March in the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ 2017

Dear All,

“Hell”, says the wonderful Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “is the greatest compliment God has paid us.” This may sound an odd thing to say, but it’s true. What he means is that God loves us so much and trusts us so much that he gives us free will to choose to follow him and his will for us, or reject him and go our own wilful way to the bad - to hell - even though he passionately doesn’t want us to. Tragically – and it’s a cosmic tragedy – generations of people have chosen the worse rather than the better, and we only have to look at our papers or TV screens to see the mess that our world has become. As the devil says to Faust in Marlowe’s play “Dr. Faustus”, “Why, this is Hell nor are we out of it.”

Lent is a good time to take stock of what we contribute to the community around us. Do we make our own little bit of the world better – a little bit more like the Kingdom of God – or do we make it worse – a bit more “hellish”, as it were? In our own lives, do we follow God’s will or sidle away from it?

A few weeks ago at a funeral I read the wonderful -    and probably the most famous and quoted - passage by St Paul, 1 Corinthians 13, about Faith, Hope and Love. In it are the lines:

 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Maybe this Lent this is a list we can measure ourselves against. When have we failed to be patient? Or kind? When have we been envious or boastful or proud? And so on in the list. As we walk the way of the cross this year let us offer ourselves afresh – warts and all – to Jesus so that this Lent will be more meaningful and an opportunity for real spiritual growth.  God loves and trusts us: let’s return the compliment and love and trust him- wherever he may lead us!

Have a good Lent,

                                 Love,  Fr. John