Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
The Solemn Mass next Sunday is our Annual Civic Celebration. Representatives have been invited from all sections of our Local Civic and Public bodies and from many of the institutions and organisations within our local region. It is an opportunity for us to offer mass and pray for our City and Communities within our Diocesan area and also to pray for all who serve us in public office. The ceremonial procession this year will be a much simpler affair with just one procession led by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and the lord Lieutenant. All are welcome to come for light refreshment in the Pontifical Hall of the Crypt at the end of mass. Our Civic Mass is always the weekend before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent – I’m not sure how long a tradition this has been and if it is intentional but in the space of a few days we move from processions and civic finery to being urged to put on sackcloth and ashes. I find the sudden contrast helps to focus attention on Lent with the added call to serve our neighbour fresh in our minds from the civic celebration.
At first sight the Gospel today seems to include a series of almost impossible teachings in this group of sayings following the Beatitudes in St Luke’s Gospel. To be compassionate as our Heavenly Father is compassionate. To love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. To forgive when we have been wronged and to lend without any hope of return. One of the most challenging qualities the Lord asks of us is to be reconcilers and to have a forgiving nature. I read this reflection recently on the theme of forgiveness. ‘Forgiveness is hard because it involves loving other people in spite of the evil they have done to us. When we forgive we don’t deny the hurt they have done to us. We don’t deny it was wrong. We don’t pretend nothing happened. But we acknowledge there is more to the offender than the offense. It is that ‘more’ that we acknowledge when we forgive. It is that ‘more’ that we love in spite of the offense.’ The Lord promises us that the amount we measure out is the amount we will be given back and so much more besides because we are called to reflect something of the generous and merciful nature of God who is merciful and forgiving to us.
We had been battening down the hatches in preparation for storm Eunice but thankfully the wind doesn’t seem to have affected the North West to the same extent as the southern parts of the country. The down side to this is the strong heavy rain as we are still plagued by ingress of water in parts of the building – so it is off with the crash helmet and on with the waterproofs.
Canon Anthony O’Brien,