Taste and See: No-one is alone

 

Memorial to the Passion, Cathedral, Aix en ProvenceIn England and Wales this year, Sunday 14th August was kept as the Solemnity of the Assumption, (in other years it is kept on 15th August).

The Second reading at the Mass during the day came from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death, for everything is to be put under his feet.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26

The last phrase of the last sentence of the passage is an encouraging one. We may find ourselves struggling with all sorts of things that would draw us from a godly life, or seek to tempt us to sin. But all these things will end up, defeated, overcome and under his feet.

Wise counsel, generally, is for us not to seek to conquer sin and temptation alone. But to invoke to our aid the prayer and assistance of the Lord, of the angels and saints too. The Lord has won the victory,  and participates in the particular battles still to be fought. We are not alone, left o our own devices. We are cherished and assisted in a multitude of ways.

  • In prayer spend a moment, thanking God for his love and renewing your trust in him.

Shrine to the Passion, Cathedral, Aix en Provence. (c) 2006, Allen Morris.

Taste and see: the long road home

Lynton path

Sunday was the 4th Sunday of Lent, and Laetare Sunday. It invited us to a joyful celebration of the faithfulness of God and encouraged us to renew our trust in God.

Two of the prayers proper to the day give particular expression to this and asks God for continued help and care in these final days of Lent.

First is the Collect prayer which concluded the Introductory Rites.

O God, who through your Word
reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way,
grant, we pray,
that with prompt devotion and eager faith
the Christian people may hasten
toward the solemn celebrations to come.

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.

The second was the (optional) concluding Prayer over the People, asking for God’s continued support.

Look upon those who call to you, O Lord,
and sustain the weak;
give life by your unfailing light
to those who walk in the shadow of death,
and bring those rescued by your mercy from every evil
to reach the highest good.

Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

These prayers rehearse us in the sometimes resisted attitudes of asking for help, of expressing our neediness, and placing our trust in God.

  • For what in particular do you want to ask for help?
  • What are your particular needs (that maybe as yet you have not asked for help with)
  • If you can, why can you put your trust in God? And, if you can”t, what makes you hesitate?

Path and bench. Lynton. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Bring us home…

Prodigal

The responsorial psalm for Mass tomorrow, the 4th Sunday of Advent, echoes themes of the Year of Mercy.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
shine forth from your cherubim throne.
O Lord, rouse up your might,
O Lord, come to our help.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,
look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it,
the vine your right hand has planted.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,
the man you have given your strength.
And we shall never forsake you again;
give us life that we may call upon your name.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Psalm 79:2-3,15-16,18-19

Often we think of Christmas as a time when God comes to join us. However another way of us thinking about Incarnation and Salvation is about humanity returning to God: turning again and finding home with him, rather than seeking our lives for ourselves and by ourselves.

Israel is clearer about this that Christians, much of the time. Christians, especially now and in the West, often reduce the life of faith as to what God does for us, God as servant, God’s gift. All these are part of the truth, but of themselves inadequate. Of themselves they can leave us in the driving seat, and reduce God, salvation to commodities, even optional extras (though attractive and desirable ones.)

Christian faith is about our being, and our purpose, our ontology and teleology. We were made in the image and likeness of God, to live in a certain intimacy with him. These realities have been put in jeopardy by our sin and the sin of the world: some Christians even say they have been lost to us through sin. Catholic doctrine does not go that far, but our tradition does know the disfiguring and life-threatening nature of sin and warns us to consider it with full seriousness.

Yet we are called back, helped up and helped back…

We give thanks, and seek to accept the help, and seek to find benefit in it.

 

The return of the Prodigal. Rembrandt. Hermitage, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.