What is your faith journey?

Wednesday 28th March 2018

Today the cathedral was full with representatives from across the entire diocese. The Bishop, priests and lay faithful all gathered together for the Mass of the Sacred Chrism.

The Chrism Mass is the the occasion on which the bishop blesses the holy oils, and when the priests renew their promises to serve God and his people.

There are three oils that are blessed at the Chrism Mass: that of the sick, that of chrism, and that of catechumens. These are used wherever there is a sacramental anointing, such as the anointing of the sick, the anointing of those about to be or newly baptised, and the anointing of priests.

In his homily Bishop John asked us to reflect on our own faith journey.

He said:

You and I are challenged on our faith journeys in this diocese and what’s the next step to be? It’s to follow the guidance of Pope Francis. We have to look to the mercy of God and be missionary disciples. We must work out what that means.

 

He also asked us to look forward saying:

Lets look to the next stage of that journey confident that the Lord is with us and he will stay with us and that we have every reason to be hopeful and optimistic even in the secular time of living the Gospel Values as ambassadors of Christ in the world today.

You can read the full homily below or listen to the homily here. 

Some journeys these days can be completely predicable. If you go on a long haul flight the chances are that on the back of the seat in front of you is a screen and the screen will tell you about your journey. It will tell you the time of take-off, the altitude in which you are flying, the speed at which you are going and it will tell you from the first moment of your flight the predicted time of your arrival, and it probably gets it right within two or three minutes even after 8000 miles. Not quite so on the trains. There may be problems with signals or leaves on the tracks but still you know you are going in the right direction and you know you will get there. Car can be even less predictable even with the wonders of satnav. It only takes 1 of 15 million drivers to have a breakdown or an accident or a particular event like a football match or a pop concert to clog up all the roads and things can change quite radically but still you know you are making progress, you know where you are going and you know you are going to get there. How different is that from the journey of faith. And we are going to live through the journey of faith which was experienced by the disciples in these coming days, nothing predictable there.

Let’s place ourselves with the disciples for a moment. Can you image the jubilation of that arrival in Jerusalem? We are here! They had waited three years, they had seen his miracles and they were in Jerusalem. I bet they were thinking it’s just going to take one miracle and even the hardest hearted Pharisee will believe he is the Christ.  It wonderful, we have arrived and we are going to be his close companions and then we see what happens. Jesus goes to the template but there are arguments. He turns over the tables. He gets angry with people and some can’t accept what he is saying. And it gets worst. It gets to that moment when one of their very number betrays him. When it comes to the arrest all of them run away. What cowards. And Peter, the rock, denies Jesus three times and says ‘I do not know the man’. Then they see Jesus crucified. Where are they now on their faith journey? As far as they are concerned, Jesus – their messiah – he’s dead. Everything they thought was going to happen, it can’t happen now. Then the resurrection and they are just getting used to Jesus being around again, their leader and teacher, and then he says ‘I’m going again, I’m going back to the Father. Here is your mission, go out to the whole world and proclaim the good news.’ I bet they thought, ‘are you serious, we are fishermen, the whole world and baptise? Who’s going to listen to us?’ Such uncertainty in their faith journey but I think it’s all there for a reason. We have our faith journey too. It won’t be as radical as the disciples because we have with hindsight so much more truth. They knew about Pentecost and the Gifts of the Spirit. ‘I’ll send you the advocate who will teach you everything I taught you.’

You and I are challenged on our faith journeys in this diocese and what’s the next step to be? It’s to follow the guidance of Pope Francis. We have to look to the mercy of God and be missionary disciples. We must work out what that means. It is a testing time, especially as we live in such a secular world full of materialism but it’s not making them happy. It’s not solving the world’s problems.  We have some values that we have to promote by our lives. So I want to thank you for who you are and what you do and let’s recognise what we are about, missionary disciples. We have to be open in our journey of faith to what God may be asking of us in our fast changing world.

Now today is something of a feast for our priests. They are going to renew their promises of priesthood ministries. So I am going to address them but by all needs please listen in.

Fathers, I want to thank you for all that you are doing and all that you are achieving now, for that pastoral guidance that you provide for those entrusted to your care. I want to remind you of the day of our ordination, when we promised that life of service and doing whatever God is asking of us and throw ourselves into it and get on with it and that’s exactly what you’ve been doing, some of us for a long time. We live in a changing world and maybe the priorities we have may need to change too. We know that all of us are called to be missionary disciples and if our people are going to be missionary disciples we have got to mission them and promote what they can do and need to do. We need to make sure we are encouraging and allowing the people to get on with the mission. I believe Hope in the Future gives us a direction and I thank you for promoting the first stage of the programme. Each parish will be different because each of us as individuals are different but we look to our gifts and the invitation given us by Pope Francis.

Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for being willing to adapt and see ministry in a different way with different priorities, let’s see where the Lord is taking us. We have so much to be thankful for. So much already in place but what is the Lord asking of us now? The wonderful thing is we are not on our own. Those promising words of Jesus, ‘I am with you always, I will send you the advocate who will lead you in all truth.’

So we are on a journey and we are asking the Lord to stay with us on that journey. Let’s look to the leadership of our priests and look to the next stage of that journey confident that the Lord is with us and he will stay with us and that we have every reason to be hopeful and optimistic even in the secular time of living the Gospel Values as ambassadors of Christ in the world today.

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