Taste and See: Easter is more flavoursome than chocolate!

Resurrection St Petersburg II

The second reading at Mass on Sunday, Easter Sunday, came from the letter to the Colossians. (Or did unless you heard the alternative second reading provided in the Lectionary, which came from the letter to the Corinthians)

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

Colossians 3:1-4

The passage reminds that Easter is not only about the new life of the Resurrection for Jesus.

However in a culture which seems increasingly to see Easter as a shopping/selling opportunity we might be grateful for the reminder that Easter has to do with Jesus! The adoption of the term ‘Easter‘ in place of the more ancient Pascha is maybe something to regret, and maybe something to be reconsidered.

St Paul however reminds us that the Resurrection is not something for Christ only but also for all those who have life in him. In Christ we are restored to life – even if something of that life has still to be revealed.

To what do you aim in your discipleship?

What form does the newness of Easter take in you this year?

The Resurrection. St Isaac Cathedral, St Petersburg, Russia. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: with, for, as, us.

Resurrection St Petersburg

The Responsorial Psalm tomorrow, Easter Day, is sung as the song of Christ: his song celebrating the Resurrection.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.

or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! 

Give 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.’

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

Psalm 117:1-2,16-17,22-23

It is also the song of the Church. It is the song Jesus urges us to sing as we share in his new life – through our Baptism, which achieves for us what faith promises to us; through our communion in word and Eucharist; through our continuing in the ministry of love of neighbour.

He sings, and it is our privilege to share in the song.

  • What might need healing in you that you might share more fully in his song?
  • What might you do more lovingly this Easter?

Image of the Resurrection. Cathedral of the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Looking forward

Annunciation Fleischmann

The Collect for Mass yesterday is familiar as a Prayer used also in praying the Rosary.

It also reminds how Advent/Christmas finds its fullest meaning, and reveals its deepest truth in the mysteries also of Holy Week and Easter.

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Artists have regularly introduced themes of the Passion (at least) into their depictions of the Bethlehem story.

  • Where/how do they feature also in our Christmas devotions and prayer?

In 2016 Lent/Easter follow quickly on the heels of this year’s Advent/Christmas.

It is not too early for us to be thinking what we want to carry from our 2015 experiences into Lent/Easter for our own spiritual development and that of our parishes and communities.

In the days of Christmas and in the days that follow, how do we wish to live out our ‘Yes’ to the Lord?

What resources might we draw on to help our wishes to come to pass.

The Annunication -detail of the Rosary Triptych. Arthur Fleischmann. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Of new life, eternal life.

Dormition 2013This Sunday, the feast of the Assumption, replaces the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time.

The Second reading speaks of Christ’s Resurrection, the Mystery which prepares the way for our salvation and entrance into the life of God.

The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, of course also establishes the pattern for the Assumption, for how, at the end of her natural life, Mary would enter – body, spirit and soul; entire, living and holy – into the life of glory in heaven.

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

Paul uses mythic, cosmic, language to express the radical truth of the Gospel and the new life it promises.

  • What are the enemies that remain to be destroyed? In your life, the life of your family and community, of the world?
  • What will help bring about their end, and our fuller enjoyment of salvation?

Shrine of the Dormition of Our Lady, Sion Abbey, Jerusalem. © 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Our life, our joy

Roman Road, Tre Fontane

The Psalm for the Mass of the Day for the feast of Ss Peter and Paul (kept on Sunday, this year, in England and Wales) is a psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance,

From all my terrors the Lord set me free.
or The angel of the Lord rescues those who revere him.

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad.

Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
from all my terrors he set me free.

Look towards him and be radiant;
let your faces not be abashed.
This poor man called, the Lord heard him
and rescued him from all his distress.

The angel of the Lord is encamped
around those who revere him, to rescue them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
He is happy who seeks refuge in him.

Psalm 33: 2-9

Again and again Christian tradition testifies to how martyrs display joy at the opportunity of joining with Christ in his suffering. Their confidence that death is not the end is powerful witness to the Church’s faith in the resurrection and the gift of eternal life to believers.

  • What challenges you in times of trial?
  • What sustains you in times of trial?

Roman Road at Tre Fontane, traditional place of the execution of St Paul, Rome. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Waiting?

Beckett's tomb

The second reading for Mass on Sunday, the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time, comes from St Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians. We will hear passages from this letter over the next several weeks. You might like to find time to read the letter as a whole, to get a renewed sense of what Paul is writing about.

We are always full of confidence when we remember that to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord, going as we do by faith and not by sight – we are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord. Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing him. For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Samuel Beckett – whose tombstone is featured above – is perhaps best known for his play Waiting for Godot. St Paul in the passage above considers waiting too, considering the time between death and the general resurrection as a sort of exile from the body, from the who and how we are here and now.

And yet the exile is with the Lord and life in the body is perhaps exile from him, suggests Paul. This is our experience, often, and one that Beckett, especially, explores with great poignancy (and humour).

Yet, in truth, the Lord is never far from us, nor we from him. Judgement Day is not the only day we are with him. In this world we may – indeed, we surely will – have troubles. But we are also never without him, and his love, and his care.

Not sure that Beckett knew that, in this life – though hopefully he will now.

But it is gospel truth, and can transform our day, whatever else the day brings.

Tomb of Samuel Beckett, Montparnasse Paris. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The greatness of the Lord and the Easter Mystery

IMG_2228a

There are five Easter Prefaces that can be used with the Eucharistic Prayers during the Eater season.

The following one was used in St John’s Wood last Sunday – and perhaps in your church too – it’s title indicates the enormous theme it approaches:

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:

Easter is certainly not just about Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies! Nor is it ‘just’ about the rising of Jesus from the dead – or at least there is much more to the rising of Jesus from the dead than an event in the history of one man.

IMG_2229aThe Resurrection is one might say a ‘game-changer’ or at least it reveals the nature of the game that is being played: the salvation of the world – of humankind and all creation.

This is no matter of personal devotion or private religiosity. It is much more, and it is at our peril that we allow the Resurrection to be domesticated in our prayer, our worship, our theology.

  • Where is the power of God’s salvation needed in your life?
  • In your community?
  • In our world?

Photographs of the 15th Station, Lourdes. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: all is new

Aix fish 2014

The Gospel reading on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Easter, concludes the episode,  the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and their encounter with the risen Lord, and over things on a little!

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

They were still talking about all this when he 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.

Luke 24:35-48

The reality of the Lord’s resurrection is at one and the same time a source of joy and of uncertainty. He is risen and the world’s ‘nature’ turns out to be not as we knew it.

His resurrection is about him, of course, but is also, and radically, it is also about us. We cannot be said to live if we live the same after the Resurrection if we live as we would have done before.

  • What is different because Christ is risen?
  • What is different about you because Christ is risen?

Carving, Aix en Provence. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of faith and love…

Paschal Mystery

The Gospel of the 2nd Sunday of Easter, ‘Divine Mercy’ Sunday, comes from the Gospel of John. There is a coda to the Gospel now, but perhaps originally the Gospel ended with this passage.

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

Throughout the Gospels the miracles of Jesus loom large – but often there is a reminder that to believe in the miracles was not necessarily to believe in Jesus, and that to believe in Jesus does not necessarily rely on being able to see.

Perhaps what is most remarkable about Thomas is not his seeing and handling the Risen Jesus, but his response, his extraordinary confession of faith – ‘My Lord and my God.’

Thomas’ experience confirms the truth of the Resurrection and makes explicit for the first time the Church’s faith in the divinity of Jesus.

  • What difference does the divinity of Jesus make to your faith in God and to your life?
  • How does it effect your relationship with people of other faiths or none.

Photograph of ivory panels in British Museum. (C) 2007, Allen Morris

 

Taste and see: Heavenly life

Christ, Arles2013There were two alternatives for the Second reading at Mass on Easter Sunday.

The first of them, from Paul’s letter to the Colossians, is given below, and the second included at the end of this posting.

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

Colossians 3:1-4

‘Far, far away, above the clouds, beyond the rain… Somewhere over the rainbow….’

So goes the song. Is Paul saying just the same thing?

Jesus said from the beginning of his ministry, echoing the teaching of John the Baptist, the Kingdom of God is very near to us. Not far, far away… not a dream, a fancy, of what might be, but a realisation of what is even now, if we will wake to it.

True, the demonstration of the truth of this, and pledge of its future fulfilment, is in Christ now in heaven itself at the Father’s right hand. But the kingdom is also really close at our hand.

In the Resurrection our attention shifts from the worldly to the heavenly, but again not as escapism and fantasy, but a deeper engagement with what truly is, and that can be revealed by our better living.

– – –

You must know how even a small amount of yeast is enough to leaven all the dough, so get rid of all the old yeast, and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as you are meant to be. Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed; let us celebrate the feast, then, by getting rid of all the old yeast of evil and wickedness, having only the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Image of the Resurrected Christ and the faithful. Musée de l’Arles antique , Arles, France. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2013.