Taste and See: Judgement and Redemption

judgement-day-birminghamThe season of Advent began yesterday with the first Sunday of Advent.

The Preface used at Mass yesterday and which will be used for all Masses until 16th December that have no proper Preface.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

For he assumed at his first coming
the lowliness of human flesh,
and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago,
and opened for us the way to eternal salvation,
that, when he comes again in glory and majesty
and all is at last made manifest,
we who watch for that day
may inherit the great promise
in which now we dare to hope.

And so, with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominions,
and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven,
we sing the hymn of your glory,
as without end we acclaim:

Holy, holy holy…

The season of Advent is about us answering afresh the call of the Lord to journey with him,turning from that which is unworthy, to that which is loving and good and will lead us to the Kingdom.

From what do you wish to turn?

To what do you wish to turn?

Judgement. St Philips Cathedral, Birmingham. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Look and judge…

Prison, Tre FontaneThe second reading at Mass on Sunday came from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

My brothers, be united in following my rule of life. Take as your models everybody who is already doing this and study them as you used to study us.

I have told you often, and I repeat it today with tears, there are many who are behaving as the enemies of the cross of Christ. They are destined to be lost. They make foods into their god and they are proudest of something they ought to think shameful; the things they think important are earthly things. For us, our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. He will do that by the same power with which he can subdue the whole universe.

So then, my brothers and dear friends, do not give way but remain faithful in the Lord. I miss you very much, dear friends; you are my joy and my crown.

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Jesus tells us not to judge others, lest we be judged and found wanting.

Paul tells us to judge: to study the field and pick those who are winners and model ourselves on them, and avoid imitating those destined to be lost.

A couple of points.

First: Jesus was surely warning against a spiritual arrogance that leads us to condemn others, careless of our own faults and failings. Paul has found another way to encourage us to seek improvement in ourselves – and not giving the top priority to crticisng others seems a pretty good place to start!

Second: though Paul was not slow in offering his critique of those who failed to see how israel’s faith found its fulfilment in Christ, how in the Paschal Mytery we had the ultimate demonstration of God’s faithfulness to us – he also, again and again, put himself on the line in service of his own people, Israel, and of the Gentiles.

The test of faithful living is service, love of God in love of neighbour, our ‘vertical’ and our ‘horizontal’ relationship offering in their intersection the perfect place for our own growth and nurturing in love.

  • What helps you judge right?
  • What blurs or distorts your vision?

Prison in which St Paul was held prior to his execution at Tre Fontane, Rome. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Sustained by love

 

Healing

The Gospel for Sunday’s Mass of Christ the King gave great emphasis to the importance of the works of mercy.

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’

Matthew 25:31-46

The works of mercy are of course beautiful works, pleasing to God and of great benefit to neighbour – and to those who carry them out.

But they are also, often, exhausting.

When we find that observation to be compelling in its truth, it is good to remember that this is how the Lord ministers to us. And not only to the point of exhaustion but to his very death.

In our hungers and thirsts, in our alienation and aloneness, when we are exposed, imprisoned by sin, the Lord comes to us and ministers to us. Whether things are true about and for us in their usual literal sense or true in a metaphorical sense – the Lord ministers to us (astounding but true.) He calls us to life and to wholeness in him.

Photograph is of the healing of the paralytic by Jesus. The carving features on one of the pillars built over the house of Peter in Capernaum. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of Judgement and Life

Last Judgement, NOtre Dame

The Gospel for today’s Mass of Christ the King is the great parable of the great judgement.

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’

Matthew 25:31-46

There are many ways in which judgement could be exercised. But here the concern of the Lord is about the quality of love, the stepping out from our own needs to care for neighbour, in which – it is revealed – we show care for the Lord.

  • As the Church year comes to an end, look back, take stock, where have you shown care for others?
  • Where have others shown care for you?

Given thanks and make a new (Church) year resolution to be even more generous in your response to those in need.

Photograph is of Judgement as portrayed in the West Door of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.