Service Times

St George’s, Tubbercurry: 11.30am Sundays

Killoran (Rathbarron): 10.00am Sundays

 

Priest-in-Charge

 

Revd Peter Norman
Hawkswell farm
Banada
Tourlestrane
Co. Sligo
00353 71 9181685

 

 

 

 

From: The Revd. Peter Norman

Sunday 18th October 2020 – Trinity 19

Matthew 22:15-22

St. Luke is said to have been a doctor. His feast day is October 18th though as this is a Sunday his feast day lapses for this year. In a way that’s a pity because at the moment we need all the doctors we can get!

St. Luke was also said to be an artist and certainly he paints some of the most memorable word pictures of all the Gospel writers. It is his account of the birth of Jesus followed by the visit of the shepherds that is the most familiar perhaps of the Christmas stories. He also has the story of the Annunciation when the Archangel Gabriel tells Mary that she is to be the Mother of Jesus; the account of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth who is pregnant with john the Baptist; the Visit to Simeon in the Temple which we remember at Candlemas and the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Like the other Gospel writers, St. Luke draws attention to the healing work of Jesus and perhaps we have in those stories a doctor’s perspective. I wonder what he would have made of the current health emergency caused by the Coronavirus?

Perhaps I should say I wonder what he makes of the situation. To speak of him simply as a past figure would be to ignore the fact that he is a saint and the fact that although he is long dead he lives on in the kingdom of God which we enter by way of the Resurrection of Jesus which he witnessed and wrote about.

Another story which we find in St. Luke’s Gospel is a version of that set for today as written by St. Matthew. It’s a dispute about whether or not to pay taxes. But is widens out to a broader issue of authority and how we respond to it.

Taxes were no more popular in the time of Jesus than they are now – except with those who collected them. But for the Jews it was more than having to just hand over the money.

The tax was paid to the emperor and so it was a constant reminder that their land was occupied by a foreign power. Not only that but taxes had to be paid in Roman coins and on these coins was the head of the emperor surrounded by words describing him as “the son of the god, Augustus”. To the Jews this was idolatry.

Every reason then not to pay the tax. But not to pay it would mark them out as rebels and risk them being arrested and even executed. They had little choice but to be obedient to the law even if they didn’t consider it to be honest. Would Jesus then advise them not to pay the taxes or should they carry on being law abiding citizens, obedient to the law of the land?

Well, Jesus isn’t going to say; he isn’t going to fall into that sort of trap. He isn’t going to open himself up to accusations of inciting rebellion; nor is he going to risk losing the respect that he has amongst ordinary people. So the answer is ambiguous, it could be taken either way.

But does this help when it comes to deciding to whom we are to be obedient? Does it tell us that we should always keep the law whatever the law might happen to say? It gets Jesus out of the trap but does it tell us anything else? Some people have suggested that this a way of telling the church to keep out of politics but it isn’t. What it tells us is how Jesus got himself out of a tricky argument.

However it might help us to think about what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God. It might make us question obedience; what is lawful and whose law we might follow. It might raise questions about what we can honestly be obedient to.

Jesus tells us that we must give to God what belongs to God. And if we believe that all things come from God then we must be obedient to him in all things. It means that we can obey God in all things lawful and honest because all things lawful and honest come from him.

It means that we have a job to do. And that is to know and understand God in such a way that we can begin to decide what is lawful and honest. All authority comes from God – do those who have authority exercise it in the way that God intends?

As the Coronavirus pandemic has continued there have been complaints and challenges aimed at those in authority over the restrictions that we have had to live with. Complaints in some cases that our freedom is being taken away; that our choices are being restricted, our rights compromised.

The Gospel reminds us that our first obedience is to God. And being obedient to God, following his ways means that we regard others as his sons and daughters. It’s about being a community and sometimes for the sake of others we have to have to let go of our so called ‘rights’. Rights bring responsibility – it’s not about me and what I want but what best builds up the kingdom of God on earth.

I am at present required to wear a face mask in certain situations (regardless of whether I like it or not), I have to stay within the county boundary, keep two metres away from others and generally avoid social contacts outside the home. Some might argue that my right to certain freedoms has been taken away and that therefore I don’t have to comply. But do I have the freedom to risk the health and well being of others? Do I not have a responsibility to others which at this time, at least, overrides what might be considered to be ‘my right’?

Whether wearing a face covering in a supermarket is abiding by the law or simply following advice is not the point. Being obedient to God means that we ask ourselves how best we can protect others as well as ourselves. Obedience to those in government we hope and pray will reflect the will of God. When it comes to the pandemic we see certain political leaders in other countries who seem to think they are immune from the virus, shun the use of face coverings and pay little heed to social distancing. In those instances we are right to ask whether we ‘render to Caesar or to God.’

St. Luke, the doctor, from his position in the kingdom of heaven can aid us with his prayers. Those who are doctors on earth need our aid in the fight against this disease. We can all play our part, we can demonstrate what it is to be obedient to God, we can protect others, we can get through this pandemic even if at times we have to give up a little of our freedom for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

These are the prayers that I shall use each Sunday. They will remain on the website with maybe a short addition to reflect the nature of a particular Sunday. They can be used at any time.

After these prayers you’ll find a prayer taken from the Diocesan website and a prayer for a Spiritual Communion.

 

Father, you have called us to be one family with our brothers and sisters throughout the world. May we and all your Church show our love and compassion to all your children in their suffering and need at this time through prayer and acts of kindness.

Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer

Father, you are the source of all authority and wisdom. Give a share of that wisdom and integrity to those who govern us that they may make the right decisions as they seek to keep safe those entrusted to their care. For the Chief Medical Officer and those working with him as they work to keep us safe and well.

Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer

Father we pray for the people of this Diocese, for Patrick our Bishop, and for those in our parishes. For the lonely and the anxious, for all who live alone and feel isolated; for those separated from their family and friends and for those facing financial hardship and an uncertain future.

Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer

Father, your Son suffered pain and agony for our sake and cared so much for those who were sick. And so we pray for those who are sick at this time especially those who suffer as a result of the Coronavirus. We pray for their families and friends – especially those separated because of this disease; those prevented from caring for their loved ones in distress and at the point of death. We pray for those who are bereaved; for those unable to properly mourn and to bury their dead. We pray too for those who are anxious, depressed or afraid.

Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer

Father, you gave so much for our sakes. Be close to those who risk their own lives and well being for the sake of us all. We pray for Doctors and Nurses, for all healthcare staff; for those who continue to supply us with food and medicine; those helping the most vulnerable; for those involved in medical research and the supply of medical equipment. For shop workers, the Garda, Postal workers, Pharmacists, Carers, volunteers and all providing essential services.

Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer

Father, you shared our life and shared a death like ours. Be near to those who are dying especially those who will die feeling alone. We pray too for those who have died that you will welcome them into your kingdom where they may find rest and peace in your presence and that of the angels and saints.

Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer

Rejoicing in the fellowship and prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Patrick, and all the saints we commend ourselves and all people to your unfailing love.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Prayer from the Diocesan Website

Almighty and All–loving God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we pray to you through Christ the Healer
for those who suffer from the Coronavirus
in Ireland and across the world.
We pray too for all who reach out to those who mourn the loss
of each and every person who has died as a result of contracting the disease.
Give wisdom to policymakers,
skill to healthcare professionals and researchers,
comfort to everyone in distress
and a sense of calm to us all in these days of uncertainty and distress.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord
who showed compassion to the outcast,
acceptance to the rejected
and love to those to whom no love was shown. Amen.

Prayer for a Spiritual Communion for those unable to physically take Communion.

Spiritual Communion Prayer
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love you above all things and I desire to receive you in my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally,
Come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace you as if you were already there
And unite myself wholly to you.
Never permit me to be separated from you.
Amen.

If you wish to contact me then please do so by ‘phone 071-9181685 or by email peternorman1959@gmail.com

Take care and keep safe
With every Blessing
Revd. Peter.