The 1st July, this year, was the Silver Jubilee of my ordination. To be honest, I was dreading a big celebration but felt I should do something for two reasons. The first, was that we never seem to get the chance for all of us to celebrate together: the whole community. My anniversary seemed to offer a good opportunity because, let’s face it, a priest without people would be altogether daft. The second reason was my Mum had always wanted to see me working in a parish and left me some money to celebrate my jubilee when I finally got there.
So, I had planned a Mass, on the day, that I would celebrate and to which everyone was to be invited. I had asked my friend, who is now the Archbishop of Southwark, to preach. The choir of St John’s Cathedral, who sang at the ceremony twenty-five years ago, were going to provide the music. Afterwards, on me, everyone was to be invited to a buffet reception in the primary school. Sadly, it was not to be!
What I’d always wanted, was to celebrate my jubilee at Saint Joseph’s in a way that everyone could enjoy and remember. So I decided to use my Mum’s money to pay for the crucifix above the high altar to be restored and improved. I did this in memory of those loved ones we lost in this crisis. Please accept this as my gift to the whole community to celebrate twenty five years of priestly ministry.
As you can see from the before-and-after picture, Lewis & Lewis have done a beautiful job. The wood of the cross has been re-stained and varnished and the figure of Jesus has been painted in a more realistic way. His sacred wounds have been subtly defined, as have the features of his holy face.
There is one change which perhaps needs some explanation: the golden ephod. Obviously, Christ died without dignity, barely covered by a linen loin cloth—or perhaps, as the Gospels suggest, naked on the cross. Why then is he clothed in gold? In the Old Testament the garment worn by the High Priest as he entered the holy place was called an ephod. It was made of fine gold thread and could only be worn by the king or priest. Jesus hanging on the cross is our High Priest—he alone is king, the one who has entered the holy place. Through the light of his Resurrection we now see the one who died without dignity as clothed in glory—this hope we entertain for all who believe.