17th 18th Nov

posted 20 Nov 2018, 02:50 by Parish Office

Homily for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – World Day  of the Poor (17 & 18/11/18)


Don’t forget the special blessing for the end of Mass.


Any links with The Final Battle?


“There is going to be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence” (first reading).  Those of you who have been listening to the news over the past week will have heard that there have been all sorts of disagreements about the proposed deal with the EU over Brexit.  Maybe “disagreements” is a bit of an understatement.  Perhaps “the end of the world” might be how some might put it, whether it refers to the government, the chance of a deal with the EU, the possibility of Brexit not going ahead, or the chance that there might be a so-called “hard” Brexit.  Take your pick.  But whatever does happen, it won’t be literally the end of the world.  Life will go on, one way or another.


How about football?  For some, football matters more than Brexit.  Bill Shankly famously said, “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that”.  But is that really the case?  Some agree, some don’t.


This Sunday we celebrate the second World Day of the Poor.  Christ said, in Matthew 26:11, “You have the poor with you always, but you will not always have me”.  But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to do anything about poverty.  For some people, poverty does mean a matter of life and death, trying to scrape together enough leftover food from rubbish heaps in order to survive and keep body and soul together.  In days gone by, we can think of the Irish potato famine, brought home by the folk song The Fields of Athenry.  Or some of the scenes in Charles Dickens’ various books, such as A Christmas Carol or A Tale of Two Cities.  Closer to home, I was reading on Thursday that over in Cheadle in 1860, the Parish Priest of St Giles, Canon Paul Jones, died in great poverty and in a state of near starvation, after having sold his books and his piano to make ends meet.  If he was struggling like that, then just imagine how bad things must have been for his parishioners.  Closer to home and back to today, walk around the town centres and see how many homeless people there are compared with ten years ago, how we now need to have foodbanks in every city – these are problems that we thought we were gradually moving away from, but it seems that they are coming back and getting worse.  Of course, there’s the whole rise in the use of drugs, which doesn’t help things either.


Christ’s return in glory means an end to these problems, and each of us being judged according to how we treated those in need, including the poor.  When it comes to me, what will be my defence?  “So, Fr Michael, what did you do to help the poor in your parish?”  “Well, I allowed the jumble sales to keep going.”  “I see”, replies the Lord, “so just like a good Parish Priest, you found a way to appear to help people and also to make a nice profit for the parish in the process!”  I jest, but you get the idea:  what could we be doing to help those worse off that we aren’t doing at the moment?  Yes, the parish has the jumble sale and the Compassion Kitchen.  But I’m sure there are also various people in the area who are suffering because of problems related to being in debt.  For whatever reason, that’s how they now find themselves, with this big weight around their shoulders, with no idea of how it is ever going to be paid, like a sword of Damocles hanging over them, threatening to fall at any moment.  What can we do as a parish to help them out?  Options could include a Credit Union, setting up an SVP, or looking into a group called Christians Against Poverty.  More work for me, I suppose.  If people are interested, then I can try to get the cogs moving.


When will Christ return in glory?  It may be in our lifetime, or it may not.  But if it isn’t, then we will still have to face the judgement of God.  Whatever we do to those in need, we do to Christ, and we are supposed to use our gifts and talents for the building up of the kingdom of God.


“There is going to be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence.”  When will this be for us?  For some people, they don’t need to wait for this to happen; they are experiencing it now.  If we put off doing anything for a good while, then by the time we finally act, for some people, it may be too late.