Taste and See: Peace and harmony

Dove of Peace, St Petersburg

There was a happy arrangement of texts in the Liturgy of the Word on Sunday, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary time.

The Gospel acclamation reminded of the importance of following Jesus, Light of the world, that through him we might have that light. Without faithful following we live in (at least relative) darkness:

Alleluia, alleluia!
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
anyone who follows me will have the light of life. Alleluia!

Jn 8:12

In latter part of Sunday’s Gospel we heard of those who are following Jesus physically, but who are still preoccupied with worldly, darkening, things.

After leaving the mountain Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.
They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

Mark 9:30-37

And immediately before we have heard from one of those who were self-important, and arguing on the road. And James has made some progress, and he knows the progress has been made by the wisdom that came from heaven. The progress has been made not by him, but by gift, but the progress in James is testimony to the power and efficacy of the gift.

Wherever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony, and wicked things of every kind being done; whereas the wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it also makes for peace, and is kindly and considerate; it is full of compassion and shows itself by doing good; nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it. Peacemakers, when they work for peace, sow the seeds which will bear fruit in holiness.
Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. Why you don’t have what you want is because you don’t pray for it; when you do pray and don’t get it, it is because you have not prayed properly, you have prayed for something to indulge your own desires.

James 3:16-4:3

Wisdom, love, growth, peace are not given to us only for ourselves. Hard-won, by God’s grace and our sometimes readiness to recognise and cooperate with that grace, the gift is for sharing.

  • What and where have you to share today?
  • What and why do you also need to receive?

Dove of Peace from the Cathedral of Spilled Blood, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris. 

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Speak Lord: That we all may confess your name

Eucharistic Dove, Paris 2004

The second reading at the Mass of Pentecost tomorrow comes from the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians.

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

On the face of it the first line of the reading is open to easy contradiction. For most anyone can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ and not be under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Paul though presumes that we will only ever say what we mean! And to say and mean that Jesus is Lord is to distinguish ourselves from the people of this world for whom earthly rulers are Lord, and from those others, Jews and non-Jews, who do not accept Jesus as Lord. This is a momentous statement, to say that Jesus is Lord and we can only say and mean it with the power and help of the Spirit.

Those who can and do say and mean it – we know – are of all stripes. There are Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and all sorts; those strong in faith, those struggling and shaky. If the Church is comprised of all those who profess faith in Jesus as Lord (Discuss!), then the Church is a very eclectic body. It is the Body of Christ, but what variety is sustained by the Spirit as it places itself to a greater or lesser extent at the disposal of the Spirit, to grow more fully into the likeness of Christ.

  • At Mass tomorrow gaze upon the diversity of the community inspired by the Spirit, gathered to give thanks to the Father in Christ.

Eucharistic Dove – hanging pyx. Musée du Cluny, Paris. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.