Speak Lord: Our Lord in all…

Tabernacle Blessing LourdesThe second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, continues the theme of previous Sunday’s readings from this letter, of the new life in Christ.

This new life – gift of God – requires and enables our dying to all that keeps us from the fullness of life in Christ.

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; and never tell each other lies. You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised or the uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.

Colossians 3:1-5,9-11

The best quality of our life is hidden in Christ. Sadly what is often all too evident of our present lives are those features who are of our earthly life and which must be let go of, ‘killed’.

The current Year of Mercy provides the sort of reminder we regularly need that though God surely hates sin, he loves the sinner. We are assured of all the help we need as we seek to progress to the perfection and holiness that characterises the lives of the saints of God.

Detail of tabernacle. Rosary Basilica, Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of your good purpose

The first reading at Mass yesterday. the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, reminded of how God wills our good and our flourishng.Wedding, Aix

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed:

‘This at last is bone from my bones,
and flesh from my flesh!
This is to be called woman,
for this was taken from man.’

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.

Genesis 2:18-24

It is notable that our Liturgy names marriage as the one blessing not washed away in the great Flood!

That blessing, like so many that have followed since, is often cramped and compromised in the circumstances of our lives. Yet the still more of God’s love remains there for us to draw us forward and open us up to all that is good. Often – when we look back – the times of trial are the times that have enabled most growth. It is hard to believe at the time, but memory helps, and faith in God’s goodness and purpose for us.

To his goodness and his will we are invited to respond. (Indeed how churlish we will be if we don’t). That response often falls into the category of conversion (a more technical term for most human growth that is not purely physical): conversion to a life more free and capable of love.

If where we are right now such a change seems a long way away, let us try to express hope, and to exercise faith in God – even if we find it hard to trust in ourselves or others.

  • Pray for the Synod on Family Life and Mission
  • Pray for your family and friends
  • Pray for those who struggle today.

A wedding in Aix en Provence, France. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Taste and see: Blessing, God’s blessing.

A tile from the Court of the Myrtles, Nasrid Palace, Alhambra, Granada - bearing at its centre the Arabic word for 'Blessing'

A tile from the Court of the Myrtles, Nasrid Palace, Alhambra, Granada – bearing at its centre the Arabic word for ‘Blessing’

The Collect, the opening prayer, of Sunday’s Mass offers a rather beautiful account of the action of Christ’s saving of his people, and his people’s call to live out their lives as a saved people.

O God, who in the abasement of your Son
have raised up a fallen world,
fill your faithful with holy joy,
for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin
you bestow eternal gladness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The abasement? God the Son taking flesh, and uniting himself completely with a creature – and becoming humbler yet, being amongst us as one who serves.

He becomes less, in some sense, so he can raise us up. He descends by his will and in love. We have fallen through sin and, mostly, through lack of love – and yet we have been rescued from slavery to sin.

In our freedom there is eternal gladness, and yet we need to live that gladness, and too often, in the drudgery and challenge of daily life, we lose heart. So we pray for holy joy.

God gives us bliss, but we need his help to let bliss blossom and flourish in us, and us to blossom and flourish in us.

In prayer today

  • count your blessings
  • pray to know better what keeps you from ‘holy joy’.

 

Image (c) Allen Morris, 2014