Taste and See: the living of love

 

DSC02755

Almighty ever-living God,
who as an example of humility for the human race to follow
caused our Saviour to take flesh and submit to the Cross,
graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering
and so merit a share in his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Collect for Palm Sunday reminded of Christ’s coming to be with us so we might be with him, and for ever.

The opportunities are many this week for us to attend afresh to the lesson Christ gives, so as to benefit from the victory he wins.

Let us make the most of them by attending the services of Holy Week, preparing for them, and allowing some time of quiet reflection after them.

Detail of Crucifix. Albaicin, Granada, Spain. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Advertisements

Speak Lord: humble and reigning Lord

DSC00621a

His state was divine,
yet Christ Jesus 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 2:6-11

This Canticle is one we hear as our Second reading at Mass tomorrow. And it reappears in one form or another again and again in Holy Week.

It offers a very simple, very affective, account of the Paschal Mystery  – Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.

It draws us into a fresh appreciation of this – and invites us to honour Christ anew, and know once more the power of he himself and his work for our lives.

A perfect introduction to Holy Week…

  • For what will you pray this Holy Week?
  • What steps might you take to free yourself to take full part in the Liturgies of this Great Week?

Stained Glass. Holy Trinity, Stratford upon Avon. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: God with us and for us

Crucifix, Lisieux 2

The second reading on Sunday, the hymn from the Letter to the Philippians reminds us of the holiness of the one we have at the centre of our gaze this week: Jesus, fully human, fully divine.

In his humanity achieving all we have not: in his divinity manifesting to us divine love and our ultimate goal.

His state was divine,
yet Christ Jesus 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 2:6-11

We have busy lives and the business will impinge on our keeping of these coming Holy Days unless we are determined to keep it at bay.

What liturgies will you be able to attend in these days? And what time can you keep free and quiet before and after for preparation and reflection.

Good luck! Let’s pray for one another…

Detail of crucifix. Lisieux Cathedral. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Broken with us

Santa Croce crucifix

The Psalm for Palm Sunday draws us into an articulation of the agony of Christ – a physical, emotional and psychic agony. It is also a psalm that finds its end in a confession of faith and an assurance of community and communion in God.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

All who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
‘He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend.’

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Many dogs have surrounded me,
a band of the wicked beset me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet
I can count every one of my bones.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

They divide my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my robe.
O Lord, do not leave me alone,
my strength, make haste to help me!

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

I will tell of your name to my brethren
and praise you where they are assembled.
‘You who fear the Lord give him praise;
all sons of Jacob, give him glory.
Revere him, Israel’s sons.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Psalm 21:8-9,17-20,23-24

The Lord who suffers for us, also serves us as model for dealing with our sufferings.

It is our whole self, and all our experiences, that we are invited to bring to our fellowship with him in this coming week, this Holy Week.

Crucifix based on the image in the Holy Shroud. Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Loving Lord

Way of the Cross. Lincoln

Sunday is Palm Sunday or, as termed in the Missal, Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.

The day marks the Resurrection – as does every Sunday – and this Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, most particularly Jesus’ joyful entry into Jerusalem which began that fateful and saving week in which our salvation was won.

In addition to the opening Gospel which reminds of the entry into Jerusalem, teh hear a longer extract from Luke’s Gospel which treats of the Passion.

There are two versions authorised for use, the shorter, which is given here, and the longer which seems to be the most commonly used.

The elders of the people and the chief priests and scribes rose, and they brought Jesus before Pilate.

They began their accusation by saying, ‘We found this man inciting our people to revolt, opposing payment of the tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ, a king.’ Pilate put to him this question, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘It is you who say it’ he replied. Pilate then said to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no case against this man.’ But they persisted, ‘He is inflaming the people with his teaching all over Judaea; it has come all the way from Galilee, where he started, down to here.’ When Pilate heard this, he asked if the man were a Galilean; and finding that he came under Herod’s jurisdiction he passed him over to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was delighted to see Jesus; he had heard about him and had been wanting for a long time to set eyes on him; moreover, he was hoping to see some miracle worked by him. So he questioned him at some length; but without getting any reply. Meanwhile the chief priests and the scribes were there, violently pressing their accusations. Then Herod, together with his guards, treated him with contempt and made fun of him; he put a rich cloak on him and sent him back to Pilate. And though Herod and Pilate had been enemies before, they were reconciled that same day.

Pilate then summoned the chief priests and the leading men and the people. ‘You brought this man before me’ he said ‘as a political agitator. Now I have gone into the matter myself in your presence and found no case against the man in respect of all the charges you bring against him. Nor has Herod either, since is he has sent him back to us. As you can see, the man has done nothing that deserves death, So I shall have him flogged and then let him go.’ But as one man they howled, ‘Away with him! Give us Barabbas!’ (This man had been thrown into prison for causing a riot in the city and for murder.)

Pilate was anxious to set Jesus free and addressed them again, but they shouted back, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ And for the third time he spoke to them, ‘Why? What harm has this man done? I have found no case against him that deserves death, so I shall have him punished and then let him go’ But they kept on shouting at the top of their voices, demanding that he should be crucified. And their shouts were growing louder.

Pilate then gave his verdict: their demand was to be granted. He released the man they asked for, who had been imprisoned for rioting and murder, and handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they pleased.

As they were leading him away they seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and made him shoulder the cross and carry it behind Jesus. Large numbers of people followed him, and of women too, who mourned and lamented for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children. For the days will surely come when people will say, “Happy are those who are barren, the wombs that have never borne, the breasts that have never suckled!” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”; to the hills, “Cover us.” For if men use the green wood like this, what will happen when it is dry?’ Now with him they were also leading out two other criminals to be executed.
When they reached the place called The Skull, they crucified him there and the two criminals also, one on the right, the other on the left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.’ Then they cast lots to share out his clothing.
The people stayed there watching him. As for the leaders, they jeered at him. ‘He saved others,’ they said ‘let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers mocked him too, and when they approached to offer vinegar they said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

One of the criminals hanging there abused him. ‘Are you not the Christ?’ he said. ‘Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus,’ he said ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’

It was now about the sixth hour and, with the sun eclipsed, a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle; and when Jesus had cried out in a loud voice, he said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’ With these words he breathed his last.

When the centurion saw what had taken place, he gave praise to God and said, ‘This was a great and good man.’ And when all the people who had gathered for the spectacle saw what had happened, they went home beating their breasts.

All his friends stood at a distance; so also did the women who had accompanied him from Galilee, and they saw all this happen.

Luke 23:1-49

In the Passion Narrative there are many moments that can detain us in meditation, reflection and prayer.

The devotional tradition of the Stations of the Cross lead us in both meditation and a journey ourselves. Our sometimes shuffled, sometimes stately, procession stands in stark contrast to the experience of Jesus. Even when the Stations are expanded into a Passion Play what we do fall far, far short of the reality and its horror. Yet these echoes of what was done and which Jesus endured help us to know afresh the active love of God for us, and the pains to which he goes to win us.

  • What space will we make to keep Holy Week holy?
  • What will help us to attend the liturgies? What might keep us from them?
  • Who else might we encourage to come to the liturgies? Why?
  • What sorrows, what joys will we ourselves bring to the celebrations of suffering and mercy?

Marquetry showing Jesus carrying of the Cross from Lincoln Cathedral. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: the nearness of the Lord

The shroud

The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Lent, is one great assurance from Paul that his life finds its entire meaning from Christ – Christ is to be his entire future; the challenge and joy of his present, and the trajectory on which his past – what was good in it and what bad – has launched him.

I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith.

All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me. I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won.

All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:8-14

Next week – beginning on Palm Sunday – we have the opportunity of spending quality time with the Lord.

Of course the Lord is with us always and everywhere, for nothing can separate us from him. But in the Liturgy of Holy Week we have the privilege of being drawn into extended times of contemplation and adoration of him in the peak moments of his public ministry – in the events of the Last Supper, of the Passion, of the time amongst the dead and in the glory of the Resurrection.

 

Image from the Shroud. (Taken from replica on display at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome). (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The Lord we adore…

Altar St Trophime, Arles 2014The second reading at Sunday’s Mass  was taken from St Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

His state was divine,
yet Christ Jesus 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 2:6-11

We spend much time in the company of Jesus over this Holy Week

We experience his love and power in the sacraments, in the readings from scripture and in private prayer and reflection.

How do you best know Jesus?

  • In his frailty as a human being?
  • In the glory of the resurrection?
  • Alone?
  • Or together with his disciples, and those others who come to him to find themselves?
  • What images of Jesus most appeal to you?
    And which are the more challenging or ‘alien’?
  • What might you learn from how you know him?

Bring what you have learnt to God in prayer?

Altar in the church of St Trophime, Arles. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.