Looking through the new Diocesan Directory for this year I noticed that every one of our Bishops living within the Archdiocese has a significant anniversary this year – which must be something of a unique record. Cardinal Michael begins the year celebrating 30 years as a Bishop this month. Archbishop Kelly, now happily retired in St Marie’s parish in Southport is next in line celebrating 60 years of ordination as a priest next month. Later in May both our Auxiliary Bishops celebrate anniversaries. Bishop Tom Williams celebrates 50 years of priestly ordination which took place within our Cathedral. Bishop Tom Neylon celebrates forty years, having been ordained by Saint John Paul II at Heaton Park in Manchester when he visited this country. Finally in June Bishop John Rawsthorne, retired Bishop of Hallam and now parish priest in Widnes celebrates 60 years ordination as a priest. Then last but not least Archbishop Malcolm celebrates his Fortieth Anniversary of ordination as a Priest. It promises to be a Jubilee year within the Diocese, mind you Her Majesty the Queen can boast a more senior anniversary than any of these.
This coming week we begin the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity beginning on 19th January and concluding on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul on 25th January. We celebrate a Joint Cathedrals Evening prayer here next Sunday at 3pm with both our Cathedral Choirs and Clergy. The guest preacher at this Service will be Sir Mark Hedley.
This Sunday is set aside as a Day of Prayer for Peace in the World.
Reflection; Christ’s coming disturbs the ways of the world. He comes in humility, denouncing the evil of injustice and oppression that accompanies the ambition for power, wealth and status. Jesus calls for a change of heart and a transformation of life, which will bring liberation from all that dehumanises. This creates disturbance precisely because he rocks the boat of those who seek only their own interests and neglect the common good. But for those who work for peace and unity, Christ’s coming brings the light of hope.
We are invited to commit ourselves to act constructively to make justice a reality, acknowledging where we have strayed from God’s ways of justice and peace. Then the answer to our prayer for Christian unity becomes visible as others recognise in us Christ’s presence in the world. We can bring the light of hope to those living in the darkness of political unrest, social poverty, and structural discrimination. The Good News is that God is faithful, always strengthening and protecting us, inspiring us to work for the good of others, especially the victims of oppression, hatred, violence and pain.
Lord, you led us out of darkness to hope in Jesus.
Unite us in our commitment to establish your reign of love, justice and peace,
bringing light to those living in the darkness of despair and disillusionment.
Shine your light upon us and surround us with the warmth of your love.
Lift us up to you, so that our lives may glorify you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Canon Anthony O’Brien