Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I’m sure that all of you will be aware of the amazing story of Captain Tom Moore; the 99-year old war veteran who has walked 100 laps of his garden to raise much needed funds for a beleaguered NHS. This seemingly small and unassuming gesture has become a world-wide phenomenon that has captured the collective imagination of thousands of people – we could say that Captain Tom has gone viral on social media! Much to his surprise and the surprise of his family, his dogged determination has raised a staggering total of over £20 million. Captain Tom is a reminder to us all that in the midst of great adversity it is the small acts of generosity and kindness that can make a tremendous contribution to the common good. It also reminds us of the very real commitment that is required for the proper funding of our NHS through the collective resolve of Government in particular and Society in general and this will need to be addressed both now and in the years to come.
In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus tells the Parable of the Mustard Seed and like any good parable it takes an earthly image to shed light on the mystery of the Kingdom of God. Jesus explains that although the mustard seed ‘is the smallest of all seeds’, in the fullness of time it becomes ‘the greatest of shrubs’ offering shelter and habitat for the flourishing of many forms of life. Oftentimes, signs of the Kingdom of God are seemingly small and insignificant and yet in the fullness of time there is life and flourishing for many as a consequence. At Eastertide we are reminded in the Gospels that the universal Church begins life as a terrified and dishevelled group of 11 disciples who fear for their lives and are locked behind closed doors! Yet with the reassurance of the Easter Christ and the empowering of the Pentecost Spirit they become a public and joyful community of Christian witness!
The example of Captain Tom and the teaching of the Gospel Parable are perhaps instructive to us in this period of national crisis for they remind us that sometimes we have to focus upon the little things that we can all do well – the small acts of kindness, the generosity of our time, the sincere phone call, the scribbled note of gratitude, fetching the shopping and the watching over the vulnerable are but a few examples. Although we cannot always see the far horizon and we do not always know the fruit of our actions; like Captain Tom; we can faithfully place one foot in front of the other and keep doing the things we do and do them well.
This week I want to finish with the words of the opening verse of John Henry Newman’s hymn;
‘Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.’
With peace and hope at Eastertide, Julian