Speak Lord:to your people who wait

JeremiahThe season of Advent is a time for waiting for the Lord – waiting, of course, for the second coming; waiting for our celebration of his first coming in the birth of Bethlehem.

Our waiting can seem long and protracted, wearisome. It can seem that way in prospect, and in our living of it.

It is to that discomfort that the Lord speaks in the first reading today, the first Sunday of Advent.

See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when I am going to fulfil the promise I made to the House of Israel and the House of Judah:

‘In those days and at that time,
I will make a virtuous Branch grow for David,
who shall practise honesty and integrity in the land.
In those days Judah shall be saved
and Israel shall dwell in confidence.
And this is the name the city will be called:

Jeremiah 33:14-16

There is reassurance in the word of the Lord to stiffen our sinews, restore us to an active watching, helping us to an eagerness in our anticipation for what is not yet, but is surely coming.

The altars of Oxford Street and shopping centres up and down the country proclaim happiness is found in spending. Their bright light seek to dispel any darkness, but they fail, of course. Look around…

But the time will come, the Kingdom will come – and for that we are to watch and wait and work…

Jeremiah from Abbey of St Peter, Mossac: a cast in the collection of the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: All is (for)given

Crucifix, Saint Gervais ParisThe 2nd reading on Sunday, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, spoke of the entirely exceptional ministry of Jesus. He alone, a non-priest according to the Jewish law, was able to achieve everything that the priests of Judaism hoped and prayed for, but could not deliver:

All the priests stand at their duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking sins away. He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his place forever, at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for him. By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying. When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.

Hebrews 10:11-14,18

The Christian liturgy is about the offering of sacrifice. But it is about the re-presenting of that once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In our Mass and in all the Sacraments, and in our daily prayer, we present ourselves and our needs along with the remembrance of him.

That remembrance is something deep, alive, active, real, for it is Christ himself alive, active, real – in and for the Church and for the world.

We have nothing else to offer apart from him, for apart from him, even the best we have to offer is puny and passing. But offered in and with him how even our meagre achievements are rendered pleasing to God.

Christ alone is what God offers us.

St John of the Cross put it well, and provocatively:

In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behaviour but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 65.

The Father gave us his Word, and that Word spoke love, mercy, forgiveness. The Word offers to restore us to the fullness of life.

What an offer to take to our life today.

  • Where do you need healing?
  • Or hope?
  • Or help?

Crucifix, St Gervais, Paris. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Work in Progress

EntombmentOn Sunday, the 33rd Sunday of the Year,  there was an additional poignancy to the Prayer after Communion. Many may have come to Mass in Europe, especially, crippled by fear, hate, prejudice, grief.

We were offered, invited to, all sorts of healthy alternatives during Mass. But Mass is no quick fix. The nourishment that is served us by the Living Lord in his Church, needs to be taken and absorbed, responded to, doubted, cooperated with, given thanks for and lived.

And so on Sunday, at the last, before we were sent out, we prayed for charity, for love.

Prayer after Communion

We have partaken of the gifts of this sacred mystery,
humbly imploring, O Lord,
that what your Son commanded us to do
in memory of him
may bring us growth in charity.
Through Christ our Lord.

And we pray today again for that gift to live in us, and us to bear the fruit of the gift for others.

The entombment of Christ. Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris. (c) 2015, Allen Morris