God’s ways are not our ways

Today’s Gospel parable shocks us. We are attached to the idea that we should get what we deserve. Those who work harder should be better paid. It seems obvious – to human thinking.

Jesus’ teaching shows us a difference between God’s ways and our ways. One denarius was a day’s wage for a worker – a living wage, we might say. So, if the vineyard owner had paid the late arrivals less than a denarius, they and their families might go hungry that day. Instead, the landowner pays each worker enough to get by, and gives each one the dignity of earning their daily bread. But it seems unfair to those who have done a full day’s work in all the heat. Why should others receive the same wage for just one hour’s work? The landowner replies, ‘Why be envious because I am generous?’

The parable teaches us that, when we stand before God, we are not like workers, demanding our just wages. Before God, we always stand as beggars. We can never earn our place in the kingdom of heaven; we can only hope for God’s mercy. Salvation is always God’s gift. Once we understand this, there is no room for jealousy or resentment over God’s gifts to others. We can only receive with gratitude what God gives us.

Live streaming of Masses

We are looking into the possibility of regular live streaming of Masses and liturgies from St Cuthbert’s. This would allow those who can’t get to church to share in our worship. The estimated cost of the necessary equipment is around £1500. If you would like to contribute, please send donations to St Cuthbert’s, marked ‘Live streaming.’ Thank you to everyone who has donated so far.

Churches open for Private Prayer and Mass

St Godric’s Church has Mass at 9:00am on Sunday 20 and Sunday 27 September; Exposition at 9:30am and Mass at 10:00am on Tuesday 22 and Thursday 24.. 

St Joseph’s Church has Mass at 5:00pm on Saturday 19 and 26 September; 11:00am on Sunday 20 and 27 September; Exposition at 9:30am and Mass at 10:00am on Wednesday 23 and Friday 25.

For Saturday and Sunday Masses, the deadline for requesting a place at Mass is 2.00pm on Friday, to book a place please contact Marjorie on 07391529827 or secretary.stjandstg@btconnect.com You no longer need to book a place at the weekday Masses, but will have to give your contact details to the stewards on arrival.

Journey in Faith 2020-21

If you are interested in being baptised as a Christian; if you are a member of another Christian church and are considering being received into full communion with the Catholic Church; or if you are a Catholic and wish to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, then the Journey in Faith programme is for you. Details of this year’s programme will be announced soon.

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.

Northern Cross

The September edition of our diocesan newspaper is now available, online only, at www.northerncross.org.uk The Northern Cross is facing significant financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – please consider supporting the paper by taking out an online or print subscription, via the website or by post: Subscriptions Dept, Northern Cross, c/o WM Fortune & Son, Collingwood House, Church Square, Hartlepool, TS24 7EN.

The Season of Creation

The Season of Creation runs from 1 September (World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation) to 4 October (the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi) each year. This ecumenical season is dedicated to prayer and action for the protection of creation. It is a time to renew our relationships with God our Creator, and with all creation, as we join together in prayer. We give thanks for all that God has made, repent for the damage that we have caused and commit ourselves to take action to protect the earth our common home. Details and resources at www.cafod.org.uk  

Events at Minsteracres

Gratitude, Prophecy & Hope: A retreat led by the Minsteracres team. 2020 has presented all of us with new experiences and opportunities to reflect on our lives. During this retreat we reflect on our encounters with gratitude, prophecy and hope. With reference to the lives of some of the Passionist saints, we will explore where these perennial themes have been and are present in our lives. Friday 2-Sunday 4 October. Suggested donation: £140

Forgive us our Sins

We are all sinners. We begin every celebration of Mass by asking God’s mercy. Every time we pray the Our Father, we ask God our Father to forgive our sins. To be a Christian doesn’t mean that we are without sin; it means that we know God will forgive our sins.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples a parable to show them the immensity of God’s mercy. A servant owes the king ten thousand talents – an incredibly large sum of money – millions of pounds, in today’s terms. He has no hope of paying the debt. But when he appeals to the king, he receives mercy; his debt is cancelled and he is set free. We have no hope of paying the debt that we owe to God through our sins, but by God’s mercy, we are set free. Pope Francis has said that God’s mercy is always more than we deserve – and that’s why we call it mercy.

But there is a twist in the tail of the parable. The servant who has received unstinting mercy from the king shows himself to be stingy and unforgiving with a fellow servant, who owes him a small sum. In the Lord’s Prayer, when we ask God to forgive our sins, we go on to say ‘…as we forgive those who sin against us.’ We can’t expect to receive God’s mercy unless we are ready to forgive one another. The generous mercy of God challenges us to show a generous spirit to our fellow sinners. If we won’t forgive, we will find ourselves imprisoned by anger and resentment, just like the unforgiving servant in the parable.

Laudato si – 5 years on

Missio is the Pope’s charity for world mission and is perhaps best known for their red boxes in support of the missions. They invite you to join them online to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si. We will hear from missionaries about the initiatives their communities are involved in which care for our common home and how their missionary role is connected to caring for creation. The meeting will be on Zoom, with the opportunity to join in on Tuesday 15 September at 6pm – the meeting will last between 60 and 90 minutes. If you would like to attend, please register in advance by emailing redbox@missio.org.uk or calling 020 7821 9755. You will then receive clear instructions as to how to join your selected session.

Meet a Columban Missionary

We are delighted to have received an invitation from the Columbans in Britain to join a virtual encounter with Marjorie Engcoy, a Columban Lay Missionary from the Philippines assigned to Fiji.

This event will happen on Zoom on WEDNESDAY 16th SEPTEMBER 2020 at 19:00, and is open to everyone.

Before joining the Missionary Society of St. Columban, Marjorie was an English teacher for five years. Growing up she met a number of Columban missionaries; priests, nuns, and lay. Their presence in her community helped to ignite her desire to become a lay missionary and establish her personal relationship with God. In mission, she has been involved in various different ministries such as youth, children, women, liturgy, evangelisation, leadership and JPIC. Marjorie looks forward to explaining some of these ministries in more detail and how through her mission work overseas she has experienced God’s love and His promise; “I will be with you, always.”

The webinar will include prayer, a short introduction and then time for questions. You will need a laptop, tablet or phone and a good internet connection. To take part, please register your interest here: http://tiny.cc/MeetaColumbanMissionary

If your brother or sister does something wrong…

When someone has hurt or offended us, our first response is to feel angry and resentful.  We naturally want to get our own back. We may look for a way to attack the one who has wronged us.

Jesus teaches his disciples a different way of dealing with conflict. He reminds us that the person who has harmed us is still our brother or sister. The Christian way to resolve a disagreement is to begin a conversation, where we are ready to listen, to hear the other side of the story and seek reconciliation. With this teaching, Jesus is looking forward to the Church community that will exist after his death and resurrection. A conflict between members is a wound to the whole community, and the community is involved in resolving the conflict. Even if it becomes necessary to exclude a member from the community – to treat them ‘like a pagan or tax collector’ – this is meant to be a remedy that will bring the offender back to their senses, and back to taking a full part in the life of the Church. No one should be excluded permanently. The Church should be a witness to the world of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

This is a challenging teaching. Jesus calls his disciples to speak out against injustice, but to speak in a spirit of love and dialogue. It’s much easier to get angry, to ignore the person who has offended us, or to talk about them behind their back. But Jesus himself was willing to engage with everyone, including pagans, tax collectors and sinners. He asks us to follow his example.

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