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.

The Living Liturgy Forum

The months of pandemic have seen more change to the way that Christians worship than the passage of many centuries.

• What does this crisis say to leaders of liturgy?

• How might we pray as a church?

• Where do we go from here?

• Do we resume or renew?

These are the key questions that a small group of liturgists and theologians are going to examine in a series of six conversations on Zoom. If you would like to participate, contact info@appliedtheology.org.uk for the link. The conversations will take place on Mondays at 7.00pm, beginning on 14th September with: Can you send an apple by email? The difference between on-line and physical liturgy, with Dr Francisca Rumsey and Prof Tom O’Loughlin.

Keeping in touch

Please check the parish website, www.stcuthberts-durham.org.uk for regular updates. If you’re not already subscribed to our weekly e-newsletter, you can subscribe here. Also check the ‘St Cuthbert’s Church, Durham’ page on Facebook – from there, you can join our new Facebook group, ‘St Cuthbert’s Parish Community,’ which already has more than 100 members.

We have a network of parishioners who are keeping in touch via telephone, while social distancing is in force. If you would like to be contacted regularly (especially if you don’t have internet access), or if you know someone who would welcome such contact, please contact Fr Andrew on 0191 3843442 or parish.priest@stcuthberts-durham.org.uk.

You are Peter

Simon Peter recognises Jesus as the Christ – the Messiah – God’s anointed one, and the Son of the living God. It’s a powerful act of faith, made possible by God’s grace. In response, Jesus calls him to leadership of the Church that will continue to proclaim the Good News, after the Lord’s death and resurrection. With this call comes a change of name; Simon becomes Peter, the rock on which the Church will be built. Jesus gives Peter the keys of the kingdom – the power to teach and to forgive sins in God’s name.

The First Reading gives us an insight into how leadership should be exercised. Shebna was a powerful official in the palace of the King of Israel. The prophet Isaiah warns Shebna that, because he has used his position for his own advantage, he will be dismissed from his office and stripped of his privileges. The Christian leader should always be a servant of God’s people.

As we know, Peter was an imperfect disciple and an imperfect leader. He often misunderstood Jesus’ teaching, and his faith failed him at the crucial moment. Yet the Lord chose Peter as his instrument to build up the Church. The Lord chooses us, too, to play our part in his Church, and he gives us the graces we need to respond to his call.

The Almighty has done great things for me

The hope of all Christians is that, by God’s mercy, we will enjoy eternal life with God; our whole selves, body and soul, will be taken up into heaven. The salvation that we are promised is the salvation of the whole person. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, has already received this blessing. At the end of Mary’s earthly life, God took her up into heavenly glory, body and soul. Today’s Feast of the Assumption celebrates that special gift.

In today’s Gospel reading, we find Mary as a very young woman, who has just conceived Jesus by God’s power. She celebrates the good news with her cousin Elizabeth, who has also received the miraculous gift of a child. In her hymn of praise, the Magnificat, Mary rejoices in what God has done for her, transforming her life. It will not be an easy road for Mary – a sword of sorrow will pierce her soul, when she sees her Son suffer and die. But she never ceases to trust in God.

In the life of Mary, we see how God’s plan of salvation unfolds. God works through the little ones. The Son of God comes into the world as a child of a poor family. The rich, the powerful and the proud are cast down; the poor and the lowly are raised up. By the power of God, Mary was kept free from original sin; throughout her life, she trusted completely in God; and, at the end of her life, God raised her up. As disciples of Christ, we are called to follow Mary’s example, trusting in God and rejoicing in what God has done for us. By the mercy of God, we too can hope to be raised up, body and soul, to eternal glory.

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Just over a week ago, the world remembered the horrors of the atomic bombs  which were exploded above Hiroshima on the 6th August and Nagasaki on the 9th August, 1945. Among the survivors from the hypocentre, in each case, were a few devastated trees. Many years  later, cuttings from these trees were distributed internationally as a peace offering. Small progeny now grow in Gloucestershire; Maidenhair Trees from Hiroshima and Kaki Trees (Chinese Persimmon) from Nagasaki. Commemorative cards are available – please take one.

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