St. Mary-the-Virgin, News for Sunday 25th August 2019: The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

This Sunday, the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, our Gospel reading is taken from Luke Chapter 13. “Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem.” It’s often quite useful trying to imagine the scene at the time. It’s not that difficult at the moment, as the temperature in the Holy Land would probably have been similar to the temperatures we are anticipating this weekend! Hot, sultry and desperate for a bit of shade! Perhaps Jesus has gathered his disciples in the shade of an olive tree as he teaches them. There is always something challenging that he says: “Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.”

Can you imagine the disciples being a little confused? We know it’s good manners to give up our seat on the bus for a more deserving passenger; or to let that motorist turn into our line of traffic – even if the temperature is 30 degrees and we are desperate to get home for a cool shower and a refreshing drink! As usual, Jesus is challenging us to think about ourselves and others – just as God thinks about all those in his kingdom. Who are the ones that are persecuted, oppressed, despised and alienated in our society? These are the ones who will be first to find God’s favour. Remember the Sermon on the Mount? “Blessed are the meek…”

Not that we will be forgotten. But however pious and righteous we may feel about ourselves, it’s important to recognise that there may be others who are more deserving. So as the temperatures rise this weekend – let’s all try and keep our cool and consider the needs of those who may be less fortunate than us. Of course if you are looking for somewhere to cool off in this hot weather, St Mary’s may be just the place. Remember that Mass on Bank Holiday Monday is at the later time of 10.00am, so you can cherish that extra hour in bed.

David Griffiths