Rector’s Reflections

ADVENT 25TH DEC 2021

ADVENT 1 -28TH NOV 2021

Sunday after Pentecost Year B  14th Nov 2021

Reflections on the readings 

Themes:

  • Looking to Jesus: 
  • His coming amongst us 
  • His coming in glory 
  • The fulfilment of God’s ultimate purpose 
  • A new heaven and a new earth 
  • Jesus Christ, High Priest and the Ministry of the Church

Introduction 

These biblical reflections, which I hope to produce each week, time  permitting, are intended to help you reflect upon how you read the  Scriptures. Hopefully they will encourage you that you do not need to be a  scholar, to study the Scriptures. Yet there is a basic method that each of us  needs in order to reflect upon the Scriptures, seeking the guidance of the  Holy Spirit. 

We read the passage and listen to our responses and take note of them. We  pray about them Often our initial responses will be questions. We can follow  these up in time. 

One of the great advantages that we have in the modern age, is that we can  do web searches. As more and more of our parishioners have access to the  web, you can seek to find answers to your questions. The answers you find  need to be reflected upon critically. You can also discuss them with others  and you are welcome to contact me. 

1 Samuel 1:4 – 20 

There are times with lectionary readings when we need to look at verses that  precede or follow, the selected passages. With today’s old Testament  reading, the verse prior to the selected passage is critical as it is the first time  in the old Testament that God is described as ‘the Lord of Hosts’. “Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to  sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and  Phinehas, were priests of the LORD”. (1 Samuel 1:3) 

Reflections 

We reflect upon 

• the significance of God being described as ‘the Lord of Hosts’ • how is it that Elkanah had two wives, when we understand that  monogamy is at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity. (Adam and  Eve were the foundation of this) God’s will unfolding in broken  relationships. 

• the rivalry between the two wives and the significance of Elkanah’s  greater love for Hannah, in reflecting upon the mystery of love. • Elkanah’s family being faithful to the religious observances of the  time. (They went to Shiloh, to the temple, to celebrate the Passover) • Hannah’s vow and the vows that we make in our lives; the power of  making vows.

• Eli initially thinking that Hannah was drunk. What does this show  about her state of prayer? 

• Hannah’s pouring out her soul in Silent prayer before God. Are  we/am I able to trust God in barren times and persevere in prayer, in  our/my lives/life knowing that God is faithful? 

• the role of Eli, exercising priestly ministry, and praying that her  petition be answered. Priestly ministry, our ministry in the  Priesthood of all believers. 

• God working through Eli, although his priestly ministry was flawed  mainly by not restraining the corrupt activities of his sons, Hophni  and Phinehas. God ministering through us in our brokenness. 

• God answering Hannah’s prayer, the significance of Samuel’s name and how Hannah fulfilled her vow. What is our experience of the  faithfulness of God; what is our experience of answered prayer? How  do we respond when God is faithful? 

These reflections arise from just simply asking questions of the text and what  it is saying. The next step involves research. We need to know something  about the context of the passage. 

These were complex times, this story usually dated around 1140 B.C. The spiritual life, the religious life of Israel was fractured. The priesthood under Eli, the High Priest, as mentioned, was corrupt.  God being referred to as ‘the Lord of Hosts’, illustrates a deepening understanding of God amongst the people of Israel. ‘The Lord’ referred to the personal name of God, ‘the I am’, the  personal name of God revealed to Moses, the God of Abraham, Isaac and  Jacob. (I’ve discussed this in some detail in my pamphlet on prayer and  meditation) This God is the creator of the universe, the Lord of all. The host,  the host of heaven, being the angelic beings who the Hebrews understood resided in the stars of the cosmos. The God of all creation who chose for his  presence to reside in the temple. The place of his presence. The God that is so  near to us, the God that hears and answers our prayers. The God who  became present in Jesus of Nazareth. 

It was God, who is also the Lord of hosts that heard Hannah’s prayer. And so a barren ridiculed woman, joins those women in Hebrew and Christian  scriptures whose barrenness becomes the opportunity for the birthing of promise. Hannah does not let go of the one who can bring life and joy. And  God does not disappoint.  

The joy of Hannah taps into deep hopes for the whole of Israel. Our hopes.  The song Hannah sings (2:1-10) is not a lullaby for the son she has entrusted  to Eli. It is a victory song for the Holy One of Israel, who overturns  conventional wisdom and dismantles earthly powers while uplifting the very  ones this world overlooks and oppresses. Hannah’s son Samuel is a sign of the  future God has in store, a future that in verse 10, not part of our passage  today, hints at a `king and an anointed one’. Hannah’s child will be the one  who anoints. God’s promises, like Hannah’s, will be kept.  

Hannah’s song is echoed in the Magnificat of Mary (Luke 1:46-55) in structure  and themes. The notes these women sing harmonize in the chord of God’s  new order that lifts up the lowly and brings low the haughty. For Hannah and  Mary, their songs trace from and aim toward the birth of a child, in whom  God’s promises of justice and joy will be kept. Jesus, the Christ, the Son of  God, become a human being. His coming amongst us as a human being.

Hebrews 10:11 – 14, 19 – 25 

Reflections 

We reflect upon 

• priestly ministry both lay and ordained (the letter to the Hebrews  being an exploration of Christ’s priesthood and consequently is  important as to how that ministry is exercised in the church today) 

Note: the writer here refers not just to the high priest but to priests • the theme of sacrifice for sin, why is it necessary, is it necessary? • How Christ offered for all time, a single sacrifice and how this relates  to holy Communion 

• Was this sacrifice for all who have ever been, are now and will be?  For all creation? How do we understand Christ dying for the sins of  the whole world? 

• The intensity of Christ waiting ‘until his enemies would be made a  footstool for his feet’. Yet we know that Christ teaches us to ‘love our  enemies’. It is Christ bringing to himself, all who love him all who hate  him, in his reconciling love? (See 1 Corinthians 15:20 – 28) 

• How we experience being sanctified through Christ sacrifice. • the sacramental references, in terms of the Eucharistic sacrifice and  our bodies being washed in the waters of baptism.

• Christ opening for us the curtain; imagery in temple ritualistic terms, for Christ opening the gate to the kingdom of heaven to humanity, to us. 

• the importance of gathering together, is n person, not just by Zoom.

• the day that is approaching, Christ coming in glory. (see the gospel) The letter to the Hebrews is a profound exposition, of amongst other things,  priestly ministry, as the writer reflects upon the nature of Christ’s priesthood. 

A Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. A priest who offers himself as a sacrifice for sin as only he could do. The Eucharist is sometimes referred to as the ‘bloodless sacrifice’. There has been much debate in the church about the Eucharistic sacrifice and whether, as Roman Catholic Theology was traditionally understood to teach, the mass, repeated Christ sacrifice at Calvary. Fundamental to the  development of Anglican theology and as clearly represented in the Book of Common Prayer, and in the 1st order for holy Communion in our current  prayer book (a modern translation of it): offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world; and instituted, and in his holy gospel commanded us to continue, a perpetual memory of his precious death until his coming again’. Yet in the perpetual memory of his precious death, is our understanding of ‘Memorial’ in the significance of the Passover; the remembering of the escape from slavery in Egypt to begin the journey to the ‘Promised Land’. The foundation of the Eucharist, for it was at the Passover that Jesus instituted ‘Holy Communion’.  Remembering for as St Paul says `declaring the death of the Lord until he  comes again’, unites us in a beautiful mystical way, every time we share in it,  with the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice made once for all upon the cross for the  sins of the whole world. The sacrifice through which Jesus is fulfilling his  promise that ‘when I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself’. ( John  12:31-32)

Mark 13:1 to 11 

Reflections 

We reflect upon 

• Jesus beginning his teachings of the end times with prophesying the  destruction of the temple 

• Jesus describing as what some people call, the end times; as the  ‘beginning of the birth pangs’. 

• Is the current pandemic virus, in fact a part of the ‘birth pangs’? • The power of the gospel being proclaimed to all nations • what is the gospel that is to be proclaimed? 

• Do we continue to look for how God works through the unfolding  events of human history and in the unfolding events of our life? • Where do you look to meet with God, with Jesus? 

• Do you meet with God in the secret place within your being? (Matthew 6:6) How do we see him our fellow beings? 

• What is our experience of the Holy Spirit speaking through us,  especially when we have not known what to say? 

Science predicts that ultimately, the earth our galaxy, the universe, will come to an end. Probably the most immediate trigger of this will be when the Sun burns out in some 5 billion years.  Yet the end of humanity could be much sooner: through some catastrophe, pandemic or as some of the more dire prophets of doom in the climate change debate say that the world only has some 7 years left before life is  extinguished. 

Yet the teaching of Jesus, which today’s Gospel passage begins Mark’s  account of, about the end times and his second coming, makes the scientific  possibilities, irrelevant. His teaching is clear. Whenever it is and whatever  disasters precede it, we need not fear but rather trust in him. Christ will come  again in glory, before any ultimate destruction of the earth. The earth might  be destroyed in his coming, but there will be a new heaven and a new earth  and in all this, we are safe in God’s care. We might not know why this  destruction is to be, but we can trust in God’s promises to us in Jesus. In  trusting in him, we need to know where to look for him. It seems not in the  temple, although the temple is important, not in some messianic political leader, but rather to look for him in our heart ‘in the secret place where we  meet with the Father’. 

One of the fundamentals of Christian ministry, both lay and ordained, is to  play our part in helping to prepare, at every level of life, for the coming of  Christ and for people to have in God, whatever happens. 

In all things, we pray with the faith of Hannah. 

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All Saints and All Souls Day

Sunday, 7 November 2021

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Notes and Reflections on the Readings

Today we remember all Saints Day and All Souls Day.  

We give thanks to God for all who have lived the life of faith throughout the ages, particularly those who have set us an example of how to follow Jesus and we pray that every living being might find salvation in Christ…..

We especially remember those whom we have shared life with, our loved ones, family and friends, who we trust are with God.  We are also mindful of those who have gone before us in this Parish.

All Saints Day is the day that we traditionally remember all the saints of the church both known to the church and those best known to God but not necessarily to the church or us.  It includes many people who have served God faithfully in their lives, perhaps with little or no recognition.

Saints in Christian life has two basic meanings.

  1. Referring to people whose lives have shown saintly qualities far above those of the average Christian.  St. Mary of the Cross (Mary McKillop), together with those who were made Saints of the Church with her, fairly recently, are modern examples.  The Saints are remembered, revered, looked to for an example of life and in some Christian Traditions, asked to intercede for us.
  2. Referring to every believing Christian.

All Saints day, then, is a day when we remember all the Saints both known and unknown to us who we believe are in heaven. It is a day that encourages us to seek to grow in holiness, to be sanctified.

The observing of All Souls Day was based on the Catholic understanding of purgatory and the need for us to remember and pray for all the faithful departed and for us to intercede for them.

In our faith tradition, we tend to merge the two days, especially on the Sunday.

The observance of these two days raises a number of questions:

  1. A question that there is no consensus on, in the universal church: ‘Can we pray for the departed and, if so, can we pray for all who have died or only those who have died in Christ?’
  2. Is there a place, after death, where people suffer for the sins of this life, before being in heaven? (Purgatory) This question is directly related to that as to whether some people go to hell forever?
  3. What is heaven like and can we know anything of heaven in this life?  
  4. What is our continuing relationship with those who have died in Christ?  That is what is our experience of the communion of Saints? Can we communicate with those that have gone before us in any way? Can we ask them to pray for us?

In terms of (1), as a Parish, we need to reflect upon our own tradition as to how we acknowledge the departed and how we pray for people who have just died both known to us and unknown to us, both locally and ultimately, universally?

My response is partly expressed in the prayer that we conclude today’s intercessions with:

“we pray for all who have died and that every living being, every created being will find the way of salvation”.

Similarly, we give special recognition to those who have just died around the time of their death and funeral.

Personally, I believe that we can and should pray for all who have ever been. With Origen, a third century Father of the Church, I believe that we should also pray for the devil and all his angels.

Without going any further into the `why’s and wherefore’s’, practically, as noted above, we combine both days and so All Saints Day is a day to remember all who have gone before us in the faith, especially the saints and those known to us, including all who have passed on in the past year.

In terms of question (2), Paul tells us `to fix our minds on things above’.  

Both in the Scriptures and our own experience, we can have glimpses of heaven.  As John in his epistle says, we are not yet sure what we shall become, but we have glimpses.  

Similarly in terms of (3), it seems that the saints, those who have gone before us `surround us like a cloud of great witnesses’ and from time to time are allowed by God to actually minister to us as well as their ministry of worship and prayer before the throne of God.

Reflections upon the readings:

Isaiah 25:6 – 9

We reflect upon

  • How the Spirit in many and varied ways, including through the prophets takes us up the mountain of life to reflect upon God’s ultimate purpose for us and all creation
  • Could the enjoyment of fine food be used as analogy of how we will feel in heaven?
  • How through these moments our hope is strengthened as it is foretold that one day suffering will be no more, death will be no more.
  • How this hope resonates in our hearts, in the very depth of our being and helps us to see our current trials and tribulations in the light of this truth.

‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬In the biblical revelation, Death, as we know it and experience it, is a consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve and human sin. Although the garden of Eden or the garden of God is rarely mentioned in the old Testament, the story of our salvation is based on the fall from paradise and God’s continued response to it. Today’s reading from Isaiah is a profound example of what Saint Peter wrote in his 1st letter and in the 1st chapter:‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, 11 inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look!  (1 Peter‬ 1:10-12‬ NRSV‬‬‬‬‬‬)‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The physical sciences are unable to demonstrate to us, at least, not yet, our ultimate destiny, nor the ultimate destiny of creation. As Christians, we believe that this is revealed, as Saint Peter said, by the spirit of Christ.

This hope, this promise, inspires us to face the trials and tribulations of life and to work for the coming of God’s kingdom.  Looking to God’s Kingdom, NOW.  Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Revelations 21: 1-6a

We reflect on‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

  • the voice from the throne and the one seated on the throne
  • The new creation that is coming to being through Jesus death, resurrection and ascension.
  • The ‘home of God being among mortals’
  • What does it mean for God to be ‘making all things new’?  How do we understand this in the light of verse 7 that follows this passage “Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
  • For Jesus to be the ‘Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end’, the eternal one, whom although the beginning and the end is himself eternal.

This reading from the book of Revelation that begins the final 2 chapters of the book, gives us a glimpse, in greater detail, of the fulfilment of God’s divine purpose in creation, through Jesus death and resurrection. As St Paul says in his 1st letter to the Corinthians  ‘For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.  (1 Corinthians 13:12).  

We will finally know God as God already knows us.  

There are some, based on St Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, believe that the dead sleep until the 2nd coming of Christ

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words”. (1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 18)

As this is one of Paul’s earliest letters and as there is other strong scriptural evidence to the contrary, I believe the ‘sleep of the dead’ is best seen as St Paul’s initial grappling with the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus and its consequence for believers.  (See the discussion below on Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter

The general belief of the church in celebrating All Saints Day is that the saints and the faithful are ultimately with God in heaven even though the promises that we have heard in Isaiah today and also in Revelation, have not yet fully come to be.

When the voice from the throne says, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end’, we have scriptural verification of the logical truth that God is eternal, in that God is beyond both the beginning and the end. 

John 11: 32-44

We reflect on‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

  • How we engage with the amazing account of Lazarus’ resuscitation and his return from the dead.  
  • How the resuscitation of Lazarus, is a prefiguration of Jesus death and resurrection.
  • Jesus prayer for Lazarus.  He looked upward and in the verbal prayer acknowledged that this was to help the crowd believe.  In other words, most of Jesus prayer, the basis of everything he said and did, was not verbalised. A reflection Prayer.
  • The deep significance for us and our life in Christ, of Jesus saying,  “Unbind him, and let him go.”

In our gospel reading we have the astonishing resuscitation of Lazarus.  Today’s account of the actual resuscitation is preceded in chapter 11 by Jesus first noting that `This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it’.  And then having a discussion with Martha about the resurrection where Jesus says “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

Consequently, the resuscitation of Lazarus is contextualised by Jesus as a prefiguration of the resurrection.

As a prefiguration of the resurrection, its conclusion is of profound significance to us when Jesus says after Lazarus has appeared from the grave having been brought back to life `Unbind him, and let him go’.

In many ways this is a witness of the resurrection life for us. We are to be unbound in the new creation.

One of the consequences of Jesus resurrection is that the dead no longer sleep.  Earlier in this chapter, we hear Jesus say, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep.”  Similarly, with Jairus daughter, he says “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.”  He then took her by the hand and called out ‘child, get up!’ We are then told that ‘her spirit returned, and she got up at once’ (Luke 8:49 – 55)

it can be said that after the death and resurrection of Jesus that the dead no longer sleep but live a new life in Christ.

Today is part of the process of us being unbound by reflecting again upon the communion of saints‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬.‬‬‬‬‬‬

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

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These notes, including reflections upon the reading, are designed to help you reflect with your travelling companion or companions and to explore the issues noted as well as any responses that you might have to the readings. You might like to keep these notes, which might include notes that you wish to make, together with the readings that were sent out to you or you received in hard copy, in a folder to remind you of your journey. Like keeping pictures of your travels!

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31st Oct 2021 From the Locum
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, fellow travellers.
The next stage of our community life as we come out from the lockdowns brought
about by the Covid pandemic, is providing new challenges to us, which as Christians
are particularly difficult.
As our Bishop Richard stated in his pastoral letter on 17 October, we are committed to being an inclusive church where everyone is welcome. Yet the practicalities of organising our Parish Community Life is challenging this commitment.
We are having to make decisions that discriminate against people on the basis of
their vaccination status. Some people are going to feel hurt and possibly, excluded
by the decisions that we make.
Consequently, we need to keep focusing on what is the greater good for the community, trusting that we will continue to try and live out the New Commandment.
As Jesus said:
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved
you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34 – 35)
The discrimination that I’m speaking of is outlined elsewhere in this weeks pew sheet. We are having to separate the parish into three groups: vaccinated, partially vaccinated
and unvaccinated.
For a short period of time there will be services for only vaccinated people and
services for only partially vaccinated people but no service for un-vaccinated people.
Ministry will be provided to unvaccinated people on an individual basis.
Consequently, if you are in that category, please call me so that I can ensure that
your spiritual needs are cared for.

We will continue to monitor the situation and as circumstances change we will vary
these arrangements.
For the moment can I plead with you to pray for one another whatever your
vaccination status and keep focusing on the fact that our unity in Christ is greater
than any divisions created by our current situation; that our love for one another in
discriminatory circumstances, can set an example in our society.
Yours in Christ’s love (Rev) Bruce Charles – Locum Priest

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Gospel Reading Mark 10:46-52 OCT 24th 2021

A fragmentary reflection on the healing of Blind Bartimaeus 

On a human level, the many miracles that Jesus performed, including healing people from various afflictions as illustrated in today’s Gospel story, of Bartimaeus regaining his sight, both encourages and challenges us.

Encourages us with the possibility of people, including us, being able to be healed of our afflictions.

Challenging because so many are not, including many of us and they all died, as we will, in the end.

Everyone who hears these stories, hears them in the context of our own life journey, in the situation of our life.

One of the key variants, is our age. The hope of physical healing can seem a more distinct possibility when we are younger than when we are ageing and our bodies are slowly succumbing to the various afflictions of ageing.

I remember an older lady with poor sight, in a previous parish, being quite challenged by today’s story. Why wasn’t she healed?

As you well know by now, I like to keep emphasising that we need to see the whole of Scripture in the light of Jesus death and resurrection.

When Jesus began to teach the disciples this, as we heard recently after Mark’s account of Peter’s confession of faith at Caesarea Philippi, and Peter protested against Jesus saying that he ‘must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after 3 days rise again’, Jesus, in rebuking him, said ‘get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things’. (Mark 8:31 – 33)

St Paul, in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians, says 

“so we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling” (2 Corinthians 4:16 – 5:2)

Central to our journey of being healed of our blindness, is to learn to see life as God would have us see it. In some ways we are bewitched by the material world. One of the consequences of the fall from paradise, was that we became spiritually blinded or at least dim of spiritual sight.

Although the Gospels record stories of individual people being healed, in the light of Jesus death and resurrection, each healing of an individual, is in fact, a healing of our humanity. A healing that is taking place in the new life of the resurrection as we look to the life to come.

In whatever way we suffer in this life, we need to keep seeing it in the light of our eternal destiny.

In the light of, as St Paul says of Jesus and his saving death, in his letter to Colossians, 

“He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”  (Colossians 1:18 – 20)

Although, the church has often taught otherwise, passages such as this, scream out the fundamental truth that Christ died for the sins of the whole world. That no one is beyond God’s redemption.  Everything is being reconciled in Christ.

And, as we hear, in today’s passage, from the letter to the Hebrews how Jesus, as a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, offered the one true sacrifice for the sins of the world which  ‘he did once for all when he offered himself’ (Hebrews 7:27)  A High Priest who constantly intercedes for us.

Trusting in this foundation of our faith is at the heart of our faith life and our mission as a parish in our local community.

In the light of this wondrous mystery, we can reflect upon human life as we encounter it and we see the diversity of the circumstances of each human being, and the suffering that many have to go through, we can best make sense of it in the light of the cross, in the light of eternity.

Why are so many born into poverty, despite the erroneous belief prevalent in liberal democracies, that anyone can succeed if they try, with little chance of escaping the circumstances they were born into?  Why are some people born with disabilities, with various hereditary conditions that afflict their life? Why are some people afflicted with life destroying diseases and others are not? Why do some people suffer from mental afflictions, whilst others don’t? Why are so many peoples’ lives broken and sometimes destroyed by addiction?  The book of Job, which we have had excerpts from in recent weeks in our Sunday readings, wrestles with these questions to some extent.

We could wonder at our own circumstances. the brokenness that many of us have experienced in our life journey.  

We could go on asking these questions as we try to assimilate and draw together the various instances of our experience of human suffering, and so doing, if it were not for the cross of Christ and his being our High Priest, fall into depression and morbidity, perhaps even greater that some of us already suffer.

We return to St Paul, ‘because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal’.

We rejoice that in the story of the healing of the blind Bartimaeus, we see a glimpse of the truth that we, with the whole of humanity, with the whole of creation, are being liberated from bondage to sin and decay, the new day is dawning and that one day, we will see again.

“Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.”