Welcome to St Austin's Catholic Parish, Stafford
If you would like to speak to someone about safeguarding and the Church’s work, please call
0121 230 6240. If you would like to speak to someone independent of the Church you can contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.
Message from Archbishop Bernard Longley:
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published its report on the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
We apologise to all victims and survivors of child sex abuse. We hope that with this Inquiry they feel that they have been listened to. Even so, words are not enough.
We are committed to continuing to improve our safeguarding procedures and to listen to and learn from victims and survivors. Past failings must never happen again. The diocesan response to the report can be found at
If you have a safeguarding matter to report please contact the Archdiocese safeguarding team on 0121 230 6240 or via email: email@example.com
Listen to this Sunday's Gospel reading by visiting the website www.sundaygospel.co.uk.
Based on the gospel for Sunday 5 January - Matthew 2:1-12
“Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.”
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Disarming of Evil
“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy…”, God said to Moses.
These are attention-arresting and challenging words. They introduce our First Reading for this 7th Sunday from the Book of Leviticus (19:1-2,17-18) which dates back to the period 538 to 332 BC.
The urgent import of its message, far from being dimmed by repetition over the passage of time, is now ever more pressing. Choosing an extract from the Jewish Bible to open our Christian celebration of God’s Word also reminds us that our Baptism has incorporated us into the ‘whole community of Israel’ to whom God’s imperative command is addressed.
Each person born into this world faces an inescapable lifelong embattlement. Concomitant with the struggle of birth, infant viability and adult life, God calls us to reclaim the holiness with which He had endowed us, together with his image and likeness. That holiness was damaged by our forebears when they chose to listen to the Evil One. The poet Wendell Berry, born in 1934, wrote: “There are no un-sacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” Adapting his words, we can say: There are no un-sacred persons; there are only sacred persons and desecrated persons. God’s revealed purpose is the re-consecration of desecrated persons.
The Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8 and Luke 9:28–36), commemorated annually on August 6th, is perhaps mistakenly thought of as a single event. Jesus prayed frequently to his heavenly Father without the apostles presence. On those intimate occasions, Jesus could have experienced transfiguration. Could the inclusion of one such occasion in the Gospels be to teach us that, through our transfiguration, Evil can be disarmed?
Do you recall any reference, when celebrating Jesus’ Transfiguration on August 6th, to the Baptised’s ongoing pilgrimage of transfiguration? For, by virtue of our Baptism, we are engaged upon a daily and lifelong battle to reclaim the innate holiness with which we were gifted, through the power of the Spirit. The battleground of this transfiguring reclamation is the cutting edge of life here on earth where God and Satan are conflicted.
In recent months, the media has featured remembrances of World wars, each with their dates of commencement and termination. On this earth, the war with Evil is ceaseless. The media often tags particularly horrific acts of death and injury with the word ‘Evil’, as if they are one-offs. Whereas, these horrific outbursts of evil are but momentary glimpses of the continuous battle Satan wages here, for this is his kingdom (1 John 5:19), against God’s elect.
At our Baptism, after the water was poured on our foreheads and the words were spoken, each of us was anointed on the crown of our head with the holy Oil of Chrism. The accompanying prayer has these words:
“God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin and given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the Chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.”
The words “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of His body” tell us that the grace of Baptism enables our continuing transfiguration, if we willingly collaborate with the Holy Spirit. We share in Christ’s Priesthood by the daily offering we make of our self, as we live our vocation be it as spouse, parent, refuse collector, teacher etc, on behalf of humanity. We share in Christ’s Prophetical role by speaking the Truth, as taught by Jesus, to all people irrespective of the consequences. We share in Christ’s Kingly role by our commitment to servant-leadership both within our community and in wider society.
Jesus was engaged in bringing about our redemption from his conception to his last breath, thirty something years later. The Baptised are called to unite with Jesus, in a process of continuous transfiguration, for the salvation of humanity. Jesus’ battles with Satan, referenced throughout the Gospels for example in Luke (4:1-13), are to show us that we should expect nothing less.
Each new day calls us, as the Baptised, to renew, in our heart and soul, our deliberate choice to live these charisms of Christ, Priest, Prophet and King, in union with the Holy Spirit. As with Christ, the first pilgrim on this path of human transfiguration, we have no need of uniform or emblems. Neither have we need of ranks of superiority, for all are equal in the sight of God. As has been painfully shown in the history of the Church, both historical and contemporary, the true embracing of holiness has little to do with religious garb, clerical collars or episcopal mitres.
This Sunday’s Second Reading is an extract from St. Paul’s first letter to his Corinthian converts (3: 16ff.) in which he wrote:
“Brothers and sisters,
You are God’s building…. Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”
The Incarnation of Jesus brought the holiness of God to desecrated human nature that, of itself, had no means of transfiguration. Like those first apostles and disciples, we too have to learn, through innumerable and costly mistakes, how to surrender our sinfulness to the One who:
“will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of His glorious body. He will do that by the same power with which He can subdue the whole universe.” (Philippians 3:21)
Individually, we are infinitesimally small in the great order of things. Nevertheless, we are individually important in God our Father’s mosaic of Life that is eternal.