Speak Lord: Saviour

DSC08967 Nantes.jpg

Now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, which is better than the one made by men’s hands because it is not of this created order; and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption for us. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer are sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement and they restore the holiness of their outward lives; how much more effectively the blood of Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit, can purify our inner self from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God.

He brings a new covenant, as the mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: his death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant.

Second reading for Corpus Christi
Hebrews 9:11-15

The Letter to the Hebrews offers an extended reflection on the connection between the covenantal love of God made available and applied through the Temple cult of Israel and the covenantal love of God newly made available to all of humankind by the redemption won for us in Christ.

In Christ we find the new altar, sacrifice and priest: we find the one who is God with us and for us.

  • Where do we need that love?
  • Bring your needs to the Lord in prayer.

Painting. Church of St Nicolas, Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Lord of Glory

Egypt Christ in Glory

The Second reading on Sunday, the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, comes from the letter to the Colossians.

We leave behind the letter to the Galatians – source of second reading over past weeks – but remain withn the corpus of Paul’s letters, or at least a letter traditionally associated with him, and which is in accord with his teaching.

Christ Jesus 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 1:15-20

Whether or not the rest of the Letter is to the Colossians was written by Paul this particular passage quite probably is not from him. It seems to be a liturgical hymn that he quotes approvingly – a hymn that celebrates the cosmic Christ.

Typically Paul focuses on the Cross and the Passion, but here the focus is more akin to the Prologue of John’s Gospel, on the transcendence and the divinty of the Second person of the Trinity who is perfectly united with the human person of Jesus.

Whoever it was who wrote Colossians, here they warmly embrace this poetic expression of the glory of Christ, before all time and before all things, and by whom all time, all things are created.

This God of glory comes to us – as our Good Samaritan – to bind our wounds and guide us to safety and health eternal.

  • Spend some time in contemplation of the Glory of Christ.
  • Give thanks for his mercy and love.

Christ in Glory, Church and St Mina Monastery, Alexandria, Egypt. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: Fame

Pope and Dylan

Sunday’s Gospel spoke of Jesus’ identity.

He is identified under the role and names of prophets past and present; he is named as the Messiah, the Christ.

Jesus hears these identifications, and takes them on board. He then speaks of himself, and identifies himself, simply, simply as the Son of Man, destined to suffer, to be rejected and killed, and then to be taised -declares to the disciples that this ‘great man’ is to be robbed of his life and that he will then receive it back as gift.

He continues that those who wish to be associated with him, to follow him, must accept the same ‘fate’

One day when Jesus was praying alone in the presence of his disciples he put this question to them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ And they answered, ‘John the Baptist; others Elijah; and others say one of the ancient prophets come back to life.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ It was Peter who spoke up. ‘The Christ of God’ he said. But he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this.

‘The Son of Man’ he said ‘is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’

Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it.’

Luke 9:18-24

Greatness cannot feature in the Christian world. Not greatness in terms of rank and position or fame; the only claim to greatness that can mean anything lasting is the claim that is based solely on faithfulness, solely on service. Talent, gifts can be used to sustain faithfulness and love, or they can draw us from that.

  • What do you use your gifts for?
  • For what do you seek life?
  • What matters most to you? Why?

Posters in Rome. (c) 2003, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: You are Christ.

Ravenna

The Collect, the Opening Prayer, at Mass on Sunday had the Church pray for something quite extraordinary and remarkable.

Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism
may, under your protective care, bear much fruit
and come to the joys of life eternal.
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.

For myself, I tend to think of the Paschal Mystery as something which is about Jesus, about his Passion, Death, Rising and Ascension. These events in his life are source of salvation for us, of course, but I had not really thought of the Paschal Mystery – as the Collect has us ask – being accomplished within us.

Yet, of course, it is. St Paul writes powerfully of our dying and rising in Christ. The Collect takes it a wonderful and and moving step forward, asserting that he also dies and rises in us.

The intimacy and communion shared with us by the Risen Lord is extraordinary. And it leads us to life beyond what we can conceive, but is his free gift.

Christ and his Church together make up the “whole Christ” (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:

  • Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does “head and members” mean? Christ and the Church. (St Augustine)
  • Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself. (Pope St Gregory)
  • Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person. (St Thomas Aquinas)
  • A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 795

Isn’t it a wonder!

  • Wherein are you like Christ? And where can you see yourself in him?
  • Wherein are you unlike? How might his ministry help you continue to grow?

Neonian Baptistery, Ravenna. 

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.