O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you gave up your Son
out of love for the world:
lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion,
that we may know eternal peace
through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
I love you, O Lord my strength.
The Lord is my crag, my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation and my stronghold.
I cried to the Lord in my anguish
and I was saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entwined me
and the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the Pit fastened about me
and the snares of death entangled me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord
and cried out to my God for help.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?’ The Jews answered, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.’ Jesus answered, ‘Is it not written in your law, “I said, you are gods”? If those to whom the word of God came were called “gods” – and the scripture cannot be annulled – can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, “I am God’s Son”? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’ Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, ‘John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.’ And many believed in him there.
… everything that John said about this man was true.
One of the most destructive things in our lives is ‘gossip’. Whether we wrap it up and give it a fancy title, such as ‘fake news’, or whether we call it what it is, the sharing of malicious talk about other people, gossip is destructive. But … the lure of sharing, and thereby spreading gossip is irresistible to many. In recent times, indulging in gossip has been given a credibility and dignity it does not deserve by social media, the press and political leaders. This may seem a harsh over-statement, but consider this … at the height of the winter spike in coronavirus a journalist was asked, on national radio, where his information was coming from. That journalist’s response was: ‘I get as many facts as I can from politicians and scientists; the rest is a matter of my making a ‘best guess’.’ Surely this is nothing less than an admission of guilt when it comes to spreading gossip.
For many, the exchange of tittle-tattle over the proverbial garden fence is a harmless way of passing the time. But, what about the damage that is done through the passing on of gossip? Supposedly harmless half-truths (or complete falsehoods) can easily give rise to unfairly damaged, or even destroyed reputations. The passing on of misheard or misunderstood conversations can quickly become the stuff of nightmares for those about whom the gossip is being spread.
In today’s reading we see the negative effect of passing on half-truths and misunderstood words: The Jews took up some stones again to stone him. Before his public ministry began, Jesus’ status and importance was proclaimed by John the Baptist. This was affirmed by God himself at Jesus’ baptism by John in the River Jordan. Jesus then began to preach and teach a new way of living in close relationship with God, and he began to heal the sick, cast out demons and perform other signs of divine power. Rumour of Jesus’ words and actions spread quickly … the gossip began.
Those whose authority and power was threatened by Jesus were frightened. Those religious leaders used words to try and trap him, to prove him false and an enemy of God. But … everything that John said about this man was true.
Next time we are tempted to gossip, let us hold on to those words. If we cannot say something kind, generous and loving about our neighbours, let us say nothing about them. Let us, instead, join John in telling the truth about Jesus Christ.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray to the Lord who has called us to be faithful in his service.
Give to the Church power to proclaim your great works and to shine as a light that will draw all people to love and honour your name. May your people never lose by sin or negligence the holiness which is given to all who trust in you and seek to do your work.
Guide all people into the mystery that challenges the wisdom of the world. Show the way of true repentance which does not rest on outward signs but turns back sincerely to obey your will.
Bless those who do the work of God in our community, who tend the sick in mind or body and bring aid to the infirm. May they have strength to continue, and may they be an example, that others may follow in the paths of mercy.
Have compassion on those who are afraid, who feel inadequate for the demands of life. Grant them confidence in the hidden wisdom of your word.
We give thanks for the faith of those who have laboured well in this world and are now at rest. Grant them the fullness of your presence, where true wisdom is revealed.
We pray in the name of Christ, our example and our strength.
Prayer for the week
Almighty and everlasting God,
whose Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
triumphed in death on the cross
that he might win life for the world;
help us in the power of his victory
to triumph over evil
and to glory in his cross alone;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Tell all the world of Jesus,
that everyone may know
of his almighty triumph
defeating every foe:
proclaim his coming glory,
when sin is overthrown
and he shall reign in splendour —
the King upon his throne!
James Seddon (1915–1983)