Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus receiving the news of the death of John the Baptist. He and his disciples go off to a lonely place, probably intending to grieve and pray in peace. But there is no peace for Jesus. The crowds come and find him, out in the countryside. Matthew tells us that Jesus took pity on the people – in the original Greek of the Gospel, that he was ‘moved with compassion’ for them. Even when he was sad and grieving himself, Jesus didn’t stop caring for the people. He healed their sick and then, seeing that they were hungry, he gathered the crowd together and fed them, working a miracle with the little food that his disciples were able to bring.
The miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand points to the greatest miracle of our faith. Jesus feeds us with his own body and blood in the Eucharist. It is when we gather for Mass that we are most fully the Church; Vatican II teaches that our celebration of the Eucharist is the ‘source and summit’ of our life as a Church. The coronavirus pandemic has made it impossible for us to gather and eat together. We have had to wait patiently to celebrate the Eucharist again, and now we have to resume our celebration gradually and cautiously, making sure that we keep everyone as safe as possible.
But we are still a Church, even when we are apart. Jesus is still moved with compassion for us, his disciples. He still heals us and feeds us with his Word, and he still calls us to show care and compassion for one another. God pours out his gifts upon us, even in the most difficult times.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Jim Freeley, who died recently, and for his family. His funeral service will be celebrated at St Cuthbert’s on Friday 7th August at 1.15pm. Please note that due to Government regulations, the funeral service is open to family members only. Join with us in prayer at the time of the service, but do not attempt to attend.
St Godric’s will be open on Monday and Wednesday of this week, 2.00-3.00 pm. St Joseph’s will be open from 2.00-3.00 pm on Tuesday and Thursday. For full details including this week’s Mass times, see www.durhammartyrs.co.uk/post/information-on-reopening-for-mass-and-private-prayer
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.
The Parish Office is closed until further notice. Ciara is working from home, and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org but replies may take some time. You can contact the church by telephone on 0191 384 3442 – please leave a message if Fr Andrew is not in.
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 email@example.com
For visits to patients in St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in care homes or in their own homes, please contact Fr Andrew.
The July 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.
A number of qualified counsellors and listeners have generously made themselves available to anyone who may be troubled by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown. These counsellors and listeners can be contacted through the St Mary’s Cathedral Listening Service on 0191 232 6953 and the Northumberland Listening Service on 07732 980740.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul is continuing to operate during the pandemic. You can find information, and resources aimed at children and young people, at www.svp.org.uk and www.instagram.com/svpyoungvincentians/
This is offered online every Sunday at 10am. You can register via the CAFOD website: https://cafod.org.uk/Education/Children-s-liturgy
CAFOD has joined forces with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to help millions of vulnerable people whose lives are at risk as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across refugee camps and countries suffering conflict. Find out more, and donate, at www.cafod.org.uk
Following on from their visit to St Cuthbert’s earlier this year, the Columbans in Britain would like to invite you to join a virtual encounter with Marjorie Engcoy, a Columban Lay Missionary from the Philippines assigned to Fiji, on Wednesday 12th August at 7.00pm. In her work as a lay missionary, Marjorie 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 free hour-long call will include a prayer, a short introduction and then move to a question and answer forum. We hope this will be a real encounter and not simply something to watch, so numbers will be limited. The webinar encounter will be held on Zoom, and so you’ll need a suitable device and a reliable internet connection. Register at https://tinyurl.com/MeetAColumbanMissionary
Diocesan Justice & Peace Refugee Project is continuing to provide food for destitute asylum seekers, using digital supermarket vouchers. Details of how to contribute are at www.rchdn.org.uk or contact Helen Woodland on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07407 091184.
We may think that buried treasure is only found in children’s stories. But it can happen in real life. The Hoxne Hoard was found by a metal detector enthusiast near the village of Hoxne in Suffolk, in 1992. The hoard consists of almost fifteen thousand Roman gold, silver, and bronze coins and items of jewellery – some are amazingly beautiful. The law determines that both the finder and the owner of the land are entitled to share in the value of buried treasure; the Hoxne Hoard was bought by the British Museum for almost two million pounds.
What would you do if you found a treasure? In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the crowds a parable of a person who has found treasure buried in a field; he sells everything he owns, in order to buy the field and make the treasure his own. The next parable tells us of a merchant who sells everything he has to buy a valuable pearl. In each parable, something is found which is so precious that it’s worth giving up everything else. Jesus tells his disciples that the kingdom of heaven is as valuable as that. To be a disciple of Christ is such a precious gift that we should be ready to give up everything that prevents us from following him. It’s a challenging teaching.
Today’s third parable is based on another image that would be familiar to Jesus’ disciples. Fishermen sort through their catch, throwing away the bad fish and keeping the good ones to sell. Jesus will grant his disciples the wisdom to sort through the things of the world, to judge what is worth keeping and what should be thrown away. Everything good comes with a price, but the gift of faith in Christ is beyond price. He asks us to give our whole lives to him.
The CCRS is a course for adults on the central beliefs of the Catholic faith. It is aimed at teachers serving in Catholic and other schools, teachers in training preparing to take up posts in Catholic schools, catechists, lay leaders and other adults wishing to deepen their understanding of the Catholic faith and Catholic education. Modules will begin in September 2020 – details at http://edurcdhn.org.uk/index.php
Darnel is a weed that, as it grows, looks exactly like wheat – but unlike wheat, darnel is poisonous and can be deadly. Jesus tells the crowd a parable in which a devious enemy sows poisonous darnel amongst the wheat in a farmer’s field. It’s impossible for the workers to tell the wheat from the weeds, until harvest time.
In last week’s Gospel, we heard the parable of the sower. Jesus described how his Word takes root in the heart of his disciples, grows and bears fruit. In today’s parable of the darnel, Jesus once again uses an image that is familiar and easy for the people to understand. Jesus’ disciples – the subjects of the kingdom of heaven – are like wheat growing from good seed, strong and healthy. But mixed in with the wheat is the poisonous weed – the ‘subjects of the evil one’ – all that is bad in the world. The servants want to rip up the weeds and get rid of them. But the master tells his servants to wait until harvest time before doing the weeding. Wait and see.
With this parable, Jesus is warning his disciples to be patient. We may be tempted to rush to judgement on those who do evil. We may even want to take justice into our own hands. But only God has the power to judge. We will all face God’s judgement at the end of time, but we have no right to judge others now. Like a good farmer, God waits patiently, giving us the chance to grow and be fruitful; giving time to separate the wheat from the weeds. And, as a small amount of yeast can make a loaf of bread rise, so a few faithful disciples can make a difference to a whole community. By God’s grace, Jesus tells us, we will ‘shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father.’
Please pray for John Morris and Emma Bonnard, who will celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage at St Cuthbert’s on Tuesday 21st July at 1.30pm. John is a PhD student in Durham’s Department of Theology, and Emma graduated in 2019. Congratulations to Emma and John.
Please note that the number of guests allowed at the wedding is restricted by Government regulations, and that only invited guests may attend.
The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle has the following vacancies:
* Property Surveyor based in Newcastle with extensive travel throughout the Diocese. Full-time. Two year fixed term contract.
* Justice and Peace Refugee Project Co-ordinator based in Newcastle. 18 hours per week. 12 month fixed term contract.
* Department for Education, Administrator (maternity cover) – full-time
For further information and details of how to apply please visit our website www.rcdhn.org.uk or contact us on 0191 243 3301
A farmer’s life is a hard one. Farmers get up early and work through the day, tending their crops. In Jesus’ time, with no machinery to do the heavy work, the life of a farmer was one of backbreaking labour. The ground was hard, the weather was unpredictable, and the farmer and his family could starve if the crops failed to grow. Many of the crowd listening to Jesus telling the parable of the sower were farmers themselves. They knew just how hard it was to get crops from the soil.
Jesus likens the seed in the parable to ‘the word of the kingdom’ – the Good News that he brings. The different types of soil represent different responses to the word. Some people will fail to understand – the word never takes root in their hearts. Some respond joyfully to the word, but their faith does not have deep roots and they fall away. Some are distracted by the things of the world. And some disciples hear God’s word and understand it; they produce a rich harvest.
As Jesus looked around the great crowd, he must have known that his teaching would not take root in the hearts of all who were listening. Some would become faithful disciples, and some would walk away. But he continued to preach the Good News of God’s kingdom to the people. Like a farmer tending the crops, Jesus tended to the people, doing all that he could to bring them to faith. Today, it is up to us, as disciples of Christ, to sow the seed of the Good News by witnessing to our faith. It may be hard work. Some people will respond with joy, and some will walk away. But the Lord calls us to work faithfully at sowing the seed
This Sunday would normally be a day of special prayer for seafarers, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, the celebration has been postponed until December. Find out more about the work of the Apostleship of the Sea in supporting seafarers at www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk
In the past year, St Cuthbert’s parishioners have knitted and sent 113 woolly hats to the port chaplain at Sunderland for seafarers – thank you.