Speak Lord: Light, Life, Joy

Light catchers, Avignon

Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Easter and the Responsorial psalm is again a psalm that is full of praise and longing to praise.

That sometime gap between the longing to praise and the reality of praise is maybe especially pertinent for us to note at this stage in Easter. If indeed we still remember that it is Easter: after all, look around, most people won’t, or just don’t, care that it is Easter. The day came and went, we had our Easter Eggs, let’s get on with life…

Yet is is Easter, and without it we would not have life. It is Easter, the season of thanksgiving for the Lord’s rising from the dead and, maybe still more wonderful, our sharing in that rising from the death of sin and fault and weariness and all. His rising is once and for all: our rising will find its fulfilment in eternal life, but for now it makes its presence known in the daily risings following the daily falls. For these too we praise.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
or
Alleluia!

O God, be gracious and bless us
and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your saving help.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
or
Alleluia!

Let the nations be glad and exult
for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
or
Alleluia!

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
or
Alleluia!

Psalm 66:2-3,5-6,8

  • Where do you find the light of God’s face?
  • Where do you find his saving help comes to your assistance?

Light catchers, Prison Sainte Anne, Avignon. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

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Speak Lord: Our Light

Christ and Apostles, Charlecote

Sunday is the 5th Sunday of Easter. And the Second Reading at its Mass continues our hearing of John’s vision of the New Jerusalem related in the Book of the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation..

In the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it.

Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23

At the end there is only God and us. Yet so often we live our lives distract by so many things… Their dust obscures the brightness of God and our communion with him.

  • What obscures light and love in your life?
  • What in God draws you to him?

Detail of rose window, St Leonard’s Charlecote, Warwickshire. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: we need to hear you

S Maria in Cosmedin

Sunday is the 6th Sunday of Easter, the last before the feast of the Ascension and three before the great and last feast of Easter, Pentecost.

It is a time for taking stock, for knowing afresh the power of the Lord of love, and considering, honestly, how that loveliness lives in us.

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him and make our home with him.
Those who do not love me do not keep my words.
And my word is not my own:
it is the word of the one who sent me.
I have said these things to you while still with you;
but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all I have said to you.
Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give,
this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.
If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father,
for the Father is greater than I.
I have told you this now before it happens,
so that when it does happen you may believe.’

John 14:23-29

That taking stock can be a little depressing when we recognise our faults and failings and again regret them.

The Evil One seeks to exploit that gap, focus in our our failings, and our regrets; to dis-spirit us, to make us doubt our calling, our ability and most powerfully of all doubt God’s continued love for us. The Evil One wants nothing more for us to give up; dull and then silence our regrets; stop trying; cease to be.

The Gospel frustrates his plans and strengthens us. Jesus came for us; died and rose for us, conquering sin and death. He came and comes – in word and Sacrament – to sustain us, the walking wounded – wounded, yes, but walking and beloved of God. He came and comes not for the healthy (and by the way, where are they?) but for the sick.

Our regrets? Treasure them, and let them bring us back and closer to the Lord our God, our healer, our salvation.

Fresco, S. Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Fruitful love

Vineyard, Beziers

The Communion Antiphon on Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Easter, had us sing of our unity with the Lord – his gift,our blessing.

Communion Antiphon

I am the true vine and you are the branches, says the Lord.
Whoever remains in me, and I in him, bears fruit in plenty, alleluia.

Cf. Jn 15: 1, 5

In the Gospel we were reminded of the Lord’s command that we should love as we have been loved. In the living of love we are as one. The communion antiphon presents that unity using the metaphor of vine and branches and fruitfulness.

It reminds that the love we receive and the love we are to live is not just for us, but is ours to share with others. Love is to be fruitful in us, for the benefit of others.

VIneyard, Beziers, France. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: endurance and hope

 

Paul, St Paul os the Walls

The First Reading at Mass on Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Easter, came from the Acts of the Apostles and told of the completion of St Paul’s first missionary journey (together with Barnabas). It includes a lot of place names and is almost just the itinerary of their journey. But there is more…

Paul and Barnabas went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’ In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.

They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.

On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans.

Acts 14:21-27

In itself the list of place names should  give contemporary Christians pause for thought, and pause for prayer. These are places in modern day Turkey, a country currently housing 2.7 million refugees from Syria.

What also should give pause for thought and prayer is the example Paul and Barnabas set for their support of the new Christian communities they have established, and the putting in place of elders: in these ways, and by their own example, resourcing the local Church to endure hardship and remain faithful.

  • Who do we resource and how?
  • What is the example we give?
  • To whom do we give account of what God has done with us?

St Paul, servant-slave, preaching the Gospel. Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Newness promised

Kensal Green memorialThe second reading at Mass yesterday, Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Easter, reminds us of the glory and goodness that lies ahead for us.

I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband.

Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘You see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them; they shall be his people, and he will be their God; his name is God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone.’

Then the One sitting on the throne spoke: ‘Now I am making the whole of creation new.’

Apocalypse 21:1-5

In this present age we will have death to grapple with, and mourning, sadness and tears..

But the word of God, and the sacraments, accompany us and sustain us on the journey to the new Jerusalem.

In heaven these gifts of God cease, there we will see and hear the Word direct, face to face, without need for the mediation of scripture and sacrament. And we will be new. God promises.

 

Grave memorial, Kensal Green Cemetery. (c) 2009, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Of striving in faith

Holy Door John Lateran II

The First reading at Mass today, the 5th Sunday of Easter, reminds of the struggle to live faithfully, to grapple with the experience of hardships.

Paul and Barnabas went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’ In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.

They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.
On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans.

Acts 14:21-27

This unity between Paul and Barnabas will not last much longer: they will argue over how to pursue the mission, and what resources from the Church they can draw on. Hardships and struggles come from without and from within, but in faith, and in Christ, the mission continues…

  • What are your present hardships?
  • What have you struggled with in the past?
  • Where is God opening doors in the life of those around you.

Detail of the Holy Door, St John Lateran. (c) 2016, Allen Morris