Speak Lord: Of where we may find you…

Christ's TombA number of passages from the Gospel may be read today, Easter Sunday.

The first option is given immediately below.The others appear at the end of this blog.

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

John 20:1-9

The emptiness of the tomb re-presents to us the sometime emptiness of our hearts and lives. We do not seek life in the tomb. The Lord is risen, he is not there – we must seek him elsewhere. It is elsewhere that he will find us

  • Do pray for a new encounter with Christ
  • Pray for his peace for the world.

Photograph of the empty tomb, Church of the Resurrection, Jerusalem. (c) Allen Morris, 2013.

– – –

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.”’

Mark 16:1-8

Or…

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.
Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’
Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.
When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’
They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

Luke 24:13-35

Speak Lord: Of the return of light and life

Church at Cross, LerinsThere are two alternatives for the Second reading on Easter Sunday. The first is given below, and the second 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

Pro nobis, for us…. What Christ does he does for us.

Christ has died, but we have been brought back to new life in consequence.

Here is divine justice, that we should be rescued from sin. That whatever debt is due is paid for us by Christ. We are freed from sin that we might be brought to true life, together, oriented to heavenly things.

– – –

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 Crucifixion and the gifting of love in communion. Abbey of Lerins, France. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2005.

Speak Lord: Even today, speak of the glory of the Resurrection.

Harrowing of Hell

It may feel strange to read a blog on this day of all days that is not dwelling on the mystery of Good Friday, and is have us look forward to Easter Sunday already.

Yet, our every day is the day the Lord has made, and a day for us to meet and better know the risen Lord, even the day kept specifically in memory of the Lord’s Passion and Death.

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.’

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

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

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

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.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

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

Again to Western Christians the appearance of the ‘A’ word at this time of year, and especially on Good Friday might jar. But the Orthodox do not fast from the word or the joy that it evokes (though there is an appropriate sobriety to even Orthodox joy during Lent!)

As we keep Good Friday the Easter psalm takes on a particular poignancy. The Lord will die, in his humanity, but will be raised and live: the testimony of Jesus to the goodness of the Father may seem to pause for until the third day but silently, hidden from us, in Hell, Jesus continues the liberation of humankind that is the Father’s eternal will.

  • From what ‘death’ do you long for the Lord to set you free?

Image of the harrowing of hell from the Kariye Museum (The Chora Church), Istanbul. (c) 2002, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of Falling and Rising

Dominus Flevit detailOnce more, there are two Gospel readings we may hear today.

On this page, the ‘default’ reading for the 3rd Sunday of Lent in Year B.

On an accompanying blog, for the gospel passage is very long, the reading of the meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan woman which may always be used in Year A and must be used when the First Scrutiny is celebrated with those preparing for baptism at Easter.

Just before the Jewish Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers sitting at their counters there. Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the pigeon-sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market.’

Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: Zeal for your house will devour me. The Jews intervened and said, ‘What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?’ Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said.

During his stay in Jerusalem for the Passover many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he gave, but Jesus knew them all and did not trust himself to them; he never needed evidence about any man; he could tell what a man had in him.

John 2:13-25

Jesus sees what is wrong with the Jews and their engagement with the Temple and sets himself to make the point clearly and strongly.

He sees also what is in us – and at least much of the time, I guess, he will note what is wrong and disordered in us. He seems gentler with us! Or it is that we are better at ignoring the prompts to reform and renewal he sets before us and invites us to?

Lent is about coming closer to him, in baptism, in renewal of baptism promises, so as to live the life of Easter.

  • What steps closer to the Lord might you take today and tomorrow?
  • What barriers might you shift, that he might come closer to you?

Photograph shows a view over Temple Mount from the church of Dominus Flevit. Pray for the brokenness of Jerusalem and its healing under God. Photograph (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: of resurrection and the new creation

Holy Sepulchre4

The second reading at Mass tomorrow, the feast of Christ the King, comes from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. One of the most wide-ranging and interesting of the letters of the New Testament, that first letter to the Corinthians contains this following extraordinarily confident statement of the meaning and implication of Christ’s resurrection.

This is no one ‘thing’, a one-off event, happening to one man. This is life changing for all, the dawn of a new creation, in which the old creation finds the most extraordinary renewal.

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. And when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subject in his turn to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26,28

And we are part of this event. First by the offer of this newness to all creation. Second by the decision to respond to the offer which is sealed in Baptism, and deepened in Confirmation, and constantly nourished in Eucharist. Third, by God’s grace and our striving, to do what we can to live this new life even in this old world: waiting, working – even in fits and starts – for its completion and fulfilment when the kingdom is achieved on earth as in heaven, and all is one and all is God’s.

  • What step to newness could you take today?
  • What step are you tempted you say is too far, too hard, too much?

Photograph of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.  Please pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and for the Westminster pilgrims presently on pilgrimage there.

Taste and See: diverting the harvest

Calvary

The gospel at yesterday’s Mass, on the 27th Sunday of Ordinary time, took mostly the form of a parable that speaks of the disaster of a leadership of Israel that hogs to itself the graciousness of God. That leadership hears words of rejection from the Son who they will, in their turn, have killed.

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:

It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?

‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’

Matthew 21:33-43

The first fruit of the great harvest of the kingdom of which Jesus speaks, as being taken from the powerful who do not give to God what is due to God, and given to others who will, is of course Jesus himself, in the glory of the Resurrection.

Resisting evil in the vineyard, in Israel, in the Church, and in how we live our own lives, is a challenge. But we have the opportunity to do it, offered us again and again in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are won by the mercy of God, and are armed with that mercy for the overcoming of evil.

  • What shapes you sense of justice?
  • What helps or hinders your ability to stand up for what is right and best and loving?

Photograph of the traditional site of Calvary, Jerusalem. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: through suffering to Glory.

Musée de l'Arles antique Anastasis

For many English Catholics, and especially those in the diocese of Arundel and Brighton, today’s celebration of Mass will be a time for grappling with the sad news of Bishop Conry’s resignation and the pain this will be causing so many.

As we pray for him, his diocese, and his family we look to make sense of this and learn from this in the context of the the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the love of God this reveals.

The prayer after Communion will be particularly poignant today:

May this heavenly mystery, O Lord,
restore us in mind and body,
that we may be coheirs in glory with Christ,
to whose suffering we are united
whenever we proclaim his Death.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

  • In who else’s suffering are we united? And whose do we turn from?
  • How do we show that God’s answer to suffering and death is the fresh offer of mercy and love?

Photograph of antique buckle (from the belt of St Caesarius of Arles?) showing the Anastasis – the shrine of the Resurrection – in Jerusalem, from the Musée de l’Arles antique. Photgraph (c) Allen Morris, 2014.

Speak Lord: First Birth or Rebirth

resurrection1

The second reading at tomorrow’s Mass speaks of the renewal or completion of Creation.

I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us. The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons. It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose, it was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.
Romans 8:18-23

  • What does Paul mean by ‘slavery to decadence’?
  • Where might that slavery feature in your life?
  • How might you find freedom from it so as ‘to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God’?
  • For whose being brought to birth, being brought to the fullness of life, do you presently commit yourself to, and work?

Painting: The Resurrection, Cookham by Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959).
A more detailed, and copyrighted, version of the painting can be seen here.

For an introduction to this great painting, click here.