Saturday, March 31, 2018

prayer diary Easter Eve (Day of special Observance & Discipline & Self-denial)

There was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so ...they laid Jesus there. 
John 19. 41,42

Remember that this day the one who died for you lies in the tomb. Yet even there, he works for the salvation of others, descending to the dead to preach to the spirits imprisoned there.

Friday, March 30, 2018

prayer diary Good Friday (Day of special Observance & Discipline & Self-denial)

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 
John 19.30

Let all creation be still; the One by whom all things came into being has been slain. Remember that he willingly took up his cross and died; and that he did so for thee.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

prayer diary Maundy Thursday (Day of special Observance & Discipline & Self-denial)

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 
 John 13. 5

The Son of God did not think himself too great to do the work of lowliest slave. Why then are you so lacking in humility? Are you greater than your master?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

prayer diary Wed in Holy Week (Day of special Observance & Discipline & Self-denial)

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ 
John 13.21

Great was the betrayal of Judas. But great also is ours when we place the passing things of this world above love and obedience to our Lord.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

prayer diary Tuesday in Holy Week (Day of special Observance & Discipline & Self-denial)

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 
John 12.24

Christ, being fully human, loved his life as much as any man. Yet he willingly laid it aside for our sake. Pray that you may never by your actions reject so great a sacrifice.

Monday, March 26, 2018

prayer diary Monday in Holy Week (Day of special Observance & Discipline & Self-denial)

Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.' 
John 12. 7

Our Lord well knew that the time of his suffering and death was near. Pray for his grace that you never willingly act to wound our Blessed Saviour further.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Passion Sunday: The Long Gospel

Mark 15. 1-47

1 And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, "Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you." 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered.

6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barab'bas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. 9 And he answered them, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barab'bas instead.

12 And Pilate again said to them, "Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?" 13 And they cried out again, "Crucify him." 14 And Pilate said to them, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him." 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barab'bas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. 

16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the praetorium); and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 19 And they struck his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and they knelt down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

21 And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyre'ne, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Gol'gotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour, when they crucified him.

26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!" 31 So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "E'lo-i, E'lo-i, la'ma sabach-tha'ni?" which means, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "Behold, he is calling Eli'jah." 36 And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Eli'jah will come to take him down."

37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last.

38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"

40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Mag'dalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salo'me, 41 who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered to him; and also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathe'a, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 
46 And he bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 

47 Mary Mag'dalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

prayer diary Saturday 24 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.’ 
John 11. 49, 50

Caiaphas, in his unwitting prophecy of Christ's death, condemns himself. He seeks to have a man killed in order that peace may be maintained. But it is never permissible to do evil on the grounds that you seek a good end.

Friday, March 23, 2018

prayer diary Friday 23 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.’ 
John 10.33

Some try to pick and chose what they will accept about Christ's teaching. Yet it can not be so. To reject part of what he teaches is to reject him.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

prayer diary Thursday 22 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

'Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.’ 
John 8.51 

Here Christ binds his promise of eternal life to obedience to his word. We must then ask his grace to do his will; and, truly repenting, his pardon when we fail.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

prayer diary Wednesday 21 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. 
Luke 1. 38

Did God need Mary? No, for he might have chosen another way to bring about our salvation. But he did not so chose; and so we must give thanks for Mary's 'fiat', her 'let it be with me according to your word;' for from her obedience did the Incarnation begin.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

the obedience of Christ

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our Gospel reading today begins with the requests of some Greeks who were visiting to Jerusalem to St Philip that they might see Jesus, might meet with him. There are two interesting points concerning them that strike me. The first is that in original language of the New Testament, which is Greek, these men are quite literally described as Greeks … but in some older translations this is rendered as 'gentiles'. There is a reason for this, I suspect; in many other places in the New Testament, particularly is some of the writings of St Paul the word 'Greeks' is really meant as a synonym for gentiles, the Jewish term for all those who were not Jews. We may think perhaps of what he says in his letter to the Galatians when he says that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Christ. The tradition of the Church down through the ages has been to understand what St Paul here is not literally someone from Greece but rather all people who are not Jewish – and for that reason some modern translations actually use the word 'gentile' in place of Greek, to avoid confusion in this age when biblical literacy and the understanding of our heritage is not what it once was among Christian peoples. Regarding our reading today, the reason, I think, that some older translations use the word 'gentiles' here is because they regard it as more important for us to understand that there were people who were neither from the Holy Land or even of Jewish origin present at that time, rather than knowing the precise country they were from.

The second interesting point is that after they are introduced they disappear from the text completely! These men take their request to St Philip; he repeats it to St Andrew and together they take it to Jesus – who them begins to teach them about the things that to happen to him … and we are never told how he responded to the request that was made to him by these foreigners and whether they ever indeed get to meet with him.

This is not, I think, a lapse in the story-telling techniques of the evangelist. It might be nice for us to know what became of the men who made the request; but it is really of very little importance in the context of the Gospel message. What is important is that their request, when brought to Jesus, caused him to speak the teaching which followed. And it is the teaching that matters – because it is the Word of God, given to us directly from the mouth of the Word who was made flesh.
It must be said it is not immediately evident what it is about their request that sparks the teaching that follows. Perhaps it is merely the fact that it is made by foreigners – men who were presumably, given that they had come to Jerusalem for the festival to worship, would have been what were called 'God-fearers' … those who found Jewish religious thought and practices attractive but had not taken the decision to convert … and who most probably, given that it would have required that they be circumcised, would be unlikely to take such a step. But as God-fearers they would have known a great deal about Jewish teachings; and they would have known well the prophecies of the Messiah to come. And being able to meet the one that so many were either saying was the Messiah, or wondering if he was indeed the Messiah, would have been tempting indeed for them.

So there is our Lord, teaching those standing close by; when along comes his apostles with this request, from men who are perhaps a bit star-struck at the idea of meeting the Messiah. A request that was made within the hearing of all there. And for our Lord the important thing was not so much what the men wanted, as to make it clear to all who the Messiah was – someone who was to suffer and to die.

More, and perhaps this even more important, that the Messiah was one who was perfectly obedient to the will of the Father … even if that obedience should require death. The impact of that teaching is far greater for us – or should be - than it was for those who heard it on that day. For them the Messiah was simply a man – a man sent by God, but a man nonetheless. We know that he was much more than that – he was God incarnate. And having taken on human flesh he was, in his manhood, obedient to the will of the Father … irrespective of the cost.

There is a foreshadowing here of the words he will all too soon speak in the garden, when he prays that if it be possible that the cup of his crucifixion should pass him by: but not my will, but thine be done. This shows us the importance of obedience to God's will; for if even the Son of God must be obedient to the Father, how much more so must we be?

This is a teaching to be followed by all who would follow Christ. And he speaks it to us all directly by the medium of Sacred Scripture. Indeed, in this way we may understand why it was that the evangelist saw no importance in recording whether or not those men visiting Jerusalem that day met with Jesus or not; for they, like we, if they would meet with him through his teachings, through his word. Christ is someone whom all may meet; male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile. And as I end, I pray that here will indeed meet him, and know him, and love him, and learn from him the perfect obedience that leads us to become one with the Father as he was one, the perfect union with God that leads to eternal life that his Son suffered and died so that all might attain. Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

prayer diary Saturday 17 Mar 2018 (St Patrick's Day)

Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.' 
John 4.34

St Patrick knew that man does not live by bread alone. He shared the word of God and bread of life with the people of Ireland and began the work that won this land for Christ for generations to come. The people of this land still must be fed; all must work to share with others the spiritual nourishment needed by their souls.

Friday, March 16, 2018

prayer diary Friday 16 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly,' 
John 7. 25,26

We live again in an age of red martyrdom, when men and women die daily for the faith. Their courage in the face of violent and bloody death should give us the courage to speak our faith boldly, we who face no worse than the scorn of those who proclaim the new secular orthodoxies for speaking God's truths.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

prayer diary Thursday 15 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

Nicodemus ..., asked ‘Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?’ 
John 7. 50, 51

Nicodemus was mocked and threatened for asking that Christ be given a fair hearing. Today many try to silence Christians when they try to speak to the issues of our day; but we must not be silent. For the sake of those who wish to hear us least, we must do our best to let them hear God's word.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

prayer diary Wednesday 14 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

'Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.' 
John 5.25

Who are the dead of whom Jesus speaks here but the spiritually dead, who will be born to eternal life if they will but listen to him? Listen well to his words that you may yourself have that life within you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

prayer diary Tuesday 13 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath. 
John 5.15,16

Christ healed the man out of love and compassion and was hated for it. In our own day those who offer his words for the healing of souls will often be hated also. Rejoice in this; for if our Lord was persecuted for the truth, why should not you be as well?

Monday, March 12, 2018

prayer diary Monday 12 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

The royal official went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ 
 John 4. 47, 48

How many of us think our prayers have not been answered when we do not get what we want? Remember that prayer is most times more about gaining the grace to accept your lot than it is about changing it.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mothering Sunday

May my words be in the name of the Holy & undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

As this is laetare Sunday, I thought I might preach a fairly light-hearted sermon today … Lae-what? I hear some of you say? Lae-ta-re … meaning in Latin 'Be joyful' … this is the 4th Sunday in Lent, roughly the half-way point in the season … and traditionally by way of encouraging people for all the austerities that they had been practising up until now, they got to take a little break & cheer things up a little bit … and so flowers were allowed back to decorate the altar … music, which was traditionally banned during this season, was played … even the liturgical colour changed, going from the sombre purple to a more light-hearted 'rose' colour … & if we don't keep up with those traditions very well any more, perhaps it is because we don't take Lent as seriously as they did in times gone by and we don't feel the need for a break in the same way that they did!

Now I'm sure some of you are thinking at this point, what's all this Laetare stuff? I thought today was Mothering Sunday? Well today is also called that … but have you ever stopped to wonder why we have a mothering Sunday, when we don't have special day in the church calendar for any other relatives? There's no fathering Sunday, or uncle-ing or aunt-ing Sunday … no cousin-ing … and if we were going to pick a relative, why not brother-ing or sister-ing, given the emphasis in the New Testament on how we are all brothers and sisters in Christ?

Well, the clue is in today's Gospel reading, where we see the Mother of our Lord at the foot of the Cross with the beloved disciple … & if you looked at the other Mothering Sunday reading which the lectionary gives us as an alternative, you would find that it also has Mary in it – in that case the passage from Luke where the prophetess Phanuel tells Mary that a sword will also pierce her heart …

The readings suggest that there is very much a Marian character to this festival … that the title 'mothering' refers not to the secular (or non-church version of Mother's Day) but the sacred …

And in fact, this festival began as just that: a festival of Mary, as mother of us all who have been baptised into her Son, Jesus Christ … and also a festival of the church's role as mother, how it nurtures us and cares for us … the impetus for there being a festival of mothering began in the early days of the church … the ancient Romans had a festival in March in honour of the mother goddess Cybele, who was connected with the earth & fruitfulness … our early brothers and sisters in Christ while they thought it a good idea to do away with the pagan festival, nonetheless thought it a good idea to have their own festival, honouring both Mary and the Church, and so we ended up with Laetare Sunday … so named from the entrance antiphon traditionally used on this Sunday which begins 'laetare Jurusalem' O be joyful Jerusalem … Jerusalem, of course, being the mother city of the Christian faith.

Many customs grew up around this Sunday … and with all the references to motherhood, it is not perhaps surprising that the custom of honouring our earthly mothers also came to be seen as appropriate. Initially the term 'mothering Sunday' came from the practice of going 'a-mothering' which was when people went either to the mother church of their diocese on this Sunday, or for those living away from home, returning to visit their own mother church, their parish church, on this Sunday … and as for most people in the old days this might be the only chance to visit their homes and families in the entire year, the custom also grew up of bringing some small gift home to mother, even if it was only as simple as picking her some of the flowers that grew along the roadside as they made the long journey home on foot.

But – and I think this can not be stressed enough – what we celebrate in church on mothering Sunday is not mother's day … Mother's day is a secular American idea … and worthy as that idea is, we do not make secular events part of our church calendar … what we are celebrating is the idea of mothering … an ideal of mothering drawn from the perfect mothering of the Blessed Virgin Mary for her Son … and the image of mothering as presented to us in the love and care we receive from the Church as our metaphorical mother …

This reminds us that on Mothering Sunday, while we may rightly look to honour our own mothers … we must also honour those who in some way fulfil the role of mothering in our own lives … we must also look to honour, for example, grandmothers, aunts, big sisters, and god-mothers … neighbours and friends who have looked out for us … teachers who have watched over us in loco parentis during our school days … all those who with love and affection have contributed in some way to creating the cocoon of love and affection that has sheltered and nurtured us all our days …

And of course as love and affection is not limited to women, we must also on this day remember fondly all those men who have provided us with care and nurture, perhaps doing the things most commonly associated with women, but nonetheless, often also done by men … most of us, no matter how impoverished our backgrounds, have many people to give thanks for in our lives …

Which is why this Sunday, laetare Sunday, we give thanks with great joy for all those who have shown a mother's love to us … the Mother of our Lord … our mother the Church … our own mothers … and all others who have cared and nurtured us … and pray that they will continue in that love … and that we will continue to be nurtured by it, even as we show that love to others … something that I pray that we will all be able to do on this Sunday, in this Holy Season of Lent, and always … in the name of the Father & the Son & the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

prayer diary Saturday 10 March 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 
Luke 18.13

The one who knows he is a sinner and repents is worthier in the sight of God than the one who thinks himself worthy, no matter how blameless his life may appear. Therefore, repent; for you are, as are we all, a sinner.

Friday, March 9, 2018

prayer diary Friday 9 March 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” 
Mark 12. 30

Christ taught that this was the greatest of all the commandments. And it is a hard one to live out, for it seems to compete with love of self or family, even of life itself. But it does not; for it is from love of God that all love flows, for God is love. And anything you think of as love is not love at all if it is not of God

Thursday, March 8, 2018

prayer diary Thursday 8 March 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

But some of them said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.’ 
Luke 11.15

The evils of the world are so entrenched in some that they take comfort in declaring the good to be wicked. Do not let his distress you; for if it happened to Christ, why should it not also happen to you?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

prayer diary Wednesday 7 March 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

'Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.' 
Matthew 5.17

The moral law of the Old Testament did not end with Christ. Indeed, he warned against those who taught that it did; and assured us that those who continued to teach that law would be blessed in heaven.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

fasting - some wisdom from the Holy Mountain

prayer diary Tuesday 6 March 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

'You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?' 
Mathew 23.32,33

How many today call on God to forgive them? How many even think anything they do as needing forgiveness? Is this then the reason so many are slow to forgive others?

Monday, March 5, 2018

prayer diary Monday 5 March 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

'Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town.' 
Luke 4.24

Once the nations that made up our society were called Christendom; essentially Christ's kingdom, where every town and village was that of Christ. Is that why, then, he is so little heeded today?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up

May my words be in the Name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The cleansing of the Temple, our gospel reading today, is an important incident in the life of our Lord – so important that all four of the gospels have an account of it, something that, the Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection aside, is a rare enough occurrence. It is not surprising that all four evangelists include it: in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who place the episode near the end of Jesus' ministry, it is the 'last straw' if you like that 'breaks the camel's back and spurs the religious authorities to conspire together to bring about his death; and in John, who places the incident near the beginning of his narrative, there are also allusions to not only his death but the conspiracy that will bring it about, for in it he speaks of his death and resurrection after three days, and the way he phrases that prophetic utterance, that if they destroy this temple he would raise it up again in three days, is part of the evidence brought against him at his trial to help support the false charge against him of blasphemy.

The scene is of course very dramatic; and St John, of all the evangelists, brings out most strongly not only the sacrilegious way in which the Temple, the holiest place in all the holy city of Jerusalem, is being desecrated by what is taking place and our Lord's righteousness anger at the way in which his Father's House is being treated like some kind of a market place. All mention the overturning of the money-changers tables and the driving out of the temple those who were selling there; but John alone mentions the sheep and the cattle, as well as the doves which are mentioned by some of the others. Now this is a farming community, so there is no need for me to mention the filthy state the ground of the temple courts would have been with all these poor creatures penned up inside the place. Is it any wonder that the Son of God was appalled at the sight? This was surely no way to treat God's House! And so he drove them out; and John underlines the extent of his holy indignation by mentioning a detail that the other evangelists have omitted – the whip made with his own hands from cords that he has picked up from amongst the litter of the place.

The prophesy of the Passion he will endure that is contained in this passage is an important one in this Great season of Lent when we, like Christ, journey toward Jerusalem. Indeed, perhaps it is because of these intimations of what our Lord is to suffer explains why it is that St John places this account at the beginning of his ministry – he wants to emphasise that Jesus knew, even as he began, what it truly meant to be the Messiah, and that it was not a role that would bring earthly glory and authority, but that rather it would end with his death on the Cross.

Or rather, it would not end there. For our Lord's message concerning his own death to come also speaks of his Resurrection which will follow. It is therefore a message of hope, of joy, of the ultimate triumph over what seems like defeat.

It is a message that the Church of the day in which St John was writing desperately needed to hear. For theirs was a time of persecution … and savage persecution at that. They risked everything for their faith; and quite frequently suffered the most terrible of fates. A quick execution by the sword was the best they could hope for; and more often it was death by slow and perverse torture … and not infrequently the abominable fate of being thrown to the wild beasts in the arena where they would be torn to pieces and devoured for the amusement of the crowd. So they very much needed a message of hope … and who better to bring it to them than one such as St John, by then the last remaining of the original 12 Apostles, a man who had walked the roads of the Holy Land with Jesus, ate with him day by day, the Beloved Disciple who sat with his head in his master's bosom at the Last Supper, and who had seen the Church spread from Jerusalem throughout all the known world in the years that followed? He had seen the Risen Lord and could testify to the truth that he had indeed passed from death to life before returning to his Father in Heaven.

We know that having the Word of God set before them by St John, as well by others, did indeed help give them the strength they needed to continue strong in the faith because we know that the Church came through those bad days, winning more and more souls for Christ day by day, spreading further and further in the world, and continuing to do so down through the ages.

This message of hope that the Church will prevail, come what may, remains just as important for Christians today. Around the world many of our brothers and sisters in Christ continue to face severe persecution – martyrdom, we must never forget, is not simply something from the dark past but remains a reality today and indeed takes place in greater numbers than in any previous time in history; and in the Western World we face scorn from many, and attempts from some to squeeze our voices, concerns, and values to from public debate, declaring that in the name of tolerance our beliefs and views are not to be tolerated. We are, we are told, on the wrong side of history. But we need not be afraid. The Church will prevail. We know this because God himself has told us so. There is only one right side of history – God's side, the side that results in salvation and eternal life in heaven with the Risen Lord. This is the side that I pray that I, and all here, will find ourselves on on that Great and Terrible Day at the End of the ages … in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

prayer diary Saturday 3 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ 
Luke 15. 2

Great is the irony of those men's words. For they saw no reason that Jesus should not welcome or eat with them. And yet they also were sinners, as are we all.

Friday, March 2, 2018

prayer diary Friday 2 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

‘The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.' 
John 5. 36

It sometimes seems impossible for us to understand how anyone can reject Christ. Yet even in his own day there were those who witnessed his deeds of power who refused to believe in him. Those who chose unbelief can always find a reason for doing so, whatever age they live in.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

prayer diary Thursday 1 Mar 2018 (Day of Discipline and Self-denial)

Abraham said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' 
Luke 16.31

The parable of Dives and Lazarus tells us of a man who learns too late the error of his ways. The tragedy is that Dives had in this life all he needed to gain eternal life. We stand in the place of his brothers and therefore must ask ourselves if we will make the same mistake as he.