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 Jacob had to work for seven years to earn the right to marry Rachel – then he was tricked by her father. In order to fulfil his desires, Jacob agreed to work for a further seven years in order finally to marry the girl whom he loved – fourteen years in total!

Likewise in Matthew’s gospel the two blind men were absolutely determined to be healed by Jesus, so much so that they followed him right into the house where he was staying. Jesus saw their great faith and rewarded it by restoring their sight – an event that they just had to share with the world.

In the Church of England & Wales today, and elsewhere in the world, many Catholics no longer practice their faith and there is a great shortage of priests. In fact, it is believed that two thirds of Catholics no longer attend Sunday Mass. As Catholic Mass attendance falls, this has a knock on effect on parishes and their ability to keep afloat and to maintain their communities and the buildings for which they are responsible.

Many priests are running two or more parishes and with fewer young people visible in the pews at Mass, parishes themselves close or become Mass centres for the few remaining souls.

How do we reverse this decline? First and foremost through persistent prayer; we have to plead with God to send more workers into the field and we lay people must also be prepared to do more within our parishes and to go out and evangelise. We need to identify the absent Catholics and warmly invite them to come home.

We must also “trust in the Lord for protection” as we pray and work for His church.

Scripture: Genesis 28:1-29:35 Matthew 9:18-38; Psalm 11:1-7; Proverbs 3:11-12