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.’
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.
Mass for the victims of Covid-19 will be celebrated by Bishop Robert Byrne CO on Tuesday 2nd March at 12.05pm in St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle, and live streamed on the Cathedral’s YouTube channel.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
For visits to patients in St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in care homes or in their own homes, please contact Fr Andrew.
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/
The Diocese of Middlesbrough has set up a system to allow people who do not have internet access to listen to Mass over the telephone. This service can be accessed by calling 01642 130120.
’‘Travelling towards Easter’ with daily reflections and articles. Price £2 (£1 for students.)
Thomas Aquinas and Contemplation by Dr Rik Van Nieuwenhove, Durham University. Thursday 4th March at 4.30pm, online. See CCS website for details.
For the Good of the Church: Unity, Theology, and Women by Rev Dr Gabrielle Thomas. Speakers: Rev Dr Paula Gooder, Prof Tina Beattie. Monday 8th March (International Women’s Day) at 5.30pm, online. See CCS web page for details and registration.
Easter Eggs, cards and gifts available from https://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/
An Ecumenical Lent Gathering: Thursdays in Lent, 7.15-9.00pm, on Zoom. For details, contact Julie Goodhart of Durham City Methodists on email@example.com
From Lamentation to praise; a journey with the Psalms: An online event offered by the team at Minsteracres Retreat Centre. Saturday 20th March, 10:30am-3:30pm. This event will be delivered via Zoom and will be an opportunity to step aside and listen to God in Scripture as we journey towards Easter. Suggested donation: £10. See www.minsteracres.org for booking.
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.
In the next session of the Finchale Partnership’s series on the Spirituality of the Religious Orders, Bishop Robert Byrne CO will speak to us about the Oratorians.
The talk will take place on Zoom, on Thursday 25th February at 7.00pm.
Zoom login details are available in the Parish Facebook Group or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
An online Lent retreat, offered by the Centre for Ignatian Spirituality in Glasgow. https://www.onlineprayer.net/
An online seminar offered by the Centre for Applied Theology. Monday 22nd February at 7.00pm. For details, see https://www.appliedtheology.org.uk/
CAFOD Family Fast Day is on Friday 26th February. This year’s theme is Water Poverty; many people around the world lack access to clean, safe water. Find out more at www.cafod.org.uk/fastday
We have a new page on our website, with links to some other websites you may find interesting, including news from the Diocese and the Vatican and prayer resources.
You can find the page here, or on the main menu at the top of this website.
If you’d like to suggest any other links for us to consider adding to the page, please email email@example.com
The latest edition of the Finchale Partnership’s newsletter is now available here.
Partnership Newsletter Feb 2021
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?
Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday, 17th February. Mass will be celebrated at 12.15 and 7.00pm – please book a place at Mass by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning 0191 384 3442. Ashes will be distributed at both Masses without physical contact, in accordance with Bishops’ Conference guidelines. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence.