The readings were taken from Friday Week 22 Ordinary Time Year II
The first Friday of September and the first Friday of March are celebrated as Ember Days, a time to reflect upon creation, and the change of seasons, with penitential overtones.
Opening hymn: All Creatures of our God and King
Bishop Hudson : Ember Days mark the transition from one season to the next. They remind us that God is making all of His creation new. Let us ask Him to renew our hearts.
The first reading was from 1 Corinthians 4: 1-5, a passage where we are reminded that we are Christ's servants, His stewards, entrusted with the mysteries of God. The Lord alone is my judge. When He comes to judge, any praise that is deserved will be given by God.
The responsorial psalm was part of Psalm 36(37), which includes 'If you trust in the Lord and do good, you will live in the land and be secure. If you delight in the Lord, He will grant your heart's desire.' with the sung response 'The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.'
The Gospel reading was from Luke 5: 33-39 about Jesus being questioned why John's disciples fast and pray and His disciples do not. When the bridegroom is taken away, then they will fast. If a new piece of cloth is used to mend an old piece of cloth, both get ruined. New wine does not go into old wineskins, because both will be lost.
Jesus is preparing His friends for His departure. Can you imagine St Gabriel whispering to Jesus, 'Lord, it that it? Or do You have a contingency plan?' And Jesus replying, 'These motley apostles – they are My plan.' With Jesus the disciples were forever praying the psalms, and this one speaks of trust. 'If you trust in the Lord He will grant your heart's desire. Trust in Him and He will act.' St Paul reminds his readers that they are Christ's servants. It is expected that we be found worthy of this trust. Pope Francis, he challenges us, 'Don't close your heart to the surprise of the Holy Spirit.' We invite the Holy Spirit to renew our way of being church, to help us find new ways to bring others to Christ. Other ways are time honoured, and truly precious in the eyes of the Lord. They may not need changing, but they may need developing. Let it be vivified and magnified by the Holy Spirit. Patching up will NOT do. Half-hearted will not do. Being open to Jesus means that some of the things we do need a complete overhaul. Fr James Mallon points out in his book that 80% of our people we only ever see at weekend Mass, and we spend 20% of the week planning for that moment. What a difference it would make if we spent closer to 80%! If only we had the time to prepare them properly, how good our Eucharists could be. There is a sad trend in theology students today, they want the Church but not the Mass. The Eucharist makes the Church. We are distressed at so many not returning to the Sacraments. These days together are for thinking big, in order to help people meet Christ more readily in our parishes. See. Judge. Act. Reflect. Plan. Be open to new things should your assessments suggest it. Imagine Him looking at St Gabriel, 'There is no contingency plan. They are My plan. I trust them. I trust them to rebuild my church.' 'As He trusts us, so we need to trust in Him.
Offertory Hymn: Song of Cosmic Praise (Sing a new song, sing a new song and wait upon the promise of the Lord…)
Communion Hymns: 1.Bread of Life :2. Ubi Caritas (Taize)
Recessional Hymn: Jesus Christ You are my life.
Bishop Nicholas Hudson has almost no digital footprint, so I had no idea what to expect. If you consider this homily an 'appetizer' then his keynote talk on Saturday should be very impressive.
The Hymn, 'Jesus Christ, You are my life' was very popular during World Youth Day Krakow, and I was so looking forward to seeing the words on screen for all the parts that get mumbled. Would you believe that the hymn projector decided to conk out just as the opening chorus got underway? Bitterly disappointed I was!
Here is the sheet music: (Sadly I didn't find anything with the verses translated into English).
And a selection of YouTube clips of various groups and choirs singing it:
Of all the input that happened during the Proclaim Conference, only a few bits have instant recall for me: many of the one liners from the Discerning Charisms workshop on Thursday and this image of Jesus looking at both the motley crew of Apostles on Ascension Day and the motley crew gathered at Chatswood and saying, 'They are My Plan. There is no contingency plan.'
His Plan is to use ordinary folk like you and me. Just because His means are simple and ordinary doesn't make them ineffective. Here are two local stories to underline this. The first is a parishioner being friendly to those who passed by as she gardened. That opened the way for conversations, and conversations with one gent enabled him to be reconciled with Jesus through the sacraments prior to his death. Another parishioner has been to hell and back with health issues over the past few years. But her friends have been taking notice at how well she has coped, and are being inspired to ask her about the things of God and how to return to church. Powerful stuff, one person at a time mostly, but gentle and effective nonetheless.
'Patching up will not do. Half-hearted will not do.' Both are ways of doing similar things to the things we have always done – and expecting better results. 'Similar' is far too close to 'same' for any hope of better results. In the world of nature baby animals grow slowly until they go through the massive changes that transform them into adult animals capable of reproducing new baby animals. Is this what God is inviting us to do in our parishes?
Let us be open to the surprises He places in our paths, and ready to give it our best shot at the beginning. No more feeble pilot attempts, thinking about maybe backing something if a few people put in the hard yards and show that it is viable first. If we are talking about transformation of this magnitude, then it has to be done by the whole parish and whole parish leadership from the get-go. A caterpillar doesn't change into a butterfly one wing and thorax at a time. All of it changes at the same time.
In the next issue will be notes from the workshop on renewing sacramental preparation.
P.S. Sophy Morley of Sale, VIC, tells me that the music with English texts for "Jesus Christ You Are My Life" can be found in Catholic Worship Book 2 available from Morning Star Publishing.