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One Teacher, One Father

A Mass from St Joseph's Catholic Church in Bradford with the Bradford Catholic Youth Choir.

Guy Fawkes Day, or Bonfire Day, is a day which has historically emphasised divisions in society. In this service, live from St Joseph's Catholic Church in inner city Bradford, we hear that we are all sisters and brothers in Christ's love. The Celebrant is Father Timothy Whitwell and the Preacher is Father Michael Hall. The music is led by the Diocese of Leeds' Bradford Catholic Youth Choir celebrating the hope, potential and talent of the young.

Director of Music: Thomas Leech
Organist: David Pipe

Producer: Andrew Earis.

38 minutes

Last on

Sun 5 Nov 2017 08:10

Script

Due to copyright restrictions we are unable to include the Mass.

BBC Radio 4. It’s ten past eight and time now for Sunday Worship which is a Mass live from St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bradford. The Celebrant is Father Timothy Whitwell and the Preacher is Father Michael Hall. We now join the congregation, led by Bradford Catholic Youth Choir, in the opening hymn ‘Praise to the holiest in the height’

Hymn: Praise to the Holiest in the Height

Welcome and Introduction: Fr Timothy

A very warm welcome to Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church, in Bradford, West Yorkshire:  this glorious nineteenth century church is glad to have many nationalities in its congregation; it also serves the Catholic students of the University of Bradford as well as the people of Bradford city and beyond.

In today’s Gospel reading we are encouraged to practise what we preach as we endeavour to grow in humility and service.
Today is also Guy Fawkes Day and history reminds us that we need to strive for social cohesion and make for peaceful inroads when there is discord at home and overseas.

Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare
ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

Choir: Gloria

Introduction to First Reading: Fr Timothy

Our first reading, from the book of the prophet Malachi, gives a warning to the leaders who have dishonoured God by giving him second best. Then our second reading presents a complete contrast, of a people who gladly obey God’s message. Between the readings the Choir sings verses from a Psalm with the response “Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord”

First Reading: Pat McUrich
[at the pulpit (to the right of the Altar)]

A reading from the prophet Malachi  

Now, priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, if you do not find it in your heart to glorify my name, says the Lord of Hosts, I will send the curse on you and curse your very blessing.  You have strayed from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your teaching. You have not kept to my paths but have shown partiality in your administration.

Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why, then, do we break faith with one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors?

The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm 130

Introduction to Second Reading: Fr Timothy

In our second reading, St Paul writes to the church in Thessalonika, reminding them that the Christian message they received came from God, not from the cleverness of human minds.

Second Reading: Jeff Hirst

A reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Thessalonians

Like a mother feeding and looking after her own children, we felt so devoted and protective towards you, and had come to love you so much, that we were eager to hand over to you not only the Good News but our whole lives as well.

Another reason why we constantly thank God for you is that as soon as you heard the message that we brought you as God’s message, you accepted it for what it really is, God’s message and not some human thinking; and it is still a living power among you who believe it.

The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.

Choir: Alleluia

Gospel: Fr Michael


The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.

A reading from the holy gospel according to Matthew
All: Glory to you, O Lord

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.

‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’

The gospel of the Lord.
All: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Choir and All: Alleluia
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Introduction to Homily: Fr Timothy

Fr Michael Hall is our preacher this morning. As a school leader and Catholic priest,  Fr Michael is particularly interested in what theology has to say to educational practice.

Homily: Fr Michael Hall

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

I’m trying to remember the last time I saw someone asking for “A penny for the Guy”.  I suppose that it’s one of those old customs surrounding what we now call “Bonfire Night” that have been supplanted by Halloween’s “Trick or Treating”.  Scouring the neighborhood for burnable wood for the bonfire, creating a Guy out of an old suit stuffed with newspaper, and the glorious mayhem of “Mischief Night” are vivid memories from my childhood.

The tradition of burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes on “Guy Fawkes Night” is surprisingly recent, perhaps little more than 200 years old.  Before that, “Gunpowder Treason Day”, its observation commanded by Act of Parliament in 1605, celebrated the deliverance of the king and his nobles.  The effigy burned on the bonfire was often that of the Pope, calling to mind some of the enormities carried out in the name of religion both in the past and today.

Our readings at Mass today call us to take our minds back even further.  They invite us to “remember, remember” certain truths whose relevance outlasts the 5th of November.

The first truth is spoken by our Lord in the Gospel.  He speaks of the unity of the human family – or at least, of his followers.  “You must not allow yourself to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers.”

It is possible that Jesus was speaking hyperbolically – over-egging the pudding – because he also tells them to call no earthly person either “father” or “teacher”.  But this message of unity was taken to heart by the first Christians, who lived in a sometimes radical way as brothers and sisters.  St Paul will develop this thought, reminding the Ephesians that “there is one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, one Faith, one God and Father of us all,”  and saying this in spite of the rich diversity of expression that existed in the churches he helped to found.

The second truth that we must remember, however, is that God’s family is divided.  Nor can we pretend that there was some golden age when this was not the case.  In spite of the unity proclaimed by Our Lord, and proclaimed by St Paul, there were groups for whom the glory of diversity became the shame of division.

The third truth to remember is that Christianity is not alone in suffering this division.  It is mirrored throughout society, within and between nations.  From the streets of Catalonia to the centre of Mogadishu we see that people do not think alike, and all too often express this in violent ways.  Even within our families we see sisters who have not spoken for decades, husbands and wives who have drifted apart, parents who no longer see their children.

Into this human mess the words of the prophet Malachi ring out, spoken perhaps four hundred years before the birth of Christ, but as relevant today as they were then:

Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why, then, do we break faith with one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors?

Malachi’s words are startlingly similar to those of Jesus.  Human unity does not spring from some wonderful property of homo sapiens, but from the fact of our creation and preservation by God the Father of us all.

Equally, human division is not an inescapable fact of life, something for us to lament and regret, but ultimately to shrug our shoulders at, and say, as they do around here, “What are we like?”
Malachi tells us a fourth home truth, that division is about breaking faith, and profaning covenants.  Worse than that, if we do not listen and do something about it, he will turn our very blessings into a curse.

Perhaps poor old Guy Fawkes can teach us something after all.  It’s easy to caricature those whom we don’t like.  It’s easy to create an effigy of them – in our minds or in real life, and to throw it on the flames.   It’s not a huge step from there to breaking faith with people with whom we have shared our lives, or our land, or our Lord.

But we do this at a cost to our own humanity.  In breaking faith with one another, we also break faith with God from whom our unity comes.  As we busily stuff newspaper into the arms of our Guy – whoever he represents – we risk becoming stuffed effigies of ourselves.

Offertory Hymn: Sweet Sacrament Divine

Choir: Sanctus

Choir: Agnus Dei

Choir: Anima Christi, Frisina

Farewell Fr Timothy says:

Thank you for joining us at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church, Bradford for Sunday Mass.  May we all seek to grow in God’s loving mercy and humbly serve the needs of our neighbour.

Blessing and Dismissal (Fr Timothy)

FINAL HYMN: FIRMLY I BELIEVE AND TRULY

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