Listen to him


When Jesus led Peter, James and John, his three closest disciples, up a high mountain, they must have realised that something important was going to happen. But they could not have expected what followed. Jesus was transfigured – the disciples were given a glimpse of his heavenly glory. With him were Moses and Elijah, the two greatest figures of the Old Testament. They heard the voice of God the Father, speaking to them from within a cloud. For the disciples, it was a stunning vision that revealed to them who Jesus really was – the Son of God. No wonder they were frightened, overwhelmed, and unable to take it all in. And then the vision was over, as suddenly as it had begun.

Why did Jesus reveal himself to Peter, James and John in this way? Perhaps to strengthen their courage for what lay ahead. When they came down from the mountain, Jesus would begin his journey to Jerusalem; the journey that would lead him to the Cross. He knew that his disciples’ faith in him would be tested; perhaps he foresaw that they would run away in fear and abandon him. Only when Jesus rose from the dead would the disciples begin to understand what they had seen. As we make our own journey through Lent, today’s Gospel challenges us to renew our courage and our trust in Jesus. The words of God the Father are addressed to us: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’

Diocesan Refugee Project

The Diocesan Refugee Project Centre is currently open. Any of the following items would be welcome: toilet rolls, tinned food (tomatoes, fish, and chick peas), biscuits, sugar, rice. Please bring donations on or before Sunday 7th March. Please use the correct box for this project. Ideally items would be in a carrier bag and for anything brought in after Sunday 7th please indicate date/day it’s been donated, as items need to be left for 72 hours before being moved later in the week.  

Hospital Visits

The University Hospital of North Durham still has restrictions in place regarding visits to patients – see the hospital website for the latest information. However, the Catholic Chaplain is still able to visit patients, and can bring them Holy Communion and the Sacrament of the Sick. If you know of a patient who wishes for a visit from the Catholic Hospital Chaplain, please inform Fr Paul Tully on 01388 818544 or frpaultully@outlook.com 

For visits to patients in St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in care homes or in their own homes, please contact Fr Andrew.

Lenten Alms

A message from the Chief Executive of St Cuthbert’s Care:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank  everyone for their kindness throughout the  pandemic – it has been truly heart-warming. Parish support makes all the difference, allowing us  to go that extra mile in ensuring we provide  outstanding care and peace of mind to families and  loved ones. If you are able to do so, please may I  ask that you consider supporting our work once  more. Thank you.

For information and donations, see https://www.stcuthbertscare.org.uk/

Time Out

When we have a big decision to make, we often need to take some time out – to reflect and to pray. We need to be away from distractions, so that we can think clearly. In today’s Gospel, Jesus takes time out.

After his baptism in the River Jordan, the Holy Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness. He was there for forty days; alone, without food or shelter and in danger from wild animals. Mark tells us that he was tempted by Satan, but says nothing about the temptations. Jesus was about to begin his public ministry of preaching and teaching. He could only face the struggle and suffering that lay ahead if he trusted completely in God, his Father. During those forty days in the desert, Jesus overcame the temptations and prepared himself.

The First Reading reminds us of the legend of Noah, in the book of Genesis. Noah, too, put his trust in God for the forty days of the Great Flood, and God kept him and his family safe, even when the whole world was destroyed.

When Jesus returned to Galilee, he would hear the news of the arrest of John the Baptist. He would be in no doubt about the dangers that he himself faced. But he set out fearlessly to begin preaching the Good News.

We are beginning the forty days of Lent. It’s a time to clear away distractions, to renew our trust in God and to respond to Jesus’ call: repent, and believe the Good News.

Be Cured!

Leprosy is a skin disease that attacks the nerves and muscles. It can cause disability, blindness and disfigurement. In ancient times, there was no cure or treatment for leprosy. The only response was the one described in today’s First Reading from the book of Leviticus. The person suffering from leprosy was declared ‘unclean’ and forced to live outside the community, for the protection of others. Anyone declared a ‘leper’ suffered from terrible isolation, as well as the pain of their disease. No one would touch a leper, for fear of becoming a leper themselves.

This is the situation of the man whom Jesus meets in today’s Gospel. He begs Jesus to heal him. Jesus is filled with compassion for the man, and reaches out to touch him, even though, in doing so, Jesus makes himself unclean in the eyes of the Law. By the power of Jesus’ love, the man is healed. He can go back to his home, his family and his life.

In the past year, the world has been struck by the coronavirus pandemic. As with leprosy in Jesus’ time, medicine has had no answer to this new disease. We have been forced to isolate the sufferers, and isolate ourselves from one another, for fear of infection. Now that the vaccinations have begun, there is hope that life can gradually return to normal. But we must learn the lessons of the pandemic. People who suffer from addiction or mental illness, disability or disfigurement, can feel terribly isolated, and their isolation adds to their suffering. No one is untouchable for Jesus. Who are the people that I don’t want to touch? And where in my life do I need Jesus’ healing touch?

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