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10 April 2016
posted by Canon Dakin on 27-04-2016

2nd Sunday After Easter

It would be unjust to call Peter a coward. When the police came to arrest Jesus Peter was prepared to fight to defend him. It is true that when Jesus was on trial and the maidservant accused Peter of being one of his followers Peter didn’t dare admit it and three times vehemently denied it.  To balance that three-fold denial Jesus now three times asks him to affirm his loyalty. And he knew his man. He entrusts to Peter the care of his Church and looking into the future he forecasts how Peter will surrender his life in faithful witness to the gospel he preached. The first reading showed us an intermediate step. Peter was prepared to defy the Jewish authorities who were threatening to shut him up.

It takes courage to speak out as a Christian these days. You probably read about the man who has been deposed as a Justice of the Peace and lost his job in the NHS because he expressed his opinion that a child is better off with a father and a mother. He was accused of showing prejudice.  Many of the modern liberated generation regard Catholics as nutters because of their attitude towards marriage and abortion. On Friday the Pope published his response to the synod on the family.  He is reported as having resoundingly reiterated the belief that marriage is a life-long union between a man and a woman and that gay marriage may not be considered its equivalent. Yesterday Peter Thatchell, the campaigner for gay and human rights, blasted the document as ‘cruel as heartless’.  Taking a stand for marriage and the family,   for the unborn, the displaced, the hungry and homeless may sometimes take us where we would rather not go but generations of ordinary men and women, prepared to speak out for their faith, once took on the culture of the Roman Empire and transformed it. We are called upon by our faith to counter the drift of society. It’s not all airy-fairy, talking about ideals.  Pope Francis brings us down to earth, to ordinary life, to the choices we make, for instance, when we go shopping.  Do you pride yourself on being thrifty because you think you have found the cheapest price? After the milk war - which ruined a number of dairy farmers - there are some supermarkets offering half a dozen eggs for 52p. According to journalists this is only possible when eggs are produced by battery hens - crammed into cages where they can scarcely move. Because of their proximity and the danger of infection they are routinely fed antibiotics which get into the food chain and therefore become less effective when we need them. Because of the cruelty involved three supermarkets - I don’t think I’m allowed to name them - have refused to compete. But beware when you are told that eggs are free range. This may mean that birds are crowded into sheds with such density that their beaks are snipped to prevent them harming each other. Do you know where your beef comes from? The same intensive system is being applied to cattle. Again we have a choice. One supermarket will not deal with any farmer who does not have his stock out in the field for at least two hundred days in the year.  Why this sensitivity concerning animals? Because Pope Francis says that unless you are sensitive you are not a Christian. He has written an encyclical on care for our common home.  The whole of creation is God’s handiwork; every creature in itself and in its relationships is, in its own way, a reflection of God’s trinitarian perfection, to be treated with respect.  He wrote: ‘Disinterested concern... for the natural environment attunes us to the moral imperative of assessing the impact of our every action and personal decision on the world around us.’  Now I’m not suggesting that when you buy a piece of beef you summon the manager to ask him where it was sourced and did the farmer allow his cattle the freedom of the fields, but when you see eggs offered for 50p the half dozen then if you believe in a world created by God over which we have stewardship, then you should begin to ask yourself questions.            

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