Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus
THAT IN ALL THINGS GOD MAY BE GLORIFIED
Today is one of those occasions when, even though the second reading is not chosen to correspond to the theme of the Gospel and first reading, it does in fact fit very well. Indeed, much of the letter to the Romans is explained in this Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word: the whole theme is summed up in this: the Messiah came first of all to the people of Israel, to whom the promises were made in the past - but it could not remain there. The good news had to be taken to the ends of the earth, so that all peoples, indeed the whole of creation could welcome the Messiah and take a place in the Kingdom of God. All nations are welcome on God’s holy mountain:
The commemoration of the death of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the Dormition, or falling asleep, as it was known in the East) is known as the Assumption because of the tradition that her body did not decay but that she was raised up, body and soul, into heaven. This tradition was already present in the sixth century; by the beginning of the twentieth century it was widespread (for details, see this article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia); and after consulting the views of bishops all over the world, the Pope formally and infallibly declared the doctrine of the Assumption to be part of the authentic and ancient doctrine of the universal Church.
The Transfiguration of the Lord can sound embarrassingly magical. Jesus goes up onto a mountain and his clothes become dazzlingly white. Prophets appear and talk to him. And then it is all over and Jesus tells his disciples to say nothing.
We should hold on to the absurdity of the incident. There is simply no reason for all this to have happened. In particular, there is no reason to put it into a gospel – the evangelist makes no capital out of it, it is simply there.
And this is the strength of the Transfiguration as an historical incident. There is no reason for anyone to have invented it. It is not central to the Christian case. It is not used to win arguments. There is only one reason to put it into the Gospel, and that is because it happened. It is one of those cases of the evangelists writing things down without knowing why they were important, and their very puzzlement is what makes the story so convincing.
Why, then, did it happen? Surely so that we could see and understand that Jesus is at once one of the prophets and the one that was prophesied by them; and that he is God, and lives for all eternity in a blaze of dazzling and unapproachable light.
The true miracle of the Transfiguration is not the shining face or the white garments, but the fact that for the rest of the time Jesus hid his glory so well.
We apologise for the lack of streaming for the last few weeks, but we have had problems with the electrics. We hope that all should be back to normal now!
Today’s Gospel turns our thoughts to the strange phenomenon of persecution: throughout the history of mankind, the truth has been a commodity that often leads to persecution: the prophets of the Old Testament were attacked because of their message, as was the Lord Jesus himself. For his followers, the same may be true. The point of the readings is not simply to face up to the reality of the opposition the Gospel may meet, but to remember where the truth of the Gospel comes from: the Father in heaven, who knows us and values us. So we can be confirmed in our mission to witness to the truth, not fearing those who merely kill the body.
The Eucharist the Body and Blood of Christ is a mystery with so many layers and a depth that takes more than a lifetime to penetrate. It is not just a thing that we receive however reverently it is a person, a relationship, a belonging and a transformation that we consume, that becomes part of us: Receive what you are the Body of Christ. The readings invite us to reflect on how our celebration of the Eucharist brings Christs words to our reality: who eats my flesh and drink my blood lives in me and I live in him. The people of the Old Testament had God living in their midst, walking with them on their journey, feeding and nourishing them with the gift of manna from heaven. Jesus walks with us, not looking on from afar, journeying in communion with us living within us, as we eat and drink the gifts he extends from the Last Supper. And as Saint Paul reminds us, our communion with the One Christ is also a communion with each other God lives in us as the Church, as we become His Body.
We begin our Summer 'Ordinary Time' by celebrating a strange feast - not of a particular saint or event, but of the awesome paradoxes of our God, the Three-in-One, Father, Son and Spirit: so immeasurably distant, yet so amazingly close, so full of power and so full of love. It is love that is the key to the mystery: the revelation of God, to Moses and in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, shows a perfect love - a perfect unity. In the beginning, in the story of Creation in Genesis, God made man and woman 'in the image and likeness of God', to live together as a community of love. So too, the Church is an image of this perfection of community which is Father, Son and Spirit. We, as many members of one Church, strive in our everyday lives to imitate God who is Three and One, perfect unity and perfect love.
We arrive at the fiftieth day - the completion of the Easter Season, and the completion of the Paschal Mystery: the Lord has died, is risen, has ascended to heaven and now gives birth to his Church, by sending the Spirit upon the apostles. This feast of the gift of the Spirit is so significant for us, because it marks the handing on of Jesus’s ministry to the Church - in the Church we are guaranteed the presence of the Lord, in his sacraments, in his ministers, in the Blessed Sacrament and in his Celebrated Word. It also marks the fulfilment of our thoughts about baptism throughout this season: the gift of the Spirit which we receive in Confirmation is the ‘seal’ of our baptism, guaranteeing and confirming all that baptism achieves.
By now we are some distance away from Easter, but the season is still permeated with the Easter message: Christ is risen, we are baptised in him. But today a new dimension of the story comes out: Easter is not complete until the risen Lord has returned to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit. So in the Gospel today we begin two weeks of looking forward to the coming of that ‘Spirit of truth’ which sets us apart from the world. This is a Spirit of power, which flows through the life of the Church, enabling its members to ‘proclaim the Christ’ and, dwelling in our hearts, to live in the midst of the world’s slander and accusations.
Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life. Therefore the Easter Triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year. Thus the solemnity of Easter has the same kind of preeminence in the liturgical year that Sunday has in the week. The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Vespers on Easter Sunday.
All the major liturgies will be live streamed - see the sidebar for the link.
Holy Week is magnificent, challenging, powerful, exhausting, intriguing and utterly remarkable. Each year we dive out of our own space and time to be immersed in the great events of salvation - not as a memory or a story, but as a reality which changes our lives and world in a way beyond imagining. Much of this is achieved through the celebration of the liturgy. One of the most challenging aspects of the liturgy of Holy Week - and the Triduum in particular - is that it is different. It is not the usual day by day or week by week liturgy that our parishes celebrate.
TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
THE CROSS - BALANCE OF JUDGEMENT
1830 Vespers (Evening Prayer)
1900 MASS & ADDRESS
ALL SAINTS CHURCH
Whats going on, liturgy, live streaming details, the ramblings of the Parish Priest.