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Sermons

During the Bishop's Conference of Scotland suspension of the celebration of all public liturgy to combat the spread of the covid-19 corona virus, Fr. Mark's sermons and prayers for intercessions will be posted here.

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A, 4 October 2020

Gospel, Matthew21:33-43
Power, as we know, can be a force for good or a force for evil.
The problem with humanity throughout history is that, (for the most part), those who have power want more and so it corrupts them, and they destroy the lives of the innocent who happen to live under their power.
This is the very thing Jesus is pointing out in the Gospel reading.
He directs his parable to the chief priests and elders of the people – those who had assumed power through the authority they wielded and, who had failed to remember that they were meant to be humble servants of God and guardians of the Law.
These are men who rejected anyone who reminded them that God is the ultimate authority, and that it would be God who judged them by their obedience or disobedience to His authority.
Jesus uses the analogy of a vineyard to demonstrate how God had provided for his Chosen People and how those Chosen People had taken for granted what they had been given.
This reflects the words of Isaiah who says: “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the House of Israel and, the men of Judah that chosen plant.” (Is5:7)
Clearly, in the parable, Jesus is the son, destined to be killed to ensure that power and privilege can be maintained.
The final statement in the Gospel makes clear what will happen to those who refuse to follow God’s ways when Jesus says: “I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
This means that those who refuse to follow God’s ways will lose their inheritance and it will be given to those who will accept and follow God with honesty and integrity.
Following God’s ways is never done in isolation because it includes the requirement to relate to our sisters and brothers positively: it entails inclusivity rather than exclusivity, meaning that we will be a welcoming community of faith in which no one is ever shunned or rejected.
We will strive, as St. Paul says to: “Fill [our] minds with everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise.”
And when we can remain a humble and welcoming community we will always recognise the reality that we wield no power because everything we achieve will be done through God’s power, and for His greater glory.
This is the Christian way, and we who choose to follow that way will produce fruit in due season as we accept and worship the ‘Keystone’ of our faith, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Intercessions

Christ our Lord is mindful of all who need him, and does great things for love of them. Let us not be afraid to ask him for all our needs.
For the Church: Through the resurrection of Jesus the world is filled with light; through the gift of the Holy Spirit may his light shine out in the Church.
For the world: May those who wield power recognise God’s will in all they do as they work for peace and goodwill among all people.
For our country: May all people know that every good gift comes from God and so receive them with thankfulness, and learn how to give.
For our community: May we always have the courage to follow the way which will produce fruit as we accept and worship the ‘Keystone’ of our faith.
For the dead: May those who have died come to the fullness of life which is Your gift to give.
God our Father, open our hearts to accept You as the one true God. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A, 27th September 2020

Gospel, Matthew: 21:28-32
The well know saying: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” makes clear that our good intentions are not always fulfilled.
At some point or another we have all promised to do something for someone then failed to do it.
This might be because we have forgotten or because we realise we are not up to the task.
This failure to act may not have been done maliciously but the effect is the same in that a broken promise can hurt another’s feelings and might lead to a broken relationship.
The worst thing any of us could do is to break a promise we have made to God but it is true to say that this happens too.
If we just use one example, that of baptism, and the promises parents make on behalf of their children; to keep the faith and to bring their children up to know and to love God. Clearly if these promises had been kept we wouldn’t be in the midst of a generation of young people who have never experienced anything of Church and therefore never experienced anything of God.
There are other promises made to God too, through Confirmation, through Holy Matrimony, and through Holy Orders which are sometimes forgotten, or discarded or deliberately broken.
When people do this they are the ‘upright people who renounce their integrity to commit sin’ as the prophet Ezekiel points out. Ez18:25-28
The consequences of remaining in this state of sin, (through our reluctance to return to the Lord), is the loss of the opportunity to live with the Lord for eternal life.
It is only when we renounce our sinful ways, when we return to the Lord with humbled, contrite hearts that our eternal life with the Lord is assured.
There is something in all three readings from this Sunday which speak of promises kept, of walking the path of truth, of recognising our dependence on God; of not merely paying lip-service to Him.
If we think/reflect upon the following:
Keeping to the rules such as our Sunday observance – do we keep the Sabbath holy because we have to i.e. paying lip-service to it: or is it because we have a desire to know and love God more?
Keeping to the rules such as loving our enemies – is this only inasmuch as they are sufficiently far enough away, that we keep them at a safe distance, so that we don’t have to think too much about them i.e. paying lip-service to this, or is this a true desire to seek reconciliation and peace?
Keeping the rules such as loving our neighbour – is this love of neighbour only shown to those we like or do we consider every human being as our neighbour and so treat them all equally?
It is clear through these kinds of reflections on our faith and our relationship with God that the measure in which we keep our promises to God will be mirrored in the way we keep our promises to one another.
St. Paul helps us to see how our promises, (our good intentions), are kept.
He says that through the Holy Spirit we all have in common we are to be united in our convictions and united in our love, with a common purpose and a common mind. Phil2:1-5
With this unity, common purpose and common mind at the forefront of all that we do and say we can be certain that we are striving to do the will of God, and therefore making our way into the kingdom of God.

Intercessions

We are sinners and fall short of the glory of God, and so let us pray to the Lord for the gifts of honesty and integrity of life.
For the Church: May all Christians strive to be Christ-like in all they do and say to enable those who have no faith see that there is a better path to follow.
For the world: May those who are suffering tragedy and sorrow find support and comfort from the Christian community who live in their midst.
For our country: May all Church denominations work together to bring the Gospel of Christ to the young people of this land.
For our community: May we always be united in love, with a common purpose and common mind as we strive to do God’s will.
For the faithful departed: May they be counted among those who are making their way into the kingdom of God.
God of tenderness and compassion, hear our prayers and help us to walk in Your ways of justice and peace. We make our prayers through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A, 20 September 2020

Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16
I read an article earlier this week which stated that the world’s billionaires are not spending their money but the reason why they are not spending is unclear. Perhaps they’re saving up for a rainy day!
The point of the article was to bring to the attention of the world that if these billionaires were to give a percentage of their income to the poor it would alleviate most of the world’s hunger issues.
Focusing on the multi-rich however, is not what is going to change the world for the better and this is because, we may think that the multi-rich own the majority of the world’s wealth, but the truth is it is the world’s middle class who own the majority of the world’s wealth.
And if the world’s middle class were to give more to alleviate hunger in the world we wouldn’t be seeing people starving to death.
But the middle class might say this is unfair, ‘it is the multi-rich who need to do more’.
And whilst these thoughts persist the poor go hungry.
It is clear however, that our world has sufficient resources to meet the needs of its whole population.
In His generosity God has provided all that is needed.
In the parable of the vineyard we can also see an unfairness in that the workers who worked hard all day in the heat of the sun were paid exactly the same as the workers who did only an hour’s work.
Although the argument of the vineyard owner is beyond dispute: “Have I no right to do what I like with my own?” still, there is a great sense of unfairness.
This feeling of unfairness comes from a deep rooted idea that if we are not all treated equally then we are being cheated. With this idea firmly fixed in our minds we will evaluate everything that happens from the point of view of our own well-being. If something protects or promotes our well-being we will praise it. If it makes us vulnerable or demotes us then we will complain.
A change of attitude is needed, and this is what Jesus is trying to get across.
The vineyard represents the Church and the work which is required to ensure that the Church bears fruit; and the work will be undertaken for God’s greater glory; and the reward will be eternal life.
From the point of view of the Lord of the vineyard what really matters is not what we get for our work in the vineyard, not how many hours we have laboured, but that we actually do some work.
There will always be those in the vineyard who seem better favoured: they work harder, pray better, engage in many good works, begin earlier, and have so much more to offer. Or so we might think, which is why our own small offerings seem of little value.
But what God asks of us is that we love as we are able; work within our own capacities, within our own natures, and to offer it all for God’s glory. Doing nothing is not an option and, it is never too late to offer ourselves to God.
If we give all that we are able, we need not be envious of the gifts of others, and at the end of the day our payment will not be mere subsistence but a complete existence: a life in God!

Intercessions

Let us pray that we may be generous in our service of God, and that greed and envy may not spoil what we do.
For the Church: That all who work in God’s vineyard may do so unselfishly and always be aware of God’s love for them.
For the world: That the majority who own the most of what the Lord provides may be generous in their giving so that hunger can be alleviated.
For our country: That all those who feel they have little to offer may realise just how much God values them.
For our community: That we may not be envious of the gifts of others but instead use our own God-given giftedness for His glory.
For the sick and the dying: That they may be comforted by the healing presence of the Lord.

God our Father, we ask You to hear and answer all our prayers which we make through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A, 13 September 2020

Gospel, Matthew 18:21-35
We often hear of people who say they could never forgive another person for a wrong the other person has inflicted upon them. Usually this is said by people who have been wronged in a very serious way. The most recent one I heard of was when the terrorist in New Zealand was meeting face-to-face some of his victims and their families. One man told the terrorist he would never forgive him.
At one level we can understand this. How could such terrible acts of violence ever be forgivable?
But at another level, the Christian level, we know that forgiveness has to take place, not to bring comfort or peace to the person who has wronged us, but to bring healing into our own lives. This is because a lack of forgiveness on our part can lead to our own lives becoming embittered and broken. And when this happens we remove ourselves from God’s presence.
In the Gospel reading Peter asked how often he should forgive; suggesting in his question that seven times had to be more than enough. But Jesus says: “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.”
Jesus doesn’t give this number for us to keep count because, who could remember to keep count for so long? We’d need to keep a written record each time we forgave! And what if there was more than one person whom we needed to forgive? Our whole lives could become overwhelmed by a counting game!
Jesus uses the number seventy-seven to recall a boast of Lamech in the book of Genesis. Lamech said: “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” (Gen4:23-24)
In this example the opposite of forgiveness is not a measured response, ‘an eye for an eye’; instead it is escalated revenge; for an injury caused murder was the response!
And so we note that without forgiveness there is only increasing violence.
In the parable Jesus uses today, it is clear that violence will only stop when forgiveness is present because, those who refuse to forgive others in the measure they have been forgiven will discover that God our Father cannot forgive them.
Jesus doesn’t mean that God will not forgive if we refuse to forgive – a kind of tit for tat – but rather that when our hearts are hardened by unforgiveness, they are simply impervious to the forgiveness God offers.
It is easy to nod in agreement as we hear this Gospel: it is so obvious that we should be generous in offering our forgiveness when God, in His great generosity, has forgiven us so much more.
And yet, it real life it can be so incredibly difficult. But, as we know, anything is possible for God; therefore all we need to do is to ask our Lord to help us forgive. “Lord, I can’t forgive; give me your forgiveness” is a prayer we might use in these circumstances.
In giving us the seemingly impossible command to forgive, to forgive and to go on forgiving, Jesus wasn’t asking us to do it on our own. Instead, he waits for us to turn to him, to acknowledge our own helplessness and weakness. When we can do this a miracle will happen because then we will find it possible to forgive, not in our own strength, but because Jesus’ forgiveness is in our hearts.

Intercessions

God our Father is forever showing us compassion and love. It is that which gives us the courage to bring our needs before Him with confidence.
For the Church: That Christians everywhere may be known for their readiness to forgive.
For the world: That all nations involved in warfare and strife will find a way to a just and lasting peace.
For our country: That those who have been badly hurt and find it impossible to forgive may find strength to fulfil the Lord’s command.
For our community: That the Lord will forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
For the faithful departed: That they may have their sins forgiven and so enter the joy of the Lord.

God our Father, recalling the generosity with which Your Son forgave others, we pray that You will enable us to follow his example. We as this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A, 6 September 2020

Gospel, Matthew 18:15-20
We will all know and understand that at the heart of the Gospel message is love, (unconditional love), which requires that Christians will show mercy, forgiveness, compassion and, reconciliation to everyone.
It is when all these are practiced in our lives that we can truly say we have accepted God’s word into our hearts.
It is when all these are practiced in our homes, places of work, and especially in the context of our Church, that we can truly say we are a community of faith.
A community of faith will understand that they are imbued with God’s unifying Spirit, and that they have a common goal to spread the Gospel message and so bring about the conversion of the world.
This will be no easy task but if we follow the example of the early Church we will soon come to see that anything is possible when we remain in God’s love.
And this is because the early Christian Church kept God, and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at the heart of everything they did, and we know the disciples would always meet together and pray to ensure that their relationship with God and with one another remained strong.
This required, at times, recognising that some of the brothers didn’t always do as they should and so needed to be brought to account for their behaviour.
As Jesus points out in the Gospel reading there was a process to follow to ensure that no one was dealt with unjustly but, instead, were given every opportunity to acknowledge their wrong doing and so return to communion with each other and with God.
Jesus makes it clear that where two or more meet in his name he is there with them, and it is this presence which enables communities to exist in an atmosphere of mutual love and respect.
Jesus is at the heart of our community, and indeed every Christian community, therefore it is he who will ensure that we strive to remain faithful and committed to each other and to our task of proclaiming his Gospel.
It is the Holy Spirit, the great outpouring of the love of God the Father and God the Son, who will lead and inspire us, and all we need to do is call upon Him to be our guide and strength.
We do this through prayer and entreaty to God as individuals, as families who pray together, but more importantly as a community of faith who pray together and who are committed to each other.
From this will spring a desire to share our faith with the wider world so that through our mutual love and respect for our brothers and sisters we will never be slow in coming to their aid when they are in need.
And all of this will come about because we keep the commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves and, as St. Paul points out: “Love is the one thing that cannot hurt [our] neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.”

Intercessions

Jesus promised that when we gather in his name, he will be with us. Reassured by his presence, let us offer our prayers.
For the Church, for the healing of divisions between Christians: May Christians of every tradition pray and work together in the service of the Gospel.
For the world, for the healing of the nations: May all disputes and conflicts be settled by peaceful and democratic means, and may all victims of violence be granted new hope and security.
For our country, for those who implement our laws: May they always act with justice and compassion.
For our community: May we all have the courage to live truly Christian lives and the strength to stand up for our faith.
For the dead: That the love they have shown in theirs here on Earth will be rewarded with the gift of eternal life.

God our Father, hear our prayers as we cry to You from our hearts. Give us the strength and hope to live Your life of light and love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A, 30 August 2020

Gospel, Matthew16:21-27
Jesus makes it clear in today’s Gospel reading that all Christians must renounce themselves, taking up their cross to follow him.
What this means in reality is that we will accept the trials and tribulations, the pain and suffering of this life, as though it didn’t really matter.
And this will be because at the heart of our belief will be the knowledge that this life on Earth is temporary, and something much more wonderful awaits us.
This is was a new way of thinking for the disciples of Jesus’ time, and it remains so today because it goes against the conventional thinking of today in which people strive to avoid suffering and death at all costs.
Even in our prayers to God our Father we will implore Him to preserve this physical life of ours, or of others, as though it was the be all and end all of everything.
But Jesus emphasises that in his new way of thinking the overriding motivator in all that we do and say will be, and must be, the undertaking of God’s will, no matter what the consequences may be for us or for others.
Yes, when we take this path there may be suffering and death but we must not forget that suffering and death also lead to resurrection.
This was the path Jesus took as he understood his Father’s will, (‘God’s way’), but as we heard today, it was not a path Peter was happy for the Lord to take, which is why he began to remonstrate with Jesus as he said: “Heaven preserve you Lord, this must not happen to you”.
In saying this Peter, (the ‘Rock’); he became the ‘obstacle in Jesus’ path’: a rock over which Jesus would trip if he had heeded what Peter had said to him.
In following God’s will every Christian has to accept the consequences of following God, and this is not to be done grudgingly, but with willing and open hearts so that a transformation can take place.
This transformation will come about, not by having crosses laid upon us, but by taking up our own crosses, and in doing so we become a path of transformation for others as we lead by example.
As Jesus points out, society may see this kind of idea as loss whereas the Christian is to view it as gain.
If we try to hang on to the temporary security and social position of this present life out of a sense of fear all we will be doing is bending to the will of the secular world.
However, when we are open to being transformed by letting go of this present life we will find a deeper, divine life, and it is this which is most valuable.
St. Paul reminds us that we are not to model our behaviour of the world but that we should let our behaviour change, modelled by our new mind.
This new mind comes about when we strive to deepen our relationship with God so that this deeper relationship can remove any sense of fear we may have for the many situations we may encounter.
And so, “let us discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.” Rom12:2

Intercessions:

Let us pray, offering ourselves to do God’s will in all things because in God’s will is our life and our peace.
For the Church: That those whose faith brings them ridicule, hardship and suffering may know the Lord’s comfort and strength.
For the world: That all people will strive to be good stewards of God’s creation.
For our country: That all those for whom God’s commands seem frightening may find peace in acceptance.
For our community: That we may strive to discover God’s will and know what is the perfect thing to do.
For the faithful departed: That they may enjoy for ever the glory promised to all the faithful.

God our Father, give us the mind of Christ that we may know Your will more perfectly and do it in willing obedience, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A, 23 August 2020

Gospel, Matthew 16:13-20
A personal relationship with Jesus our Saviour is one which, I hope, all Christians already have and are trying to develop but I know some people struggle with the concept of a personal relationship with him or indeed, with God.
If we accept that there is a higher power that has ultimate control over our lives and of the world surely we would want to go on a journey of discovery to find out more.
We can go online to read up about God, and we can do the same for Jesus but this is still only obtaining knowledge. Having knowledge of God doesn’t necessarily equate to knowing and accepting him in our hearts – it doesn’t suggest a personal relationship.
One of the main themes of today’s Gospel was a question from Jesus to his disciples: “Who do you say I am?”
The Gospel reading suggests there was a short pause, an uncomfortable moment of silence amongst the disciples before Peter stepped in and said: “You are the Christ…the Son of the living God”.
I’m not sure that prior to Jesus’ question the disciples had given much thought to who Jesus really was, and so, perhaps Jesus felt this was the right time to bring them to understand the truth.
We might think that the disciples’ ability to relate to Jesus was easier because they were with him; he was in their midst but still human weakness prevented some of them from accepting the truth.
We know that Judas definitely didn’t accept Jesus as Lord because if he had then he wouldn’t have betrayed him.
And it wasn’t until Jesus had risen from the dead that the rest of the disciples came to fully accept Jesus’ identity, and even then, with Thomas, it needed proof.
Being with Jesus enabled the disciples to have a personal relationship with him and, being open to the working of the Holy Spirit opened them to the Father and His life.
It is this openness to Jesus and the Holy Spirit which enabled the disciples to grow in their relationship and, it is this same level of openness which will enable us to develop our relationship with him too.
Jesus is not some remote figure in our lives. He is a real person whom we can relate to and have a relationship with, and this is because Jesus constantly reaches out to us in many and varied ways but most especially through the Scriptures, the Mass, and the Sacraments.
Our ability to have a personal relationship with Jesus then, will rely on our openness to getting to know him better through these different means. It will rely on us having a prayer life which is open to hearing God speak to us. And it will rely on us opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit who will always be our strength and guide as we strive to stay on the path which leads to God.
If, like Peter, we can proclaim: “Yes, Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God, and I believe!” then what happy people we will be.

Intercessions:

Let us bring our prayers to the God and Father of us all, trusting in His wisdom and knowledge, in His mercy and His strength.
For the Church: That the successor to Peter, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, always lead the Church with faith, love and compassion.
For the world: That all those who do not know the love of Christ may respond to his invitation to love and serve him.
For our country: That all those who feel they are outside the mercy of God may know the infinite and tender love of God.
For our community: That our hearts will always be open to the Holy Spirit so that our personal relationship with our Lord may flourish.
For the faithful departed: May their trust in God and their perseverance in faith win for them the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

Lord, You promised to be with Your people even until the end of time. With confidence in Your promise we make all our petitions through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 16 August 2020

Gospel, Luke 1:39-56
The tragedy of the train crash on Wednesday really highlights the fragility of human life.
I’m certain that those who sadly lost their lives and, their families, hadn’t given a thought to the possibility of death until the moment it happened.
It’s the same for most people: none of us, I think, gives much thought to our own mortality but yet, as Christians, we are meant to be living each day as though it was our last.
I’m reminded of the great medieval mystic, Julian of Norwich, whose own life saw terrible things happen such as the great plague which devastated her family, community and, the whole country.
It was a time when a third of the whole population of Europe died.
Julian’s faith however, never wavered and during her life she was granted the grace of visions of the Lord to help her to see, (using her own words), that ‘all will be well, and all manner of things will be well’.
In the days of the early Church too, things were not well at all. St. John refers to this in his Book of the Apocalypse, (or Revelations). He was writing to a Christian people who were suffering great persecutions under the Roman emperors. Terrible things were done, enough to make people lose hope in life and to despair. John wrote to reassure his fellow Christians that ‘all will be well’. He knew the truth about Jesus Christ, who himself lived through suffering and death but who rose to life again.
And that is why ‘all shall be well!’ The dragon of evil will be destroyed, and the child, Mary’s child, will be victorious.
St. Paul refers to this where he says: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? (1Cor15:54-57)
The life of the Blessed Mary is also a tremendous story of faith in God in the face of suffering and persecution.
From the days of Jesus’ infancy when the Holy Family faced threats from Herod, through the years of Jesus’ ministry and, the days of his suffering and death, Mary persevered as she followed her Son, her Saviour and ours.
Her story was one of letting her son go, and letting him be, and letting life happen – and this is part of all parents’ love for their children.
By the time Jesus had begun his public life Mary had come to realise who her son really was which is why, at the wedding feast in Cana, she said to the servants: “do whatever he tells you”.
In a way this was Mary saying: “all will be well”.
On this feast of the Assumption of Mary, body and soul into heaven, we celebrate the fulfilment of God’s promise to her. God has brought her life to a wonderful completion. Therefore, the lowly handmaid of the Lord is the Mother of God, and the Queen of Heaven.

Intercessions

In the Assumption of Our Lady we see the power of and the goodness of God, and so let us pray for each other and the world.
For the Church: That faith in God of all believers may be evident to everyone.
For the world: That all children born into situations of violence, deprivation and fear may grow up knowing they are loved by God and valued by others.
For our country: That people who do not see God working in their lives may be reminded of the Lord’s presence at all times.
For our community: That like Mary we may persevere in our faith certain that ‘all manner of things will be well’.
For the dying: That they may have the gift of a happy death, and may the bright hope of heaven bring comfort and consolation to all.

God our Father, we ask You to listen to all our prayers and may the intercession of Our Lady be always with us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A, 9 August 2020

Gospel, Matthew 14:22-33
I’m sure we will all have experienced times in our lives when we found ourselves out of our depth so to speak, times when we might have questioned where help was going to come from.
We are living through unprecedented times just now when jobs are being lost and people are living in a state of fear & anxiety. For many people, and this includes people who have faith, it can, perhaps, feel as though their lives are falling apart.
At times like this it is an understandable temptation to think that we really are alone; that we only have ourselves to rely on to solve our problems but because of fear and anxiety we might feel powerless to do anything to put things right.
These are the very moments when we need to remind ourselves that we are not alone: Jesus is with us! He who triumphed over suffering and death is there to give us the strength to persevere.
The way forward may not be clear to us but it is completely transparent to Jesus, and so, it is he who will guide us on the path of light, the path to his Father’s kingdom where we will find peace.
One of the main problems we face when we are in a state of despair is the inability to actually experience the presence of Jesus and so we may begin to question our faith and, the ability of God to make a difference.
Perhaps, like Elijah we might expect to hear God in the midst of a mighty wind, or an earthquake, or a fire, but as we know Elijah didn’t find God in any of these instead, he found God in the sound of a gentle breeze.
This tells me that in the midst of our troubles we still need to take the time to listen to God because we will not find Him in the clamour of the trouble we are facing but in the quiet moments we allow ourselves to take when we place ourselves in His presence.
In the Gospel we heard that Peter, who had faith in Jesus, was brave enough to leave the boat and start walking towards Jesus on the water however, at the crucial moment Peter’s faith failed him and he began to sink beneath the waves. But Jesus was there ready to save – ready to lead Peter to safety.
This Gospel account helps us to see that Jesus sustains and lifts us up in the midst of the storms of life.
When we place our faith and trust in Jesus we can be certain he will be with us because he has promised to be with us always and, his hand is always ready to save.
Our faith in the presence of Jesus in our lives does not mean that all our difficulties will magically disappear but it does mean that he will be with us to give us strength and hope: strength to carry on when things seem too difficult for us and, hope that we shall not be overcome because, as we are told in the Psalm, (Ps84): “His help is near for those who fear him and his glory will dwell in our land.

Intercessions

Jesus told Peter to have courage and not to doubt: with this in mind we place all our trust in the Lord as we pray.
For the Church: That the Lord will guide the teaching and the judgement of those with positions of authority in the Church.
For the world: That those living in areas of conflict and tension may come to know true peace in Christ.
For our country: That those who feel overwhelmed by life’s problems may be helped and renewed in hope through the lives of Christians.
For our community: That the gift of faith we have been given will always remain strong and, that we may trust Jesus Christ when difficulties come our way.
For the dead: That they may be raised by the hand of Jesus to enjoy the peace of God’s kingdom.

Father, You sent Your Son to give us faith and hope. Help us always to have faith in his saving presence. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.