It’s the year 2018. We are sitting in a Catholic Church, attending Mass celebrated in the Roman rite but in our native language. Some of us were cradle Catholics and inherited the Catholic faith from their parents, while others converted Catholic at a later stage in their lives. But it can safely be said that none of us here is of direct Jewish stock; to use the rather old-fashioned and dated term, we are Gentiles. For millennia, Christians claimed sole ownership of Jesus and of everything associated with him as their birthright in admittedly sometimes violent opposition to the Jews, quite forgetting that He and virtually all his early followers were Jewish. Our collective discipleship of Jesus, both here in Scotland and throughout the world, was sparked in the house of a certain Roman officer stationed in the Palestinian coastal city of Caesarea. That event is described concisely in today’s first reading.
When referring to Jesus’ parable of the Good Shepherd last Sunday, I admitted that my knowledge of farming and agriculture is rather limited. That limitation extends to vine-dressing – with reference to the image as presented in today’s gospel. However, my limited knowledge doesn’t mean that I’m absolutely ignorant of the matter. Thanks to my formal education plus my deep-rooted curiosity and experience of real life, I do know a couple of things about horticulture. It’s enough to make me feel deeply moved by the image painted by Jesus in today’s gospel.
In common with most babies and toddlers, they are very cute and very vulnerable. Oh, I’m obviously talking about lambs! These days a lot of them run carefree in the fields; but the moment they spot danger, like a big man walking his dog, they run to their respective mothers and – oddly enough – suck them for comfort. I guess that gives them a sense of safety and security. That’s my educated guess, but it’s a guess nevertheless because my knowledge of farming is limited to say the least. Yes, I’m of that generation on the verge of extinction which still knows where our food comes from. (A note for the young: it’s not from the supermarket.) But more and more in our increasingly urban and digital society, people know less and less about farming, fishing and agriculture. Perhaps the best and most famous consumable industry in our area is whisky production, thanks to a good number of visitor centres and tours of distilleries throughout Speyside.
This eulogy was delivered by Bobbie Stewart on Thursday 19th April 2018.
Georgina Milton Munro Stewart was born on the 5th February 1934 – the eldest daughter in a family of ten children. She remembered her early years as being mostly playful and happy, however, being the eldest daughter, household chores inevitably came her way – leaving her feeling a bit like Cinderella sometimes. Continue reading “Tribute to Gena Coull”
‘Hell doesn’t exist’ said Pope Francis – allegedly – and then hell broke loose. The words were cited by Eugenio Scalfari, an Italian journalist and self-declared atheist. The Pope had a private meeting with Scalfari just before Easter without, however, giving him a formal interview. The Vatican quickly responded that the article didn’t report the Pope’s words accurately as no notes were taken. Given Mr Scalfari’s previous misquotations of the Pope, and Pope Francis’ own track record on the matter, I personally don’t believe that the Pope denies the existence of hell. So, ‘what the hell!’ was going on here? I think that Mr Scalfari might well have misunderstood the Pope’s ponderings on the nature of hell, and subsequently reduced the whole discussion to the rather catchy phrase ‘The Pope doesn’t believe in Hell.’ After all, at the end of the day, Mr Scalfari is a journalist…
Just a short note this time as I am due to depart the Ship and return to the UK in approx. 2 hours. It has been a very emotional week. We had cataract surgery patients Mon – Wed, and because it was the last week of operations, we tried to squeeze as many returnees in as we could. It was a busy few days. On Wednesday after the last patient had left, we had a mini party for the day crew, which included some from the theatre aswell. There were many tears as each of them shared what they had learnt from their time with Mercy Ships, and also because many of them will now be without paid employment. It is hard to say goodbye when you have worked with people for an extended period. To make a sad day even worse, the Eye Team lost their football match to Hospital Team 3 – 1 😢, they were all really upset and said they wanted to win as it was their final day. Continue reading “Saturday 31st March 2018”
In London a recent spike in crime is causing local and national politicians a headache. More importantly, those deaths are leaving behind shattered families and communities. We don’t know all the details of each incident but, out of those scraps of information we get from the media, it seems there’s a common factor that features in reports. Apparently, those deaths are the final outcome of spats between individuals or local gang members. It’s worrying when people decide to ‘sort things out’ by intentionally hurting or killing those they disagree with. At the heart of such a disturbing approach lies an inability or unwillingness to forgive. In fact, it’s quite often a mixture of both.