Joshua 5:9-12 Psalm 33
II Corinthians 5:17-21 Luke 15:1-32
THE PRODICAL SON
The Gospel reading for this Sunday is one of Jesus’ best known parables. The Pharisees and scribes were grumbling about the company Jesus kept, asking why he ate with tax-collectors and sinners. In response, Jesus tells them three parables, all about the most important theme of all, the merciful love of God. There’s the man who left the ninety-nine sheep to go off in search on one he had lost, the woman who swept her house in search of one lost coin, and then there’s this parable, the “Prodigal Son”.
The parable spotlights the father’s forgiveness of his younger son who has squandered his inheritance in a life of debauchery. The boy’s repentance is at best half-hearted: he only returns to ask his father to take him back because the money has been spent, there is a famine in the land and, as the Jerusalem Bible translation puts it, he has begun “to feel the pinch”. Even so, the father’s mercy is lavishly given: his younger son is warmly embraced, he is dressed in the best cloak, a ring is put on his finger, the fatted calf is slaughtered, and a party is ordered to celebrate his return.
In this way, the Lord encourages us to be merciful to our brothers and sisters: if this is how the Lord acts towards us, we should act in the same merciful way to each other.
However, many of us have a problem with this parable. We often sympathise with the reaction of the elder son who complains that he has been faithful to his father for so many years, but not once has his father offered him a kid to feast with his friends. Doesn’t the elder son have a point? By treating the two sons in these different ways, isn’t the father being unjust?
Both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis are fond of quoting the Italian-born German theologian Fr Romano Guardini who died in 1968. This past week I was struck by what Guardini writes in his reflections on the life of Christ, The Lord, about the reactions of the father and the elder son in the story of the Prodigal Son.
The elder son speaks up for “justice”, the father is the embodiment of “mercy”. Justice is good, Guardini writes, and is the foundation of our existence, of our lives together in a well-ordered society. But, he goes on, there is something wider than justice: the bountiful widening of the heart to mercy. Justice is clear, but one step further and it becomes cold; mercy is heartfelt, it warms and it redeems. Justice regulates, mercy creates. Justice, we might say, is calculated; mercy is freely given. The father’s overflowing mercy to his younger son is a revelation of how God loves us all.
Mother Theresa once said that only love changes people. An experience of mercy has the power to transform us too. Once we have repented and encountered God’s mercy, overflowing and freely given, we recognise that if we have been given mercy, we need to live in a merciful way towards our brothers and sisters. The repentant sinner’s encounter with mercy, in other words, is the key to a conversion of life which may be why there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just men who have no need of it.
May we be ambassadors to men and women today of the merciful love of our good and gracious God!
Fr Michael Holman, S.J.
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will take place at Farm Street Church between 2.30pm and 5.30pm on Sunday 7th April. Priests will be available in the church to hear confessions during this time. Confessions will also be heard before and after each of the regular Sunday Masses.
Novena for Syria
A Novena for Syria will be prayed at every Mass at Farm Street Church starting on 7th April, the 4th anniversary of the martyrdom of Fr Frans van der Lugt SJ and ending on the 16th April. The Novena will be offered for the release of Fr Paolo dall’Oglio SJ. Farm Street Church is home to the Middle East Shrine which is a focus of prayer and solidarity for the region.
LANDINGS LECTURE 2019
Dr Gemma Simmonds, CJ, will address the subject:
‘Happy Landings: Accompanying the Return to Faith and Practice’. This will take place on Thursday April 11th at 7:00pm in the parish hall. Mass in the church at 6:00pm; buffet reception to follow
Suggested donation: £10
All most welcome – to book e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or ‘phone Fr Dominic Robinson SJ on (020)-7529-4802
RALLY AGAINST VIOLENT CRIME
Where: Trafalgar Square, London
When: Saturday 6th April, 2019, 2-4pm
This rally will bring together Christians and others, “to stand alongside those affected by the scourge of violent crime in the UK”.
The event is being organised by Les Isaac, founder and Chief Executive of Ascension Trust, and who pioneered Street Pastors in the UK in 2003. His hope is that the rally will be “the start of a concerted effort to get churches working together” against violent crime.
Further information may be obtained:
By email – email@example.com
Eventbrite link – https://standing-together-rally-at-trafalgar-square.eventbrite.co.uk
LGBT CATHOLICS WESTMINSTER
On the weekend of 26th- 28th April, LGBT+ Catholics Westminster will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Admiral Duncan pub bombing, and mark the 20th anniversary of Masses welcoming LGBT+ Catholics, their parents and families. An information stand in a Farm Street Church side-chapel will feature various aspects of hate-crime and how we can respond. There will be a prayerful history walk on Saturday, 27 April, 14.00-16.30, visiting West End sites significant in the history of LGBT+ Catholics, from Oscar Wilde to the present day. All are welcome – further details: firstname.lastname@example.org – www.lgbtcatholicswestminster.org”
CARING FOR OUR COMMON HOME
On Thursday 4th April at 6.45pm, Dr Martin Poulsom will present a talk on the theology of integral ecology. Exploring ideas of striving for a just world which opposes economic injustices and growing inequality, the despoiling of the earth and exploitation of people, and searching for a better way of living, this should be an interesting presentation about very lively contemporary issues. Admission is free. For details, visiting the www.jesuit.org.uk.
JRS Home Scheme Open Evening
On Tuesday 2nd April, 6.30-7.30pm. The Jesuit Refugee Service At Home hosting scheme organises short-term placements for refugees. The open evening is an opportunity to learn more about the project. Please register attendance: email@example.com or 020 7488 7313. Taking place at The Hurtado Jesuit Centre, 2 Chandler Street, London, E1W 2QT
Farm Street Church is now able to process donations via contactless payment. Terminals can be found in the church and at reception.
MOUNT STREET JESUIT CENTRE
14 Mount Street, London W1K 3AH
Book online for any of these events
Information: 020 7495 1673 or
(No need to book!)
• Drop-in Prayer
Every Monday 6.30-7pm
• Lunchtime Lectio
Every Tuesday 1.40-2pm
• Wednesdays at the Well – Come to Rest & Be Refreshed
3rd Wednesday of each month 11.30am-3.30pm (Next meeting: April 17th, 2019)
• Book Club
2nd Thursday of each month 7-8.30pm (Next meeting: April 11th, 2019)
Book: “Man’s Search For Meaning” Viktor Frankl
BEREAVEMENT AND LOSS GROUP
Facilitated by Maria Shapero
Thursday 4th April 11.30-1pm
Grief is a particularly isolating experience that can affect all aspects of your life physically, emotionally and socially. There are many kinds of grieving… You are welcome to just come along or contact Maria Shapero Mariashapero@hotmail.com or 0755 324 2322 for more details.
EXPLORING BACH’S ST JOHN PASSION
Facilitated by Abigail Graham
Saturday 6th April 11am-4pm
This workshop invites you to use this very special devotional music to prepare for hearing St John’s account of the Passion read on Good Friday and to reflect on what Easter means to you.
IGNATIAN RETREAT DAY
Facilitated by members of the Mount Street Jesuit Centre team
Saturday 13th April 11am-4pm
These are retreat days of prayer run in an Ignatian way, in which there is talk, time for personal prayer and the opportunity to listen to each other.
There is no need to book for these days, just come along.
THE LOVING KINDNESS OF OUR GOD – WHO SETS US FREE
Facilitated by Michael Smith SJ
Saturday 27th April 11am-4pm
Jesus said “I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full” John 10:10
Now we are in Eastertide it is a good moment to reflect on the New Life that the Risen Lord offers to us, what we mean when we say that in his life, death and resurrection Jesus redeemed the human race.
This day based on Scripture, and later on Christian church teaching, will look at the meaning of the words redemption, salvation, atonement, and being freed from sin. Reflecting on how this work is being carried on today, focusing on what that means for each of us individually, and for the whole human race.
BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO IGNATIAN SPIRITUALITY
Facilitated by Andrew Kerr-Jarrett & TBC
6 Wednesdays, May 1st – June 5th, 7-8.30pm
For those who are new to Ignatian spirituality, from any background. During each session you will be introduced to a different aspect of Ignatian spirituality or prayer, guided through a prayer exercise, invited to share your reflections in a small group and at the end of the session gathered together again in the larger group. You will be invited to pray the prayer exercise during the week, for just like physical exercise the more you ‘practice’ the more benefits you will feel.