Jesus heals the official's child

John 4:43–54
 
In today’s Gospel passage the child of a Gentile officer in Herod’s court is ill and dying.  But his encounter with Jesus is very brief.
 
“Sir, come down before my child dies.” (v.49)
 
 “Go, your son will live."
 
The fever left the child and he was restored to health.
 
The key to this healing was the official’s faith.  “The man took Jesus at his word and departed.” (v.50).  By this John provides us with a great definition of faith: taking God at his word.
 
It’s like saying simply to God, “If you say it is so, then it is so, and I can put my hope and trust in you.”  Faith, we know, is being sure of what we can hope for and certain of what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1).
 
Faith is really no more than taking God at his word.  As St Augustine said, “For what is faith unless it is to believe what you do not see?"
 
Take heart and encouragement from our official in today’s Gospel, for he took Jesus at his word and was mightily blessed.  If we take Jesus at his word we too will be mightily blessed.
 
"The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17
 
Chris
 
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Jesus Talks to a Woman at the Well

John 4:5–42
 
Samaritan Woman and Jesus
 
In this encounter with the woman at the well (a Samaritan), Jesus is described in very human terms, sitting at the well, exhausted from his journey.  The woman too is very human.  Her appearance at the well at about noon, long after the other village women would have replenished their water supply, may indicate her isolated position in society.  
 
She was shunned for her many sins.  Yet it is she who becomes a missionary to her people.
 
Jewish/Samaritan relations were historically condition.  About 722 BC the Assyrian army descended on Northern Israel, took its population into exile and colonised its land with foreigners.  These people partially adopted Israel’s religion over the centuries but were always viewed by the Jews as hated, semi-pagan invaders.
 
The woman was therefore very surprised when Jesus spoke to her, and even more astonished when he asked her for a drink, since Jews did not share food or drink with Samaritans for fear of ritual defilement.
 
Water becomes the sign by which both baptism and faith are epxlained to us.  Water is the means, but the Holy Spirit flowing into us is the reality.  There is a vital connection between the flowing of water and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
 
The “living water” of which Jesus speaks brings not only awareness of her sin to the woman but forgiveness – hope in the presence of Jesus as the Messiah and faith in his words.
 
The water that Jesus offers is not something that human effort can obtain.  It is a pure gift from God, water which, when drunk, becomes within a spring of life.  Jesus is referring in the first place to his own words of salvation, words that are spirit and life, because whoever listens to them and lives by them will continue to share in God’s life.
 
The water has a deeper meaning as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38–39).  The Spirit enables us to understand the words of Jesus and to respond to them with a willing heart.
 
The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realise it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.  (CCC 2560)
 
 
Chris
 
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Come - Join St Peter’s Lent Faith Sharing Course - “Let it be”

D94673E2B43344599A74D35FE95337BFFind out more about Our Lady in preparation for the re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary on 29th March 2020. 

As this is an exceptional year for Christians in England and Our Lady,  our parish will re-run the CaFE “Let it be” five-session course over five Wednesdays in Lent. The course gives us a much deeper understanding of Mary from her Immaculate Conception through to her being crowned “Queen of Heaven”; and of course why she is so honoured and blessed with so many titles (well in excess of 50) including “Protector of Christians”. 

This inspiring course involves engaging video sessions that will explore Our Lady, past & present. 
Mary is arguably the greatest Lady ever; - chosen by God, the First and Perfect disciple, Mother of the Church, Queen of Heaven and an advocate to God for all Christians. Mary is the perfect model for us to follow;  her example will help us become ever closer to her son and our saviour Lord Jesus Christ.

Each person attending will be need a course book that links to the video sessions and will help you appreciate Mary’s significance to your personal faith journey. The book includes prayers and reflections to do throughout the week at home/work and if embraced will make your Lent truly devout.

To book a place simply register on line by clicking here
  or call Alban on 07751 625942.  
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Faith in Jesus

Mark 6:1-6
 
"And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’ . . .” (v. 4)
 
The Nazerenes who refused to accept Jesus made the mistake of allowing themselves to be constrained by their reason, as revealed by their questions about him.  Despite witnessing his miracles and hearing his wisdom they wanted to know where that wisdom had come from and how a carpenter’s son could display such gifts and charisms.
 
The Nazarenes had everything they needed to come to faith — miracles, signs, wonders, wisdom — but they sought first to understand before they believed, whereas it is through belief that we come to understand.
 
Many centures later St Bernard of Clairvaux would say, “I believe though I do not comprehend, and I hold by faith wht I cannot grasp with the mind."
 
So God guides us with the light of human reason but takes us by the hand to bring us to the joy of faith.
 
Faith means that we are prepared to put all our hope, trust and certainty in God because we are sure of what we hope for and certain of what our senses do not see.
 
”O Lord my God, give me understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you and faith and faithfulness to embrace you and live by your commands.” (St Thomas Aquinas)
 
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Saint Joseph

Matthew 1:18-24
 
Although we know that Jesus has only one Father, God the Father, in human terms and on this earth, Joseph was his father.  He was his adopted father, just as today many children do not have as their father their biological father.
 
We can see therefore Joseph as an inspiration and as an example of father love and fidelity.  He is a saint for all who adopt the role of father, whether or not they are fathers by blood of those precious sons and daughters for whom they are now responsible.
 
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the example and inspiration of St Joseph.  We pray for fathers we know who, like St Joseph, will be able to hear your word for their families.
 
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Come, Lord Jesus

Luke 12:35-38

“Be patient waiting for Jesus’ return.  The tension between now and the final event of Jesus coming again must be lived in serene hope, committed to the present moment – we are pilgrims in search for a lasting home; we hope, as our forefathers in faith did, for a better homeland, in other words for heaven.  Come, Lord Jesus, come.” 

Pope St John Paul II

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"Whoever acknowledges me before men . . ."

Luke 12:8-12
 
Today, in the here and now, it takes a certain courage to stand up for our faith.  It is easier on one level to stand up for Christian values and ethics.  People often talk about the Catholic or the Christian ethos as if simply speaking in these broad terms says as much as is needed about who we are as believers.  But what if someone asked, “What part does Jesus play in that ethos?”  Would that question be met with embarrassed silence?
 
St Ignatius of Antioch said, “Don’t just be known for being a Christian, but for living as one.”  Pope Paul VI put it like this, “For witness, no matter how excellent, will ultimately prove ineffective unless its meaning is clarified and corroborated.” – what Peter described as accounting for the ‘hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15).  
 
Pope Paul VI went on to say, “The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life.  There is no true evangelisation if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, are not proclaimed.” (Evangelii nuntiandi 22)
 
 
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The Faith of the Centurion

Luke 7:11-17
 
Some of the most powerful and moving things Jesus said were connected with grief and loss.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. (Matt. 5:4).  When faced with the grief of Mary and Martha, John informs us that “Jesus wept”.  
 
How moving it must have been to see Jesus, himself the Resurrection and the Life, weep freely and openly (John 11:35).  We meet the same heartfelt and profoundly compassionate response in today’s encounter with the widow: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and she said, 'Don’t cry’ “ (v. 13 NIV).  His reaction teaches ius that Gpd’s heart is full of kindness and compassion for the human condition and predicament.
 
Grief strips us bare, but God is close to all those who have suffered loss, who are broken-hearted and grief-stricken.
 
Lord, your kindness, mercy and compassion are deeper thant the ocean, wider than the sea and extend from heaven to earth.
 
 
 
 
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Doubt

Faith in God and acceptance of Jesus is often reached through a process which involves questions, struggles and difficulties.  Indeed, there can be a way in which, as St Augustine said, doubt and unbelief are really no more than fear dressed up: "For I keep my heart from assenting anything, fearing to fall headlong; but hanging in suspense I was worse killed."

Doubt can be the gateway to faith.  In his poem Bishop Blougram's Apology Robert Browning wrote, "The more of doubt, the stronger faith, I say, if faith o'ercomes doubt".

Lord Jesus, when like Thomas I am tempted to doubt, help me to repent and turn away from the darkness and to embrace the light of your truth, saying in my heart, "My Lord and my God".

Chris

(from Bible Alive)
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