On Sunday 12th September, Bishop John Sherrington joined the Mass of the Polish Catholic Mission at Our Lady of Walsingham and the English Martyrs, Holtwhites Hill, in the parish of Enfield. He preached at the Polish Masses, with translation provided by the Parish Priest for the Polish Catholic Mission, Fr Maciej Michałek. At the end of the morning Mass, he blessed the new monstrance which was gift of the First Holy Communion parents and children to the parish. He also celebrated the 10.00am Parish Mass in English and met parishioners afterwards. In his address, Bishop John spoke of the importance of welcoming new groups to the parish and the way in which the Polish and English communities can contribute to the good of both parishes to serve the wider community.
In his homily for Sunday, Bishop John spoke about the Gospel story (Mark 8:27-35) in which Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’, and Peter recognises Jesus as Christ the Messiah:
‘Jesus explains that the Christ will suffer, be put to death and then rise again. He will fulfil the promise of the prophet Isaiah who identifies the Messiah with the Suffering Servant of whom we hear in the first reading (Isaiah 50:5-9). The Suffering Servant has an open ear to listen to the Lord, he speaks and acts for justice, he will suffer but trusts in the Lord, “The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults. So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be ashamed.”
‘Peter cannot accept Jesus in this way and so he argues with Jesus. Peter is just like us who find it difficult to grasp the meaning of who Jesus is. Peter comes to believe in the Jesus who will suffer and rise from the dead but it will always be difficult. He will deny Jesus three times and learn painfully from this before he accepts him and takes on the role of Peter, Rock, Head of the Church.
‘“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus addresses this question to each one if us. Do we believe that he is risen from the dead? Do we believe that he is with us? Can we accept the path of suffering and the cross as he did? Of course, this is the pathway of the saints. Here at the Church of Our lady of Walsingham and the English Martyrs, we can think of the example of the English Martyrs of the Reformation who stood firm against the monarchs and stayed with Peter and Rome. In Poland, you have the wonderful examples of St Maximilien Kolbe, St John Paul II, and the women martyrs of Poland.
‘The answer to the question “Who do you say that I am?” is found in the way we love. The second reading (James 2:14-18) makes this clear. Faith must lead to love in action, feeding the hungry, giving shelter to asylum seekers, “if good works do not go with it, it [faith] is quite dead”. Our faith is not a theory, but an encounter with Jesus Christ and our neighbour. Let us show this love to others during this next week.’