Welcome to St Austin's Catholic Parish, Stafford
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0121 230 6240. If you would like to speak to someone independent of the Church you can contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.
Please pray with us for all victims of abuse, and for all those involved in the work of this important Inquiry.
The recent Pastoral Letter on this matter can be found on the Archdiocese website
Listen to this Sunday's Gospel reading by visiting the website www.sundaygospel.co.uk.
5th Sunday Of Easter
The words ‘ being in transition’ can be applied to multiple situations. We hear it used in association with life-threatening illnesses, with recovery and rehabilitation programmes and, more recently, with what is entitled gender re-assignment. However, a more basic being ‘in transition’ is common to every human being, without exception.
Our common and basic being ‘in transition’ happens at our conception. From that moment, for however long we are humanly alive, be it long or short, we can be described as being in ‘a state of transition’. The fertilization of the female’s egg by a male sperm begins, for each of us, an earthly unending process of cell multiplication and development.
Anonymous editors, long ago, selected the Scriptural excerpts we hear at Mass. In making their choice of a Gospel for this 5th Sunday of Easter (John 13: 31-33,34-35) it is a pity that they did not include verse 30:
“30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. Night had fallen.”
John’s inclusion of those three words: “Night had fallen” is telling. They set the tone for all that is to befall Jesus in the coming forty-eight hours. The transition from day to night in that hemisphere is not a protracted as it is, for example, during summer in the UK. In Palestine, the period we know as ‘dusk’ is brief.
Up to this point, in John’s Gospel, Jesus had been the initiator of all his outreach in word and action. John’s phrase: “Night had fallen” signifies Jesus’ behavioural transition from active to passive. From this point, Jesus neither initiated nor proposed anything. He embraced, totally, the will of his heavenly Father understanding the suffering that this would entail
Jesus transitioned from theory into practice in his post Last Supper prayer-vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was a decision to which he had long been committed but, as we well know, the enactment of promises made does not always follow without a struggle.
Cancer we know to be a generic name for a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Cancer’s spiritual equivalent is sin. It invades the imagination, desire, heart and will. Unless checked by our firmness of decision and bold petitioning for God’s grace, it will spread with amazing and spiritually-disabling rapidity.
Medical opinion believes that the early detection of the disease of cancer is the best way of successfully overcoming it. Spiritual opinion supports the belief that the early identification and treatment of sin is essential if we are not to be overcome by it. The spiritual remedy is frequent use of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist together with prayer and acts of self-denial that may allow for greater alms-giving.
John’s Gospel recalls for us Jesus’ new Commandment:
“Love one another.
As I have loved you,
so you also should love one another.”
The commandment to love was not new. What was new was Jesus’ definition of how to love, namely, “As I have loved you.”
Jesus’ new definition of the mutual love his disciples were to show one another called them, and now calls us, to a transition beyond anything previously known. Humankind had previously never experienced God’s love as it was manifested by the Son of God-made-Man. When Jesus spoke those words at the Last Supper table he was just hours away from allowing them to be enacted. That the disciples lacked understanding of the significance of Jesus’ words was shown by Peter, James and John falling asleep in the garden of Gethsemane, while Jesus sweated blood just yards away from them.
Hearing Jesus’ words to his apostles today must surely challenge us to wonder whether we, too, are guilty of ‘sleeping on the job’? Have we succumbed to a reality-numbing not entirely benign form of spiritual cancer (sin) that has halted, or at least, interrupted our spiritual transitioning into becoming holy? For it is the holiness of God to which we are called, both by our creation as well as by our Baptism.
Jesus’ announcement, at the Last Supper, of his ‘new’ commandment was the vital enhancement of God’s original commandment as recorded in the Old Testament’s Book of Deuteronomy chapter 30:
“ 6The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”
“9The Lord will again delight in you … 10if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
“11 Nor is what I am commanding you today too difficult for you or beyond your reach.12 … 14 No, The Word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”
In today’s Second Reading (Rev.21:1-5) John foresaw “a new heaven and a new earth”. We are presently ‘in transition’ to this new heaven and new earth. It is vital for us, as the Baptised, to remember at all times that we are called to live, evidentially, our Christian commitment.