Stepping out of our Church - A walk for the mission of the Church

As the disciples were sent out into the world, so are we, particularly in this year of mission. This Palm Sunday weekend Deacon John is on a mission, walking between all our parishes in communion, to demonstrate in a physical way that we are one community with a mission to bring Christ out of the church and into the world. Along the way there will be services of Morning Prayer and the Stations of the Cross as well as Sunday Mass. You can also join John and walk the last 5 miles between St Augustine’s and Our Lady of Lourdes from 2pm on Sunday afternoon.

The route can be found here:

You can help by sponsoring John, not with money, but with your prayer and actions, turn over for ideas of thing you could do.

Start Time
11am Sat 24th March
St John Fisher
Morning Prayer
2:30pm Sat 24th March
St Pauls
Stations of the Cross
5pm Sat 24th March
St Laurence
6am Sun 25th March
St Laurence
Morning Prayer
9:30am Sun 25th March
St Augustine’s
1:30pm Sun 25th March
St Augustine’s
Stations of the Cross
2pm Sun 25th March
Walk St Augustine’s to Our Lady of Lourdes
Join Deacon john for a 5 mile walk
5pm Sun 25th March
Our Lady of Lourdes
Stations of the Cross
6pm Sun 25th March
Our Lady of Lourdes

In this year of mission I am going to sponsor Deacon John by:

I am going to pray for:
  •            for the sick
  •            the homeless
  •            refugees
  •            those in power our leaders and bankers
  •            those in prison
  •            people trapped in modern slavery
  •            my friend, colleagues and family

I am going to invite a friend to Church
I am going talk to colleagues about Easter
I am going to come out on the soup run or volunteer to prepare food
I am going to drop something in a food bank box
I am going to write to my MP about something that matters in my faith
I am going to get to know my neighbours
I am going to learn more about my faith
I am going to find out about and maybe join groups in a community like the UCM, Catenians, SVP, Not so Young, Justice and Peace, etc
Something else:

Homily – 2018 (2015 & 2012) Year B – 6th Sunday Ordinary Time

This morning was quite emotional as I added to the end of this homily the experiences on the Soup Run last night. It's the first time I have seen people cry at the homily.

Audio now added, the whole thing is about 10 mins long, the last 2 minutes are not typed up below but added spur of the moment. The image of a lepar being beaten of with a strick just resonated so much with the man I met on the soup run the previous night I had to add it.
God Bless, J on 12th Feb 2012

Sunday 12 Feb 2018 - Homily on 6th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm 31: 1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Mark 1:40-45

[All these readings can be found at for the next few weeks. Remember to scroll down for the readings of the day.]

Leviticus is a fascinating book, it can also be tedious and dull. Today we get to hear a little of both. If you followed today's reading in the missal or looked in detail at the bulletin you will find that there are 42 verses skipped in our old testament reading. These verses go into considerable detail on identifying skin diseases, burns, spots and even baldness. The next few verses go on to describe in similar detail how to identify mould and rot in clothing and fabric. It's a great insight for us to the way the Jewish people looked after themselves.

Contagious diseases could have a horrible effect on a people living closely together. They didn't have our level of medical care and quarantine was there only way of controlling the situation.

Closely woven into the thinking of the people of 2-6 thousand years ago was the connection between illness and sin. It wasn't directly stated that if you were ill you were being punished by God for your sins, in fact the story of Job tell us that they are not connected, but people often thought they were.

When you add the loneliness of quarantine to the spiritual loneliness of being punished by God you can imagine how bad it was for someone developing leprosy and being sent to live apart from their friends and family. Also add to that the pain and debilitating effect of leprosy and you have a situation that no person should ever have to endure.

It is a man in this situation we meet at the start of the gospel reading. He however is not keeping his distance and is not covering his mouth and shouting “Unclean! Unclean!” The normal reaction would be for the person he approached to beat him away with a stick. The leap of faith he is taking is extreme, you can only imagine the level of news and rumour that had reached him about Jesus, that inspired him to such faith.

Next we see an exchange of faith and love that almost brings tears to my eyes. The man steps forward, kneels and says “If you want to you can heal me.” Jesus touches him saying “Of course I want to!” At which point he is healed.

Can you imagine being there and seeing that exchange. If it happened today how long before the world knew about it via twitter. The Six O’Clock news would be showing mobile phone videos of the leprosy melting away. A million people would know within the hour, a billion within the day.

How did Jesus expect the message not to spread. Yet he hoped it wouldn't, he didn't come to become famous, He came to spend time with us, He came to teach us, He came ultimately to save us. The fame in many ways got in his way, towns and villages became so choked with people he couldn't even enter them. He was forced into countryside where people had to come to him.

Today's picture of Christ shows us a gentle man. A caring and loving man. Someone who has time for everyone, who loves everyone. Who loves the leper and outcast just as much as everyone else. Paul takes this picture of Christ as his model. Paul sees Christ as a man who puts others first, who spent his life putting peoples needs before his needs. Paul is convinced this is the way to live and he is teaching by example.

Paul was writing to the Church in Corinth but his letter to that church is as relevant to us today as it was to the Christians 2000 years ago in Corinth. It is easy for us to get upset with other people because of the way they think or act. When we get upset we can get sharp with them, or ignore them. Either way how can we spread the gospel if we push people away from us.

During his early ministry Christ wanted to get close to people, families and communities. He wanted to teach them not only by preaching but by example. The fame surrounding him hampered this and he asked people not to tell of the miracles he performed. That changed on the cross, his mission accomplished, he needed everyone in every time, to know Him, to understand Him and to learn of His message. That's why Christ sent Paul, and that's why Paul sent the Corinthians, and that's why you are sent today.

I have never met anyone with leprosy, but I meet lonely people and sick people all the time. Some I can give practical help to like the homeless we meet on the soup run. Some people I spend time with just listening to them. Some people just simply become friends. I seldom lead with direct Christian teaching, although sometimes when I think it's appropriate I do. Mostly I try and be helpful, I try to care, I try to give them some time. I know I don't always get it right, I can get angry and frustrated with people and I can drive them away. Sometime I am to wrapped up in myself and I don't even notice them or their needs.

I wish I was like Paul, with the faith to say follow my example. I am not, but I do try to follow Paul's example and Christ's example. And that is my challenge to you this week, try to use Paul and Christ as your model. Try not to be offensive to anyone, try to be helpful to everyone. Try put put others, not yourself, first. If they see Christ in you, they can meet him personally, and once they open up to Christ and ask if he wants to help them, you know he is going to step forward with open arms saying “Of course I want to!”

Homily 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time Year A - Remembrance Sunday

Homily (sermon)
Remembrance Sunday

The Readings for the Thirty Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A:
Wisdom 6:12-16, Psalm 62:2-8, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Matthew 25:1-13

Our Gospel message today is simple. We are being told to be ready, to be prepared, to live every day as if it were the day before we meet Jesus our Lord, our Creator and our Judge. We are being told to take all His lessons, all His teaching and apply it every day of our lives. See, it a very simple Gospel today, but it is far from an easy Gospel . We don’t, we can’t live perfect lives. We are human, make mistakes; we are greedy, cruel, lazy and stupid. But we are also, as we are called to be; kind, caring, hardworking and filled, if we ask to be, with the Wisdom of God.

I love our first reading today about Wisdom. We are promised Wisdom will be there when we look for her. We just need to open our eyes and look. To seek her out and she will find us. I’ll come back to our first reading and finish this homily by re-reading it for you because I can think of no better way to remember the fallen of war than by seeking Wisdom, and with that Wisdom maybe finding a way to end all war.

Over the last 4 years I have preached every Remembrance Sunday and I have been shocked and horrified by the scale of the first world war. This year again I looked at what was happening a hundred years ago, and one hundred years ago the First World War battle of Passchendaele was coming to a close. It was fought in Flanders, Belgium between July and November 1917. In his Memoirs of 1938, Lloyd George wrote, "Passchendaele was indeed one of the greatest disasters of the war ... No soldier of any intelligence now defends this senseless campaign ..." It reduced the landscape to a wasteland of mud and devastation. The causality figures for that one battle over only 5 months of a 4 and a half year war were horribly huge. I won’t give you numbers, when they are that large they mean nothing to us. But to put it in the context of our local area:

  • In the first month the causalities were more than double the total population now of Yate, Chipping Sodbury and Kingswood.
  • The lowest estimates of allied causalities would be the same as every man, women and child currently living in Downend.
  • The higher estimates of total causalities from both sides would be about the same as today’s population of Bristol, Bath, Chippenham, Cheltenham and Swindon. That’s almost everyone who lives within the borders of our diocese, everyone.

We have to remember those that died and those that returned.
We have to remember the cost of war, the cost they paid.
We have to think how lucky we are for the peace we enjoy.
We have to pray for the wisdom to not make those mistake again.
We have to live daily lives that honour their sacrifice.
We have to live daily lives that respond to His Sacrifice. His Sacrifice that brings forgiveness for our mistakes and for our sins.
We have to prepare.
We have to be ready.

Wisdom, Chapter 6 verses 12 to 16:

Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.
By those who love her she is readily seen,
and found by those who look for her.
Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself known to them.
Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;
you will find her sitting at your gates.
Even to think about her is understanding fully grown;
be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.
She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
and graciously shows herself to them as they go,
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.
Wisdom 6:12-16



The eleventh hour,
The eleventh day,
The eleventh month,
Tumult paused,
The guns fall silent,
This is Armistice Day,
Two minutes,
Two minutes in busy lives,
Those who gave,
Made the ultimate sacrifice,
And the wounded,
All who served,
For our freedom.
We do not celebrate war,
The barbarian acts,
Man’s cruelty to fellow man,
His greed and self-seeking,
This is a moment of thanksgiving,
To all the brave,
Those who gave their all for us,
The price they gladly paid.
Let it not be in vain,
May we too value life,
All that cost so dear,
Make our lives,
A memorial,
A fitting tribute,
 To valour,
Endeavour and sacrifice.
Patrick R.
November 2009

Homily 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time Year A - Treat them as a Tax Collector

Homily (sermon)
Treat them as a Tax Collector

The Readings for the Twenty Third Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A:
Ezekiel 33:7-9, Psalm 94:1-2,6-9, Romans 13:8-10, Matthew 18:15-20

[All these readings can be found at for the next few weeks. Remember to scroll down for the readings of the day.]

Our Gospel today is a dangerous reading. It’s one I think we can easily misunderstand and one we need to take in context of the whole Gospel message.

On the surface it sounds like we are being told we have four actions to take when wronged by your brother. First, try and sort it out person to person, then if that fails to bring some friends to help sort it out, next bring it to the community and finally, if that doesn’t work, shun them, as they are beyond saving. Does that sound like Christs teaching to you? Well it doesn’t sound like Christs teaching to me! And it’s in total contradiction to Paul’s teaching to the Romans from our second reading.

Let me read you that again just in case you were drifting off during the readings, don’t worry it happens to all of us:
Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.
Paul’s message is nothing new to us, we have heard Christ say the same thing in the gospels so we need to look at today gospel reading with Love.

So if we feel wronged we need to go see our friend with Love in our hearts. In modern terms I guess that mean there should be tea and cake as well as conversation and you should be doing the buying or baking.

If that doesn’t work it may be because it is difficult to hear of a wrong doing from the person who has been wronged, and that is assuming you are correct in thinking you have been wronged. Get some friends, people again who have heard Pauls message and will approach this next meeting with Love in their hearts, Love for you both. Let them lead the conversation it's not about you it’s about what happened and it’s about staying friends, staying brothers.

If that doesn’t work then the church, the Christian community must respond with Love. It must reach out to you and them and endeavour to make things right. Not with rules and regulations, not with courts and committees but again with Love, the one thing that can not hurt your friend.

Finally, if all this fails, you should treat them as a pagan or tax collector. Surely that can’t mean give up on them. Turn our backs on them. So let me ask you a few questions.
How did Jesus treat tax collectors?
Who is the patron saint of Tax collectors?
And what was the profession of Matthew our Gospel writer of today?

Jesus spent a lot of time with Tax collectors, pagans, sinners. He never turned his back on them, he came for them. In fact let’s stop using the word them. He came for us all, you and me are sinners as much as any tax collector. If we are to treat our friend as a tax collector that means inviting them into our home, sharing a meal with them, talking to them, forgiving them.

Matthew, our Gospel writer, is the patron saint of Tax collectors. Matthew was a tax collector in Capernaum when he first met Jesus. Matthew more than anyone, except maybe Zacchaeus, knew how Jesus loved him and how Jesus worked to save him.

Our Gospel message today is that everyone can be saved. Do everything with Love and never give up on someone.