The first reading at Mass today, on the feast of Christ the King, is an account of one of the visions of Daniel.
It speaks of the power of God, shared with his people. It is interpreted also in the Church as a foreshadowing of the ministry of God in flesh, Jesus Christ.
I gazed into the visions of the night.
And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven,
one like a son of man.
He came to the one of great age
and was led into his presence.
On him was conferred sovereignty,
glory and kingship,
and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants.
His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty
which shall never pass away,
nor will his empire ever be destroyed.
Visions are problematic things. Sometimes visionaries are unstable; but sometimes it is because they are unstable that they are the capable recipients of dreams and vision that are authentic prophesy or private revelation. Sometimes it is those who are not the visionaries who in the violence of their response to the reports of vision – either in approval or conndemnation – who show themselves up, and reveal a lack of firm grounding in the Gospel and gospel values.
Daniel’s vision, (given canonical status through its inclusion in Scripture!), invites us to an awareness that the meaning and direction, the ‘end ‘ or final purpose of life and of our individual lives, relies on more than just us and the here and now.
Living subject to the Kingship of Christ, or to the will of the Father, rely on the same sort of openness to the importance of what is connected with us, but also lies beyond our ken.
Happy feast day!
- What forms of teaching do you find most persuasive and helpful?
- What forms do you find most challenging or even unhelpful?
- What have you learnt about faith most recently?
Moon over Boldmere. (c) 2015, Allen Morris
With the second reading the logic of the Liturgy of the Word for the Second Sunday of Lent starts to reveal itself.
The first reading retold the story of the testing of Abraham.
The psalm has us confess the presence and care of the Lord for us in all our circumstances.
Now words from St Paul offer us still further encouragement and hope.
With God on our side who can be against us? Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us.
Genesis tells us of the testing of Abraham, but that at the last God stopped the father sacrificing his Son. The New Testament tells us of God’s Son offering himself for the salvation of the world, and nothing would or could stop his self-offering.
St Paul says, after that what could shake our faith in God’s love and care for us.
- What does cause you to fear or doubt?
- In quiet trust, seek to bring that to the Lord in prayer, and know his love for you.
Photograph is of medieval Corpus, in Le Musée du Vieil Aix, Aix en Provence. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.
The Second Reading at tomorrow’s Mass, the Mass of the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, challenges us about what we ‘know’ of God, and invites us to a certain humility, and to awe, respect and praise.
How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge – and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods! Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be his counsellor? Who could ever give him anything or lend him anything? All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.
- What do you know of God?
- What evades your knowledge?
- What of yourself are willing to acknowledge before the Lord?
- What do you (to no avail) try to ‘hide’ from him?
Bring your answers to God in prayer…
Emily Dickinson, a great American poet, wrote:
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—
The image above, of St Joseph, after the first appearance of the angel announcing the Incarnation, does not do justice to his fuller eventual service of the Church, and of Jesus and Mary. However the sculptor does seem to have captured something of his bewilderment and being overwhelmed by the astonishing, seemingly incomprehensible things asked by God. Something we can probably all empathise with.
Image of carving in the cloister of St Trophime, Arles. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2014