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 17th November 2019

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The end of time?

Luke 21: 5-19


There will always be prophets of doom.  ‘The end of the world is nigh’, though in fact its end seems no nearer, as Jesus reminds his listeners.  The modern version is that our planet is doomed.


Jesus reminds his questioners that there always be disasters, the natural such as earthquakes, plagues and famines, and the man-made such as wars and revolutions.  He might have added violence on our streets, storms and floods in one area, drought and forest fires elsewhere.


In modern times, there has been tremendous progress brought about by science and technology, transforming our way of life, creating a more comfortable world, and enabling us travel with ease by land and by air, so that even the most remote parts of the earth are accessible.


Science also has been able to explain much that at one time was seen as the hand of God.  Psychiatry explains some of mental illness,  Medicine

provides cures for many physical illnesses.  A touch of a switch produces light or heat, the pressof a button washes and dries our clothes and so on.    Some people have therefore concluded, ‘Who needs God?’


On the other hand, many see progress as scientists collaborating with God the Creator.  God has given us a planet that is not only beautiful, but also bountiful in providing for all our needs.


But we are only recently beginning to realise that our planet is indeed beautiful and bountiful, but is also fragile.


Pope Francis wrote an encyclical letter ‘Laudato Si’ on care for our common home.  He identifies one of the great problems, which is that we have converted our beautiful planet into a rubbish dump.  Disposal of rubbish is one of the great problems of our time.


We have allowed the profit motive and economic growth to be the sole criteria of progress, benefitting especially those who are already well off and often at the expense of the poorer.

Development means exploiting the natural resources available to us, but human beings should work in harmony and in sympathy with nature.


He is not advocating a return to the Stone Age, but calls us to slow down to more sustainable progress, while recovering the values of life and living, many of which have been swept away.


He asks ‘what sort of world do we want to bequeath to our children and grandchildren?’


Recently a synod of the Church on the Amazon area has concluded, reflecting on the spiritual needs of the people, but also on the ecology of a vast area which is regarded as the lungs of our planet, the vast forests absorbing much of the damaging carbon being released into the atmosphere.   More and more trees are being cut down to provide space for agricultural development.

Local politicians point out that at one time, our countries too were covered with trees which were gradually cut down to allow development.


The synod speaks of a sin against ecology. 

We are beginning to realise that care for our planet is a matter of conscience.


I want to suggest that we might develop a conscience about the use and disposal of plastic.

Most plastic is not biodegradable and vast amounts of it end up at the bottom of the ocean, doing immense damage to the natural life of the oceans.

Even our vast oceans cannot cope with the scale of the dumping of our rubbish.


Is there an alternative, for example to those black plastic rubbish bags that so proliferate?  I do not know – indeed our house uses more than its share of these bags.


Human ingenuity has shown its capability of collaborating with God the Creator in resolving what seemed like insurmountable problems.


We hope and pray, and indeed agitate that we may be enabled to bequeath a beautiful and bountiful planet to our children and grandchildren.


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