Taste and See: With Christ, a new beginning

dsc06965-christ-blessing

We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light.
Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

He is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers –
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.

As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross.

Colossians 1:12-20

Sunday was the feast of Christ the King. It was the last day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. It was also the beginning of the last week of the Church’s year.

A last day that was  a day of new beginnings. Pope Francis has urged the Church now to be still more confident in her proclamation of mercy, day by day, and in her extending the mercy of God, from which we have already benefited, to others who may not, or dare to know, know the good news.

The reading above helps us to that confidence and to a ministry of mercy. It helps us see our lives in the broader context of God’s work of Creation and Redemption.

Our own of work of witness may require a certain courage on our part, but we are not alone in our attempting of it. God is with us, and before us preparing the way, and following after us – and not only if things go wrong.

We are a team, together. Or as Colossians puts it, in good Pauline fashion: we are of one body with Christ as our head. And all will be well.

  • Give thanks

Stained Glass. Lichfield Cathedral (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Loving Lord

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Yesterday was the feast of Christ the King, and the beginning of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. It was also the beginning of the last week of the Church’s year.

It is a time for celebrating the triumph and rule of Christ; Victor over death and sin; faithful Shepherd; Servant King.

It is also a time for grateful acknowledgement of our being able to live free because of his victory; cherished members of his flock; and privileged to share in his ministry of service.

In the Collect at Mass yesterday we praised God and prayed for a deepening of our sharing in the life of his kingdom, for us and for all. The prayer merits a quieter and more personal repetition today.

Almighty ever-living God,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of the universe,
grant, we pray,
that the whole creation, set free from slavery,
may render your majesty service
and ceaselessly proclaim your praise.
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.

 

Enamelled figure of Christ reigning from the Cross. Hermitage, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: King to your subjects…

CHrist the KingAt Mass tomorrow we sing part of Psalm 92. This Sunday is the feast of Christ the King and the psalm lauds the Lord as King.

The Lord is king, with majesty enrobed.

The Lord is king, with majesty enrobed;
the Lord has robed himself with might,
he has girded himself with power.

The world you made firm, not to be moved;
your throne has stood firm from of old.
From all eternity, O Lord, you are.

Truly your decrees are to be trusted.
Holiness is fitting to your house,
O Lord, until the end of time.

Psalm 92:1-2,5

Praising the kingship of Christ is one thing: words can come easy. Living as ‘subjects’ is not so straightforward.

Where do we show trust of the Lord’s decrees? Where does God’s law take precedence over…. Well, take precedence over what? Our preferences? Our judgements? Our conscience?

Words can come easy, but to help sustain our seeking after Christ’s kingdom, and our praying for God’s will to be done (which made Jesus sweat blood!), we need to take note of the grist we bring to the mill.

Figure of Christ the King. Limoges, c1200. VIctoria and Albert Museum. Photograph (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Sustained by love

 

Healing

The Gospel for Sunday’s Mass of Christ the King gave great emphasis to the importance of the works of mercy.

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’

Matthew 25:31-46

The works of mercy are of course beautiful works, pleasing to God and of great benefit to neighbour – and to those who carry them out.

But they are also, often, exhausting.

When we find that observation to be compelling in its truth, it is good to remember that this is how the Lord ministers to us. And not only to the point of exhaustion but to his very death.

In our hungers and thirsts, in our alienation and aloneness, when we are exposed, imprisoned by sin, the Lord comes to us and ministers to us. Whether things are true about and for us in their usual literal sense or true in a metaphorical sense – the Lord ministers to us (astounding but true.) He calls us to life and to wholeness in him.

Photograph is of the healing of the paralytic by Jesus. The carving features on one of the pillars built over the house of Peter in Capernaum. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of Judgement and Life

Last Judgement, NOtre Dame

The Gospel for today’s Mass of Christ the King is the great parable of the great judgement.

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’

Matthew 25:31-46

There are many ways in which judgement could be exercised. But here the concern of the Lord is about the quality of love, the stepping out from our own needs to care for neighbour, in which – it is revealed – we show care for the Lord.

  • As the Church year comes to an end, look back, take stock, where have you shown care for others?
  • Where have others shown care for you?

Given thanks and make a new (Church) year resolution to be even more generous in your response to those in need.

Photograph is of Judgement as portrayed in the West Door of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.