Taste and See: Eternal life

Stephen Cloister Arles 2014

The Responsorial Psalm at Mass sung at Mass on Sunday, the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, celebrates the faithfulness of the Lord. and his protection of his people.

In the wake of the murder of Fr Jacques Hamel, yesterday in St Etienne-du-Rouvray, one may look somewhat askance at the sentiment of the psalm. But if we do it is a reminder of how often we collapse the promises of God into a promise of well-being in this life, here and now – and often regardless of how others fare. The promise of God is for our relationship with him, which sustains us now, but is also about life beyond the here and now.

To that life, and the love that pervades it, we commend Fr Jacques. To the loving God also let us pray for his killers, and for the parish of St Etienne, and the families of the killers and all who are caught up in this evil. For his love is eternal ,and he will not discard the work of is hands.

On the day I called, you answered me, O Lord.

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart:
you have heard the words of my mouth.
In the presence of the angels I will bless you.
I will adore before your holy temple.

On the day I called, you answered me, O Lord.

I thank you for your faithfulness and love,
which excel all we ever knew of you.
On the day I called, you answered;
you increased the strength of my soul.

On the day I called, you answered me, O Lord.

The Lord is high yet he looks on the lowly
and the haughty he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of affliction
you give me life and frustrate my foes.

On the day I called, you answered me, O Lord.

You stretch out your hand and save me,
your hand will do all things for me.
Your love, O Lord, is eternal,
discard not the work of your hands.

On the day I called, you answered me, O Lord.

Psalm 137:1-3,6-8

For Catholics yesterday’s atrocity will have been especially poignant and shocking.

Yet these acts of violence are commonplace in our world. Sometimes only when they touch our religion, our culture, something close to home, do we pause and know more keenly the reality and horror. May this latest tragedy help us to a deeper spiritual communion with those communities of human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, who much more frequently face such violence and distress.

O God, who in your inscrutable providence
will that the Church be united to the sufferings of your Son,
grant, we pray, to your faithful who suffer for your name’s sake
a spirit of patience and charity,
that they may be found true and faithful witnesses
to the promises you have made.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect for Mass for Persecuted Christians.
The Roman Missal.


Martyrdom of St Stephen (St Etienne), Arles. (c) 2014, Allen Morris