Tag Archives: Joseph

8 January: As it was.

It has to be as it was,
Of course I didn't understand!
It has to be as it was,
Well, almost:
Dark, cold, restless, waiting 
And lonely.

It has to do with loneliness,
And I am rarely lonely.
But, yes, 
It has to be as it was ...
Waiting, cold,
Dark in my warm, well lighted room.

That's not as it was,
No renaissance nativity,
No Christmas card crib,
Just loneliness and the need for warmth and preparation.
Wondering what tomorrow might bring,
Stars and rest and the smell and placid breath
Of animals.

But shelter,
That's as it was!
                                                                                                        Sheila Billingsley.

'Dark in my warm, well lighted room'. Who has not felt that way? How many will be feeling that way this Christmas, how many more are without even the warm, well-lighted room? Let us pray for all who are exiled and homeless this Christmas time, and support those who are organising shelter for them. Our first photograph was taken by volunteers seeking out homeless people on the streets of Canterbury, in order to offer shelter.
Winter and warm, well lighted rooms.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent and Christmas, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Mission, PLaces, poetry


O key of David – how often do we think of the freedom our house keys give us?

Here are the ‘O Antiphons’ shared by Fr Valentine Erhanon, and below, his homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent. Fr Valentine is the parish priest of Saints Simon and Jude, Streatham Hill, London.

Saturday December 17
O Sapientia [O Wisdom]
O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!

Sunday December 18
O Adonai [O Lord and Ruler]
O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

Monday December 19
O Radix Jesse [O Root of Jesse]
O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

Tuesday December 20
O Clavis David [O Key of David]
O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!

Wednesday December 21
O Oriens [O Rising Dawn or Morning Star]
O Radiant Dawn, splendour of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Thursday December 22
O Rex Gentium [O King of the Nations]
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

Friday December 23 – Mass at 9am
O Emmanuel
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!

Homily for the Third Week of Advent,

17/18 December 2022 by Father Valentine Erhahon

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 23 (24); Second Reading: Romans: 1:1-7; Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

Finally, what is going to happen …

For the past four weeks, we have starved ourselves from saying/singing the Gloria at Mass. Over two billion Catholics have
deliberately deprived themselves of singing those words of the Angels that we hear at Mass every time and have gotten so
used to. The intensity of this abstinence is growing in our hearts. We are longing, yearning and waiting to sing the Gloria for
the very first time on Christmas Eve, on the 24th of December, first at the Children’s Mass at 5.30 pm and then at the Solemn
Mass at 10 pm.

We will join millions of other Catholic Churches from Shanghai to Abu Dhabi from Panama to Benin City; from Kansas to
Kerala, from every part of the continent right to London, to Streatham Hill, anywhere the Catholic Church is: in chapels in
villages, in palaces, and cities, in small towns, in grand cathedrals or humble churches, on this most solemn of nights, the
Gloria, the Glory to God in the Highest will resound – in our Churches. What great joy! As tradition demands, all the Altar
Servers will ring all our bells, as we cry out joyfully to God in the Gloria. One by one, our Altar Servers will light the six ancient
candles you have been looking at in the sanctuary wondering when they would be lit. Read Revelation 1:12ff to discover the
significance of these candles. You will notice in the book of Revelation there are Seven candlesticks – look out of the last one
on the sanctuary: He is the word of God and the light that shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
(John 1:5.)

Our two parish Angels: Cherubim and Seraphim, have now left their station where you normally see them guarding the Holy
of Holies in our Tabernacle. They too have come down to welcome the arrival of the Godchild and keep guard next to Him.
You will also notice that in our lectern the four creatures in Revelation 4: 6-8 are now displayed: each representing the four
gospels: Matthew: the winged man; Mark: the Lion; Luke: the Ox; John: the Eagle.

You will also notice that we have brought out the Joseph’s baby wooden chair, made for the Word of God; and on it: our
newborn King – the Word of God – will seat on it – in his manger on Christmas Eve: O Come, Let us Adore Him Christ the Lord.
The Book of the Gospel is already opened in Joseph’s baby wooden chair to the very page of the Gospel of the night.
Before then, of course, we have the first of the three Great Processions of the night, with the ancient chant that recounts the
history of our salvation – informing us of how in the fullness of time, God himself decided to intervene in human history by
bringing forth his son, born of a woman to save us. Next will be the second Great Procession where the infant King will come
into his Church. I will not put into words what this would feel like because it will lose the value of its significance and
meaning. It is meant to be experienced. The Third procession of course will be at the end of Mass when with lit candles we
will make our procession to the Nativity Grotto. Arriving at His Grotto on this most Solemn and Holy night, which many on
Streatham Hill have been visiting each day, I will bless the Grotto – the Stable – the Manger and our Lord and God will spend
the night in his stable in the cold. On Christmas Day, He will return to the Church – where we will adore Him and celebrate His

Every day from Christmas Eve until the end of Christmastide, our Lord will stay in His Grotto facing the streets
of Hillside road, giving hope to all. During Mass, He will return to His Church to bless us. We remember though: that while our
Grotto may look nice and pretty, Jesus will be sleeping in the cold like many homeless people. Instead of being in a hospital
bed or a nice room, he will smell animals, straws and hay on his first night in this world as a baby. There is no warmth in the
manger, no proper safety from harm or infection. We remember when they arrived in Bethlehem for the census, Mary and
Joseph could not find a home to rent. No one could let them into their home. We remember, in pain, hardship and poverty,
our God came into the world to save us, but no one opened their door to the Holy Family. Would we have let Mary and Jesus
into our homes that night for Jesus to be born in our home? Do we let him into our hearts today? Do we have time for Jesus?
Do we allow Jesus into our thinking process and our decision-making in our personal and daily lives? Or like he first
experienced on the night of his birth, we have closed the door and have no space in our lives to accommodate him, so we
send him away out, back into the cold because our lives are full of ourselves; we are distracted; conflicted; unable to commit.
I will come back to this discussion in my homily on Christmas Eve when we will see all those who make up Jesus’s ancestry.

For now, we begin our last countdown to Christmas with the 0 Antiphons. To prepare for Christmas in a few day’s time: today – one by one, the Altar Servers, and then the children will place their Roses of Thanksgiving in the manger to thank Saint Joseph for doing the will of God, by taking Mary into his homes. Today our Mother Mary is heavily pregnant, she is on a donkey with Joseph who is protecting and looking after her; it is cold and windy outside. Today they are approaching Bethlehem. Join them on this procession of doing God’s will, and go behind them to offer them support. Walk with them. Together as a parish community, we are going to Bethlehem to adore the Infant King on Christmas Eve and to present our very self as a present to him for his birthday so that he can transform us to become truly like him in the Great exchange of Gifts on Christmas Day – between God and humans, between Love and love.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent and Christmas, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', Mission, PLaces

2 February: Jesus comes to his Temple.

Simeon comes to greet the Holy Family

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of baby Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, and traditionally the last day of Christmas. It is also known as Candlemas, because candles are lit during the Scripture readings at Mass and sometimes there is a procession with the candles. Here is the Church of England collect for the day. ‘Substance of our flesh’: in other words Jesus was a real human being, not a pretend body inhabited by an angel. Like us in all things but sin.

Almighty and ever-living God, 
clothed in majesty, 
whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple, 
in substance of our flesh: 
grant that we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts, 
by your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you, 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, 
now and for ever. AMEN

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent and Christmas, Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Mission

3 January: Where eternity begins.

The present moment terminates our sight; 
Clouds thick as those on doomsday, drown the next; 
We penetrate, we prophesy in vain. 
Time is dealt out by particles; and each, 
Ere mingled with the streaming sands of life, 
By fate’s inviolable oath is sworn  
Deep silence, “where eternity begins.” 
By nature’s law, what may be, may be now; 
There’s no prerogative in human hours. 
In human hearts what bolder thought can rise, 
Than man’s presumption on to-morrow’s dawn! 
Where is to-morrow? In another world. 

From Night Thoughts by Edward Young.

Tomorrow is in another world. One man who saw the dawn of the new world was Simeon, who met the Holy Family in Jerusalem’s Temple.

He had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he also took him into his arms, and blessed God, and said:

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Luke 2:29-32.

And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.

Luke 2:34.

It was never going to be all sweetness and sleigh-bells, but there were those who were given a broader vision, including:

Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was far advanced in years, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years; who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day. Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord; and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel.

Luke 2:36-39.

As latter-day gentiles, let us pray that our eyes and hearts may see and recognise Jesus in the child next door and the cold infant in Syria or Belarus, as well as in our own family members.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent and Christmas, Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces, poetry

26 December: Venite, Adoremus

A Welsh shepherd on horseback

Another poem from Father Andrew. We won’t be able to press through the church doors this year, but still, every soul should be a shrine for God’s Eternal Son. We can all light a candle upon the altar that is our family dining table.

‘Come along, shepherds,’ the Angels cried,
‘Come along, every one!
For great things happen on earth to-night,
And you shall see a wondrous sight –
In bed of straw, on napkin white,
Come down to earth from heaven’s height
God’s own Eternal Son.’

‘Come along, comrades,’ the Shepherds cried,
And quick those men did run,
And in they pressed through the humble door,
And low they knelt on the stable floor,
Where Mary and Joseph, as poor as poor,
In rich contentment did adore
God’s own Eternal Son.

‘Come along, Christians,’ the bells ring out,
‘Ding-a-dong, come along, come along!’
For round the Altar tapers shine,
Where waits our Saviour, yours and mine,
Veiled ‘neath the mystic Bread and Wine,
And every soul should be a shrine
For God’s Eternal Son.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent and Christmas, corona virus, Daily Reflections, winter

A lovely Christmas message

From Amsterdam.

Andrew is our daughter’s godfather, and he has kindly sent us this link to a Christmas message from Bishop Curry in the US, suggesting the title we’ve given it. Enjoy the short video and have a joyful Christmas wherever you may be.


Leave a comment

Filed under Advent and Christmas, corona virus

November 13: Jesus Beyond Dogma II: xiii – ‘Resurrection is the affirmation of a life fully lived.’


He is risen!


Little by little, slowly and gradually, the process of dis-covery [uncovering] is worked out to the subversion of the persecutors when the innocence of the victim becomes more and more evident: Joseph, Job, and Songs of Suffering Servant in Isaiah – when God is distinguished from the violence of the gods, and clearly on the side of the victim.

This is the genius of Judaism, having nothing equivalent elsewhere. This is what we call Revelation, God’s self-revelation by means of the innocent victim. We never reach the full revelation of this in the Old Testament, nor a full revelation of the innocence of the victim, nor a separation of God from involvement in the sacred self-deceiving violence. Such fullness occurs only in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

If we diminish the significance of Jesus’ death are we not undermining the very essence of the Resurrection? If we honour, as did Jesus, the primary role of the Kingdom, life radically lived to the full, then resurrection is not so much about the vindication of his death as about the affirmation of life fully lived. Resurrection belongs to life rather than death, an affirmation and celebration of what fully alive means.

Following Jesus has become synonymous with belonging to a denomination, and inevitably came to see Jesus as a ruling Lord – with scant reference to the freedom and empowerment of the powerless which is his hallmark. By the time of Emperor Constantine the Kingdom of God was clothed in the imperial system of Rome. Whereas the freedom Jesus brought would happen not by intervention from above but by empowerment from the ground up. The one and only time Jesus approved of them calling him king was when he chose to ride on a donkey – he embraced kingship but turned it on its head.


Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections