The short book of Zephaniah

Our first reading at Mass today is a rare extract from the short book of Zephaniah (3:1-2, 9-13 – it’s a pity verses 3 – 8 are missed out in the lectionary as they contain searing condemnation of the rulers of the kingdom), who probably dates from the 7th century BCE. The great biblical scholar S R Driver, wrote of this prophet: ‘The great and abiding religious value of the book consists in the profoundly earnest moral tone which pervades it, and in the prophet’s deep sense of the sin of his people……’

Amidst the suffering of this year, and no doubt people’s need at the moment to be cheered up, part of what the Church needs to put forward is a similarly ‘earnest moral tone.’ Things don’t just happen in the world or in our country – they are the consequences of people’s actions. We have seen repeatedly in this country during the pandemic how avoidable mistakes by our rulers (‘roaring lions’, ‘wolves’, ‘braggarts’, ‘imposters’, the words used in the verses from Zephaniah which are missed out in the lectionary reading) have led to greater suffering, loss of life, loss of livelihood than would have taken place if the mistakes had not been made. And day by day it is all being enacted before our eyes. The Church has to speak with a prophetic voice – like Zephaniah, like St John the Baptist.

As I indicated in an earlier post please be clear that arrangements for public worship are not affected by our change in tier later today – they are the same all over England, in all three zones. Therefore our daily pattern of Masses this week and next, our Christmas Masses and the special provision for Confessions which we announced in the newsletter, are as arranged. Please note that we have put on extra Masses now – Christmas Eve at 730pm and Christmas Day at 8am, in addition to what was announced originally.

Please pray for those in the hospitality sector here in Beckenham, including some who are members of our parish family.

God bless and take care

Fr Ashley


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