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St. Matthew 2021
19 September 2021
Today’s readings: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13; Matthew 9:9-13.

Let us pray.

O Almighty God, 
whose blessed Son called Matthew the tax-collector to be an apostle and evangelist: 
give us grace to forsake the selfish pursuit of gain 
and the possessive love of riches 
that we may follow in the way of your Son Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

Amen.

A Reflection from Anita Compton

Today we celebrate the feast of St Matthew, one of the 12 Apostles

Tradition identifies Matthew as the despised tax collector called by Jesus which we find in Chapter 10:3. 

The account in the Gospel is brief and Matthew’s response to Jesus’ call is swift.

He is immediate, wholehearted.  No reflection, struggle, weighing up the alternatives or motive scrutiny. No hesitation as he leaves all behind to follow Jesus. Not everyone responds like Matthew. Some have to be pursued a few times before the penny drops that Jesus is calling them. 

Always, Jesus takes the initiative, as he does with Matthew. Imagine him in a busy street, sitting in a dreaded place, the tax collectors’ booth.  

Even now paying taxes at the end of the year is rarely popular. Then, they were despised for collecting taxes for the enemy Roman Empire, and suspected of overcharging people, to line their own pockets.

The ambivalent atmosphere painted is tense and tangible. The Pharisees question Jesus about his teaching and methods. Jesus’s association with outcasts as well as the unlikely people Jesus calls to be disciples, cause controversy. His table fellowship is scandalous and offends’ ritual purity’.

The disciples and those who are called, belong to a greater community, (ecclesia) church, open to anyone who receives and is touched by the merciful gaze of God, who desires ‘mercy not sacrifice.’ 

Mercy is the mystery of the Father’s love for all human beings, shining in the eyes, face and actions of Jesus, The Son.  It is the Mercy that heals on the Sabbath.  His mercy meets us where we are, despite our failings, lifting us up.  We are invited to his table, where a place is set for us.  He is the doctor to our troubled souls, to call out when we’re sick. 

Hans Urs Von Balthazar describes the Son who embodies the mercy of the Father as, 

“…the meeting place where all roads from heaven come together at the one ‘gate’ through which everyone who wishes to go to the Father must pass.”

As we receive and participate in the mercy shown to connect us to God, we must do the same.  Being called to follow Jesus means collaborating, with and extending the mercy we have received to others.

That is easier said than done. I do not know about you, but when I look into my heart, I do not like what I see or feel. When I resent others, hold on to hurt that has been done, blame people, or circumstances, judge by my standards, I am blocked. There is gravel in my ‘heart-scape’ that disrupts God’s mercy, limiting my generosity to others. 

There are no limits to Gods Mercy. It forgives our sins, sees beyond external circumstances, accepts us for who we are and what we can become.  `it chases after people who have drifted away and pursues others despite rejections.  It finds us when we have lost our way. It crosses the barriers of exclusion, never writing anyone off because they are not one of us.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul encourages us to ‘live a life worthy of the calling you received and to be humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Eph 4:1-2)

God’s Mercy draws us. It gives us confidence to keep coming with our straying feet and struggling hearts to Jesus who restores us again and again.

The people God brings into our lives are there for a reason. Our faith and experience of God’s Mercy can bring healing and wholeness to us and others.

Hs mercy helps us to give comfort to the broken hearted, listen to the dispirited, pray for those too weak to pray. There are times when we need a friend with faith in God’s mercy, to pray when we are too weak. We can assist the struggling, support single mothers, extend hospitality to refugees.  We can offer time to help a neighbour, visit the sick, dispel fear, refuse to condemn or share a cheery welcome smile. 

And like Jesus before us, who called Matthew, what we do in mercy, through Mercy, may be a turning point that changes other lives. God’s Mercy has delivered us from sin and death, to reside with God forever. Part of our response to our experience of His mercy in our lives is to share this good news whenever, and wherever we can.

Amen.

Organ Voluntary


Karg-Elert: Praise the Lord with drums and cymbals:
 
Watch here

Today’s hymn


Praise my soul, the King of Heaven:
 
Watch here

Music from Matthew


At the Offertory this morning Sophie will sing an elegant snippet from the Gloria of Haydn’s Harmoniemesse, ‘Gratias agimus tibi’. Here is a recording of the whole Gloria movement, displaying that classical lyricism which puts Haydn’s music in a class of its own:
 
We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.
 
‘Gloria’ from Harmoniemesse by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Arnold Schönberg Chor, Concentus musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (director)
https://youtu.be/WL3iwzcBzlY
 
During Communion, we’ll perform the alto aria from J.S. Bach’s Cantata no. 148. In this aria the mystical unity of the soul with God is expressed through the unusual scoring for two oboes d’amore and oboe da caccia.
 
Cantata no. 148 ‘Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens’
(Bring to the Lord the honour due unto his name) by J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

 
Mouth and heart stand open for you, highest, sink within! I in you, and you in me; faith, love, patience, hope shall be my bed of rest.
 
Sytse Buwalda (countertenor), Holland Boys Choir, Netherlands Bach Collegium
Pieter Jan Leusink (director)
https://youtu.be/oG7l4kslXJk
 

Our Lady of Sorrows


Wednesday was the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, also know as Our Lady of the Cross. Anita sent this link and Reflection:
https://christian.art/todays-reading.php
 
Pietà,
Painted by Oleg Supereco (born 1974),
Painted in 2008
Oil on canvas
© Oleg Supereco artist
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’ And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.
 
Read more

Reflection on the Painting


Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The title, Our Lady of Sorrows, given to Our Lady, focuses on her intense suffering and mourning during the passion and death of her son. The title is not, however, limited to the suffering Mary shared in at the end of Jesus’ life, but refers to all seven sorrows of Mary. These are: the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt; the loss and finding of the child Jesus in the Temple; Mary meeting her Son on His way to Calvary; Mary standing at the foot of the cross when our Lord was crucified; Mary holding Jesus when He was taken down from the cross (the pietà scene depicted in our painting); and then our Lord's burial.

Our painting today is an unusual take on the pietà. Russian-born Oleg Supereco (b. 1974) depicts Mary gently leaning over Jesus. A soft light connects the two faces. Both have their eyes closed. Mary joined in the suffering of the cross, as Jesus did. Mary must have been torn by the events of seeing Jesus crucified unjustly. And here she is depicted with dignity, composed, solemn, and with caring gentleness towards her son. 

Let us pray as we do in the opening prayer of the Mass for this feast day: Father, as your Son was raised on the cross, His Mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His sufferings. May your Church be united with Christ in His suffering and death and so come to share in His rising to new life. Looking to the example of Mary, may we too unite our sufferings to our Lord, facing them with courage, love, and trust.

By Patrick van der Vorst 

Michaelmas ‘Surprise’ Fair


Many thanks to all who helped with this today…a wonderful effort from everyone and a lovely occasion!  The simplified model seemed to work very well, and the Fair made a fraction shy of £1,000.
As a bonus, much of the good stuff didn’t sell so some good new stock for the shop!

What did monks do all day?


A brief video about the mediaeval monastic life and the Rule of St. Benedict:
 
Watch here

Walsingham Pilgrimage 2021


Fr. Andrew is now taking bookings!
 

St. Augustine’s Audio Retreats – FREE


A last-minute entry as one of them begins next week!

St Augustine’s is delighted to announce another series of audio retreats this year.  For further information see a short introductory video here

•  Seasons of the Spirit: exploring how God is active within the changing seasons of our lives (starting 26 September for 4 weeks)

•  Inclining the Ear of the Heart: hearing and discerning God’s call and invitation (starting 6 February)

•  Meeting Mystery: befriending the unknown; making room for awe and wonder (starting 1 May)

As ever thanks for your donations as we are able to continue offering these retreats without charge.  And as before please log in or register here  
 

John Etheridge & Vimala Rowe Concert


Saturday 9th October – 7.30pm

Book now on Eventbrite:
Book here

Daily Readings


Monday: Ezra 1:1-6; Psalm 126; Luke 8:16-18.

Tuesday: Proverbs 3:13-18; Psalm19; Matthew 9:9-13.

Wednesday: Ezra 9:5-9; Canticle – Song of Tobit; Luke 9:1-6.

Thursday: Haggai 1:1-8; Psalm 149:1-5; Luke 9:7-9.

Friday: Haggai 1:15b-2:9; Psalm 43; Luke 9:18-22. (Our Lady of Walsingham)

Saturday: Zechariah 2:1-5, 11-12; Psalm Jeremiah 31:10-13; Luke 9:43b-45.

A bonus Psalm!


The text of today’s Organ Voluntary is taken from Psalm 150 although my translations refer to tambourines rather than drums.  It reminded me of the setting by Charles Villiers Stanford which always used to be sung at the end of the Mass at Lincoln Cathedral as the choir and sanctuary party processed out, round the angel choir, and before the voluntary, in the days when the wonderful Oliver Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was Dean. So here it is:
 
Watch here
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