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St. Paul begins his Letter to the Philippians, as he does with other letters, with what might be described as a Hymn. This text provides a poetic, concise and very clear reflection on the wonder of all that Christ does for us in the saving work of his birth, death and resurrection. This is a text that is worth much reflection on our part. It is also a text that is easy to memorise and carry in mind and heart.
Jesus’ death on the cross bring forgiveness and new life – the forgiveness and new life that is the subject of both first reading and Gospel this Sunday. It is repentance that brings life and repentance is a vital step on our journey. Indeed, it is a step that we need to take more than once – knowing (as we heard in the Gospel two weeks ago) that God’s power and desire to forgive is without limit.
The experience of forgiveness is bound up with the way of conversion, of growing closer to Christ, of being conformed to Him – for how can we be close to Him if we remain distant through our sins and faults?
The experience of forgiveness is not for ourselves only. One of the reasons why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so important is that this wonderful gift from the Lord reconciles us with the Church, which is His body.
The experience of forgiveness teaches us how to forgive others, to bear with them in their trials, to work with them in the mission the Lord has given to us – look again at the second Reading today to see the impact of unity with one another as the Body of Christ.
May the Psalm of today’s Mass be our prayer. May we know – truly know – the ways of the Lord, walking in His truth and allowing ourselves to be taught by the One who loves us so much that ‘ he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a Cross.’
With every blessing,
Bishop Richard invites us to pray in thanksgiving for the wonderful service of healthcare workers at this time, as well as remembering in our prayers those who are sick or are suffering bereavement.