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26 July 2015
posted by Canon Dakin on 27-07-2015

This year we have been following the gospel of St Mark. It is the shortest of the gospels, and so we have been given an interlude from St John and the passage we have heard today is not so much a news report as an icon, to be contemplated, with every detail having significance.  Jesus on a hillside -recalls Moses on Sinai.   St John is writing for mature 2nd cent. Christians, meeting every Sunday for the Breaking of Bread, as the Eucharist then was called. Imagine the resonance of hearing about Jesus taking bread, giving thanks, breaking it and giving it out.  Moses fed the people miraculously with manna, bread from heaven. The people here in a desert place are aware of the miracle of Jesus feeding more than five thousand people from five loaves of barley.  They acclaim him as the new liberator, a second Moses.  Jesus packs the apostles off to the other side of the lake to keep them from being infected by these wild ideas. The stage is set for Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life in which at the end he will give a promise of the Eucharist.

Today is a Day for Life. I had an odd phone call during the week. ‘According to our records you once worked in industry’ ‘Your records must be wrong. I am a priest and have always been a priest.’ ‘Well. What did you do on weekdays?’ ‘Being a priest is a full-time job. Don’t you know what a priest is?’ ‘No, I’m not a God-person’. That echoes a famous remark by someone in politics: ‘We don’t do God’. The country, broadly speaking, has become de-christianised. It’s not that people have become aggressively atheistic - they have just selected neutral and coast along with no other reference but themselves.

They apply notions of design, purpose and meaning to gadgets but don’t have the detachment to ask the same questions of themselves. They are stuck in a rut of consumerism which is now so deep that they may opt to abort a child who happens not to be of the gender they prefer on the grounds of the stress they would endure if the child were to be born. ‘It’s not what we would have ordered’.  So we have a Day for Life to assert the dignity of the human person, a dignity and a value which transcends human preference. The special collection today is for the support of the Anscombe Centre for Bio-ethics which provides the Bishops’ Conference with the scientific advice it may need in defending our concept of the dignity of human life.

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