Father Philip Writes...
At the beginning of February we celebrate Candlemass – the day Simeon proclaimed Jesus as the Light of the World. All Christians have a directive from Jesus, who said, “You are the light of the world. No-one, after lighting a lamp, puts it under a bushel-basket, but on a lampstand and it gives light to the whole house.” (Matthew 5 v 14-15)
I recently spent a day off in Norwich and was appalled to see how many people were sleeping rough. I received the newsletter from St Martin’s Housing Trust in Norwich (i.e. the Night Shelter) that we support at Harvest and I quote from James’ story:
While I was sleeping rough I discovered just how judgmental and downright horrible other human beings could be. I have been thrown up on, urinated on, spat on, called names and had all my worldly goods stolen… it makes you feel you are worthless and there is no point in your existence.”
Henry van Dyke wrote a story, first published in 1895 and retold in many different formats since, called ‘The Story of the Other Wise Man’. It was about an imaginary 4th Wise Man (accepting the tradition that they numbered three).
As Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25 v 40)……..
May we all be lights for Jesus Christ.
So often the only thing people seem to know about Lent is ‘giving up something’ without knowing why. The story is told of a priest returning one evening to his Rectory in the dark. He was accosted by a robber who pulled out a gun, pointed it at him and demanded, “Your money or your life!” As the priest reached his hand into his coat pocket, the robber saw his clerical collar and said, “So you’re a priest? Then you can go.”
The priest was rather surprised at this unexpected show of piety and so tried to reciprocate by offering the robber his packet of cigarettes, but the robber replied, “No, Father, I’ve given up smoking for Lent!”
The robber was trying to keep an outward show of not smoking in Lent whilst forgetting the far more fundamental commandment not to steal.
Lent should not be a miserable time. It invites me to ask: How enthusiastically do I follow Jesus? Where does my enthusiasm come from? and What keeps my enthusiasm going? Let us all embrace these challenges wholeheartedly.