Speak Lord: Unite us in you and in your Church

Aix 2104 OLady

The second reading on Sunday, the 26th in Ordinary Time, comes in two forms. The longer is below. The shorter is of just the first paragraph.

If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make me completely happy. There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, So that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus:

His state was divine,
yet he did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave,
and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings in the heavens,
on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11

For Paul the Christian life is not something we can live alone. It is a life lived together: together in the Church, and together with Christ Jesus. And it is a life lived in love.

So, two reality checks for today.

  • How much of my life do I live with others? How much ‘against’ them?
    How do I know? Would others agree?
  • How loving is my life? How care-less?
    How do I know? Would others agree?

The image is of Mary, Mother of the Church. The sight of burning candles is a constant reminder of the community and its needs, the community and its prayers. Photograph of shrine in  Église du Saint-Esprit, Aix-en-Provence (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: living gifts

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The second reading at tomorrow’s Mass of Pentecost speaks of the confessing Christian being ‘under the influence’ of the Holy Spirit. It is a reminder of how some of those who witnessed the disciples on the first Pentecost suspected that they were full of new wine (Acts 2.13). Peter put them right! (Acts 2.15), but there is something intoxicating abut the power and the freedom of the life in faith gifted to us.

And yet, in the daily grind, we can lose awareness of the newness made available to us each day – and made available to us to share with others. Let St Paul raise our minds and hearts to welcome the deeper truth of our lives and their infinite possibilities.

No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13

  • What gift(s) of the Holy Spirit have you received?
  • How have you taken responsibility for them, using them, developing them?
  • What gifts of the Spirit do you see in those around you? How do affirm and encourage them in their use of the gifts of the Spirit?

Image is from the Living Way United Methodist website

Taste and see: with whom did you worship?

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The Church teaches that Christ is present in our celebration of Mass in various ways, really present in diverse ways.

Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross”, but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20) .

Sacrosanctum concilium 7 (Sacrosanctum concilium is the Latin title of Vatican II’s teaching document on the Liturgy, the worship of the Church)

Sometimes we focus almost exclusively on the presence of the Lord in the Eucharistic species – the Bread and Wine that is his Body and Blood, his very self and life offered us as food and drink.

Maybe the most scandalous presence of the Lord is in the gathering of the Church – the Lord present in this one, that one, each one who are members of the Body of Christ.

How and as whom did the Lord make himself present to you in the gathering for Mass on Sunday? A child? An elderly person? Someone filled with joy? Someone who seemed on the point of tears? Who?

What do you learn from His presence in them, as them?

Gandhi taught: ‘If you don’t find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further’ Maybe he would have been delighted (and perhaps surprised) to know how literally the Church can take that.

Image found at http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/thinking-about-body-of-christ.html