SOMETHING NEW FOR 2021

Gospel Reflection for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time 17th January

Great Expectations (Chapel Bell)

 

It’s strange but true, that we tend to live up to other people’s expectations. If someone expects very little of us, then it is likely that we will end up achieving next to nothing. Living up to high expectations can feel daunting, but the surprising thing about great expectations, is that very often they have the power to transform us. Living up to great expectations can make us into better people.

In today’s gospel, Jesus meets Andrew’s brother Simon. He looks at him and says, “You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas, meaning Rock.” The new name must have filled Peter’s friends with astonishment. “A rock” Peter certainly wasn’t. Peter we know was a bit of a hot head. He was impulsive, rash, sometimes misguided and often passionate. To describe him as a ‘rock’ was surely inappropriate. Yet slowly and surely, Peter starts to live up to Jesus’ expectations, and slowly but surely, Peter changes from a hot headed fisherman, into a steadfast leader of the Church. As we see so often in the Bible, Jesus’ expectations have the power to transform.

By comparison, we seem to live our lives with fairly banal expectations. Our greatest ambition, as we wake each morning might be to clear our ‘in tray’ at work, or take the car to the car wash. Are we missing something? Is God calling us to greater things and we simply aren’t listening? For each of us God has a job to do. Of each of us God has great expectations. Surely amongst our resolutions for 2021, we must plan how to answer God’s call.

Peace Sunday

A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace

17th January 2021

Pope Francis urges us all to create “a Culture of Care as a Path to Peace -a culture of care as a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.”

 

In this new year 2021, we should individually and collectively make up our minds about contributing to peace in our homes, community and country. As Christians, our faith teaches us that we can accomplish great things if we put on love or if our actions are motivated by love. Catholic Social Teaching also instructs that, “it is from the inner wellspring of love that the values of truth, freedom, and justice are born and grow.”

 

Start today, by thinking of an area of unresolved conflict within our home, community and country, and list ways in which we could be part of the solution.

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Go and Do

18th-25th January 2021

Each day during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christian Aid has provided a starting point, reflection, questions and a prayer based on the theme. Here you can turn your reflections into action with our Go and Do points. This resource is hugely thought provoking and well worth reading.

You can find this at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland www.ctbi.org.uk/go-and-do-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2021/

 

Martin Luther King Jnr. Day

19th January 2021

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" A federal holiday in America, but a great day wherever we happen to be, to do something for somebody else.

Bitesize

The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.

Thomas Henry Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas Huxley

 

Gospel Reflection for the Baptism of the Lord

10th January 2021

Living Baptism

 

Very few of us remember our own baptism, and perhaps we have never really even questioned why it might be important, other than something we might need to attend a Catholic School or get married. Perhaps we need to look to Jesus’ baptism to know how privileged we really are to have been baptised.

 

What does Jesus’ baptism say to us? Jesus’ thirty years of preparation before his public baptism remind us that it takes time to get ready for God’s mission. How many countless hours did Jesus spend in prayer? What study, what thought, what agony must he have undergone before appearing in front of John to ask him to baptize him. We are reminded that baptism isn’t just something that happens to us as children, it’s something we have to live out on a daily basis.

 January is a time for new beginnings and fresh resolution. John the Baptist was an expert on this. John’s ministry was all about repentance and life changing reform … that’s what his baptism was all about. But anyone who has ever seriously tried to change themselves will know how difficult change really is. The addict will tell you how difficult it is to quit gambling, drinking or cigarettes. All of us can point to parts of our life that remain stubbornly unchanged year in and year out. Those who were baptised by John were baptised as a sign of their intent to change from their old ways, but knowing how difficult change can be, we can’t help wondering how successful they must have been. Perhaps John appreciated this too when he said “I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

Christians are hugely privileged people. We are told that the same Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus at the outset of his ministry, is the same Holy Spirit that is given to us in our baptism. Validating our baptism anew every day, knowing that we are filled with the Holy Spirit …..  change isn’t beyond any of us.

Why the eyes of the world will be on the UK in 2021

The UK government will be hosting two major international meetings this year.

The G7 summit will bring together the heads of government from seven of the world's richest countries and will take place in summer 2021.

The UK will also be hosting the UN ‘COP26’ climate talks in Glasgow between 1-12 November 2021. This will be the largest gathering of world leaders ever to take place on British soil.

Between now and then we will all be asked to help campaign. To be an efficient campaigner, the first thing to do is sign up for 'action news'. You can sign up for Cafod's action news at www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Action-news

 

Lending a Helping Hand

During this unsettling time, it's vital to keep in mind those who need us the most. This includes older people, who may be feeling uncertain and in need of help from others. Here are some ways you can be doing to help your older relatives, friends and neighbours, whether with practical stuff like their shopping, or keeping their spirits up at a time things feel challenging.

-If you’re feeling well yourself, why not offer to pick up shopping for an older neighbour or relative who might not be able to or is too worried to go to the shops? If you are helping someone who is self-isolating or shielding make sure you leave the shopping on their front doorstep, knock on their door and step back while you ensure they safely receive it. Make sure you stand 2 metres away from them at all times.

-Phone elderly relatives who live alone regularly for a chat. You could set up a rota with other family and friends to make sure that family member is receiving regular calls.

-This might also be a useful time to introduce older relatives and friends to technology that might prove helpful during this period, such as Skype or FaceTime. Age UK has written a guide to video calling which you can find at www.ageuk.org.uk/discover/2020/03/ways-to-help-older-people-coronavirus/

Bitesize

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Victor Frankl

 

Gospel Reflection for the Second Sunday after Christmas 3rd January 2021

Great Beginnings.

All the best books have great beginnings, and St. John's gospel is no exception. The gospel begins with an eighteen-verse introduction, which we call 'The Prologue'. The prologue contains intriguing themes such as creation, life, and truth. Through it all, John refers to Jesus as the 'Word'. If John had been writing today, would he have used different language? To us the word 'Word' is simply a means of expression. In John's day the word 'Word' had greater implication. To understand today's gospel, we need to know that in Hebrew Scriptures the 'Word' had a power of its own. The 'Word' was not just a sound or an expression, but something with its own life. The 'Word' was an agent of creation. We can see this for ourselves in Genesis. 'God said, "Let there be light," and light appeared.' God's 'Word' has the power to create. To call Jesus the 'Word' was to attribute to him the ability to make things happen.

We can bring our own understanding of the 'Word' to help us understand this gospel. Our own understanding of words is of language, understanding and communication. Perhaps to describe Jesus as the 'Word' is to imply that he was sent as a communication between God and us.

How would we have recorded the beginning of Jesus' public ministry? We may have been tempted to record his great deeds as any well-trained newspaper reporter may have done. We may have been tempted to place him in a political or historical context worthy of any great public figure. John however, begins his gospel by placing Jesus fairly and squarely at the centre of creation itself. The story starts with the bold statement that Jesus is the meaning behind creation, life and truth. It's a great beginning. Can we put down John's gospel; tell ourselves this has no relevance in our lives ….. or do we keep turning the pages.

Gospel Reflection for the Epiphany

Wednesday 6th January

Reach for the Stars

Today the Church commemorates the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. We call it the ‘Epiphany’ a word derived from the Greek meaning ‘to appear’ or ‘to be shown forth’. The Epiphany is about searching for meaning purpose and revelation. The Magi were men of great learning, intellect and wealth, yet they weren’t prepared to sit back and imagine they knew it all. Guided by a star and motivated by a hunger for truth, they stepped out of their comfort zone and set out across the desert not knowing what they would find or how long it would take. It was a journey of faith and great courage.

Today’s gospel reading is an invitation for all God’s people to step out of their old way of life and search for something new.

Peace Actions for January 2021

•          Make a visit to another Christian church in your area as part of your commitment to Christian Unity Week, between 18 - 25 January in 2021.

•          Try to mark Holocaust Memorial Day -27th January

 Resources are available from the Council for Christians and Jews or Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre

•          Remember to pray for peace in the Middle East around Epiphany time.

Care For Our Common Home

Christmas Recycling

Christmas is a fantastic time of year, but it can take its toll on the environment. Did you know we throw away 1 billion cards and enough wrapping paper to reach the Moon every year? The Woodland Trust gives us a couple of ideas for recycling our Christmas waste.

Christmas cards

After cutting off any glitter or other unrecyclable embellishments, Christmas cards can be put in household recycling in most areas. Before recycling, consider whether you can get any more use out of your cards. You could get creative and upcycle them into decorations or gift tags for next Christmas.

Wrapping paper

Wrapping paper recycling depends on what material it's made from. Anything with glitter or foil is an instant no-no. If you're not sure, a quick and easy way to check is the scrunch test. Scrunch the paper into a ball. If it stays closed, it's recyclable - though any plastic tape, ribbons and tags need removing first. Never throw away a gift or bottle bag. Just remove the label and re-use next year.

Putting Unwanted Gifts to Good Use

At this time of year our local charity shops are urging us to donate our unwanted Christmas presents. Charities are on the lookout for any un-needed items to sell on to fund vital work.

Every year people receive presents that are the wrong size, or just not to their taste. These unwanted presents can make an extraordinary difference to our charity shops. Don't leave your unwanted gifts to gather dust, put them to good use.

New Year Resolution

Top three tips for making your resolution work

•          Make your goals realistic and achievable.

•          Plan your resolution in detail with timelines.

•          Ask God to help you stick to the plan.

Bitesize

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.

Edith Lovejoy Pierce

 

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

January 1st 2021

The first day of the year is the day the Church sets aside for honouring Mary. Mary represents true discipleship. Mary exhibits a life of hearing, seeing, and telling of God’s marvellous deeds. Mary inspires us to consider deeply the significance of events in our own lives. Do we journey through life oblivious to the world around us, or do we resolve to make some kind of impact? Maybe instead of making new year resolutions to lose weight or make more money, we should resolve this year to be more like Mary.

Dates for your Diary

World Day of Peace :-                            1st January 2021

Peace Sunday:-                                     17th January

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:    18th January-25th January

Have a Happy ‘Peace Making’ New Year

No-one can solve all the world's problems. To try would be to dissipate one's energies and achieve nothing. The best thing we can do is to focus all our efforts and attention on just one problem and hope our endeavours will make a difference to it. There's no shortage of big issues; global warming, natural disasters, international terrorism, poverty, pollution, child exploitation, and famine to name just a few. The one thing that all these problems have in common is that the more money, resources and manpower you allocate to them the greater improvement you are likely to effect as a result. Fund raising, campaigning, and awareness raising are all good starting points. Happy New ‘Peace Making’ Year.

Diary 2021 Through the Year With Mary :McBride Denis CSSR

This hardback diary features a beautiful painting each month and a thought-provoking reflection by Fr Denis McBride that accompanies Mary throughout the year. Mary demonstrates to us how we should mother the word of God.  We should take the word to ourselves so that it becomes us, part of our very being, and then we should give it away. 

This 2021 diary is A5 in size and has a practical full week to view across a double page spread; each week includes either a prayer, quotation, insight into the artwork for the month or a detail of the beautiful image that will help you to see it in a different way. Included in the diary is an introduction from Fr Denis, year planners for both 2021 and 2022, key dates and feast days, notes pages, and a ribbon page marker. All of these features make it the ideal faith companion, appointment organiser and thoughtful gift.  (ISBN:9780852315958)

Order online at www.paulineuk.org/browse/item/diary-2021-through-the-year-with-mary/9780852315958

Bitesize

It's not that some people have willpower and some don't. It's that some people are ready to change and others are not.

    James Gordon, M.D.

27th December

Gospel Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Family

Moral Foundation

We’ve survived Christmas! All the toys that shot up in price just prior to Christmas are all in bits under the sofa and our children are playing happily with the cardboard boxes. Meanwhile we are living on turkey leftovers and whatever else is stuck to the back of the freezer. In all truth we are feeling a little calmer. Now is actually a better time to think about the Christmas meaning than Christmas day itself. Now that the pressure has lifted, we find ourselves with a bit of time to think about the Holy Family, and our how their values impact own family values.

In today’s gospel we see Mary and Joseph presenting their new baby at the temple. They both knew that their child was destined for great things. How would they prepare their child for the role he was born for? There’s a famous quote by Martin Luther King Jnr. It reads, “If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – rediscover that all reality hinges on moral foundations, and that all reality has spiritual control” The spirituality that each of us holds today began in childhood, from a time we cannot even remember.

Mary and Joseph were simple folk who would bring up their son in exactly the same way regardless of whether he was destined to be a carpenter or the Messiah. We can all learn a valuable lesson from this about family values and parenting. We don’t have to lavish expensive iPads and Xboxes on our children for them to know they are loved. Jesus was born into the poorest of circumstances but he grew up with parents who led by example in an atmosphere of love, wisdom and courage.

Whether our children are destined for greatness or not is irrelevant, today we are told to teach our children by our own good example. If we want our children to grow up in a particular way, we have to start by demonstrating it in our own lives from today.

Holy Innocents Day  : Childermas

28th December

Holy Innocents Day, once also known as ‘Childermas’, falls on 28th December. It commemorates King Herod’s massacre of all male infants in and around Bethlehem under the age of two in an attempt to kill the young Christ. In the days when Christmas was less child centred, Childermas was a time for indulging children with treats and parties.

Today is a day we might consider supporting a children’s charity such as

Barnardos, NSPCC, UNICEF, and Save The Children.