Jesus is not alone in asking the question who do others say I am? Those who try and follow his teaching also come face to face with questions of identity, especially when faced with suffering, hardship and persecution.
One such disciple was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran Theologian who was imprisoned and executed for plotting against Hitler. He penned the words of his poem - Who am I?
Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As thought it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colours, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighbourliness,
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.
Mary Magdalen was for many years indeed centuries identified with the woman in today’s gospel and many statues and paintings alluded to the notion that she was a “loose woman”. Even in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar she sings “I don’t know how to love him” implying that her capacity for love has been compromised. There is no biblical evidence to support these assertions. What the gospels do record is her companionship with Christ, her closeness to the other women who accompanied Christ on his preaching journeys and her role in witnessing to the Resurrection. Like the male apostles she is a primary witness of the life death and resurrection of Christ. One thing she certainly did prove capable of was loving him in an exemplary fashion.
This being the case it is good to report a long overdue development in her status in the Church Calendar; because Pope Francis issued a decree on 3 June to promote the day associated with her 22 July, from a memorial to a feast. In other circumstances this is a detail that would ordinarily only concern theological anoraks; but seen against the backdrop of the Pope’s desire to improve the standing of women in the church it gains greater significance. So it is a welcome step on a journey that always seems slower in a Church that has for too long undervalued and underrepresented the contribution of women who Jesus never ignored, or disrespected.
The fifth of the nine novenas for the Year of Mercy is Friday 8 July at 12 noon with prayers and readings to help us reflect and act upon the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. This month we will reflect on Instruct the Ignorant and will hear how the Church plays its part in Education. This is followed by a simple lunch of soup and bread with a basket provided for donations towards a charity that works in this field.
Whenever a hand reaches out to do good or to show the love of Christ, to dry a tear or bring comfort to the lonely, to show the way to one who is lost or to console a broken heart, to help the fallen or to teach those thirsting for truth, to forgive or to offer a new start in God ... know that the Pope is at your side, the Pope supports you. Pope Francis
all the faithful departed and all those living with or recovering from illness or undergoing medical treatment including: Vera Allen, Marc Bailey, Mary Birks, Ken Boyes, Amanda Bradbury, Vera Bradbury, Archie Brocklehurst, Liz Carroll, Ethan Connolly, Margaret Cripps, Marian Cullen, Josie & John Daintith, John Daniels, Nadine Davies, Monica Dixon, Mary Edwardson, Jimmy Evans, Laurie Finn, Pat Fisher, Fred Gatley, Larry Gilfedder, Maureen Gingell, Teresa Glover, Jamie Graham, Joan Grant, Tom Hopkins, Mary Howard, Graham Hutson, Joan Johnson, Mary Kellett, Lilly Kelly, Wendy Kirkpatrick, Fulvia Large, Esther Lloyd Jones, Renaldo Marcella, Bernadette MacConkey, Abigail McNicholas, Eileen Moyse, Ron Norman, James O’Hara, May O’Rourke, Mary Pajak, Charles Pendry, Margaret Pickup, Tony Potter, Fionuala Price, David Prince, Margaret Quinn, Christine Rowe, Shelley Scott, Darcie Sharp, Fred Simpson, Margaret Smith, Tom & Hazel Sudell, Canon Harry Stratton, Michael Swift, Joan Thompson, Howard Tomlinson, Pam Traynor, Pamela Verdon, Cecily Waite, Ben Watson, Ann Weiss, Graham Wilkes, John Williams & Colin Wright.
Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people. She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn't have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
Brendan Cox responding to news of the death of his wife Jo Cox MP