Taste and See: Following

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Go before us with heavenly light, O Lord,
always and everywhere,
that we may perceive with clear sight
and revere with true affection
the mystery in which you have willed us to participate.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion

The Prayer after Communion on Sunday, the feast of the Epiphany reminded us tht although we face challange and change, we do not -and are not intended to face it alone. The Lord God leads us and accompanies us as we journey forward – and in our detours to keep us safe!

It is his gift, his joy. But, as always, we need to be ready to receive the gift, to remember it so as to make the most of it.

And so the Church prays.

  • Why is the Lord’s love and protection important to you?
  • How do you best make use of it?
  • How do you show your thankfulness for it?

Epiphany service. Liverpool Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Our light

dsc05369-magi-b

Arise, shine out, Jerusalem, for your light has come,
the glory of the Lord is rising on you,
though night still covers the earth
and darkness the peoples.

Above you the Lord now rises
and above you his glory appears.
The nations come to your light
and kings to your dawning brightness.

Lift up your eyes and look round:
all are assembling and coming towards you,
your sons from far away
and your daughters being tenderly carried.

At this sight you will grow radiant,
your heart throbbing and full;
since the riches of the sea will flow to you,
the wealth of the nations come to you;
camels in throngs will cover you,
and dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
everyone in Sheba will come,
bringing gold and incense
and singing the praise of the Lord.

Isaiah 60:1-6

Sunday is the feast of the Epiphany. This year, the feast falls on the last but one day of the Christmas Season. (The season itself ends with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated this year on Monday 9th January).

Isaiah invites us to look around and see the results of God’s invitation to the nations to come close and know his goodness.

  • Too often we look for, or at least see and notice, the bad things in our world. What, now, do you see that contains seeds of promise?
  • To what do you look to teach you how the world is?
  • How do you share your knowledge of good news?

Magi come to Bethlehem. Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Call us close(r)

DSC00587 Magi.jpgAll nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.

O God, give your judgement to the king,
to a king’s son your justice,
that he may judge your people in justice
and your poor in right judgement.

All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.

In his days justice shall flourish
and peace till the moon fails.
He shall rule from sea to sea,
from the Great River to earth’s bounds.

All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.

The kings of Tarshish and the sea coasts
shall pay him tribute.
The kings of Sheba and Seba
shall bring him gifts.
Before him all kings shall fall prostrate,
all nations shall serve him.

All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.

For he shall save the poor when they cry
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
and save the lives of the poor.

All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.

Psalm 71:1-2,7-8,10-13

Sunday is the feast of the Epiphany. This year, the feast falls on the last but one day of the Christmas Season. (The season itself ends with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated this year on Monday 9th January).

The psalm sung at Mass on Sunday tells of the nations response to God’s glory and goodness. The ancient song of Israel anticipates the coming of the Magi of Matthew’s Gospel, which itself anticipates the world’s knowledge and love and prayer and praise of God made manifest in Jesus Christ.

  • What draws you to the Lord?
  • What makes you hold back?
  • How might you share the good news of his coming, and present presence, with others?

Adoration of the Magi. Holy Trinity church, Stratford upon Avon. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: The giver gifted

france-december-2004-289-nativity

You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the grace he meant for you, and that it was by a revelation that I was given the knowledge of the mystery. 

This mystery that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in past generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel.

Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6

Sunday is the feast of the Epiphany. This year, the feast falls on the last but one day of the Christmas Season. (The season itself ends with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated this year on Monday 9th January).

The second reading at the Mass on Sunday reminds that the Christmas events, as the events of the saving Passion, Death and Resurrection, take place pro nobis, for us.

The saving mystery begins with what happened back then, but comes to a new pitch when its force encounters us, when we are drawn into , caught up in, that continuing work of God that loves us into life.

  • Give thanks.

One of the most affecting of Christmas carols, and one that bids us make our response to the child who is Son of God and son of Mary, was written by Christina Rossetti, and most familiar in a setting by Holst. You might like to listen to it here.

Nativity, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Be made new – and make new

Crown of thorns

The Second reading on Sunday, the Feast of the Epiphany,  spoke and speaks of revelation – of God giving of himself that his creatures, human beings, might be made one, and restored to a loving family united in him.

You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the grace he meant for you, and that it was by a revelation that I was given the knowledge of the mystery. This mystery that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in past generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel.

Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6

And all this in and through Jesus Christ.

The particularity of Jesus Christ, his importance and necessity for our salvation is a stumbling block for many. Too often that particularity is presented in the context of a religious colonialism and arrogance.

Yet Christ came to serve and to set free.

  • What is there about Catholic life in your life that is limiting and diminishing?
  • What is there that is liberating?
  • How does this manifest itself in your Catholic life and mission?
  • And in the life of your Catholic – or ecumenical – community?

Detail from Coventry Cathedral. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Good news for everyone

Magi Vatican MuseumIIThe Gospel reading yesterday – the second Sunday of Christmas, and the feast of the Epiphany – came from Matthew and tells of the wise men’s search for, and finding, of the infant king of the Jews.

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’

When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they told him ‘for this is what the prophet wrote:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,
for out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel.’

Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them on to Bethlehem. ‘Go and find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward, and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.

Matthew 2:1-12

It told of wise men, number unspecified, and not kings. Later tellings of the Christmas story are rather more specific! ‘Was surely three of them, and definitely they were kings!’

In nativity plays – perhaps for reasons of casting, perhaps for gender inclusivity there are wise women with the wise men, or queens with the kings.

Earlier times than ours also played fast and loose with the Bible narrative, and did so with theological purpose. In renaissance paintings it became common for the wise men to be depicted as kings and three, but one was old, one notably young, and the other middle aged; and one was African, one Asian, one European (from the three continents known in more ancient times).

In their diversity and their all-encompassing qualities these three men were presented in a way that allowed them to represent each and everyone from ‘the nations’. Their image reminded, taught, that the good news of the Incarnation and the mercy of God was for all of us, i.e. including those we think of as ‘them’ too.

  • Who do we exclude from our world view, from ‘us’?
  • How – with God’s grace – might we reach out to them, and with them grow in grace?

 

Detail showing the  wise men from the East. Vatican Museum. (c) 2010, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Call again, call to us

Mystery of Revelation of God

The first reading at Mass today comes from the prophet Isaiah, and speaks of the fulfilment of the promises to Israel in the whole world turning and coming to the one true God.

Arise, shine out, Jerusalem, for your light has come,
the glory of the Lord is rising on you,
though night still covers the earth
and darkness the peoples.

Above you the Lord now rises
and above you his glory appears.
The nations come to your light
and kings to your dawning brightness.

Lift up your eyes and look round:
all are assembling and coming towards you,
your sons from far away
and your daughters being tenderly carried.

At this sight you will grow radiant,
your heart throbbing and full;
since the riches of the sea will flow to you,
the wealth of the nations come to you;

camels in throngs will cover you,
and dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
everyone in Sheba will come,
bringing gold and incense
and singing the praise of the Lord.

Isaiah 60:1-6

On the feast of the Epiphany we remember the nations coming in the person of the Kings.

We also must acknowledge the way in which faithlessness also manifests itself in our history, including our religious history.

The feast of the Epiphany looks forward to what is still to come as well as commemorating what has been.

The Christ child still calls us all to be one.

Images of revelation. Cathedral of Spilled Blood, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.