Psst. Mercy!

Homily at The Immaculate Conception, Tredegar, for the Vigil of Saints Peter & Paul, 2016.

This is the logo for the Holy Year of Mercy, which opens Dec. 8 and runs until Nov. 20, 2016. (CNS/courtesy of Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization) Christ carries a sinner over his shoulders as a shepherd would carry a sheep.

Psst! Have you heard the gossip?

There’s a man who’s been trying to destroy the Church from the outside.

First he shouted encouragement when they stoned that deacon, Stephen.

Then he asked for permission to go to Damascus and round up all the Christians there.

They say he was utterly merciless in the way he treated them.


Psst! Have you heard the gossip?

There’s a man who nearly destroyed the Church from the inside.

Jesus told him he had to forgive people who sinned against him. He tried to negotiate a limit of seven times. Jesus insisted on seventy times that!

He promised he would never abandon Jesus, but the night the Lord was arrested, he denied him three times.

They say he’s going back to his old career as a fisherman.


Psst! Have you heard the Gospel?

That Saul the Merciless, riding on the road to Damascus, had a vision. Jesus spoke to him.

They say he’s become an Apostle, teaching people about the love and mercy of Jesus!

Jesus changed his name to Paul, the little one.

Paul travelled all over the Mediterranean, starting churches and writing letters.

Little Paul was arrested, appealed to the Emperor, and was beheaded in Rome.


Psst! Have you heard the Gospel?

That Simon the Fisherman, the Rock who couldn’t hold firm, had a visit. Jesus took him for a walk on the beach. Three times he asked “Do you love me?” and Simon struggled to reply.

Jesus, the great forgiver, offered him another chance. This time Peter, the Rock, would lead the 12 disciples. Next time, Peter would not turn away, but would stand up for Jesus.

Simon Peter, first Pope and Fisher of Men, was crucified upside down in Rome.


Psst! Have you heard the Gospel?

That there’s someone in this Church, this evening, who doesn’t believe Jesus will really forgive them for something they’ve done wrong in their life?

But Jesus says: I forgave Paul, who persecuted the members of my body. I forgave Peter, who denied me three times. They both became leaders in my church, and great saints in heaven.

What kind of sinner are you, that you deserve forgiveness less than Peter or Paul?


My friends, I want to apologise to you. Our church is not always good at communicating what we stand for. Often we present ourselves as the Church of “Don’t Get Into Trouble”. It’s true that part of my job, and the task of every preacher, is to stand up and talk about right and wrong, because God wants us to choose good and keep away from evil. But we are also called to be the church of “Lord, Have Mercy”. The Church isn’t for perfect people. It’s for people who mess up and need to know they can make a new start. In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, doubt no longer but believe. The one who had mercy on Peter and mercy on Paul offers you no less mercy.

Once Paul realised that Jesus was real, there was no stopping him; and as for Peter, when Jesus looked at him and saw a man who would be willing to say sorry, ask help, and start again every time he messed up, what did he say? On this rock I will build my Church.

This Is My Body, Given Up For You

Homily for Sunday Mass (13th in Ordinary Time, Year C) for a Couples for Christ Marriage Enrichment Retreat.

“This is my body, given up for you.”

Whenever we attend Holy Mass, we hear the priest pronounce these words.

“This is my body, given up for you.”

All of us who receive Holy Communion are connected; we form the Body of Christ, which is the Church. All of us who receive Holy Communion are heirs to the promise of Jesus that doing this will secure for us eternal life. That is, when our bodies die, our souls – the very essence which makes us who we are – will be safe with Jesus in a life which has no end; and we believe that one day God will give us new and everlasting bodies.

But the God who promises us such wonders in the future also leads us through the trials of daily life in the here-and-now, where our bodies are fragile and our toil is real. We are tempted daily to put ourselves first, to give in to selfishness and self-indulgence. Our Christian message asks us to resist this, and to love one another.

There’s a Christian rap song called F.A.M.I.L.Y. – “forget about me, I love you”. Living marriage well requires a daily decision to put the needs of your spouse ahead of your own. Pope Francis has spoken to the priests and people of Rome, acknowledging how so many parents miss out on time with their children because the parent does not make it home until the child’s bedtime. In his recent letter on family life, he notes that when you choose to marry someone, you take on a whole new family. Pope Francis says this: “Your in-laws are not a threat! You are called to be generous to them – because this is also an act of love towards your husband or wife.” But the Pope also acknowledges that each household is entitled to its own privacy. Respecting your mother-in-law doesn’t mean running your house by her rules!

The Pope has no easy answers to the trials of 21st Century living, but he does offer us some directions: when grandparents can be part of the home life, this is good. When the Church community can be a place of hospitality for young people, this is excellent. Above all, Jesus promises not to leave us orphans. We must do our best to help our children to make a real connection with Jesus, so they know the great gift they have been given: The Lord of the Universe offers them a personal friendship, and says: “This is my body, given up for you.”

These words of Our Lord also have a special meaning for you, who have been called to holiness through marriage. Within the partnership of your marriage, each of you is called to say daily to your spouse, through your words and through your actions, “This is my body, given up for you.”

Part of the genius of St John Paul II was to give us a new focus for married relationships, not based on a list of ‘don’ts’ from Church teaching, but based on the idea of radical unselfishness. Jesus gave us the great commandment to “love one another,” using a Greek word for love, agape, which means self-sacrificing service. St Paul counselled the followers of Jesus to “regard others as better than yourselves”. Listen carefully to what he asks of us! He is NOT calling for us to have a negative self-image, to say “I am not as important as other people.” Rather, from a position of strength, we can say to ourselves: “I am a person of equal dignity and worth, but I am going to treat you as if your needs are more important than mine.” If both halves of a partnership do this, you will meet each other halfway. The alternative is struggling with each other to be the “greatest”, and Our Lord was most unimpressed when he found his disciples arguing over that title!

You are not alone. Our Lord understands your tiredness, your weakness, your search for meaning in toil. Eat of the Lord’s body, draw life from him, find the strength to live this life of daily sacrifice – and remember that Eucharist means “Thanksgiving”, always our appropriate response when we receive the benefits of a sacrifice.

When we eat this bread, and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.”

This mystery of our faith reminds us at Mass to be like Jesus, to lay down our lives for others. What Jesus freely gives to us, we can freely give to others.

A husband works long hours at a manual job, and returns home aching and sore. “This is my body, given up for you.”

A mother notices her stretch marks, remembers her youth, looks at her children and says inwardly: “This is my body, given up for you.”

A couple who understand what it means to live their sexual life without selfishness embrace each other on the altar of the marriage bed, and each says to the other: “This is my body, given up for you.”

Our Lord Jesus, who could have called a legion of angels to remove him from his Passion at any moment, embraces the altar of the Cross, and says: “This is my body, given up for you.”

This Eucharist, this Mass, is the Lord’s marital embrace to his beloved, his bride, his church. We are to receive his body into ourselves in the most physical way possible. We do this at the hands of a priest, who has made his own act of sacrifice; forsaking the right to marry to fully embrace the call to priesthood, the priest too says to his parish and to each congregation he serves, “This is my body, given up for you.”

It is my privilege to offer daily the Sacrifice of the Most Holy Eucharist, when I say to the gathered Church, lending my voice to the Lord, “This is my body, given up for you.” It is your privilege, in the family home, in the domestic Church, to offer the Sacrifice of Holy Matrimony. When you toil long hours for your daily bread, when you bathe your children, when you do the household chores, and yes, when you show your love to one another in the physical way which God has reserved for marriage, you, together with Christ living within you, declare to your husband, to your wife, “This is my body, given up for you.” Your marriage too will bear witness to the world as you remember His next words: “Do this in memory of me.”


Into the Unknown

Homily at St Philip Evans for the Solemnity of St John the Baptist, 2016.

There are days in history when the solid ground on which we stand is thrown up in the air. This morning, with the UK having narrowly voted to leave the EU, is such a day.

Whichever way we voted, we now face a period of uncertainty. Negotiations will take time and the timing and outcome of many things cannot yet be known.

Yet… there is nothing new in this for God’s people.

In ancient Israel, at the end of the age of the Judges, the people called for a king. The prophet Samuel warned them that a king would take their sons for his armies, and their daughters for his harems, but the people clamoured, and God allowed Samuel to anoint Saul as king.

To anoint a king means stability. To anoint a king is to found a dynasty, to accept that his son and his children’s children shall reign for generations to come.

But a day came in the history of Israel when the solid ground on which they stood was thrown up in the air. Samuel was divinely instructed to anoint the boy David as the next King of Israel. It was David’s lineage, not Saul’s, which provided the reign of Solomon and ultimately the heritage of Joseph, husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus the Christ.

Or take an elderly couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth, well past the age of childbearing, and looking forward to their retirement. Yet one day, an angel appeared to Zechariah, with the news that his wife was to bear a son. Nor would the son take any name traditional in the family, but would have an entirely new identity. The people asked: “What will this child be?”

In the same way, as Britain today gives birth to an unknown child, an ex-EU member state, we can only watch and wonder what will unfold in the negotiations of the months and years ahead. But remember, there is nothing new for God’s people in having our expectations radically challenged.

There are days in history when the solid ground on which we stand is thrown up in the air. Two such days were the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday, marked by inconsolable grief and indescribable joy. The one who was with his disciples then is with us now. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have encouraged s to pray Cardinal Martini’s Prayer for Europe in this time of transition.

Neither Male nor Female

Homily at St Philip Evans, for the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Continuing our series on the Family, based on Amoris Laetitia.

This week has been a week marked by tragic news. In our First Reading, a population belatedly realised the horror of a good man being killed – in a similar way, the UK has been mourning the death of Jo Cox MP, and referendum campaigning has been suspended. Meanwhile, in America, 49 people were murdered by a gunman at a gay bar.  What both these attacks have in common is that they were committed by men who held strong opinions on certain moral values, and were ready to kill those who disagreed with them. One held a grudge against gay people. The other resented a politician who cared about refugees.

As I stand in this pulpit and speak, I am deeply conscious that Christian leaders and preachers face a difficult challenge. We must put forward certain views about how people ought to live their lives. We might even suggest that our ultimate destination, heaven or hell, depends on the moral choices we make. But at the same time, we must avoid anything that could stir up hatred or violence towards people who don’t share our values, and we must always emphasise that Christ loves and welcomes anyone willing to set aside their own ideas and embrace the Gospel. When he gave a difficult teaching, he simply said, “let those who can, accept this.”

As we continue to reflect on Pope Francis’ teaching on the family, this week I’m going to focus on just one line in St Paul’s letter to the Galatians. “You are all clothed in Christ, and there are no more distinctions between male and female.” This takes us into the controversial area of the differences between men and women – and whether they matter!

If we only had this verse to draw on, we’d probably conclude that the Bible says men and women are interchangeable. But other Bible verses, also attributed to St Paul, say that a woman, or at least a wife, should not have authority over a man; and Genesis says that human beings were created “male and female, in God’s image”.

Let’s try to make sense of all of this. The Bible passage we’ve heard today is about the dignity we have as baptised members of the Church. It doesn’t matter whether we come from a poor family or a rich one, it doesn’t matter about our nationality or tribal identity, it doesn’t matter if we are a man or a woman – once we are baptised, we share equal status as an adopted child of God-the-Father. Pope Francis has even said he would baptise aliens from Mars: if they understood what baptism was well enough to be able to ask for it, they qualify!

Because we share equal dignity, all lay roles in the church are open equally to men and to women. Anyone, male or female, can read at Mass, chair a parish committee, or become, say, Director of the Catholic Deaf Service. As you’ve probably noticed, we have a lot of girls serving on the altar here. In 1994, the Vatican was asked to look again at why its rules said girls couldn’t serve. The relevant bishops concluded that serving at the altar was a ministry in its own right, not a stepping stone to priesthood – and therefore it was right and proper that girls as well as boys should serve.

If there are no distinctions “in Christ” between men and women, why does the Church say that only men can be ordained as bishops, priests and deacons? That’s because the role of an ordained minister is not to stand as a member of the body, “in Christ”, but to deputise for the head “as Christ”. God walked among us in the form of a male human being, who picked twelve male apostles to continue his work; they in turn picked seven male deacons.

Whenever we are dealing with sacraments, we have a sacred duty to do exactly what Jesus asked us to do in order to receive the blessing that goes with it. So we can’t celebrate Mass with rice cakes and Ribena – we have to use wheat-bread and wine. A deacon can’t anoint a sick person – the Bible tells us that a presbyter, meaning a priest, must do that. The sacrament of marriage comes into being when a free man and a free woman, who are both baptised Christians, make life-long vows to each other. And the sacrament of ordination takes place when a bishop lays hands on a chosen man. We have no authority to innovate beyond what Jesus asked us to do. In 1994, St John Paul II said definitively that the Catholic Church simply does not have authority to ordain a woman to the priesthood.

Nevertheless, Pope Francis has encouraged us to think outside the box. There are a few things only priests can do, because of their Holy Orders: forgiving sins, celebrating the Eucharist, and conferring the sacrament of confirmation. There are lots of other things that tend to be entrusted to priests, but needn’t be. Some dioceses now have religious sisters or lay men or women as Chancellors. Pope Francis has challenged our bishops to look at the other things only priests do, either because of church rules or because it’s customary, to see whether some of these roles could be opened up to women – and also to lay men. (See paragraphs 103 and 104 of Evangelii Gaudium.)

Today’s reading speaks about the status of men and women as members of the Church. But the Church also speaks about the role of men and women in the world at large. In fact, the Church fully supports the right of women to take on any and every role in society, including the crucial and underappreciated role of being a stay-at-home mother. The Church would like to see laws about wages and social benefits which mean that a mum who chooses to work has adequate access to childcare, and a mum who chooses to stay at home can be well supported by her husband, or in his absence, by the State.

Pope Francis has also identified other issues which trouble him. There are many cultures in today’s world where wives are expected to be subservient, where women are generally excluded from decision-making; where young girls are forced to have embarrassing surgery and where financial pressures cause women to volunteer as surrogate mothers. The Church campaigns against these things!

Yes, this puts us in a strange position where a church run by exclusively male clerics officially stands up for women’s equality. As our bishops see it, there is only one good answer to the question, “Why can’t women do that?”, and it’s this: “Because Jesus didn’t ask us to do things that way.” That answer only applies to the case of the sacraments, because they are God-given, not man-made. Today’s Gospel challenges us to renounce ourselves and follow Jesus; and part of what we must renounce is our sense that we know better “what God should have done”. In the words of Our Lord: “let those who can, accept this.”

Further reflections for the print and online editions:

Last week the Pope made another small but significant gesture. There are three grades of saints’ days, and the middle grade, the sort with a Gloria but no Creed, is called a Feast. Each of the Apostles is celebrated by a Feast, except that the joint celebration of St Peter and Paul is a top-grade celebration, and a Holy Day. On 22 July, the church’s calendar honours St Mary Magdalen, the first human being to meet the risen Christ. This is a curious day – it’s a bottom grade saint’s day, yet the instructions on the page ask for a Gloria and the other trappings which normally go with a Feast. So as of last Friday, on the Pope’s personal instructions, St Mary Magdalen, the “apostle to the apostles“, has been permanently upgraded to a full Feast.

You might have heard in the news recently that the Pope has asked for a study on deaconesses. We know from the Bible that there were women called deaconesses in the early days of the Church. They were blessed for this ministry by the bishop laying hands on them, rather like a clerical ordination. We know from other historical documents a little about what they did: they took holy communion to housebound women, as our extraordinary ministers of communion do today, and they assisted at adult baptisms. Remember, in those days to be baptised, you were stripped of your clothes and the bishop dipped your whole body under water in a large pool. The deaconesses helped the women to dress and undress, and anointed them with holy oil. We don’t do it that way, these days. But what isn’t clear is whether the deaconesses routinely did any of the same tasks male deacons did during Mass. This is why the Pope has indicated that a further formal study could help clarify matters.

Finally, we cannot reflect on the idea of there being “no male and female” in Christ without pausing to consider transgender issues. Here we must be careful to distinguish two situations – physical “intersex” conditions and psychological questions of gender identity.

We human beings are fearfully and wonderfully made, and science now has a much greater understanding both of the way genetics works and how a developing embryo lays down the pattern of its body. Within this complex process, a myriad things have the potential to go wrong. Sometimes an embryo – or the cells in a significant part of it – makes an error in copying our sex chromosomes. Instead of being an XY male or an XX female, a child can develop as an X0 underdeveloped female, or an XXY “Klinefelter” male. It can happen that the special gene on a Y chromosome which causes the body to develop as male rather than female is faulty. And there are other disorders of sexual development which are well documented.

In these cases it’s quite understandable that a person may not feel they fit into one of society’s two “binary” roles of male and female, and our Christian response must be one of sympathy and understanding. We still assert that God’s plan was that humanity should exist as male and female, but in these cases we recognise that nature, fallen and flawed, has failed to fully realise God’s plan, as also happens with other kinds of congenital disability.

What is harder for us to assess, as Christians, are those cases where there is no ambiguity over the gender of a person’s body, yet the person insists they were born into the wrong gender, and they feel like a man in a woman’s body, or a woman in a man’s. Pope Francis, and also the bishops at the 2015 Synod (see paragraphs 8 and 58), are careful to assert that in God’s plan, there are distinct roles for men and for women, and that we are not free to reinvent ourselves; part of our humility in front of our Creator is to embrace and accept the gift of the body we have been born with. In an intersex condition, that body is clearly flawed; but in cases where there is no physical ambiguity, spiritual wholeness requires that we do not reject the sexuality of our body: it is our Creator’s gift to us.

Because Ordination is a sacrament, where the underlying “matter” is what expresses the sign, it would be inconceivable for a transsexual person to be ordained; there would have to be integrity of their physiology and personal sense of identity. Only a person unambiguously male in mind and body could be accepted for ordination, regardless of any legal change in their state-recognised gender. Similarly, part of the value of entering a congregation of monks or nuns, or apostolic brothers or sisters, is the sign of being part of a celibate community of men or women; it would be difficult to imagine a transgender person becoming a member of a community of either their physiological or their social gender. That leaves the interesting case of the call to be a hermit, without a community…

Pope Francis and the Synod Bishops place their trust in God’s design. So to any person who identified as transsexual but also wished to follow Jesus, the Catholic Church would lean towards encouraging them to embrace their physical identity.

Where matters get deeply complex is how we are to relate to people who assert their right to identify as transgender and have no spiritual inclination to embrace their physical identity. On the one hand we must meet them with a compassion which recognises their sense of alienation in society. On the other hand, we also want to preserve our own values which call for a humble acceptance of one’s body as a gift.

Particular difficulties occur when society at large, or the State, provides gendered facilities – public toilets, prisons, changing rooms and physical education in schools. The Lord’s command to “love our neighbour” demands care and understanding of vulnerable individuals, but doesn’t require us to compromise our own morals. What do we do in the case of a trans woman – a physiological male now claiming the right to live as a woman? Our compassion for their difficult journey through life clashes with our sense that women in general may feel vulnerable in toilets and changing facilities, and have a right to be protected from seeing male anatomy, even if only on a trans woman. If we propose that there be a third option, say a unisex toilet, we might be accused of excluding a trans man or woman from being with the gender they wish to affiliate with. It does seem in this case impossible to protect both the transgendered person and the vulnerable members of the cisgendered majority. It is understandable that a Christian might automatically take the side of the majority because the Bible indicates that we should embrace our binary identity.

I’m being guarded in my language here because the Church has not made more explicit pronouncements on the subject. There’s an interesting post by Anna Magdalena Patti, a Catholic trans woman. I’ll allow the courtesy of referring to “her” though I lean towards the importance of being grounded in one’s physiological identity. She makes the valid point that if there are physiological reasons which make a brain “male” or “female”, there could be brains which don’t match a person’s sexual organs… this kind of transgenderism would be another kind of intersex condition where arguments about needing to embrace one’s “unambiguous” identity would not then apply.

“In Christ there is no male or female.” As individuals, there is certainly room for trans men and trans women in the church. Their dignity comes from baptism, not from their gender identity. There needs to be sensitivity on both sides – the mainstream community starting from an assumption that a trans lifestyle is not a freely embraced “lifestyle choice”, and the trans individuals acknowledging that in some important respects, they are NOT identical to their preferred gender. This requires a Christian generosity of accepting limits which mean that vulnerable human beings also need private spaces behind “cisgender only” doors.

When Jesus taught on divorce, he based his argument on the Genesis text that a man should cleave to a woman and the two become one flesh. We have strong evidence, then, that Jesus recognised and validated a divine teaching about there being two complementary genders. He gave strict teachings about resisting lust. It is clear that there would be many circumstances where a Christian might desire a particular sexual relationship but be unable to pursue it in obedience to God’s plan – incest, adultery, homosexuality. There are certain roles in the Church – marriage, ordination, religious profession – for which unambiguous cisgender identity is essential. For the Church to deny these roles to those asserting trans identity is not to single out the trans community for exclusion, but merely to recognise that to enter these roles is a vocation not given to all. Those who have ears, let them hear.


Reading Amoris Laetitia: all references are to paragraph numbers.

  • Biological “sex” and cultural “gender”: 56
  • Women’s rights: 54 (see also 18)
  • God transcends gender: 10-11

For further reading:

My Purpose is Love. My Family is Here.

Homily at St Philip Evans, for the 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Continuing our series on the Family, based on Amoris Laetitia.

Oh no! It’s a widow!

In today’s readings, Our Lord and Elijah both save widows from losing their only sons.

Imagine being part of the world of Bible times. There’s no benefit agency or health service looking after people too elderly to work. And it’s a man’s world, where it was often unacceptable for women to work and earn their own money. If a widow loses her only son, who has to look after her? It falls to the local village. Which means widows were unpopular. No-one wanted a new widow in town – she would be a drain on everybody’s resources!

Through the miracles we read about today, we see that God cares for these widows and restores their sons, who will be their breadwinners. But God didn’t prevent them losing their husbands, and we know that miracles are rare – most of the time, God will care for people not through miracles, but through the members of His body – that’s us!

Pope Francis recently published his letter on family love, and today I’d like us to spend a few moments thinking about difficult family situations, those due to circumstances beyond our control. Today’s widows remind us that one such situation comes through bereavement.

Every family suffers bereavement. There’s a natural pattern of grief which we go through. It’s OK to feel angry with God – remember that even St Martha, sister of Lazarus, told Jesus – “If you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died”. But like Martha, we need to move to the next stage: “Even so, I trust that he will live again when all the dead are raised to everlasting life.” There’s a special responsibility on our parish community to be there for bereaved people who have no other family members here, and I’m truly grateful for the work which Geraldine and Bernie do as our parish bereavement group. Do remember that if you know someone who’s bereaved, even if they’re not Catholic, our parish group can send a card and a message of sympathy, and offer personal contact where needed.

Pope Francis also notes other circumstances which can put a strain on family life. In today’s Britain we don’t react badly to widows, but society around us might well say…

Oh no! It’s a disabled child!

When a couple discover that their new baby is disabled, all their hopes and dreams come tumbling down. How limited is the potential of this new human life? Will baby ever go to college or hold down a job? Will the parents have to spend the rest of their lives providing expensive and tedious personal care? How many of the parents’ plans for their adult life will have to be sacrificed?

If the disability is discovered before baby is born, society around us whispers: “You can get rid of that! Why create an extra burden for yourself and for us taxpayers?” Pope Francis speaks up with a different voice: “This is what love looks like!” Your vocation is to welcome this human life and become a beacon of self-sacrificing love, the love we Christians call agapé – in this way, you will become the saints, living reflections of Christ, which God is calling you to be.

Perhaps someone here today has given in to that temptation, to end a life. I say to you: God understands your pain. Even this can be forgiven through the Sacrament of Reconciliation! There are women who understand, ready to pray with you and help heal your wounded heart. Come, and taste God’s mercy!

Similar temptations exist at the twilight of human life…

Oh no! It’s an elderly relative!

The first duty to care for an elderly parent, aunt or uncle, rests with the children, not with the State. We mustn’t rush to judgement when a family chooses a care home, because sometimes professional care is what’s needed. But Christian love chooses this only because it’s best for the relative, not because it’s more convenient for the children.

Oh no! It’s the in-laws!

When you choose to marry someone, you take on a whole new family. Pope Francis says this: “Your in-laws are not a threat! You are called to be generous to them – because this is also an act of love towards your husband or wife.” But the Pope also acknowledges that each household is entitled to its own privacy. Respecting your mother-in-law doesn’t mean running your house by her rules!

Oh no! It’s a migrant!iwasastranger

We live in a very mobile world. Millions of families have been forced to flee from violence. Countless others move seeking a better income to care for their children and parents. In this parish, many of you have come to Britain because our National Health Service has needed your skills and called you here from the ends of the earth. When someone comes into a community speaking a different language, living a different culture, and needing help from the local community, Pope Francis calls us to generosity. Here is a brother, a sister, a human being displaced from all that is familiar to them. Love them!

Oh no! It’s my selfishness!

The society around us continually sells us a lie. It says we can live our lives on our own terms, and buy things that make us happy. When we begin to believe that, we’ll become angry when events beyond our control invite us to be generous. But we’re Christians, living temples of the God who is love. What is the meaning of our lives? Our purpose is to love those who have no-one else to love them. Some of us are doing our fair share by welcoming disabled children or elderly in-laws under our own roofs. The rest of us are called to do our fair share in the community, supporting widows, refugees and migrants who are not relatives by blood or marriage, but have no other family but us.

Oh no! I’m not loving the way Pope Francis is asking me to love!

Oh yes! But you can start doing that right now! How will you begin?

Reading Amoris Laetitia: all references are to paragraph numbers.

  • Caring for bereaved families: 253-254
  • Our hope in life after death: 255-258
  • Welcoming disabled children and elderly relatives: 43, 47-48, 163-164, 191-193
  • Caring for in-laws: 198
  • Caring for migrants: 45, 46
  • Caring for those with no family: 197

Some useful links for pastoral care, and further reading: