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Papal Visit 2010

Reflecting on the 2010 Papal Visit
Never give up on God, because he has never given up on you (Deacon Steve Pickard)

I Exodus 17:8-13 (As long as Mosses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage)
Psalm 120 (Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth)
Paul to Timothy 3:14-4:2 (The man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work)
Gospel Luke: 18:1-8 (God will see Justice done to his chosen who cry to him)

Never give up on God, because he has never given up on you!
I’m sure that all of us have, at some time or other, have been very aware of how often little children, and some adults too, ‘throw a wobbly’ when they don’t get what they want, and want it immediately?  The parents have to ‘calm them down’, to be patient; but sometimes the little voices continue; ‘Can I? Can I? Can I? Oh! Please? ……..; and then we ‘cave in’; well maybe sometimes.

Now you might call that ‘Pester Power’?

When we pray we are inclined to give up if God does not seem to answer our prayer immediately. We live in an ‘immediate, a now’ society that expects instantaneous responses.

Being patient and waiting is not very ‘cool’ these days, especially when all there may seem to be is a great silence: But being patient in prayer, being patient and persevering, never giving up on our faith is what Jesus calls us to do. It is in this vein that Jesus urges his disciples / us, to pray continually and never loose heart.
The reading from Exodus presents a somewhat bizarre scene of Mosses with his arms raised up high, supported on either side by Aaron and Hur, to ensure success in battle for the Israelites – Oh! How his arms must have ached, but he never gave up until sunset and the battle was won! If you have ever painted a large ceiling with a brush, you will know what I mean – your arms just want to drop off.

The persistent widow in Luke’s Gospel had no where else to go, no where else to turn to, no real status in society, but she kept on pestering the unscrupulous Judge until she finally received justice from him: She just never gave up.

The stories that Scripture speaks to us today of determination in prayer and faith, were mirrored very well over the remarkable period of Pope Benedict’s State visit to the U.K. during which he beatified John Henry Newman. If you haven’t already, take the time to ‘read up’ on some of Newman’s writings. Please give his ‘old English style of writing’ a serious go!

Newman struggled greatly with faith issues, by leaving the established church of England to become one of the greatest visionaries of the Roman Catholic Church in England, and also for Europe. He never gave up, despite the odds both Churches stacked against him: Like Mosses, how John Henry Newman must have ached?

Never give up on Jesus, because he has never given up on you!

The Holy Father’s visit was preceded by a litany of almost despair and criticism that foresaw nothing but low turnouts, pre-arranged protests and a cool reception which would not be overcome. This was not going to be the ‘rock-and-role’ visit of 1982 when Pope John Paul II visited England!

Nothing could better illustrate the turnaround than the headline of the News of the World, of all papers, on the final day of his four day visit – “The People’s Pope”! We have received a Masterclass from him in how to address a somewhat worried Church and what was perceived to be, a very sceptical and anti-religious nation.
Of the 18 separate addresses that Pope Benedict gave during his visit, we heard and saw a very rich compendium from a spiritual leader who is probably the greatest ‘teaching’ Pope of modern times. The spirit of his visit was also captured by our Prime Minister, David Cameron, on saying good-bye to our Pope, “You really challenged the whole country to sit up and think, and that can only be a good thing”!

Indeed, the Masterclass is now over, but Pope Benedict did set us some homework to do! And that is what is now been coined, ‘the Benedict Bounce’, urging us all to persivere, pray continually, and never give up on the gift of faith that has been given to us by God.

I was lucky enough to be at Westminster Cathedral on the Saturday morning of his visit, and to see and hear the heartfelt cheers of our young people as he came out onto the piazza after Mass to greet them. There was even a placard which read, “Welcome to our German Shepherd”! And then, one of the most inspiring moments for me as the Pope was greeted by young Pascal Uche, a 21 year old student at Nottingham University, as representitive of all the youth in Great Brittain, and who addressed him with great exuberance:-
"Holy Father, for many of us before today you were a face on television or a picture in a church. But today we behold you face to face, and on behalf of the Catholic youth of this great nation I would like to express my profound and heartfelt gratitude for your visit”. He also said a great deal more!

In his response, the Pope addressed Pascal / the young people directly:- Mr Uche/ Pascal, dear young friends, thank you for your warm welcome! “Heart speaks unto heart”: As you know, I chose these words, so dear to Cardinal Newman, as the theme of my visit. In these few moments that we are together, I wish to speak to you from my own heart, and I ask you to open your hearts to what I have to say. I ask each of you, first and foremost, to look into your own heart. Think of all the love that your heart was made to receive and all the love it is meant to give: After all, we were made to receive love, and we have. This is what the Bible means when it says that we are made in the image and likeness of God: we were made to know the God of love. Every day we should thank God for the love we have already known, for the love that has made us who we are, the love that has shown us what is truly important in life. We need to thank the Lord for the love we have received from our families, our friends, our teachers, and all those people in our lives who have helped us to realize how precious we are, in their eyes and in the eyes of God.

We were also made to give love, to make love the inspiration for all we do and the most enduring thing in our lives. At times this seems so natural, especially when we feel the exhilaration of love, when our hearts brim over with generosity, idealism, the desire to help others, to build a better world. Every day we have to choose to love, and this requires help, the help that comes from Christ, from prayer and from the wisdom found in his word, and from the grace which he bestows on us in the Sacraments.

Pope Benedict concluded, “This is the message I want to share with you today. I ask you to look into your hearts each day to find the source of all true love. Jesus is always there, quietly waiting for us to be still with him and to hear his voice. Deep within your heart, he is calling you to spend time with him in prayer. But this kind of prayer, real prayer, requires discipline; it requires making time for moments of silence every day. Often it means waiting for the Lord to speak. Even amid the “busy-ness” and the stress of our daily lives, we need to make space for silence, because it is in silence that we find God, and in silence that we discover our true self.”
As the Pope finished speaking the young people roared in response, shouting: "We are the faithful."

So, never give up on the God of Love, because he has never given up on us, neither did he on the miners locked in the bowels of the San Jose mine in Chile who continually prayed to God for deliverance
and Deacon St Lawrence, the patron saint of all miners

Homily preached on Sunday, 18 October 2010

Please click on the links below and take some time to look through the pictures and also to read Andrew Grundy's story.

         +  Photos    
         +  Andrew's story

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