Welcome to Saint Mary’s Church, Harborne, Birmingham, UK.

Order of St. Augustine.

Archdiocese of Birmingham

“Before all else, live together in harmony, being of one mind and one heart on the way to God.”  St. Augustine.

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                                       Fr. Bernard O’Connor’s Homily

                                               for Sunday 11th March

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Not to condemn

John 3; 14-21


God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.


I would like to emphasise from the beginning that Jesus did not come to condemn.  One could say that the word ‘condemn’ was not part of his  vocabulary.  Sadly, the Church’s teachings often come across as condemning, for example abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, etc.  As Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery, ‘Neither do I condemn you.’

In each case there is a profound human value, which it is the vocation of the Church to defend, in a positive way.


Rather, the Son of man came to save the world.

How does he save the world?


Jesus tells us in the Gospel reading:  ‘The Son of man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes in hum may have eternal life’


He will be lifted up on the \Cross, and raised up from the dead.


He was lifted up on the Cross:

Let’s recall the details:

He was an innocent man who was condemned as a criminal.  It is hard to imagine how a man who healed the sick and the lame, who drove out evil spirits, who spoke only words of  peace, of forgiveness, of generosity of spirit, hard to imagine how such a man could have posed such a threat to the religious authorities that they fabricated a case against him before the Roman governor.

He was beaten, humiliated, scourged, crowned with thorns.

He was made to carry the cross through the crowded streets of Jerusalem to the place where he would be crucified.

He suffered the indignity of being publicly stripped of his clothes, and then the indescribable pain of having nails driven through his wrists and his feet to attach him to the cross, before being lifted up for all to see him.

There he hung for three hours, having to endure the mockery of some of the people to whom he had shown so much love.

His saw his mother there, she having to witness the pain , the disgrace, the humiliation of her son.

Finally he died.


It seemed it was all over.  He was a total failure.  His followers had fled and were scattered.


But he was the Son of God.  He had given his all for us.  The totality of his giving was represented by the soldier who pierced his side with a lance after he died, and the very last drop of his blood flowed out.


It would be impossible to imagine a greater act of love. 

The Son of God had shown a love so great that it is more powerful and more enduring than all the evil that ever was and ever would be perpetrated.  Repeat

That may seem like an over statement.

But consider:  in over two thousand years since then, all sorts of empires have come, have flourished for a time, have declined and then disappeared.

But throughout all that time and still to this day, the Cross of Jesus Christ stands out among as an enduring act of God’s love.

God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.


And then the impossible happened., 

God raised Jesus from the dead, so that he is now with the Father, watching over us, always there for us.


By rising from the dead, Jesus overcame not only death, but also evil in any shape or form.

His resurrection is our assurance that evil, however powerful it may seem at a time, will not endure.


These are the events that we celebrate during Holy Week, on Good Friday, on Easter Sunday and throughout the Easter season.

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