St Annes Catholic Church BUXTON
Tel 01298 23777

FR GERRYS HOMILY

“SOME OF OUR LOVED ONES WILL DIE” 

These words of Boris Johnson have been haunting me this past two weeks.  How timely to find that this is the content of today’s Gospel – 5th Sunday of Lent, Year A.  We read and listen once again to the story of the greatest “sign” of Jesus – the raising of his close friend Lazarus (John, Chapter 11).

Sickness and death are often times of regret and self-reproach – “if only I had done this, said that”.  We tell ourselves off.  We want to bring our loved ones back.  We imagine we could have done something to prevent their passing.  We think we are in charge!  Dying can also be a time of deepening and healing. 

Those conversations we keep putting off can actually happen.  We express our love and gratitude to each other and ask forgiveness for the wrongs and misunderstandings.  We can even dare to broach that very delicate subject of terminal care and funeral arrangements.

Rereading this story of Lazarus I discover how similar I am to Martha and Mary.  Perhaps, more surprisingly, I realise that I am more like Jesus than I thought!  These two women sound like “family” to Jesus.  They’re all really dependent on each other. He “has” to be told that Lazarus is very ill. He is “expected” to come immediately.  He “has” to be there. 

Jesus then arrives four days late and has to listen to their blaming him; realising his own loss of Lazarus, Jesus weeps. 

It’s the shortest and most extraordinary sentence in the whole bible.  Jesus was “distressed”, “sighed straight from the heart” and “wept tears”. 

St John repeats the fact of his being so upset twice, presumably because it’s so important and makes such a difference to us the readers.  He really wants us to know that Jesus is “like us in all things but sin”, and that he grieves, and cries, and feels in his body the loss of his dear friend Lazarus. 

This story nudges me to prepare to face the prospect of personal and parish grief in the coming weeks.  We each ask ourselves “is there anything specifically I need to do to get my family ready?”

The story begins by telling us it is about “a man named Lazarus who lived in the village of Bethany with his two sisters, Mary and Martha”.  Lazarus means “God helps” and Bethany means “the house of the afflicted.”  So this is a story of how God helps all those in the house of the afflicted.  Not just Lazarus and his sisters but as it turns out, gentle reader, you and I too, in this present time of crisis and pandemic.

Fr Gerry
29th March 2020. 

St Annes Parish Priests

From 1837 Mass was celebrated in Buxton by visiting priests each week. A Father O'Farrell was named from 1848, but it was only in 1850 that the first resident priest was appointed.

Father Edward McGreevy 1850 - 1863 (ob. 22 June 1863)
Father William Margison 1863 - 1871
Father Michael O'Driscoll 1871 - 1873
Vacant 1873 - 1875
Father Joseph Reddington 1875
Father John Power 1875 - 1885
Canon John Theodore Hoeben 1885 - 1899 (ob. 11 Aug 1900)
Father Frederick Kind 1900 - 1927 (ob. 31 Mar 1927)
Father Luke A Prendergast 1928 - 1937 (ob. 29 Sept 1937)
Canon Arthur J Bird 1937 - 1941
Father John Toomey 1941 - 1942 (ob. 1 Feb 1942)
Canon Alfred Baldwin 1942 - 1956
Father Philip Morris 1956 - 1957
Father J Paul Klee 1957 - 1959
Father William McEnery 1959 - 1960
Canon David Ryan 1960 - 1967
Father Bernard Doran 1967 (probably only priest in charge)
Father Gerald Collins 1967 - 1971
Father Joseph Duggan 1971 - 1977
Father Andrew Murdoch 1977 - 1978
Father Paul Cullen 1978 - 1987
Father Dennis Higgins 1987 - 2017 
(ob. 20 Jan 2017)
Father Gerry Murphy 2017 - present

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