Speak Lord: as we praise you…

Chreist in Majesty, Spilled Blood

The Responsorial Psalm on Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, is a song of praise.

Singing the song, using the inspired word of God – in which God reveals himself to us, and draws us to life – we praise God for his good works, and in particular for the Resurrection of Jesus.

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

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.’

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.

O Lord, grant us salvation;
O Lord, grant success.
Blessed in the name of the Lord
is he who comes.
We bless you from the house of the Lord;
the Lord God is our light.

Psalm 117:2-4,22-27

God’s saving act in raising Jesus from the dead reveals his eternal and saving purpose for humankind. What God has done he continues to do, in and through the same Christ – and for this we give thanks. Easter is present reality, not just past event, and not just commemoration either.

  • How does God save you?
  • How do you cooperate with God’s saving love?
  • How do you resist it?
  • How might you better cooperate with it?

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

Speak Lord: Call us to faith…

St Thomas

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter comes from the Gospel of John. It reminds of the challenge of coming to belief in the Resurrection

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 may feel superior to Thomas, having inherited a sense for the rightness of the Resurrection as part of how the world is. Yet it evidently is not how the world is, except when God wills it!

Belief in the Resurrection is in the fact of the Resurrection, not in an idea or a (false) myth. But it is surely no easy thing to hold to in face of the evidence.

  • Pray for those who struggle with the witness of the Church.
  • Pray in gratitude for the faith you have.

Statue of St Thomas, St John Lateran,, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: newness

Sarcophagus of Resurrection

Three Gospel readings are provided for use on Easter Day – one reserved for the evening of that day, the story of the journey to Emmaus.

On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn, they went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but on entering discovered that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there. As they stood there not knowing what to think, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side. Terrified, the women lowered their eyes. But the two men said to them, ‘Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here; he has risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee: that the Son of Man had to be handed over into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day?’ And they remembered his words.

When the women returned from the tomb they told all this to the Eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them also told the apostles, but this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense, and they did not believe them.

Peter, however, went running to the tomb. He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else; he then went back home, amazed at what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12

The story is filled with detail – the names of the women, their experience, their astonishment and confusioni, the doubt their story met with, and the impetuous running of Peter, (alone, here), to the tomb.

This is no ordinary tale, no ordinary experience. The Resurrection moves the boundaries so far as human living is understood: we are no long as constrained as we thought.

Live love.

Sarcophagus of the Resurrection – sadly not showing the women! Vatican Museum. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

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.

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