Speak Lord: to us all

I, John, heard a voice speaking to me: ‘Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.’

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelations to you for the sake of the churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the morning.

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.

The one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.

2nd Reading for the 7th Sunday of Easter
Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20

God, as Christians know God, is One, but also Three. Community is inherent to God’s being, and made known in a particular way in the Incarnation of the Word, and the working of the Holy Spirit.

Community is also constitutive of human beings. We cannot be ourselves, alone. For our flourishing God calls us to communion with him, but also with each other in the Church, but also with all people (our neighbours)

All are called, all are welcome.

Stained glass. Couvent des Jacobins, Toulouse. Photograph (c) 2018, Allen Morris.

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Speak Lord: unite us in prayer, and in you.

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: ‘Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me.

‘May they all be one.

‘Father, may they be one in us,
‘as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one.

‘With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.

‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

‘Father, Righteous One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me. I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.’

Gospel for the 7th Sunday of Easter
John 17:20-26

The Scriptures open with the account of creation, one in its variety and complexity, and seen as good by the Lord. That unity, that goodness is marred by the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

In Christ that unity can be recovered. What is prefigured in Israel is now extended to all of humanity.

Come, Holy Spirit…

Carving, The Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Future glory, future security

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.

2nd reading for the 6th Sunday of Easter
Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23

The Old City of Jerusalem is an extraordinary place. There has trod saints and sinners in surely greater concentration than any where else on earth. There witness has been borne to the holiness of God and the potential of holiness in humankind. There witness has been borne to the some of the worst excesses of hatred and violence of which humankind is capable.

The Scriptures offer us the promise of a renewed and entirely holy city. They also show us the way forward that we might be citizens there.

  • What heavenly virtue might you seek help in cultivating?
  • What quality might you seek to be free of?

Heavenly Jerusalem. Banner in Church of St Victor, Marseille. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: At one, at home

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.’

Gospel for 6th Sunday of Easter
John 14:23-29

There is no hiding the generosity of spirit.

‘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…’

The use of ‘he’ is a consequence of lingusitic convention. Jesus means ‘If ANYONE loves me they will keep my word …’

We put up barriers, define differences to include and exclude. And there are distinctions between us, for sure, and important ones – like ‘he’ and ‘she’.

But in Christ there is only us, and in that unity, established in him and founded on love, distinctions are but one more reason for celebration.

  • What aspects of unity delight you?
  • And which distinctions?

Stained glass window, Musee des Augustins, Toulouse, France. Photo (c) 2018, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: For our help…

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.

Then the apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:

‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter.

It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’

First reading for the 6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 15:1-2,22-29

The issue then was ‘Do you have to be a Jew to respond most fully to God, to live in covenant with him?’ And the answer was ‘No. Because of Jesus the messianic age has dawned. As prophesied the nations now turn to the God who called Israel to himself. But they come not as Jews but as the nations, in their own right – not in competition with Israel, and not to supersede Israel, but as further parts of the human family, responding to the One God.

The Jews who know Jesus as Lord simply call on the people of the nations who know Jesus as Lord, to be good people, living in accord with their faith in the one God, true to his word.

In our day what have we Christians to say to those beyond our ‘tribe’ How do we honour their difference and – because God is God and they are his creatures – their already being children of God? To Jews? To Muslims? To people of other beliefs?

  • Does our belief in the Church, and Baptism, lead us – even unconsciously – to diminish and alienate others?
  • Or does our belief in God and virtue allow us to recognise and honour – and be assisted by – all that is good and godly in them?

Stained glass. Couvent des Jacobins, Toulouse. Photograph (c) 2018, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Gift and Giver

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

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 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.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

Responsorial psalm for the 6th Sunday of Easter
Psalm 66(67):2-3,5-6,8

The Lord nourishes and supports us through his many gifts – the gift of his Body and Blood; the gift of his Spirit. And because he wants to love us into life.

  • Why? And to what end in your life?

Stained glass. Couvent des Jacobins, Toulouse. Photograph (c) 2018, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Refuge and source of life

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.

2nd reading for the 6th Sunday of Easter
Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23

All in the heavenly Jerusalem speaks of the saving love of God – speaks of the people first chosen as his people; speaks of the apostles who help the Lord extend access to the covenant of his love to the people; speaks of life, light and love.

And all this for us, and all this good news for us to share with others…

Stained glass. Couvent des Jacobins, Toulouse. Photograph (c) 2018, Allen Morris.