Sister Clare Knowles is one of our writers – one of the FMSL team, on the extreme right below. The ‘L’ in FMSL stands for Littlehampton, which is close to Worthing, a seaside town where the Christian Churches have come together to tackle homelessness. You can read more about that project here: http://www.wchp.org.uk/
Clare has found a down-to-earth way of raising money for the project: jumping out of a plane (with parachute and mentor attached).
Please sponsor her and help get people in off the streets and fulfilling their potential in life.
Here is the link to make donations: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/clareknowles1
Thank you for your generous support.
Left to right: Sisters Susan, Esther, Elizabeth, Marcellina, Patricia and Clare FMSL
I have a friend whom I have not seen or heard from for quite a long time now. Every day, I prayed and hoped that one day we should be re-united. How I longed that this day would come! I had imagined how happy and excited I would be if I eventually had contact with her.
Waiting for the coming of Christ is another big event for me. Out of his love for me, Christ humbled himself to be born as a little baby among us. He shed every glory he had with his father to come and identify with you and me. This event, like welcoming a dear friend, should spur me to an eager preparation. How am I preparing to welcome Christ the Son of God made man?
In the process of evaluating my preparation, I discover I have not measured up very well in my Christian calling. I have not loved unconditionally, not been kind enough and sometimes have judged others without mercy. I realise I still have much work to do, to enable Christ to enter into my heart. In order to feel that joy and excitement I desire when Christ comes, I need to get rid of all kinds of anger, pride, jealousy or hatred that tend to occupy my heart.
Let us look deep into our hearts to see where God is calling us to change. God is willing and always ready to come and dine with us if we invite him.
Isaiah the prophet challenges us today in the first reading to ‘have a care for justice and keep away from evil’.
Listening to what is happening in world today, it seems there is no justice anywhere and everywhere is full of different kinds of evil. There are so many wars, hunger, illnesses, killings, displacement etc being faced by many people. Every created thing seeks for justice and fairness. I often wonder where God is in all this. When I reflect on various areas in which injustices are being perpetuated in our world, I weep and feel powerless.
When I consider further, I tell myself I can make a difference in whatever little way is possible for me. I can speak out for those who are unjustly mistreated. I can write to MPs supporting proposals that promote fair treatment for all. I can stand up for the truth no matter what it will cost me. I can also pray for a change of heart for those who no longer seek for God’s justice but rather for punishment without mercy. If I see injustice around me, I can try to be, by following Jesus’ example, a light that shines for all to see.
I pray that in my everyday activities, I will do my best to detach myself from anything that does not promote goodness. I ask God to help me make sure that people and other creatures are treated with fairness, and never trample on them because I have the power and resources to do so.
Come Lord Jesus, Sun of Justice!
There is an aura of joy about today’s readings; in the first, the people are told to: “Shout for joy” and mourn no more, for salvation was coming. Isaiah was prophesying about a time when the people had repented and returned to God, and He had forgiven them, making a “Covenant of peace” with them which would never be shaken. His only requirement was that the people had faith in Him.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus commends John, who had been the “greatest of all the children born of women”, because he had known what God wanted and had not been afraid to preach it. He had been the person bridging the gap between the Old and New Testaments, showing people the first step of the new order: repentance and baptism. Yet, those coming after who accepted the teaching of Jesus would be in a greater position than John because they had faith, having learned the truths of the Gospel, and were to benefit from the Sacrifice of the Cross.
The reading ends with a warning to the Pharisees, who had been too proud and too convinced of their righteousness to receive baptism from John. They had not realised that this was how God was leading His people at this time; they were “Thwarting God’s plan”.
Let us pray that we will always be open to change our ideas to do whatever God asks of us.
Today is Wednesday in the third week of Advent, .and also the Memorial of Saint John of the Cross Priest and Doctor of the Church. He was a Carmelite friar who was outstanding in his holiness and knowledge, as his many spiritual writings testify.
The first reading from Isaiah 45: 6-8; 18, 21-26 is telling us that “Apart from me, (God) all is nothing. I am the Lord unrivalled. There is no other god besides me, a God of integrity and saviour;… Turn to me and be saved. From the Lord alone comes victory and strength”. As we are in this Advent period of waiting for Christ, how open I am to receive him? How prepared am I to welcome him and accept him and His good work in me? Am I ready to recognise him in my daily life?
In the Gospel, John the Baptist sends his disciples to go and ask Christ if he is the Messiah, or are they to wait for another? (Luke 7: 19-23) God comes to me in my daily activities and in the people that I meet each day. I meet God in creation, in the stillness of the lonely valleys…flowing with fresh water’… as St John of the Cross says in his Spiritual Canticle. I pray through the intercession of St John of the cross, that God will give me the grace to be strengthened, and rooted in the Love of God, that I may have the power to comprehend with the saints the breath, and length, and height and depth of the Love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge (cf.Ephesians 3:18). Amen.
‘BEAR FRUIT WORTHY OF REPENTANCE!’ (Matthew 3:8)
Today we are celebrating the feast of Saint John the Baptist. So today we can spend a little time to meditate on God’s mercy through the words of the Baptist. Always and especially in this year we are continually listening the proclamation of the mercy of God. In the Bible we can see that after the proclamation of Saint John the Baptist thousands of people confessed their sins and converted their life.
Now we may be confessing our sins and receiving God’s mercy in different ways. Is it enough? Is God expecting anything more from us? Can we do anything to please God or to express our gratitude? Let us listen to the words of Saint John the Baptist. He instructed all the people who received God’s mercy and converted their life, ‘BEAR FRUIT WORTHY OF REPENTANCE’ (Matthew 3:8).
How can we bear fruit? We are not able to feed all those who are hungry. We have human limitations. We are not able to do many things. Then what can we do? We can behave mercifully to all those who are weak. We can overcome our judgmental attitude to all people. We can give love to those who are sick and needy. We can spend our time to spread Word of God. Perhaps we can even dedicate our lives to it like Saint John the Baptist. Without any blaming, Jesus has accepted us. We have received enough mercy from God and freely, so Jesus says, ‘GO AND DO LIKEWISE’.
Ezekiel 34:16 ‘I will search for the lost and bring back the strays’
Today’s Feast, commemorating the martyrdom of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, causes us to think of a time when kings had almost unlimited power and would let nothing and no one stand in the way of what they wanted.
The Gospel presents us with a different view of a king, a king who called himself the ‘Good Shepherd’, whom he spoke of as putting himself in danger and enduring hunger, cold, etc. to hunt for and bring back – without chastising them – his lost sheep, by whom he meant his subjects. Jesus was a King who cared about his subjects and their wellbeing, which he put before his own comfort.
With God in charge, we can rest secure – as the Psalmist said: ‘I will lie down in peace and sleep comes at once, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.’ (Psalm 3)
It is the responsibility of a king to show integrity, and of a human being to be true to the bond of friendship. Christ the King is the model of human integrity, and even goes so far as to call us his friends. Although we have sinned, gone astray, sought happiness elsewhere, God never stops seeking us, longing to show us His great mercy. Following His example, may we have the grace to extend mercy and friendship to our fellow men and women, as God has shown mercy to us.
Quality of mercy: Merchant of Venice, IV:1
Image from https://uk.pinterest.com
How much mercy is too much?
Galatians 5:13-18 …’the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself”.’
When I see my sisters and brothers suffering the effects of sin, I can love them as myself by imagining myself in their place. If I were in their position, how much mercy would I want to be given? That is very different from asking how much mercy I would expect.
In desiring mercy for myself, I can dream bigger than my expectations. How much is too much? What might the Good Thief tell us (Luke 23:39-43)? He expected his death sentence from human justice but he received from God’s mercy what he dared to hope for – a place with Jesus in the eternal Kingdom (Terms and conditions did not apply).
Is it possible that God, the source of all mercy, could be less merciful than any human sinner? The idea seems absurd. It follows, therefore, that however much mercy I can show to another person, God could not possibly show less to me. This is how I am assured that my own sins are forgiven by the Father to the extent that I forgive my neighbour (Matthew 6:12, 15). So, how much forgiveness should I show towards my neighbour? Well, it is a question of how much I really long to receive from God. It is only human justice that places limits on mercy. Where human law condemns and exacts punishment, the Law of God simply says, ‘”Love your neighbour as yourself”’.
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Read more about the Centre here: http://www.franciscans.ac.uk/
I walked into Canterbury City Centre yesterday, only to be greeted by our own Sister Marcellina (see our FMSL sisters on the Contributors page). Would I like my shoes polished as an act of Christian service on the day Jesus washed his disciples’ feet? Sister Susan was watching, so I agreed and sat down.
Ruby from Saint Anselm’s Catholic School did an excellent job – thank you, Ruby, and thank you, the school, and thank you, Sisters and the other volunteers. This service was led by Churches Together in Canterbury; it’s good to belong to the wider Christian Family, and to be doing such things together. I heard conversations about Christianity and Church as well as about the School in the short time I was sat there. One sows, another may reap.