On this second day of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, here in Canterbury, we pray for the community St Martin’s and St Paul’s led by Rev Mark Griffin and Hannah Thomson and also the Salvation Army led by Major Mandy Sands and staff. St Martins Church is recognised as having the longest continuous history as a parish church in the English-speaking world. It is noted as “The first church founded in England”, although Roman and Celtic churches had existed for centuries. The church is, along with Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey, part of a World Heritage Site.
The Salvation Army have during this time of pandemic crucial in coordinating the work of reaching out to those in material and emotional need. They are a great blessing to our community.
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus saying “The sabbath was made for man not man was made for the sabbath; the Son of Man is master even of the sabbath.” As as a Christian community let us pray that we may not be caught up in legalism so that we neglect the more important demands of compassion and love. Perhaps we need also to reflect how we keep the Lord’s day. This is an important part of the week. It is an opportunity for soul-time, family time, and time for God.
Here are some words of Pope Francis from his apostolic exhortation; The Joy of the Gospel
“In her ongoing discernment, the Church can also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some which have deep historical roots, are no longer properly understood and appreciated. Some of these customs may be beautiful, but they no longer serve as means of communicating the Gospel. We should not be afraid to re-examine them. At the same time, the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives. Saint Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the precepts which Christ and the apostles gave to the people of God “are very few”. Citing Saint Augustine, he noted that the precepts subsequently enjoined by the Church should be insisted upon with moderation “so as not to burden the lives of the faithful” and make our religion a form of servitude, whereas “God’s mercy has willed that we should be free”. This warning, issued many centuries ago, is most timely today. It ought to be one of the criteria to be taken into account in considering a reform of the Church and her preaching which would enable it to reach everyone.” (Par 43)