If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Friday, 26 October 2018

30th Sunday (Year B) 2018

30th. Sunday (Year B)
(Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52)

God’s Chosen People had originally been banished from their homeland because there they had – over many generations -- become alienated from God by their sinful behaviour: the Promised Land had been God’s gift to them, and, of course, when they turned away from God, dishonouring rather than glorifying His holy Name, they lost His favour and finally lost the gift He had given them.  Now, in our first reading today from the prophet Jeremiah, God is showing that mercy to His People for which many prophets and holy men and women had long been praying: He is bringing them back to their Promised Land, restoring His gift, and thereby inviting them to return to Him with their whole heart and mind.  This physical returning home was to be an opportunity for them -- back in God’s land -- to become once again worthy to be known as God’s Chosen People (Luke 1:74-5):

That, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

Nevertheless, this physical return was hard, very hard indeed, leading over desert and stony ways; food and drink being necessarily in short supply since, after having had to pay the prices asked for them, they were then obliged to carry those supplies on their own backs as well as on the backs of the few animals they possessed.  Moreover, backs for carrying were not plentiful since they were returning with some treasured possessions, above all, they were carrying their infants; and there were many who could not carry anything at all because they were either blind, lame, sick, too old, or else heavily pregnant.  For all these reasons food and drink had to be strictly limited for a journey that was long, over territory that was difficult, and under conditions of great heat during the day and penetrating cold at night.

Those difficulties, however, were not the only nor perhaps the greatest ones encountered by the returning exiles; for, although the physical trials of that long trek back to Israel were great, nevertheless, that trek was completed in a period of months, whereas there would be other difficulties involved in rebuilding and restoration which would take years to resolve.  Above all, having made their return, the very greatest challenge facing them would be from their own wayward hearts and minds which still had to return to the Lord their God in spirit and in truth.  This physical return home was their great opportunity, but a truly successful return would not to be accomplished without much soul-searching, prayer, and endeavour (Jeremiah 31:9):

They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them.    

That is the experience, even today, of many who, for whatever reason, leave Mother Church, and then are led, by the great mercy of God, to return to the fold: their absence has changed them, and, during that absence, Mother Church herself has changed, inevitably, since she is a living Church relating to a world in constant flux.  And even though such changes might, perhaps, only have been slight, nevertheless, they are not imperceptible; with the result that some aspects of Church life may now seem to those returning less familiar, less homely, than before, whilst other changes might even seem to strike a disturbing, somewhat alien, chord.

Changes in ones’ self, changes in the Church, however, are not the only cause of difficulties for exiles returning home; their return can be made difficult and trying by one thing that does not change, human nature: the people they find on returning may not appear to be, and some of them may not truly be, understanding, sympathetic or helpful:

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.  On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.

The words of the prophet are, indeed, still very true:

They shall come with weeping, and with supplications (that is, with pleas for forgiveness, blessing, strength, and guidance) I will lead them.

Now, it is undeniably the case that all of us -- even those who have never been separated from Mother Church -- are exiles returning to our Father, because all of us can experience something of that alienation from God which sin and worldliness incessantly threaten to bring about in us.  In addition to that, we all have set before us a totally new and unimaginable promise and prospect, for we are now called not to prepare ourselves for something we know, but rather, to allow ourselves to be groomed for the supernatural condition of children of the heavenly Father by the Spirit, forming us in the likeness of Jesus by our faith in Him as the only-begotten Son of God made flesh for our salvation.   We have to make a journey not simply across territory over which we had once wandered and then lost, but a pilgrimage into unknown territory, un-natural because it is supernatural and heavenly, which our imagination finds impossible to foreshadow and familiarise.

We can only undertake such a pilgrimage thanks to Jesus.  We were told in the second reading:

Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.   No one takes this honour upon himself but only when called by God.

Jesus offered His gifts and sacrifice to the Father for us, and He envisaged not only our redemption from sin but even our being with Him in heaven as He had been with us on earth; the price for the attainment of such an unimaginable purpose, however, could only be itself unimaginable, unimaginable love -- the love that caused Jesus to offer His life to His Father from the Cross on Calvary for our salvation (John 10:17-18):

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.  This command I have received from My Father

If Jesus was to give supreme expression to that infinite fulness of divine love enjoined on Him by His Father it had to be in and through His human body, and inevitably, by His bursting the limitations of that body: totally embracing divinely filial obedience for His Father’s supreme glory and showing unimaginably compassionate love for our human waywardness, both aspects to be glimpsed in and through His crucified Body and His pierced Heart.

In such a way Jesus won for all of us exiles that first gift of the Spirit, that original inspiration, to start us out on the way back to our Father.

Thanks to the supreme prayer of Jesus and His sacrifice of self on Calvary -- the sacrifice made available and effective for all ages in Mother Church’s continuous offering of Holy Mass -- we too can gain a hearing when we pray, as His disciples, ‘Lord have mercy on us.’

Having, in the name of Jesus, gained a hearing, and having begun our return in Him and with Him to the Father, we have to persevere throughout a long, and at times difficult, journey, overcoming -- as did those returning exiles in the first reading -- trials from both without and within ourselves.  Thanks be to God, in Mother Church, at Holy Mass, all of us who are, to whatever degree, alienated from the Father by our sinfulness, can draw near and call out to Jesus -- as did Bartimeus on hearing the noise of the crowd -- because Jesus at Holy Mass is close at hand to hear our cries and answer us, as He did so long ago:

Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want Me to do for you?" The blind man replied to Him, "Master, I want to see!"         

What would you have asked for in such a situation, People of God?  What do you, in fact, ask of Jesus at Holy Mass?  Each of us is making his or her own journey to the Father, and each and every one of us has his or her own difficulties to deal with  and overcome; but whatever our needs and whatever the request we might ask of Jesus, let us remember and learn from what we are told about Bartimeus, for Scripture says that:

Many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me!"

Is anyone telling you to shut up?   Perhaps it is you yourself, your worldly self, suggesting that you are tired of praying … it never seems to be heard; telling you that you are weary of making efforts which don’t bring any visible results.  Such contrary, psychological, ‘voices’ may not, however, be all that tends to discourage you, People of God, for in our present situation here in multi-cultural Britain under a positively secular-minded and anti-religious government there is much opposition and ridicule both public and in private for those who would serve God and conscience first and foremost.  We are now surrounded by people who profess themselves satisfied by what they think they know about life in today’s world, people who think themselves able to do all things necessary to sufficiently advance their own purpose and achieve their own goal; people who acknowledge no realms beyond what their own eyes and mankind’s technical abilities tell them,  no truths beyond their ken.   Consequently, they cannot understand and indeed tend to dismiss or despise those of us who, as Christians, look to Jesus to give us, by His Spirit, sight to recognize what is ultimately true, and strength to walk along His way towards its attainment and enjoyment in His Father’s Kingdom.

Nevertheless, whatever opposition you may encounter, whatever the difficulties and disappointments you may experience, keep your hopes firmly fixed on Jesus, dear  People of God, and like Bartimeus, pray that despite all, through all, you might be enabled to see well enough to follow Jesus ever more closely along the road that leads ultimately into the presence of the Father.  This process of becoming one with Jesus in love for the Father and in the service of our fellows, is never-ending while we are still on earth, and it is one that can only be accomplished in us, for us, and through us, thanks to the Holy Spirit -- the Personal bond of love between the Father and the Son -- bequeathed to us in Mother  Church by Jesus; the Spirit whereby the love and the truth of Jesus are actively and effectively overcoming the sin of the world for all those of Good Will; the Spirit, without Whom, as Jesus said, we can do nothing but prove ourselves futile and ultimately fruitless.                     

Friday, 19 October 2018

  29th. Sunday of Year (B)

(Isaiah 53:10-11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45)


This Sunday we have a matter of translation to consider first of all, but it does quickly lead to a serious issue concerning Catholic spirituality which translators are not necessarily aware of:

Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.

That is our New American Bible Revised Version’s translation and it is a literal translation of the Church’s official Latin Vulgate text, as also of the original Greek Gospel.

However, certain other modern translations change the word ‘will’, future tense, to ‘must’, imperative.  Why?   Obviously, it would seem, because that is what the scholars involved consider Jesus’ intention must (!) have been.  But does that then mean that -- in their view -- the evangelist himself, or perhaps even Peter the originating source of Mark’s Gospel, did not understand Jesus accurately enough?  Or rather, might it in fact be the case, that those translators -- professional and learned scholars who without doubt do great work for the Gospel – have, as scholars sensitive to their international standing, to bear in mind such a multitude of technical facts and human opinions that they simply do not have the time – or the ability – to be able to appreciate and answer spiritual questions with a like excellence manifested in their professional capacity?   It is a question worth asking and considering, because professional exegetes today produce volumes of New Testament studies of such burdensome size, quoting the opinions of seemingly innumerable scholars often writing in their own language, that it is hardly possible for them to have read and understood deeply as required all that they quote or refer to, let alone to have carefully weighed and pondered consequences and further issues of a more exclusively spiritual nature that might be involved.

Let us therefore consider what the Evangelist, St. Mark, says in his Gospel as we have it today:

Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.

Notice first of all that Jesus is speaking privately to His chosen disciples, whom He knew intimately as regards both their individual characters and their personal love for and devotion to Himself; men who, indeed, He is in the very process of training as His future Apostles:

Whoever wishes to be great among you will be... 

Many translators think that here Jesus means ‘must make yourself to be…’ a servant of the others; because to attain their object, their desire, their ambition, to be great they must do something that distinguishes and shows them to be ‘special’!  And surely, we can understand that trend of thought.

Yes, we can understand that because it is a normal, worldly, way of thinking.  But, precisely, here we are not considering the thought patterns of every-day human beings firmly ensconced in an ordinary worldly situation: we are thinking about men chosen by God first of all for their love of Jesus, and then being further singled out by Jesus Himself with regard not only to their individual characters and human  capabilities but also and more particularly for their special endowments of spiritual sensitivity and commitment for membership of a unique group known as The Twelve; moreover, we are hearing carefully chosen words being addressed to them alone by Jesus, the ‘Word’ of God and the ‘Wisdom’ of God made flesh.

The translation ‘Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servantdemands that anyone of them harbouring such ambitions must do something to make, prove, himself  to be a servant worthy of such prominence; and in that way it demands a measure of self-interest, self-seeking and, of self-appreciation.   Now that is most certainly not what Jesus wanted in His Apostles.

On the other hand, our translation ‘Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant, declares that any one of them with – anyone to whom God has indeed given -- aspirations, hopes, prayers for such greatness, will be brought by God the Father to serve his brethren; either in actual physical service, or in self-sacrificing spiritual humility and fraternal commitment.  Now that is the way Jesus Himself lived in our regard: not choosing for Himself, but being led by His Father, just as our first reading, taken from the book of Isaiah, made so abundantly clear:

                The Lord was pleased to crush Him in infirmity;

                The will of the Lord shall be accomplished through Him.

And this attitude is incontrovertibly shown by Our Blessed Lord at His agony in the Garden when He said:

Abba, Father, all things are possible to You.  Take this cup away from Me; before adding, but not what I will but what You will. (Mark 14:36)

Let us therefore look back at the preposterous request made (according to Mark’s Gospel which vividly records Peter’s preaching) by James and John, sons of Zebedee:

                Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You!!

Matthew tries to make it more acceptable by saying the request was made by the mother of those two disciples … but the original indignation of their fellow apostles is surely most clearly witnessed to and justified by Mark’s account as remembered by Peter.

Therefore, assuming Mark is accurate and James and John did make such an outrageous request of Jesus, the question arises, ‘Why did Jesus treat their request so seriously?’  And surely the answer must be, ‘Because He had something important to teach them from it.’  He is about to show them something essential for their future understanding of themselves and of the ways of their God, His Father.

They were at that moment trying to express, in badly chosen words -- but also quite simply and humbly before Jesus -- what His Father was trying to inspire in them: an aspiration, in no circumstances whatsoever to be mistaken as an ambition.

Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.

Yes, you will be servants and slaves because My Father is trying to draw you along, guide you on, His way for you; but His will alone will be done in you, not your will for your own personal renown, not even your will for His renown.  His will will be done in you, and in His way.

Jesus took their preposterous but childishly innocent request seriously because they were indeed intended to become Apostles for the establishment of His Church and the Kingdom of God, and this folly, this misunderstanding of His Father’s intentions in their regard, needed to be corrected.  Indeed, in a certain measure it was being corrected at that very moment, by the well-deserved embarrassment they had to put up with when they dropped back -- Jesus usually walked in front of His Apostles -- to join their indignant fellow Apostles whom they had earlier, so symbolically, left behind in order to go ahead and talk privately with Jesus. 

Jesus however, once again walking alone ahead of His Apostles, noticed what was going on behind Him and we are told:

He summoned them, and said to them…. Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.

They would have learnt so much about themselves and about God’s will for them from those words of Jesus!

Dear People of God, as we consider the history of Mother Church past and present, we can surely appreciate the superhuman task that faced and still faces the Twelve Apostles and their subsequent episcopal successors: the establishment of a cohesive Catholic Church: one in faith, morals, and obedience, throughout history and for all mankind.  They would indeed have the Holy Spirit, ‘Gifted’ them by Jesus, abiding in them personally and with them as a Body, forming them as the very Body of Christ for the glory of God the Father and the salvation of all men and women of good will; but what immense difficulties would subsequently arise through those who -- like James and John though not so innocently as they -- would mistake  their own ambitions for God’s inspiration, God’s inviting and guiding grace.   How many souls would, do, and will, suffer from the overweening pride of individuals in powerful positions: be they bombastic, arrogant, and ambitious prelates or scheming, harsh and unbending, mother superiors!

Undoubtedly, however, the single most important task for Mother Church today is the defence, purification and exaltation of Christian family life, and the supreme need in Catholic spirituality is for all Catholic parents to assume family responsibility and exercise shared and loving parental authority; and, forgetting themselves, to draw ever closer to Jesus, humbly and patiently centred on the will of God the Father: becoming ever more able to discern and distinguish His will from their own, and His glory from their own reputation and the blame or acclamation of men.

Such parents are not helped at times by prelates or priests, who, in their proclamation of the Gospel and traditional Catholic understanding of Christian marriage, think it necessary for them to apologize for not themselves being ordinary, poor and unknown, Catholics and Christians, to apologize even for not themselves being women, when needing to clarify and confirm traditional Catholic teaching on the family.  As prelates (and priests) they have been specially anointed as CHRISTS for our times, specially chosen to hand down what they have themselves received: the teaching of Christ and the historically declared will of God for mankind’s salvation!!  They have been placed in the full beam of the world’s, and of the Church’s, attention and scrutiny not for their own peaceful and popular passage when in office, nor for what the world might call the ‘well-being and good pleasure’ of all concerned by their decisions, but -- in the Church of Christ and by the authority  of that Church -- to proclaim the One Lord and Saviour of mankind, Jesus Christ, as Jesus Himself encouraged them:

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives the One Who sent Me.  (John 13:20)

Let them live up to such encouragement, to such a glorious promise, and stop fearing for self and hedging for popularity!

            Your friends, O Lord, make known the glorious splendour of Your reign!

Dear People of God, let us aspire with all our heart to love Jesus for the Father, to serve Jesus by His Spirit, in the Church given to Jesus by His Father for the salvation of men and women of good will.  Let us not seek a Church of human choice, strong in numbers and bolstered by popularity, but barren of fruit born of God’s grace and bereft of His uniquely saving presence.

Friday, 12 October 2018

28th Sunday Year B 2018

28th. Sunday (Year B)  
 (Wisdom 7:7-11; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30)

My dear People of God, we heard in the second reading:

and In our passage from the Gospel we learned something of what those words meant in real life for Jesus.

The rich young man had, according to the Law, lived a good life, but now he found that his appreciation of the word ‘good’ was superficial and perhaps even somewhat blasphemous, when Jesus said to him:

            Why do you call Me good?  No one is good but One, God.

Such a statement can seem, for many, to be obvious but purposeless; that however is far from the truth with Jesus: His words are fundamental for our very life and total well-being:

            No one is good but One, God.      No one is good but God.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we as the People of God, are called by those easily overlooked words of Jesus, to recognize that we do not learn from popular films, from pagan social media, from the faith-less majority around us, what is truly good for us and for our children, what will help us and them to experience  a life of authentic human peace and joy leading ultimately to the divine fulfilment of eternal life in the family of God.  

Today, most people around us adapt, model, and justify their personal and family behaviour in accordance with those popular presentations portrayed by American films and social media: good parents like to buy for their children whatever they – the children that is -- think they need or whatever they say others at school have;  again, other good parents under the similar pressures, accede to their children’s  assessment of their trials and difficulties: not daring to teach them, they pretend to fully understand those difficulties as their children experience them, to such an extent that they would never require their children to learn personal discipline or practice obedience, for that might cause upset and disturb peace in the family; and ‘peace’, of course, is another  Gospel word for heavenly reality.  In like manner, the ‘joy’ imagined by screen and video presentations of personal and family love always adds to the fullness of our experience of life and the development of our personality, how then could Christian joy ever be said to result from self-forgetfulness, let alone from self-denial?

People of God, there are also others not themselves faithless but who, aiming to achieve Gospel ends by human measures, seek to make Christ and the Gospel popular; they present the Christian life as something almost second nature to us, and the salvation offered us they portray as a reward to be almost automatically acquired after a life of even minimal devotion.  Moreover, their use of Gospel words such as ‘good’, ‘peace’ and ‘joy’, all derivatives of ‘LOVE’, is usually so coloured with predominantly human overtones that there would appear to be no possibility of conflict between those heavenly realities and our human experiences here below, except, of course, for their heavenly abundance and eternal permanence.

And yet, once again, for Jesus Himself things are much different:

Jesus, looking at (the young man), loved him, and said, "You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow Me."   At that statement his face fell and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Thereupon Jesus addressed His disciples concerning the difficulty of reconciling personal wealth with a Christian appreciation of, and desire to enter, the Kingdom of God.

(The disciples) were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?"   Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.  All things are possible for God."

Thus, popular presentations of Gospel Christianity and human happiness are usually found to be emasculated and inauthentic versions of Catholic Christianity when, thanks to Mother Church’s use of her Scriptures in the liturgy, we listen again to Jesus’ own proclamation of the Gospel of salvation:

For human beings (salvation) is impossible, but not for God.  All things are possible for God. 

The young man believed he had always loved God, but Jesus told him:

You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow Me.

Those words pierced the young man so deeply that, we are told:

At that statement his face fell and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

He went away because he had just been brought to realise how much he loved his earthly possessions: indeed, the exercise of those earthly possessions meant more to him than any heavenly aspirations.  And so, he went away sorrowful because he knew that he was turning away from the best option, for the call of Jesus to personal discipleship was, he realized, though not a command, certainly a wonderful offer, a supreme opportunity.  Nevertheless, he could not turn his back on his money and all the good things of life on earth that it afforded him: above all, perhaps, that prominence which brought him the esteem and subservience of others.

If you now recall how we began Mass you will remember that we said, “Lord, you were sent to heal the contrite”, “You came to call sinners”.  Jesus is continually calling all -- be they contrite or sinners -- to open their hearts and minds ever more and more to the healing power of His love.  The Word of God proclaimed at Mass to the contrite, --

is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart;

and, as such, it is meant to pierce all mankind and, having penetrated through manifold layers of human sinfulness, self-satisfaction, and personal ignorance, to thereby enable each and every one of us to see our own sinfulness more clearly, just as it did with the rich young man.  That young man had to be shown the depth of his attachment to money in order that he might appreciate and be able to respond to a higher vocation in life here on earth, namely, with Jesus, to learn to love the Father above all else, and in Jesus to attain to eternal life and glory before the Father in heaven:

Sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow Me.

Now, Jesus does not say the same words to every person who turns to Him for salvation. The Word of God, which Mother Church proclaims here at Mass and throughout her liturgy and public ministry, can be of special significance to any and every one of us who hear it aright: it can, at any stage in our life, open us up to ourselves anew, showing us how much His healing is still needed in our lives, and enabling us to respond to a further and yet more wonderful call from Jesus.

Jesus, remember, does not look bleakly at us with a cold eye and critical appreciation, for we have already been called and guided to Him by the Father:

No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)

Therefore, Jesus loves us, just as He loved the rich young man, as we heard:

Jesus looking at him, loved him.

Jesus loved him because He saw what He could make of that young man if he were to become a disciple and learn to give glory to the Father.  The Word of God had penetrated to the core of his being for his greater blessing; if only he could have accepted that Word and the revelation of his present self generated by it.

People of God, never turn away from God’s Word heard or read in the Scriptures and in the teaching of the Church because it makes you feel uncomfortable, because Jesus does not seek or plan our ultimate discomfiture.  He loves us and wants only to help us glorify the Father with Him, to lead us to the fullest realization of our divine potential; and to that end we must never forget what we heard in the second reading:

There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.

Like foolish children, we simply do not know either the truth about ourselves, or what is truly good for us.  All things are “naked and open to the eyes of God”, and His holy Word comes to us, at times, to cut us to the quick and thereby help us first to realize, and then hopefully to embrace, what is best for us, for:

(It) is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow;

it is, however, only piercingly sharp at those times when God wants, by that Word, to help us, as Scripture says:

            (to) discern (the) reflections and thoughts and intents of (our own) heart.

And this He does because, to all those who will lovingly accept His Word and humbly acknowledge what they have been led to recognize about themselves, the words of the prophet Malachi will apply, who declared in the name of the Lord:

To you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings. (Malachi 4:2)

People of God, if -- as yet -- you don’t truly appreciate the dignity of your calling as a Catholic disciple of Jesus, then allow the Word of God to be active in you, do not reject its occasional piercing, penetrating, and yet healing, smart.  Remember the advice given us in the first reading from the book of Wisdom:

The spirit of wisdom came to me; (and) all good things came to me along with her: in her hands uncounted wealth. I chose to have her rather than light, because her radiance never ceases.

Friday, 5 October 2018

27th Sunday of the Year (B) 2018

27th. Sunday of Year (B)

 (Genesis 2:18-24; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-12)


Moses gave permission for a man to divorce his wife; however, Jesus declared that it was:

            Because of the hardness of your heart (Moses) wrote you this precept.

The Law had been given through Moses to prepare the People of Israel both to bring forth and be able to embrace the Lord and Saviour of mankind when He should come, and this they did, supremely, through the Virgin Mary of Nazareth.  However, the vast majority of Israelites, because of their hardness of heart, did not recognize and consequently were not able to embrace the Lord when He came.

Jesus, the Son of God made flesh was sent by His Father to live among God’s Chosen People, with the immediate aim of leading back to His Father, by the Spirit, those who were wandering far from their God as a result of the dominion that Satan held over their lives; His ultimate purpose, however, was to bring the whole of sinful mankind back to the God Who created them as to their loving Father by His, Jesus’, re-making of them into true children-of-God.  To this end, Jesus did not base His teaching upon the Law of Moses for, although He did not deny the validity of the Law for those to whom and for whom it had originally been given through Moses, He Himself deliberately chose to by-pass the Law of Moses by invoking the Father’s original law of creation for His children, the law eternally enshrined in their original make-up, by recalling that:

From the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female.'  'For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'; so then, they are no longer two but one flesh.

He then added His answer to the Pharisees question about the current standing of Moses permission for divorce under the Law:

What God has joined together, let not man separate.

We can see clearly that Jesus had only one purpose in mind: to secure and save true children-of-God for His Father, and for the fulfilment of this He showed Himself adamant, admitting no compromises even though Moses had set a precedent.  Jesus’ Gospel was not to be in any way preparatory for something that might come later: His Gospel was definitive and its sole function was to further the formation of true children-of-God: the Holy Spirit was to lead those who would believe in Jesus’ Good News to their heavenly Father as members of the mystical Body of His incarnate Son, that is, as adopted children nourished by the teaching and by the very Body and Blood of His only-begotten Son.  Jesus could not envisage spurious children-of-God: only those given to Himself by the Father and formed according to His Gospel teaching by His gift of the Holy Spirit, would be able and fit to follow Jesus to the kingdom of heaven and, indeed, into the very presence of His and their heavenly Father.

This attitude and purpose of Jesus was made devastatingly clear by His subsequent words which removed any possibility of misunderstanding or prevarication concerning the supremacy of divine truth with regard to political, social, or personal, expediency:

Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

Those words were spoken to His disciples in private: they were the ones who would teach Jesus’ future disciples after He had gone, and there had to be no hesitancy or uncertainty over a matter of such importance, a matter that so clearly brings into possible confrontation men’s weakness and wishes with the exigencies of fellowship with God: proximity to the Father in union with Jesus.

Moses had allowed the Jews a certain relaxation because they had been subject to a Law which was meant to help them become aware of their own sinfulness and frailties and acknowledge their need of a Saviour; and in fulfilling such a function the Law allowed a degree of licence and bestowed a measure of holiness.  The Gospel, however, is concerned with the ultimate degrees of holiness, because it was and is meant to bring believers into union with Jesus, and into the family of the heavenly Father as His true-children-in-Jesus, by the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.  Likewise, the fullness of the Holy Spirit could only be given to God’s Church in order to protect and promote the fullness of truth in all its purity: for only such fullness and purity of truth could lead human beings to an appreciation of, and gradual sharing in, the fullness of heavenly glory which is divine charity.  Previously, under the Mosaic dispensation, certain compromises could be made for human weakness and ignorance, since the Law was still preparatory, what would be definitive was yet to come.  The Gospel dispensation, however, is the final and immediate preparation for fellowship with God.  Under the Gospel law, never would believers in Jesus work alone, for they would always be endowed with, empowered and enlightened by, the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Holiness, and thus enabled to walk the ways of holiness leading into the presence of Him Whom Jesus addressed in prayer as ‘Holy Father’.  It is for such reasons that Jesus commanded:

You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

People of God, today we are given an opportunity to appreciate something of the divide that many are continually attempting – unconsciously perhaps -- to set up between our modern Church and the intention and will of Jesus.  For, today, emphasis is placed, so often, on numbers and ‘compassion’.  Teaching, it is claimed, has to be adapted in order to bring more people into our churches; it should be relaxed, not only in unessential details of Church law and discipline, but even in matters of doctrine, so that the Church might be more accessible and welcoming to modern attitudes and mores.

This emphasis on numbers, this solicitude for popularity -- which is the true project modern ’compassion’ pleaders have in mind -- is far different from Jesus’ attitude with regard to those who thought His doctrine unacceptable:

Therefore, many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"             (John 6:60)

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.  Then Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:66-68)

The Gospel message of salvation is, indeed, for the whole of mankind, but the mystery of human freedom is still relevant.  In Jesus’ own time and among Jesus’ own native people only a relatively small number accepted Him, and so no one knows, nor can anyone know, how many will ultimately respond positively to God’s offer of salvation.  Therefore, the attention of the Church should, must, always be turned to authentic doctrine: Jesus’ teaching, as Jesus meant it then, and as Jesus wills it to be heard and understood by mankind today.  Teaching can never be undermined by thoughts and fears about numbers nor must it ever be subjected to the prevalent preconceptions, prejudices and passions, of modern society.  Gospel truth has always to be the pure air we breathe not mere words to be argued about; it is not a commodity put at our disposal, to be watered down, topped up, coloured or flavoured, as we think best suited to current times and requirements.  Mother Church deals – so to speak – in God’s teaching, she dispenses God’s grace; no mere men, no individuals however authoritative, can ‘fiddle’ with what is not theirs, and what is for all men of all times.

There is only one Who can guide us into the fullness of Gospel truth: the Holy Spirit bequeathed to His Church and to be poured out on His Body, by Jesus.  The Good News of Jesus was first proclaimed by His own voice and understood by His own divinely-human mind; no merely human mind is either able to adequately understand its fullness and profundity, or to appreciate its wisdom and beauty; and that is why He gave His Holy Spirit to guide His Church into all truth:

When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-15)

Therefore, the Gospel message can only be rightly understood and proclaimed by those imbued and endowed by the Holy Spirit: is not to be grasped like some apple from a tree by intellectual prowess; it can only be known, loved, and gradually experienced, in the life of the Church which we are called to serve, above all, by serving the Lord Jesus Himself in and through her, by faithful obedience and humble perseverance in love. There are, alas, far too many in positions of prominence whose primary concern seems to be that they should be able to make their own mark, with the result that they are always seeking to adapt what has been handed down over centuries in order to proclaim their own gifts by attempts to popularize and debase the straight and narrow, the light of life, and the gift of the Spirit.  They would have the Body and Blood available like French fries and Coca Cola; heaven would be easily accessible to all, indeed, it would be unavoidable, since for them, hell would no longer exist, being totally out of consideration in their system.  God, however, might prove a problem for them, since He twice left the Jewish Temple because of the human sinfulness of faithless guides and pastors.

People of God, the Church of Christ, our Mother Church, can never be diverted from her purpose, because she is protected by the promise of Jesus and His gift of the Spirit.  But the work of the Church can be thwarted for a time, and that is why the Spirit -- Who leads men and women of good will towards Jesus’ heavenly promise -- also leads and needs men and women of good will to defend the Church.  Let us, therefore, pray for Mother Church, let us love the beauty of her God-gifted truth and the splendour of His grace at work in her.  Let us disdain the tawdry prospects of all those who offer us what is cheap and worldly for that heavenly promise made to us by Jesus and won for us at the cost of His most Precious Blood.