Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.

Upgrading of the heating and lighting in the Cathedral is underway. The Cathedral is open for Masses and Confessions at the weekend, but is closed at all other times (including between Masses). Weekday Masses are now celebrated in the James Room, but note that there is currently no access to the upper car parks. Thank you for your understanding and support during this project.

 

Sunday 11th February 2018
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Leviticus 13: 1-2, 44-46    1 Corinthians 10:31 - 11:1    Mark 1: 40-45

Role Reversal.

You could argue that in Christ’s time people shunned lepers and sought Jesus. Now there’s a sort of role reversal in which we are much more tolerant and understanding of sickness, disease and disorder, but less inclined to public statements about religion. In a certain sense Christians are the ones who are shunned by a world and society that feels uncomfortable with professions of faith. If Jesus were walking the streets today, people would praise him for his humanitarianism but not for his divine connections.

When Jesus came across the leper he came across a man who was living life on the edge of society, shunned by most people and condemned to a life on the fringe. And the effect of the cure was not simply that the man’s disease was lifted, but that he was restored to society, to mainstream life, to the swing of things. Christ came to restore us to wholeness. He was much more than a super-doctor. He came to make us one with the goodness of creation, to make us complete. And the same is true in the way we proclaim our faith in him.

It is not part of Christ’s plans that Christians should live semi-apologetic lives, hiding on the fringes of society because we don’t want to make too much of a fuss about our beliefs. It is quite incompatible with the Gospel that we should take a back seat about announcing our religion just because there are those in society who are embarrassed by the teaching we espouse. We may once have been lepers, but we are no longer unclean. Baptism has cured us of our leprosy and invited us to be seen on the street of society, in the market place of debate and discussion, on the platform of publicity.

Christ no longer does the rounds of Galilee asking people not to enrage the religious officials by telling them what he has done. Christ is now risen and ascended on high, and with us until the end of time. And as he walks by our side he does not expect us to tread timidly when we speak about the wonders God can perform. He expects us to be seen at the centre of our world and society and to be living witnesses of his power.

 

Sunday 18th February 2018
First Sunday of Lent, Year B
Genesis 9: 8-15     1 Peter 3: 18-22     Mark 1: 12-15

Temptation.

Everyone has temptations. Some small, like an urge to eat all the chocolates in the box. Others great, like a tendency to get so wrapped up in myself that I fail to see the needs of others. Most of us will admit to certain weaknesses, but there are some temptations that we are really ashamed of and would not like the person next to us to know about. We feel so demeaned by this sort of temptation. If people knew about it they would surely change their opinion of me? And we wish we didn’t have it.

Lent teaches us three important lessons about temptations. The first is that no-one can escape them. However much we might like it to be otherwise, every one of us suffers temptations. It is part of our human nature that we have urges and desires to do things that we know to be wrong, know to be harmful to us in the end. It can be so hard for us to make a right judgement about the long term effects of our actions, rather than giving in to what seems to be good for us at the moment.

Lent’s second lesson is hard to grasp, and it seems incredible at first sight. It is that Christ, when tempted by Satan, experienced the depths of our temptations. The temptation which we are ashamed to talk openly about, the one we don’t want broadcast, that one was put before Jesus. It had to be if he was going to redeem it. If the only temptation Jesus ever suffered was the one about the chocolates in the box, then he would be powerless to know our real human nature and to conquer it. He had to sink lower. He had to be tempted at the very depths of human existence, to be brought to rock bottom. We begin Lent every year by reminding ourselves that Christ has conquered the worst of sin and evil.

The good news, and the third lesson, is that temptations are not sins. To be tempted is not to do wrong. However repulsive we may find temptations, if we do not give into them, then we have nothing to blame ourselves for. On the contrary, by examining carefully the sort of temptations we face, we can come to understand those areas of our life that need attention. By becoming spiritually aware of our danger areas, we can begin to work on our behaviour to change it for the better. The best thing to do with a temptation is to face it. The worst thing is to pretend it is not there. So Lent is a time for doing penance for our sin. But it is also a time for rejoicing in the fact that sin can no longer have any permanent hold over us if we live our lives for Christ.

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2018