Mgr Gerard’s reflection – 5th Sunday of Easter

Recently, an elderly gentleman was dying. He had had a good life and he would have it all over again. He said he would gladly forego money and health as long as he could have the same wife, same family, same love again.

Love – that was what was important in life. It was love which kept things together and it made sense of life. The day before this elderly gentleman died all the family were around his bedside but as usual some were quite quarrelsome and some at odds with one another. As the elder of the family and the father of the family he told them they must learn to love one another and try harder. This was everything and they must believe this as these were the words of a dying man.

Jesus spoke his similar words to his friends the night before he died. It was a simple clear message “Love one another as I loved you.” We pray that God will touch our hearts so that we are people who are able to love and show love to and for others.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection: 4th Sunday of Easter – Good Shepherd Sunday

This Sunday is used throughout the world as a day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood.

Vocation is a much more generalised call than simply to the priesthood but this day is set aside for centring on those who the Lord is calling to the specialised ordained ministerial priesthood. I hope we all know that there is the wider royal priesthood. But here we are facing the call to accept a particular ministry which involves celebrating the Mass or Eucharist, normally the administration of other Sacraments and also often the pastoral care of some of the flock of Christ.

As a priest, I can assure you how much I owed to the prayers of others as I tried to seek God’s will in finally going forward to ordination. That was up to ordination. Needless to say, the need and the support has continued. But today especially we are all asked to pray that the Lord will send men to lead his flock.

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – 3rd Sunday of Easter

There are two calls of Peter related in the Gospels. The first occurrence is at the start of Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1: 16-18). The second occurrence is after the resurrection in today’s Gospel.

Three years separated those two calls and during that time a lot of things had happened to Peter. He had found out a lot about the man who had called him, about the task to which he had called him and all about himself. When the second call came Peter was a wiser and humbler man and therefore his second ‘yes’ was far more mature and enlightened than his first ‘yes’ had been.

Peter’s story is one of calling, falling and recalling. It shows that Christ’s call doesn’t exclude falls. A vocation is not something one hears once and answers once. A call has to be heard many times and responded to many times. Each day a part of the chosen path opens up before us. A part we have not traveled before. As one goes on the call gets deeper and the response becomes more internal and personal.

Peter is a great consolation to us. Courage fails us all. In the end all of us are mere mortals who are inconstant in our belief. We must learn to forgive ourselves, our moments of weaknesses and failures. We must not judge ourselves or others by momentary lapses and work as Peter did to look after our brothers and sisters in our community.

Fr Richard’s reflection: 5th Sunday of Lent – Christocentricity

“Christocentric” is one of my favourite words. It simply means that Christ, a name which means “anointed One”, is at the centre of all teaching of the Catholic faith and should be at the centre of our lives.

Saint John Paul II in particular emphasised this truth, reminding us that Christ is the “centre of salvation history” [GDC, 1997, no. 98]. The General Directory for Catechesis published in his papacy also says that “at the heart of catechesis we find, in essence, a person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. In reality, the fundamental task of catechesis is to present Christ and everything in relation to him.” [GDC, no. 98].

This “Christocentricity” is what we find St Paul expressing in today’s Second Reading, where we find the name of Christ no less than six times in six verses. “I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him.”

St Paul reminds us that Christ is the most important Person in our lives. He should be at the centre of our homes, families, schools, workplaces, communities, and, of course, the Church.

Mgr Gerard’s reflection: 2nd Sunday of Lent – Transfiguration

Transfiguration is a name we give to our breakthrough moments. It can be as simple as discovering a solution to a vexing problem or as horrific as watching the Twin Towers collapse. It can be Martin Luther King saying “I have been to the mountain top and seen his glory” and we know that integration will happen.

There is no planning for the transfigurations that enrich our lives. All of us have experienced some degree of transfiguration. We just need to let ourselves be caught up in the moment and become lost in the experience.

It is like receiving the Body of Christ. It is quite awesome to think we are receiving Christ because the host is more than bread. We should always say “Amen” with such profound reverence. God gives us rare moments when we hear more than is being said and see more than is obvious. During Lent and beyond how can we better treasure these moments of grace?

Mgr Gerard’s reflection – 1st Sunday of Lent

Jesus was tempted in the desert. It’s not so easy to understand how Jesus and temptation can come together but we are told clearly that Jesus was like us in all things except sin.

To me, it seems when we are faced with learning to believe, that Jesus Christ really was a man living in the same world that we inhabit today. He had all the human emotions: affection, love, fear, anger and so on. In use of his mind, his body, his heart he was free as we are free, but when tempted he never chose himself rather than his father’s will.

Like him we are free, but when tempted unlike him we often choose our will rather than God’s and this can lead to sin. But God is with us in our struggles always helping us to overcome them.

St. Augustine says: “it is through temptation that we come to know ourselves. We cannot win our crown unless we overcome and we cannot overcome unless we enter the contest and there is no contest unless we have an enemy and the temptation he brings.”

Mgr Gerard’s Reflection – Beginning of Lent

Forty days of Lent from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday is a period traditionally for prayer, fasting and doing special good works. The number forty comes from the Lord’s fasting recorded in the gospels and earlier generations associated Lent with giving up things like sweets or some luxury. The key question is to make Lent meaningful and that we undertake to do or give something up for the whole period. If we do not set down something special and be content with, “I shall be good during Lent” nothing much is likely to result. We also need to look at conversion, where do I fail?, in what areas do I need to be more generous?, where do I need the Lord’s healing love?

Fr Richard’s reflection – Martyrs’ witness to love of enemy (7th Sunday of Ordinary Time)

Some of the greatest exponents of Our Lord’s command to “love your enemy” that spring to mind (aside, of course, from the greatest example of Jesus Himself) are the martyrs of England and Wales. Many of these faithful men and women, seconds before facing the horror of being hanged, drawn and quartered, begged God’s forgiveness for the executioners, priest-catchers, and indeed the monarch.

Look no further that the very last words of our very own Blessed Nicholas Postgate: “Mr Sheriff, I do not die for the plot but for my Catholic religion. Be pleased to acquaint His Majesty that I have never offended him in any way. I pray God to give him His grace and the light of truth. I forgive all who have in any way wronged me and brought me to this death, and I desire the forgiveness of all the people.”

The witness of the ‘martyr of the moors’ provides a fine example for us of Jesus’ instruction to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.” Safe in the knowledge that we won’t be treated as badly as the martyrs were, let us ask for their intercession that we may have the humility to love those who hate us.