July 2021

Sunday 4th July:  St. Thomas:  John 20  24-29

Now Thomas called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails have been, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, His disciples were once again inside with the doors locked, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Believing when we haven’t seen could be a description of ‘faith’ – and one of the disciples wasn’t prepared to believe as he wasn’t present when Jesus appeared to the others.  Thomas is often called ‘Doubting Thomas’ – yet how many of us have so often been reluctant to trust in God’s help and support, preferring to ‘do things our own way’.  Are we also ‘doubting’?  It isn’t easy to trust when life is hard, but perhaps we need to remember that God’s all surrounding love for us does not in fact mean we are to do nothing.  We are the channels through which God can help us and others and we do need to be open to his promptings in order to receive his help.

Are you struggling with doubt at the moment, reluctant to trust in God in difficult circumstances? Is God trying to point you in perhaps a different way through which he will in fact be able to help?  Can we be more open to His guidance in our lives, opening up a torrent of love and support?

 

Sunday 11th July:  Trinity 6:  Mark 6  14-29

……For Herod himself had ordered that John be arrested and bound and imprisoned, on account of his brother Philip’s wife Herodias, whom Herod had married.  For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife!” So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she had been unable, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man. When he heard John’s words, he was greatly perplexed; yet he listened to him gladly. On Herod’s birthday, her opportunity arose. Herod held a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.  When the daughter of Herodias came and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests, and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.”  And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom!” Then she went out and asked her mother, “What should I request?” And her mother answered, “The head of John the Baptist” At once the girl hurried back to the king with her request: “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist on a platter immediately.” The king was consumed with sorrow, but because of his oaths and his guests, he did not want to refuse her.  So without delay, the king commanded that John’s head be brought in. He sent an executioner, who went and beheaded him in the prison.  The man brought John’s head on a platter and presented it to the girl, who gave it to her mother.

Herod knew when ordering John the Baptist’s death that this was wrong and unjust, but he went ahead so that he didn’t lose faith before his guests.  It is often not easy to stop doing what we know deep in our hearts is wrong, and often we take the easy way out and go along with what is happening rather than taking a stand.  We all have choices in life, some big and some small, and how we act determines not just our future, but affects other people as well.

Can we learn to have the courage to follow the right way when tempted otherwise ‘just this once’.  Ask for God’s help and he will help you make the right decision – this time and every time in the future.

 

Sunday 18th July:  Mark 6  30-34 and 53 –

Meanwhile, the apostles gathered around Jesus and brought Him news of all they had done and taught.  And He said to them, “Come with Me privately to a solitary place, and let us rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in a boat by themselves to a solitary place.  But many people saw them leaving and recognized them. They ran together on foot from all the towns and arrived before them.  When Jesus stepped ashore and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things.  When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and moored the boat.  As soon as they got out of the boat, the people recognized Jesus and ran through that whole region, carrying the sick on mats to wherever they heard He was. And wherever He went—villages and towns and countrysides—they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged Him just to let them touch the fringe of His cloak. And all who touched Him were healed.

Jesus’ fame is spreading and he and his disciples are struggling to cope with the huge number of people wanting to listen to him, learn from him, and bring him those needing healing.  Jesus’ response initially, though he still wants to help anyone coming to him, is to take the disciples away to a place where they have spare time to rest.  We too need to acknowledge our need for this in the busyness of our everyday lives.  It is often easy to think we must be always ‘doing’ for God, for our families, for our communities.  Yet without the restoring input of rest and prayer we ourselves risk needing the help we give so readily to others.

Are you overwhelmed with all you do at the moment, feeling there is no let-up in the pressure?  Is this the time to acknowledge that time spent quietly with God will ease that pressure and help make you so much more effective in his work?

 

Sunday July 25th:  St. Margaret’s Sunday  Matthew 5  1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.

The Beatitudes, as these sayings of Jesus are known, contain much wisdom to think about, not always obvious in a first reading.  Jesus is not saying it is good when people feel down and depressed, have lost a loved one, are being persecuted, These people are in need – and that need will be answered by God, as he answers every cry to him in prayer, though not always as we expect or want him to reply.  God is there for us in every situation in which we find ourselves, and his love and help are there for us.

Are you feeling you need help at the moment which doesn’t seem to be there for you?  Ask God to answer that need – knowing that he will do so in one way or another.




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