing with Evil

Published June 29, 2016

At this point in the Gospel narrative (Luke 9: 18-22) a horrendous prospect opens up before us.  Jesus predicts that he will be rejected, abused and put to death.  This is St Luke’s version of an incident that is reported in each of the first three Gospels.  St Luke, for his part, has toned it […]

The Existential Moment

Published June 28, 2016

Today’s Gospel reading (Luke 9: 51-62), or part of it at least, is about discipleship.  The three men are faced with stark alternatives.  Either they follow Jesus or they do not.  The call to discipleship admits of no compromise or delay.  It’s all or nothing.  How the three decide will define their eternal future, for […]

All Very Human

Published June 27, 2016

What strikes me most about the story of Jesus and the widow of Nain (Luke 7: 11-17) is that there’s no religion in it.  God isn’t mentioned in the story itself, and what Jesus does for the widow is not prompted by any petition or act of faith on her part.  We are not told […]

Immersed in Humanity

Published January 13, 2016

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  Luke 3: 5-22 When the Gospels place the story of John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, they are no doubt simply reporting historical fact.  But they want to claim that this historical fact carries a theological message.  It is a message that concerns both Christianity […]

Each one his own shepherd

Published July 22, 2015

In the first of today’s Readings (Jeremiah 23: 1-6) God, through the prophet Jeremiah, laments that the ‘shepherds’ were not doing their job.  The ‘shepherds’ were the prophets and priests whose role it was in Israelite society to keep the people on the straight and narrow and to censure their wicked ways.  God vows to […]

Blessed be God who has blessed us

Published July 15, 2015

‘Blessed be God who has blessed us.’  So begins the Epistle to the Ephesians, as we heard in today’s second Reading.  The first three chapters of this epistle are about the wonderful blessings God has bestowed upon us. The author describes these blessings in the most superlative language.  In fact, his language strains so hard […]

Funeral Oration for Father Jean-Marie Charles-Roux

Published September 26, 2014

Fr Jean-Marie with Fr John Fortune in Ewuaso, Kenya, where Fr John is parish priest. Taken in 2002 during one of Fr Jean-Marie’s regular visits. Given at the Memorial Mass at St Etheldreda’s on 19 September 2014 by Father David Myers I first met Father Charles-Roux 60 years ago when I was at Ratcliffe as […]

Faith and the Feel-good Factor

Published August 12, 2014

St Matthew doesn’t tell us how far St Peter managed to walk on the water before beginning to sink (Matthew 14: 22-31), but it must have been a reasonable distance, for he got so close to Jesus that Jesus had only to stretch out his hand to save him.  Peter must have walked more than […]

Darnel Everywhere

Published July 25, 2014

Many interpreters think that the weeds referred to in the parable (Matthew 13: 24-30) are not just any old weeds, but a particular weed known as darnel.  Darnel, sometimes called ‘false wheat’, often grows up among wheat and it is very difficult to tell the difference between them until the fruit ripens around harvest time, […]

Seeing the Father

Published May 19, 2014

‘He who has seen me has seen the Father.’  Obviously,  when Jesus speaks of seeing the Father,  he does not mean seeing in the literal sense, because God the Father cannot be seen.  Jesus means that he reveals what God is like.  As St John says near the beginning of his Gospel: ‘No one has ever […]

How To Influence People

Published February 10, 2014

Today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 5: 13–16) is about influence.  It is about the influence that the disciples of Jesus have on others – not, of course, in the sense of imposing their views upon others, but in the sense of quietly influencing their minds and hearts, as an oil lamp gives light to all in […]

The Star of Bethlehem

Published January 6, 2014

Think of the story of the magi as a historical event, if you like.  Probably most Christians do.   Others, however, have treated it as a kind of parable.  T. S. Eliot in his poem The Journey of the Magi used it as a parable of his own painful conversion to Christianity.  Today I wish to […]

A Christmas That Lasts

Published December 24, 2013

Christmas has a wonderful appeal for all of us, but it’s difficult to put your finger on precisely why this is.  It has surely got something to do with the fact that it falls in bleak midwinter, and how delightful it is to be cocooned with one’s loved ones, safe and warm against the rigours […]

Low self-esteem?

Published October 6, 2013

Sit or lie in a quiet place on your own (if possible).  Close your eyes, take five deep breaths. Take them in through your nose and then hold your breath for 4 seconds.  Let the first four out with a sigh.  The fifth breath you can let out slowly and very controlled and as you […]

God is three and God is one

Published May 26, 2013

In Cardinal Newman’s work, The Dream of Gerontius, which Elgar set to music in his famous oratorio of the same name, Gerontius is an old man, a Christian, who dies and his soul journeys through the terrifying dissolution of death on its way to God: an extremely profound and imaginative meditation on the soul’s final […]

Pentecost: Pyrotechnics and quiet miracles

Published May 25, 2013

The mighty rush of wind and the tongues of fire and the miracle of one language being understood by all the world’s nations is the picture of Pentecost that is familiar to us all.  Actually, it is only St Luke in the Acts of the Apostles who gives us this picture of the coming of […]

Ascension: They in us

Published May 20, 2013

All early Christians believed that Jesus went to God after his death and resurrection.  Only St Luke, in his Gospel and more especially in the Acts of the Apostles, tells us that Jesus physically ascended into the clouds, as in a vertical take-off, with the disciples left gazing up into the skies like spectators at an […]

Easter Vigil: New creation

Published March 30, 2013

This sacred night is shot through with the beauty of nature.  Birds that fly across the firmament of the heavens; every tree with seed in its fruit; the busy bees and the mother bee, and wax for the bright candles: You will find all these lovely things and more in the liturgy of this Easter […]

Good Friday: That they might have life

Published March 29, 2013

The blood and water that flowed from our Saviour’s side recall several earlier passages in St John’s Gospel: We remember the blood of Jesus that is ‘real drink’.  We remember the ‘rivers of living water’ that would flow from the belly of the Messiah; and the spring of water ‘leaping up into eternal life’ that […]

Maundy Thursday – the sacrament of humble love

Published March 28, 2013

It is very surprising that St John’s Gospel says nothing about the institution of the Eucharist.  Nowhere in this Gospel does Jesus take bread and say ‘This is my body’, nor wine, and say ‘This is my blood’.   In fact, at the very point in St John’s Gospel where we would expect Jesus to take […]

Palm Sunday: entry into Holy Week

Published March 24, 2013

Today we enter Jerusalem with Jesus, acclaiming him as our Messiah. On Thursday we shall be with him in the upper room, sharing his last supper.  On Friday we shall accompany him along the via dolorosa to his death.  We shall share the silence of his tomb on Saturday.  And finally we shall share with […]

Unfinished business

Published March 17, 2013

There are several questions that arise from this passage about the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 3-11).  An obvious one for us is: How come it’s only the woman who gets it in the neck, whereas the bloke gets off scot free?  Another problem is: Granted that the woman receives Jesus’ forgiveness, why are […]

The good thing about temptations

Published February 14, 2013

The first temptation of Lent comes round about 10.55 am on Ash Wednesday when you open the fridge and there, confronting you, at eye level, is the last remaining portion of Tuesday’s chocolate cherry gateau, cherries still glistening seductively amidst the dark crisp chocolate shavings sunk in cream. You slam the door in horror, of […]

In a manner known only to God

Published February 3, 2013

St Paul had a very particular understanding of love.  Most importantly: love is not, for St Paul, primarily a human activity.  It is God’s own love poured out in our hearts.  Our love for one another is God himself loving in the core of our freedom.  That is why St Paul calls love ‘the way […]

A sermon on the Feast of Epiphany in the Year of Faith

Published January 3, 2013

Today is the day when the Three Kings arrive. As a small boy I always had mixed feelings about their arrival. On the one hand, it meant: back to school after the Christmas holidays. On the other hand, it was fun to have three new figures in the crib. There is a limit to the […]

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