Homily - HOLY CROSS CHURCH CATFORD

HOLY CROSS CHURCH

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Homily

24 B 2018
In the gospel today Mark describes a real climax in the earthly ministry of Jesus. Peter, on behalf of the disciples, those who’ve been with him for a good long time, is able to express his (and presumably their) faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the one whom the whole Jewish nation had been waiting for. It was a fantastic moment. And I think we all realise how important that faith is to our lives and yet how mysterious it is too – and how vulnerable we feel when we speak up about it, as Peter did.
It was interesting this last week. As you know, 50 of us were on pilgrimage to Lourdes, a place where many believe that Mary has called upon pilgrims to gather since 1858. Once pilgrims are gathered there she seems to stand back as if in enjoyment of the Faithful deepening their friendship with her Son. During the week we reflected on how good it was to make the journey together, and how much more confident we could be in expressing and celebrating our personal quests to reach the heart of God. Moreover we were in the wonderful company of thousands of others. It was estimated that there was between 20 and 25,000 of us at the International Mass last Sunday. We are used to rowing against the tide in the worlds we live in, pushing against closed doors, but for a change we were in the flow, rejoicing freely in our Faith with so many others of all ages, races and ability from every continent of the world.
Faith is a precious gift indeed but we need to always be refining it. “Who do people say I am?” Jesus asked.  Well that demands a considered response. There is a story of a man coming out of a bank, meeting an elderly blind lady with her hand outstretched who said: “Can you help me?” The man paused and put a few coins in her hand. “Thank you”, she said, “but what I want is for someone to help me up the step and into the bank”! We can get it wrong about people and Jesus was very keen that the disciples didn’t get it wrong about him. He was pleased that they had understood him well enough to come to believe that he was the Christ, but straight away he launched into this description of himself as the Suffering Servant, the innocent lamb picked out with the words of Isaiah 7 or 800 years before, the words we heard in our first reading. He was not the sort of Messiah the Jews expected, one who would lead an army against the Romans and the rest of the world. He was one who would suffer, be rejected and put to death. So identifying him in Faith was just the start. Getting to know him more deeply would have to follow for Peter and the others, and it has to follow for us too.
St. James picks up on this in our second reading. If good deeds don’t go with faith in Jesus then you’ve the wrong Jesus. It’s not him at all. If you have faith in true person of Christ then good works will follow. So what about us as a Faith Community, the parish of Holy Cross? Well I think people do see that the life of the parish reflects a true faith in Christ – that we have developed an accurate and true vision of who God is. It’s never good enough but it’s still good. I remain very proud of the international stewardship award you were given this time last year in recognition of the spirituality that you express in action here in Catford. The more open to everyone the parish activity is, the more the people of Catford will look to Holy Cross to find God. That is our Mission.  
I am happy and proud to have played a role in this over these past years. I have described the experience to many people as being like jockeying a race horse. Holy Cross is a very fast and very able thorough-bred. I am proud to hand over the reins to a new younger jockey, Fr Antony, just as I was proud to mount up after Fr John Mulligan. The church mourns his tragic loss. (Not to forget Fr Britto who was caretaker in between). As it happens there will be a little gap now as Fr Antony had a car accident in India and isn’t able to travel for a few weeks.  A retired priest, Canon Collins will be here over the next few weekends.
Anyhow I am very pleased that we have been able to renew the church building that is our worship centre and meeting point. It’s had new lights, new sound, new roofs, new electrics, new plumbing, new insulation, new glazing, new guttering and drainage and more than a lick of paint. (Still a bit to do) Fr Antony can oversee some new carpeting!
I shall miss you all. I will cherish many happy memories. I am sorry to all those I have offended in any way. I wish I could have offered more, but the great thing is that so many of you do so much and you do it so well!
Pray for me and I will pray for you.
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