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

 

The upgrading of the heating and lighting in the Cathedral is now underway. The Cathedral will be open for Masses and Confessions at the weekend, but will be closed at all other times (including between Masses). Weekday Masses are now celebrated in the James Room, though access to the upper car parks is restricted. Thank you for your understanding and support during this project.

 

Sunday 22nd October 2017
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 45: 1, 4-6     1 Thessalonians 1: 1-5     Matthew 22: 15-21

 

A God who holds Caesar.

It is said that when a government department once sent King George V a speech to deliver, he sent it back with the note “What about AG?” The civil servants finally were defeated and asked, “What is AG?” George V replied, “There’s nothing in this speech about Almighty God.” A leader who had such a sense of his own dependence upon God, whilst still being a king, was blessed indeed. But today the combination of politics and religion raises fears in many people’s minds. It’s common to hear the phrase that religion should keep out of politics.

When we first hear Jesus’s reply, “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God”, we can be forgiven for thinking that he too agrees with the popular phrase. Maybe priests should stay in their pulpits and not make pronouncements about daily life, while politicians should limit their comments to parliamentary topics?

But what Jesus is saying is that God is greater than Caesar. Caesar is entitled to what belongs to him. But is there anything which does not belong to God? Even Caesar is held in the palm of God’s hand. God is sovereign of the universe and nothing escapes his gaze. So if politics is about the way we organise our lives in society so that all runs smoothly and all are treated with equal dignity and rights, are there any political decisions which religion should have no voice on?

Christians believe that Christ’s victory over sin and death lays the foundation for the society which we are invited to live in. All decisions which affect the social well-being of men and women are the concern of religion. No religion can ever align itself with one political party because religion is greater than party ideology. But if we allow ourselves to be confined to hymn-singing and flower arranging while others make crucial decisions about the quality of life that our nation is to enjoy, then we have allowed Caesar to be given what really belongs to God and his Church.

 

Sunday 29th October 2017
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Exodus 22: 20-26     1 Thessalonians 1: 5-10     Matthew 22: 34-40

 

Two-Faced?

The question to Jesus was another one of those traps. Whatever he answered would leave him open to charges of blasphemy, heresy or incitement. Yet he summed up the Law without denying any of it. We may be forgiven for thinking that Jesus was making some wonderfully new and radical statement. He was not.

Anyone who knew about the books of Deuteronomy or Leviticus would recognise where Jesus drew his inspiration from. What was perhaps important was that Jesus was able to take the burden off many people’s backs with a simplicity that disarmed: all you have to do is love God and your neighbour.

St Augustine once got himself into hot water when he said, “Love, and then do whatever you want.” Some interpreted it as license to do anything as long as you had the right intentions. But in fact what Augustine was really saying was what Jesus had proclaimed in his answer to the Sadducees. If all our actions are motivated by love, then doing whatever we like would essentially mean acting out of love not self-interest.

In Jesus’s eyes, loving God and loving our neighbour are on an equal footing. We cannot do one without the other. Elsewhere he would go on to say that the way people would know that his followers loved God was by the way they would love each other.

And our neighbour means everyone. Everyone with the same face as us: a human face. Only people who are unbalanced hate themselves. Our natural way is to take care of ourselves, to want to grow and develop, to survive and prosper. When Jesus talks of loving our neighbour as ourselves, he means in this way. We see ourselves in others because we share the common face of humanity. If we say we love God but have scant regard for our neighbour, then we are fooling only ourselves. The hallmark of the New Covenant is the link between these two great commandments.

 

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2017