Taste and See: a fishy tale?

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The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread.

They were still talking about all this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.’

Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
Luke 24:35-48

How resistant to belief in the Resurrection the disciples show themselves to be…

Two of them are even telling the story of their earlier meeting with the risen Lord when he appears and they don’t say ‘Look, we told you…’. No. They are alarmed, frightened and think they have seen a ghost. Even to handle the body of Christ is not enough they remain dumbfounded.  and unbelieving. Only his tucking into a bit of grilled fish does the business, or seems to…

Their struggle to apprehend and comprehend with Jesus physically there before them should serve us well as a reminder of the extraordinariness of the Resurrection. It is a mystery that should blow our mind – not least because it is beyond a simple restoring to mortal life, but a raising to and for eternal life of one who is now definitively revealed as God and Man.

Grilled St Peter Fish, Galilee. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

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Speak Lord: Risen Lord

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When the sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to the tomb, just as the sun was rising.

They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ But when they looked they could see that the stone – which was very big – had already been rolled back. On entering the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right-hand side, and they were struck with amazement. But he said to them, ‘There is no need for alarm. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him. But you must go and tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him, just as he told you.”’

Alternative Gospel for Easter Day
Mark 16:1-8

Are we looking for Jesus of Nazareth?

We are not going to find him in the tomb that is empty.

We do not need to go to Galilee.

We will find him in those who live around us, and especially in those who are in need of the compassion and mercy of God, and us…

Fresco, Trocadero Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: Resurrection

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The restoration of the universe through the Paschal Mystery

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
at all times to acclaim you, O Lord,
but in this time above all to laud you yet more gloriously,
when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.

For, with the old order destroyed,
a universe cast down is renewed,
and integrity of life is restored to us in Christ.

Therefore, overcome with paschal joy,
every land, every people exults in your praise
and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts,
sing together the unending hymn of your glory,
as they acclaim:

Holy, Holy, holy…

Preface of Easter IV 

The above Preface is one of those which may have been used at Mass on Sunday. It reminds us that the Resurrection of Jesus represents a radical renewing of Creation, a restoration of Creation’s original purpose for all creatures, and most especially for humankind, which above all was created and called to live in intimate communion with God.

The Resurrection of Jesus is distinct from for example the raising of Lazarus, or the son of the widow of Nain. They were restored to life, but would die again. Jesus rose and lives still, seated at the right hand of the Father.

Jesus’ Resurrection is a first victory over sin and death, and which points to the ultimate victory over sin and death when all is again healed, and whole and at one in him with the Father.

Sometimes we can – unwittingingly reduce the Resurrection to one event among many in our history. It is an event in our history but it once more joins our history with the glory of God and in an irrevocable way. It makes our history into Salvation history – the story of God’s grace winning us for life.

For this, overcome with paschal joy, every land, every people exults in praise of the Father, and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts, who sing together the unending hymn of His glory, as they acclaim: ‘Holy, Holy, holy…’

Art work expressing Resurrection and Eternal Life displayed at St Victor, Marseille, 2013. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Lead us on


DSC04053 deposition and resurrection.jpgGive thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’
Let the sons of Aaron say:
‘His love has no end.’
Let those who fear the Lord say:
‘His love has no end.’

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

I was thrust down, thrust down and falling,
but the Lord was my helper.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he was my saviour.
There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the just.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.
This day was made by the Lord;
we rejoice and are glad.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Psalm 117:2-4,13-15,22-24

The Responsorial Psalm at Mass tomorrow reminds us of the Passion of the Lord and how the joys of Easter are ours only because Jesus was ready first to endure those pains of love.

His faithfulness, in face of persecution and torture – and cruel death , meets with the reward of life and love without end. And they are now offered to us.

They will only be ours to the extent we can accept them; but the Lord will hold back on nothing we can accept. We do not need to earn them, and we cannot deserve them, but they are freely given so as to lead us from shadow to light; from isolation to communion.

He is risen and we are called to that glory too.

  • What goodness can you not, yet, hold on to?
  • Bring that lack, or that fear of lack, to the Lord in prayer and ask for the help you need.

Deposition and Resurrection. Chester Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: our Bridegroom

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In England and Wales this year, Sunday 14th August will be kept as the Solemnity of the Assumption, (in other years it is kept on 15th August).

The Psalm for the Feast’s Day Mass is understood by some to have been a song first used on the occasion of a royal wedding, and this section of it addressed to a queen. Others understand it as a prophetic psalm anticipating the coming of the Messiah and addressing Israel his Bride. It could, of course, be both.

Today, in our liturgy, it is surely to be understood to be addressed both to Mary, being greeted as Queen of Heaven, and to the Church called to be bride of Christ.

On your right stands the queen, in garments of gold.

The daughters of kings are among your loved ones.
On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
Listen, O daughter, give ear to my words:
forget your own people and your father’s house.

On your right stands the queen, in garments of gold.

So will the king desire your beauty:
He is your lord, pay homage to him.
They are escorted amid gladness and joy;
they pass within the palace of the king.

On your right stands the queen, in garments of gold.

Psalm 44:10-12,16

  •  What in you might attract the love and care of the Royal bridegroom?
  • What in Mary would you most like to emulate?

Apse Mosaic, Church of the Assumption, Warwick St, London. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Risen One

Resurrection, AylesfordIn England and Wales this year, Sunday 14th August will be 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 comes from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In the passage we hear Paul speaks of the resurrection of all believers: our sharing in Christ’s resurrection- an ultimate communion with the kingdom of God.

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 passage beautifully describes the interrelationship between the rule of God the Father, the reign of Christ, and our own human order. As human beings we are all marked by sin and death; we find freedom and life in Christ; and then gifted by Christ to his Father. Love and life progressively become the air we breath and our very way of life. It is a process that begins in this life and finds its fulfilment in the life that ‘follows’.

  • What are the signs of that life taking root in you even now?
  • What hold you back from it?
  • Bring your thoughts and feelings to God in prayer.

The Resurrection. Rosary Way, Aylesford Priory. (c) 2008, Allen Morris

Taste and See: New life, new hope…

Resurrected Lord, Arles

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter engages us with evidence for the Resurrection and justification of faith.

In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.

John 20:19-31

We need to pass ourselves through the valley of the shadow of death, and learn the truth of the Gospel, the Resurrection, to come to a personal relationship with the Risen Jesus. We will not see, touch and so on like Thomas, but the Gospel warns us of that. But we come to know him in our prayer, in our journey, in the stirring of our heart in response to the gift of the Spirit, of his real presence. It’s something we can become more sensitive to over time.

Thomas with his struggles can be our help and guide here too.

And we need him. For when we are exhausted by the mess, and the disappointment, and the hurt, and the loss, it takes something so lift us up again. To heal, restore and help us to trust again, to risk being wrong again.

We’ve all experienced this being stuck, or we will – in bereavement, maybe in the failure of a relationship, of a marriage. The mess may have been a result of our own failing, or someone else’s, or no-one’s fault, just the way that the world is. But it can imprison us in fear, guilt, pain, mess.

Thomas can lead us on that journey beyond, or even more deeply into, the mess, that we might  finally know the truth of Jesus rising from the dead. Thomas  knows what its like, and he will help. So that in time with Thomas we can pray: ‘My Lord and my God’.

Then we will have faith not because we’ve inherited it, only, but because we ourselves have experienced, continue to experience it (at least on a good day!)

Then he will be my Lord not only because he is theirs, or is ours – though he is – but because I have learnt the truth of it, and I respond person to person to my Lord and my God. And I will have that personal commitment to God, from which flows everything else. Which means that God, Catholicism is not a style choice, or a means to an end, but is the heart of me and mine.

The prayer of Thomas: ‘My Lord and my God’ is a powerful prayer, so simple, but all containing. It is like a diamond to carry close in Easter, praying the words, but meditating on them too.

  • What do they mean to me.
  • Are they true?
  • Why are they true?
  • How are they true?

May Thomas, his example and his prayer, deepen faith in all of us.

The risen Lord, Arles. c) 2014, Allen Morris