A word from Fr Joe
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St John’s,
There are three big pieces of news for you this week!
Number one, our church is re-opening for Sunday and daily Masses!! It has been a LONG wait and there are many restrictions still in place but at last, we’re getting there! Remember there is a booking system in place for the Sunday Masses as we are allowed a maximum of only 50 in the church at any given time. Last week the Masses booked out within hours for this weekend. The system will open again on Monday morning for next weekend’s Masses. You are asked to book online if possible via our website but there are some places kept back for those unable to book online who can then phone Fr Joe at the parish house. There is no need to book for daily Masses unless the numbers start to rise above 50, so we will keep an eye on this. When coming to Sunday Mass, the stewards will check your name against the booking list. At weekday Masses they will ask your name and contact details. This is for the government “track and trace” system in case there was a further outbreak of the virus locally. The livestreaming of all Masses in the church will continue, so it is possible to follow Mass from home. In fact, the Bishops still encourage those who are elderly or shielding or have underlying health conditions to join in Mass from home rather than take any risks by coming into a busy church. Keep in mind also that the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays was lifted by Pope Francis during the pandemic and continues to be lifted until the Holy Father tells us otherwise. This means there is no sin in missing Sunday Mass but you are very much encouraged to join in a Mass via the internet, if possible, or indeed one of the weekday Masses where numbers are not as busy. You are obviously encouraged and expected to continue with your daily prayers as you do already.
Thanks be to God, we are back for Sunday Masses and let’s continue to pray it will not be too long before we are back to normal altogether!!
Our second big piece of news is that Father Laurent will be leaving us at the end of July. He was due to return to Uganda in September but has been given permission to remain in Scotland for another year. However, Bishop John has informed us that he wishes to move Fr Laurent to St Mirin’s Cathedral in Paisley. We are very sad to hear the news and we thank him for his two years of service, fun and much joy and laughter he has given us in St John’s. It has certainly been a joy to have had Fr Laurent with us. A small consolation is that he is not going far-- Paisley is only a few minutes away by car, so no doubt we will be seeing him again often back in Barrhead!!
To replace Fr Laurent, Bishop John has decided to move Fr Jonathan Whitworth, currently in St Mirin’s cathedral, to join us here in St John’s. Fr Jonathan will also take over from Fr Joe Balmer as the lead Chaplain to St Luke’s High. So while we are sad to see Fr Laurent go, we are very happy to welcome Fr Jonathan to Barrhead. I know you will all give him a St John’s welcome when he arrives at the end of the month!
The third and final big piece of news is the new parish timetable. Please take note of the small changes so you know what is on and when in the parish during these days;
Sunday Masses—no change
Vigil (Sat) 4:30pm; Sunday 10am, 11:30am, 5pm (Places MUST be booked in advance for all Sunday Masses)
Weekdays, excluding Thursdays Morning Mass 10am
Exposition of the Blessed sacrament for Private Prayer and Adoration
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10:30am to 1pm. (If there is a funeral at 10am, the Exposition will begin after the funeral)
10:30am onwards. (Please note confessions are not being heard in the confession boxes during the pandemic but rather in the Oratory. Bigger room with better airflow, as directed by the Bishops.)
So, Friends, this is a big week for us. Let’s continue to pray for each other as we take another very important step on our coronavirus journey and also let’s offer a special prayer for Fr Laurent and Fr Jonathan.
God bless you all!
Please keep in your prayers
Funerals this week
Marie McCormack (Service in St Conval’s Cemetery Tuesday at 10:30am)
Maureen Coogan (Requiem Mass in church Thursday at 10am)
May McVitie (Requiem Mass in church Friday 10am)
Also the anniversraies of: Maisie McMaster, Bid McGauley, Hugh McManus and Patrick McGowan,
As well as all those who have asked us to pray for them. Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
Reflection on this Sunday’s Scripture
This weekend’s Gospel presents us with another parable from Jesus. This time He gives the image of weeds growing among the wheat and what should be done about this. With all Jesus’ parables, as you know, he is using imagery the people will easily understand to give a much deeper teaching. The passage isn’t really about weeds and wheat but about sinners and good people existing side by side. Because of the existence of evil (the weeds) which seeks to undermine good (the wheat) and stop good flourishing, Jesus is teaching us there will always be those led astray by satan who will seek directly or perhaps without even realising it, to undermine the work of God. This may happen in the world at large, or in local society, or even our own Church or families.
How do we deal with this? Well, we are asked to be like the patient farmer in the parable who represents God. He sees what is happening, he recognises where it is coming from and the purpose of the enemy who wants to stop good flourishing but he is patient. The patience will not last forever, a time of harvest and judgement will come when the weeds will we rooted out so that the good will flourish. He sees everything, knows everything and is always watching over us. Following that example, we are asked to be understanding, patient, merciful, forgiving. The Pharisees will would weed out sinners, cast them off and leave them to wither. We are called to be not like them.
So, this weekend we are told two things by the Lord: firstly, God sees EVERYTHING and we should take comfort in that. Even if evil at times seems to have the upper hand, the Just Judge will act in His own good time and always be victorious. Secondly, in our attitude towards sinners, we are called to be not like the judgmental and condemnatory Pharisees but rather like our God—understanding, patient, merciful—because we know that in each one of us there can be weeds growing among the wheat, that we too are sinners in need of God’s patience and mercy.