Speak Lord: Call us by love

St Paul arrives in ThessalonikaThe second reading at Mass tomorrow – the first Sunday of Advent – comes from the earliest of the writings of New Testament, Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.

May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.

Finally, brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2

The two key principles of Christian life are the love of God and the love of neighbour. The reading above touches on both, but especially the second. Love of neighbour, the ‘whole human race’, is to be our way to holiness

Sometimes we focus on love of God and love of neighbour as our obligation, and true enough they are. But here we are reminded that the love of God is first and foremost something we receive, long before we are able to respond to it. Same too, really, with love of neighbour – we benefit from the love and care of so many long before we have the chance to show love and care in our turn.

Paul speaks of his love for the Church and its members (and surely not only the Thessalonians!), and of the Lord’s love.

Soon we will be celebrating the greatest of gifts, the birth of Jesus, the Christ, God with us. First the Church looks to her way of life and takes stock. We count our blessings and we consider afresh how we respond to the Lord’s call to live love.

Mosaic of St Paul arriving in Europe, in Thessalonika. (c) 2006, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Be happy

Immaculate Conception

The second reading at Sunday’s Mass, the third Sunday of Advent came from St Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.

Why re-visit the reading again today? Well perhaps because we mat not have really believed it at the time. Perhaps  we need to hear the urging of Paul one more time to take the message to our hearts and learn to live it in our daily life.

Returning several times to the same text helps us deepen our personal response to it, even to have a personal response to it – rather than a merely intellectual response. The latter may merely be a recognition of what the reading says. The former, the personal response, is hearing what the reading says to me, and beginning to enter into dialogue with the text, perhaps with its author, but especially with the Lord, its divine inspirer.

Take the time to today to hear again the encouragement Paul offers you. Take time to consider what helps you to believe and trust in what he asks. Take time to consider what it may be that holds you back from believing and trusting.

Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.

Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything – hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Mary is a sure guide to the spirituality of Advent, a joyful waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Present the fruits of your prayer to her, and ask her to intercede for you with our loving Father in heaven.

Photograph is of image used by Diocese of Madrid for celebration of the Immaculate Conception, 2003. (c) 2003, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Love, Joy, Holiness

Agape

The second reading at Sunday’s Mass, the third Sunday of Advent comes from St Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. It develops the theme of joy associated with this Sunday’s Mass.

Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.

Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything – hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Looking for New Year resolutions? There are plenty in this passage to choose from!

  • Why not find 10 minutes to work your way through and consider how living to each phrase might impact on your life and the life of those people whose lives touch yours.
  • Bring the fruit of your reflection to God in prayer.

Photograph is a detail of the Temple of Agape erected this summer in front of the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.