In Romans 1: 16 St Paul wrote “I am not ashamed of the Gospel”. I have been thinking what he might mean. He had to deal with all those Jewish converts who found it so hard really to understand that all the rituals of the Jewish religion were utterly unimportant, even rubbish, for somebody who had the freedom to be a disciple of Jesus (Phil 3; 1-8). He means “I am not ashamed of Jesus”. In ‘young people speak’ today, people might say ‘Jesus and the things associated with him, especially the Churchare not cool’. The Gospel is in fact the person of Jesus Christ who is with me and among us for as long as we want to belong to him and his “gang”.


I am increasingly aware that I should do all in my power to make being a follower of Jesus ‘cool’. But this can only happen if I have a genuine experience of Him, of Jesus in me and among ‘us’.


Nobody ever sees God and we do see our neighbour. For forty years now I have been exposed to a way of following God that is called a ‘communitarian way’. This way leads to God himself as truly as anyone who has never been exposed to it.


It is a different way to behave and act because underpinning it is the Gospel truth that we belong as disciples to ‘one body, the body of Christ’. We could say ‘we belong together to the person of Christ’. It is both to my shame and a reflection of reality that I am still, after forty years, prone to act as a man in relation to God not so much “with others” but as a man with my individual relationship with God alone. This “individualism” goes back a long way and probably the eighteenth century enlightenment was a strong supporting factor. Whether it is part of the human condition, of being a part of the fallen human race, I am not sure. I do know that the modern experience both when I am in front of my computer and when I am driving my car emphasises this individualism; unless every time I use the computer or the car it is in some way in the service of God and others. My whole life will only make sense if it is seen in service of God and others.


To this end I would like to quote again from a reflection of my friend Manfred who has an incurable brain tumour, writing soon after the tumour was first treated in May 2012. It may help to explain what I am trying to explain, and as only last Monday I had the joy of a long conversation with him, here is a photograph of him and me on that day. He insisted I wore a woolly hat-he was suffering from a severe headache and it does add something. His spirit has grown since May 2012, and he still sees everything that has happened to him in regards his terminal illness as God’s love for him.

Hi all,


Just a quick update on how it’s all progressing. First off all a big thanks for all the prayers and support. It’s been very important and great! Most importantly I am feeling actually quite well, according to the doc better than anticipated. Well, that’s from the brain perspective.


I have now completed my chemoradio therapy on the 4th May, and since then have been dealing with the after effects, which is mainly tiredness and continued loss of appetite. Both of those are getting better and last Friday I managed to have a proper full meal for the first time in a long while!! My appetite is slowly coming back.


As far as tiredness and fatigue is concerned it was hitting me quite badly, but I have to say that the last two days in May things have actually been quite good. Had good nights sleep and by and large felt great. Even managed to watch the whole of Champions League Final!


Then I had a bit of a scare on when I seem to loose part of my sight in the left eye. But to my relief my brain docs were not worried about it from the tumour side but sent me last Tuesday to Moorfields Eye Hospital. There the extent of God’s love became clear again when I was diagnosed with a detached retina. The following day I was again under the knife for 1 hr and 20mins. Now I have to lie on my right side for a week for 50 mins of each hour, practically always. Had to cancel my holiday in Scotland as I was literally otherwise detained!!!


What can I say other than, God is great all the time and all the time God is great! His love sometimes feels overwhelming, but it is so good, because all these occasions are a real eye opener (good pun, eh!!) for me. More and more I understand what it is that he is trying to do: To free me from anything that is in the way of loving him and to guide us to live with him in our midst offering all our big or small gifts. I thank him for being in our midst in focolare and in the zone. I thank him for the peace and joy he gives me. I thank him for his love. I offer all so that there is always Jesus amongst us in this focolare of the zone, for the Mariapolis and for the young people. I couldn’t begin to list the gifts I have received from God during this period! He is simply great and most of all he is really Love!


Next steps: Tomorrow back to brain hospital for treatment. Then on the 6th the first MRI scan after all the treatment to see how my brain looks after all the pounding. Then chemo increase from 150mg to 550mg for the first week of each month. If my blood count is ok in June then …waiting what God wants next!


Always meeting each one of you in the pact of unity