Speak Lord: Live in us that we may live in you.

St Peter, Fowey

The Second reading at Mass on 5th Sunday of Easter, tomorrow, reminds us of the challenge to be real and authentic, and of the love and care that God has for us.

My children,
our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active;
only by this can we be certain
that we are children of the truth
and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,
whatever accusations it may raise against us,
because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.
My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence,
and whatever we ask him,
we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.
His commandments are these:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we love one another
as he told us to.
Whoever keeps his commandments
lives in God and God lives in him.
We know that he lives in us
by the Spirit that he has given us.

1 John 3:18-24

Jesus shows us what it is to be fully human, fully alive. In him we see perfection.

In ourselves we see foibles and fallibility. We stumble and stagger.

We are in good company, in this. Look at the disciples in the Gospels, if nowhere else. Failing is sad, sometimes humiliating. But it does not silence the message, and it really ought not to make us lose hope. The love and the compassion, and the assistance, of the Lord Jesus is there for us, even as it was there for the disciples.

In their passing on of the Gospel the first disciples  included their stories, their absurdities, to remind us we’re not alone with ours.

The passage from John we read today, and hear tomorrow, urges us to take courage and, finally, to hope not in our own abilities only but in what is achieved when we strive to live in communion with the Lord and allow him to live in communion with us.

Photograph of the stained glass window showing the rescue of St Peter comes from the church of St Finn Bar, Fowey, Cornwall. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Love to love…

Detail of Ghery model for parc des ateliers arles

The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, came from the first letter of John.

It speaks of the love that sets us free from all that is not love.

It speaks of the love that we are able to live and share with others.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
has been begotten by God;
and whoever loves the Father that begot him
loves the child whom he begets.
We can be sure that we love God’s children
if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us;
this is what loving God is –
keeping his commandments;
and his commandments are not difficult,
because anyone who has been begotten by God
has already overcome the world;
this is the victory over the world –
our faith.

Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only,
but with water and blood;
with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth.

John 5:1-6

One of the ways in which we can show love is using the wealth, the property we own – if we are so lucky! – for the good of others.

If it is ours we have a right to it, but as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us ‘the ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.’ (CCC 2404) First of all the family, but also to our neighbour…

There is something to ponder on as we Brits consider how best to vote on May 7th. How can we vote in a Government that will allow the goods of our society to be most fruitfully used for the common good.

Photograph is of a detail of model for Gehry’s proposed Parc des Ateliers, Arles. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

 

 

Speak Lord: Of our being made to love

Creation 2The Second reading at Mass tomorrow, the second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, comes from the first letter of John.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
has been begotten by God;
and whoever loves the Father that begot him
loves the child whom he begets.
We can be sure that we love God’s children
if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us;
this is what loving God is –
keeping his commandments;
and his commandments are not difficult,
because anyone who has been begotten by God
has already overcome the world;
this is the victory over the world –
our faith.

Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only,
but with water and blood;
with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth.

John 5:1-6

John offers a distinctive Christian anthropology. To believe in Jesus is to be a child of God. To be a child of God is to love God and to be loved by God: and is to share, as it were, in the DNA of God – is to love all of God’s children.

Sometimes in John this love can sound like it is for the Christian only, but the vision is also broader than that. God is love and all creation, including all humanity, has life only through him. The world may seek to constrain, discriminate and exclude. In the mercy of God there is love for all. We are invited to overcome the world so we can love the world.

Photograph of Carving from York Minister, depicting creation. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

 

 

 

Taste and See: Life conquers death

Crucifix, LisieuxThe Gospel provided for the 4th Sunday of Lent, in Year B, came from the Gospel of John.

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

‘The Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

John 3:14-21

Usually, as above, the text is presented as a long saying by Jesus to Nicodemus.

It can also be read as a short saying by Jesus to Nicodemus, and a long aside from the evangelist to his audience -like that which concludes the Gospel at 20.30-31; and 20:24-25.

The possible editorial comment here?

‘For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

But whether this is an observation about himself from Jesus, or a declaration of faith by the evangelist, what a stirring text it is.

  • How would you express to others the saving love of God for them?
  • Read again the passage from John.
  • See again how generous is the love of Father and Son; how transformational. How cosmic in scale, and how directly personal and intimate in effect.
  • Let the wonder of it touch your heart, and give thanks.

Photograph of crucifix in the Cathedral of St Pierre, Lisieux, France. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.