The posters erected around Nottingham City Centre urging
people not to give to beggars is quite concerning. Is poverty so abhorrent that it is to be
brushed out altogether from our streets?
Is it really appropriate to punish the poor and homeless even more by encouraging
the public to refrain from giving them a few pounds that we are able to spare? One
of the posters features a man smoking and urges people not to "watch your
money go up in smoke".
It would be fair to say that there may be some beggars who
are not necessarily homeless or financially unsound.
As we journey with Christ through his Passion and
Crucifixion it is worth bearing in mind some of the little things we as human
beings are drawn to but that are contrary to God’s desire for our lives.
The intolerable pain and suffering taken on by Jesus as he
was abused, spat upon, mocked, and beaten is something we must all think about
over these next few days. Having large
nails driven into your hands and feet and being attached to a cross is
something we simply can’t imagine.
Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion was not some kind of crazy
act designed to impress.
In today’s Gospel we hear about the washing of the apostles’
feet by Jesus. Peter was very resistant
to this as it seemed completely absurd to have Jesus do such a thing. This was, after all, God made man, the
Saviour of the world! It should surely
be the other way round would have been Peter’s thinking.
Yet Jesus makes it clear that this is something he must
do. Firstly, he makes it clear that “unless
I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” This is a clear link to our Baptism and its
fundamental importance in our salvation.
From today’s Gospel:
‘Simon Peter said, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus
replied, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now; you will follow me later.’
Peter said to him, ‘Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for
you.’ ‘Lay down your life for me?’ answered Jesus. ‘I tell you most solemnly,
before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’’
This small passage from today’s Gospel follows on nicely
from our reflection on yesterday’s Gospel when we compared the simple love Mary
had for Jesus in needing to be close to him with Martha’s need to be on the go.
Today’s Gospel: (John 12: 1-11)
before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom he had
raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there; Martha waited on them
and Lazarus was among those at table. Mary brought in a pound of very costly
ointment, pure nard, and with it anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with
her hair; the house was full of the scent of the ointment. Then Judas
Iscariot – one of his disciples, the man who was to betray him – said,
‘Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given
to the poor?
As we embark on another Holy Week we cast our hearts and minds back to Christ's persecution at the hands of his executioners. Jesus' Passion was a horrific and exhausting episode filled with hate, violence, abuse, blood and gore. All directed at one person.
The culmination of this hatred and violence was death on a cross. Left to hang in shame, to be gawped at by the very people he loved and was sent to save.
But thankfully, this death on a cross was not the end.
Comic Relief and its spin off Sport Relief certainly do get the nation’s
charitable juices flowing at this time of year.
It also causes much debate among Catholics as to whether or not we
should be contributing to such a charity and allowing our schools and children
to participate in the fund raising frenzy.
It seems that every year we face the same dilemma, yet the goalposts
haven’t moved for years. Comic Relief (and
Sport Relief) is a charity that gives great cause for concern when it comes to
Gospel (John 8:1-11):
to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all
the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been
caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of
everybody, they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act
of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women
like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?
It was refreshing to see the House of Commons reject further
relaxation of Sunday trading laws in England and Wales. The government had hoped to allow councils to
extend opening hours on a Sunday, but it was defeated by 317 votes to 286. As a result, Sunday trading laws will remain
as they are.
While the main thrust of the vote against relaxing the laws
was undoubtedly down to protecting employees’ rights to time off on a Sunday
rather than observance of the Lord’s Day, there is clearly an inclination among
many of our politicians to give special credence to a Sunday.
A Pew Research study into Christianity in Latin America has
revealed some worrying differences between Catholics and Protestants in the way
that they practice and live out their Christian faith. Latin America is a significantly Christian
region with 69% of the population identifying as Catholic, 19% as Protestant,
and 9% as unaffiliated. The region has,
however, witnessed a fairly large number of conversions from Catholicism to
Protestantism in recent years.
A link to the study can be found at the bottom of this page.