All posts by Parish Secretary

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.

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.

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.

Cancel the debt

Many of the world’s poorest nations are not only dealing with this health emergency but are also facing unimaginable financial hardship as a result of the global economic slowdown. The quickest way to deal with this worrying financial outlook is to keep money in developing countries by cancelling debt payments now. CAFOD is calling on world leaders, who will be gathering in October at World Bank and IMF Meetings, to Cancel the Debt. Details at www.cafod.org.uk

Urgent Appeal

Helping Hands is a charity based in Adhanur, a village in Tamil Nadu State in India. The charity runs a home for 40 orphans and supports them and Dalit (low caste) families in their education and training for future employment. It was St Cuthbert’s overseas charity for 2018-19, and is supported by Durham Martyrs parish. At present, Helping Hands is in great difficulties. Their regular income has dried up because of the pandemic, and they are dependent on credit to meet the food and fuel bill for the home, which comes to about £840 per month. If you can give any support to Helping Hands, please send donations to St Cuthbert’s, and they will be forwarded to the charity in India.

Take up your cross and follow me

Take up your cross and follow me

Last week, Peter made his great profession of faith in Jesus; ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and he was given the role of leading the Church. But this week, Jesus denounces Peter as ‘Satan’ and as an obstacle or ‘stumbling block’ in Jesus’ path. Why the sudden change of tone? Because Jesus has begun to spell out to his disciples the cost of his mission. Jesus is absolutely faithful to the will of God the Father, and he knows that this will lead him to Jerusalem, to condemnation and to death on the Cross. He is prepared to pay the price; to offer himself as a living sacrifice, in obedience to the Father’s will. Peter, naturally, doesn’t want to see his friend suffer in this way, and so he objects. But in reply, Jesus tells Peter that he is stuck in human ways of thinking.

Today’s First Reading reminds us that the prophets of Israel always paid a price for speaking the Word of God. The prophet Jeremiah was imprisoned for speaking out against the rulers of the nation. Jeremiah laments the ridicule and humiliation that he has suffered, but he doesn’t stop preaching. God’s call is one that cannot be ignored. 

It can be uncomfortable to be a Christian. The Lord asks us to take up our cross, whatever it is, and to follow him faithfully.  He calls us to give up human thinking, and embrace the wisdom of the Cross. And he promises us the greatest reward of all; eternal life with him.