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Monthly Archives: May 2016

THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (CORPUS CHRISTI)

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Today we celebrate “The Body and Blood of Christ”, or “Corpus Christi”. It’s a feast added to the calendar in the 13th century as a way to celebrate the institution of the Eucharist outside Holy Week. Holy Thursday, of course, celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, but there’s so much going on otherwise that day that it was felt we needed another occasion to commemorate this event and in a more festive way than is possible in the shadows of the Passion.

Christ glorified in heaven, Christ glorified in the Sacrament, Christ glorified in human hearts. And, yet, not three Christs glorified, but one Christ glorified—Christ’s glories are one and indivisible, co-equal and coeternal. None exists separately from the other. The Body and Blood of Christ in heaven, in the consecrated bread and wine and in human hearts is one and the same.

Here God feeds us with the bread and wine which are the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and doing so incorporates us into the Church, which is the Body of Christ. As part of the Body of Christ, we become part of the very life of God himself. This is a wonderful and sacred mystery and is at the heart of our life as Christians. In celebrating the Holy Eucharist, we are being obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ, who said the night before he died, as he took, blessed, broke and gave the bread and took, blessed and gave the cup of wine, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’

From the very beginning of the Church, the regular and frequent celebration of the Eucharist was central to the life of the Church. We see it in the Acts of the Apostles as one of the four marks of the Early Church. The group of followers of Jesus after they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost ‘devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.’ [Acts 2: 42] ‘The breaking of bread’ is a clear reference to the celebration of the Eucharist, and the importance of the celebration of the Eucharist from the earliest days and its centrality to the life of the Church .

The gospels too are clear that our Lord Jesus Christ was explicit in his in the Gospel ‘I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.’ [John 6: 53 – 57]

So, even in times of persecution, when Christians from all backgrounds, slaves and free, Jew and Greek, rich and poor, would assemble in the largest room in the house of one of the wealthier members of the Church, Sunday by Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist together, the Church has known the centrality and importance of this act in which we participate today. In the early days Christians would generally take home enough of the consecrated species to allow them to receive Holy Communion at home each day until they could come together again the following Sunday. ‘Do this as often’,’ said the Lord, as often as you eat and drink.

For us, for whom the reception of Holy Communion is weekly or more frequent, the risk is of over-familiarity with the Eucharist. We can tend to take for granted the wonderful gift we receive. Too easily we ignore the reality of the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. We become careless as we approach him who gives us his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. We fail to recognise in the bread and wine the body and blood our Lord gave on the Cross for the life of the world. We must always guard against this complacency. The Holy Eucharist is a family meal, in which the Christian family is fed. But the host is our Lord and the food is his life. Without this wonderful gift, we know we cannot live truly as part of his Body; the task would be too hard. But we must never become casual in 0ur devotion to our Lord, as we prepare to meet him, hidden humbly under the forms of bread and wine. Thus does the Eucharist make present the Covenant that sanctifies us, purifies us and unites us in marvellous communion with God.

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Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

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JOHN 16:12-15 
KEY VERSE: “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth” (v.13).

In today’s readings for Trinity Sunday we begin in the heart of the Trinity, as we listen to the testimony of Wisdom in today’s First Reading. Eternally begotten, the first-born of God, Through Him, the heavens were established, the foundations of the earth fixed. From before the beginning, He was with the Father as His “Craftsman,” the artisan by which all things were made. And He took special delight, He tells us, in the crowning glory of God’s handiwork, the human race

Through the Son, we have gained grace and access in the Spirit to the Father, as Paul boasts in today’s Epistle (see Ephesians 2:18). This is the Spirit that Jesus promises in today’s Gospel. His Spirit comes as divine gift to guide us to all truth, to show us “the things that are coming,” the things that were meant to be from before all ages—that we will find peace and union in God, will share the life of the Trinity, dwell in God as He dwells in us (see John 14:23; 17:21).

Rather than trying to shrink a vast mystery into a short explanation, it seems better to ask ourselves what the Trinity has to do with us today. How does the Holy Trinity connect to our day-to-day lives?

Last Sunday, on the Day of Pentecost, we focused on the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. This theme continues today in our Gospel reading from the sixteenth chapter of John, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”

Jesus was speaking to his disciples – his close friends – just before his final meal, arrest, and crucifixion. In addition to his promises that we would be raised to new life on the third day, he wanted his followers to know that God would never abandon them, that the Holy Spirit would be their companion and guide forever. He was reassuring them that though they were about to face seemingly insurmountable challenges, God would be with them. In the Trinity, we see a God who is with us always, who shows us perfect love, and who never abandons us.

In Jesus Christ, we see everything there is to see about God’s love. We see a person who entered our world in the humblest, most ordinary way possible. We see a person who loved everyone and who challenged everyone to be transformed. That’s an important point: Jesus never said to someone he met, “You’re perfect just as you are” but rather invited every person to be transformed by the power of God’s love.

the mystery of the Holy Trinity pushes us to look further. Last Sunday and today, as we think about the Holy Spirit, we see yet another dimension of God’s love for us.

In the Holy Spirit, God has promised to be with us always, to guide us into all truth. The Holy Spirit’s guidance and love is inseparable from the love of God the Father and from the love of God the Son. The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, and Jesus and the Father are one. There is a mutual glorification at work, and each person of the Holy Trinity reveals something about the other persons of the Trinity. And that is what can draw us into the heart of God’s eternal love: The Trinity represents how God’s very being is about relationship and love. The Holy Trinity is itself the manifestation of God’s abiding promise to be with us at every turn, through every struggle.

This is Good News in our time. So often our temptation is to tear apart the fabric of society and put others down, but we see in the Holy Trinity a God who unites and glorifies. So often our impulse is to separate ourselves from that which challenges us, but we see in the Holy Trinity a God who is eternally steadfast. So often we limit our reality or our possibilities to what fits into our own finite understanding, but in the Holy Trinity, we see a God who promises to lead us into all truth, into deeper mystery.

Today, let us not try to explain away something that is unfathomable. Instead, let us join heartily in songs of praise to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And let us give thanks that this Triune God loves us more than we can imagine. Let us give praise for our God’s everlasting presence in our lives in this age and in the age to come. Let us savor a God who offers us the very best mystery of all, a love that is beyond anything we can ask or imagine. Amen.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST

 


1-6

JOHN 20:19-23

KEY VERSE: He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v.22).

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history. The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God’s chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai. In today’s First Reading the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles

One of my favourite hymns is There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, by Frederick Faber and one of the most memorable lines is – “But we make God’s love too narrow, with false limits of our own”. I think, in part, this is the culprit for why I might not know God, in God’s fullness. I am guilty, of making God small enough to fit into the confines of my life and into the confines of my mind, instead of allowing myself to enter the breadth and depth of God.

In some ways, the Pentecost story of flaming tongues is about this very same breaking down of barriers. God will not be confined by a certain language and so becomes transcendent of it. Suddenly, the words we are using are one and the same. And this is not an erasure – it is not a homogenous system imposed by an empire on another people. Rather, it is a wide-open embrace – God meeting us, exactly where we are.

And in this way that God meets us, language seems particularly significant. We speak of our “mother tongue” not just because language is learned from our parents, but also because there is something about language and the culture it perpetuates that is soul-deep. It connects us to our mothers, and grandmothers – it connects us to our ancestors.

In this moment of Pentecost, when tongues of fire appeared over the heads of the disciples, God breaks down the barriers between what is divine and what is worldly, between what is sacred and what is profane, between what is me and what is you.

Suddenly, we can understand each other perfectly. Suddenly, I see you for who you really are, for the perfect image of God in which you are cast and there are no barriers. You are in God, and so am I and we are talking to each other, sharing in this transcendence. Because we have allowed God to be big and deep and wide and broad, God is doing a new thing.

In the Gospel of St John just before these verses Jesus said to Philip, “Have I been with you all this time and still you do not know me?” and I know this question is being asked of me. I miss God because I do not expect or look for the new things that God does. I do not look for creation anew. I expect to find God in church, maybe, but forget to see the breath of the Divine in creation. Or, I expect to meet God during my daily moment of prayer, maybe, but forget to see Divine fingerprints in the kindness of a stranger. I miss the ways that God is always with me, because I confine God with limits of my own. I stop seeing God travelling with me, because I build walls around where God “should” be. I dictate where I think God “belongs”.

Instead of building up these walls, we are challenged by today’s Gospel to be open to seeing the face of Jesus in new ways. Jesus asks us to open our eyes wider, and see anew where God is in our lives. In doing so, we must heed Jesus’ advice, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” Sometimes, the movement of God can be scary. It can be unfamiliar, and it takes us outside of who we think God to be, to open us up to who God is. As our barriers are broken down, we must hold on to the promise of God, “Peace I give to you – my peace I leave with you.”

Jesus asks us to keep his commandments (John 14:15) and so grow deeper in love with him. Jesus’ commandments are also gifts—wisdom that will open our hearts to the Holy Spirit. Jesus has offered us the gift the Advocate but we must be ready to receive the Spirit into our hearts. God cannot dwell in a heart that is hardened by selfishness and indifference. We call today the birthday of the Church. We were created to be in community with each other and with our Lord. The best birthdays are never celebrated alone but with those who love. On the birthday of the Church, we come together in love to worship and honour the source of all that is good. Like so many on their birthdays, we ask our loving Father to continue to bless us in abundance.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD

1-7

LUKE 24:46-53 
KEY VERSE: “As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven” (v 51).

It’s a tragic thing to witness someone who does not have hope or dreams for the future. Part of our human nature is to envision a better tomorrow and strive for new accomplishments and realities. When this part of our nature dies, the whole person eventually gives up and dies. When dreams and hopes are not fulfilled as we envisioned, we may face a crisis of faith as we struggle to make sense of the harsh reality of life.

Just before Jesus ascended into Heaven the disciples asked, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” It is apparent that they were still holding tightly onto the hope that Israel would be delivered from Romans and Jesus would become their king despite his assertion that his kingdom was not of this world. It is difficult to let go of dreams we’ve held on to for so long, especially dreams that give us the strength to endure hardships and injustice.

The disciples were living under Roman law, and members of a despised race. It’s understandable that they held on tightly to the hope of a better life, what they failed to see, however, was that Christ promised this very thing, but not in the manner in which they had dreamed. They were not yet able to open themselves to receiving the greater blessing that God had in store for them.
Their view of life was still shaped by their limited vision that was focused on statehood and local politics. Little did they know that in just a few decades would rise a Church, one that transcended ethnic and political barriers, one in which Christ predicted that even the Gates of Hell could not prevail.

Like the disciples, we too seek a life where we can achieve our fullest potential and feel as if we have a purpose for living and make a difference, that our existence has some deeper meaning than just getting by until we finally die. For many of us, we have a deep desire to be needed and wanted by others. We may long to make an impact on those around us and be remembered as someone whose life was not lived in vain. Our view of life is often shaped by our own limited vision we have of life and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We may define ourselves by what others say or do to us.

Sometimes we live our lives as a subjugated people, ones who are enslaved by our fears, doubts, feelings of inferiority, and our seemingly unmet need to love and be loved. We hold tightly onto things and people that we believe will bring us wholeness and happiness. The tighter we hold, however, the emptier we feel.

Eventually we give in and negotiate a truce with that which makes us miserable. Or, we get angry and rebel against what is taking away life’s joy and impeding our goals and we find ourselves constantly at war with others and ourselves. Either way, we miss the point of Jesus’ purpose, just as the disciples did when he spoke to them prior to his ascension.

Sometimes when we lose the object of our affection we see that which is greater and more meaningful. We are asked to let go of those things we hold dear to our heart and love deeply. Christ’s ascension is a reminder of the Kingdom of God within our hearts, and of the ever-present Spirit of God, watching over and protecting us as we spread the light of Jesus’ truth throughout the world. Jesus completed His earthly mission of bringing salvation to all people and was physically lifted up from this world into Heaven. The meaning and the fullness of Christ’s Resurrection is given in the Ascension. Having completed His mission in this world as the Saviour, He returned to the God in heaven and raised earth to heaven with him!

Jesus took on our human nature and then deified this human nature by taking his body to heaven and giving it a place of honour at the right hand of God. He took with him all of humanity’s weaknesses and frailties – our fear, insecurity, feeling of rejection, hurts, anger, disappointments, despair, doubt, pettiness, resentment, bitterness – and transformed us into his image. Christ’s ministry was not complete until he returned to God in bodily form. By doing so, he made a way for all of humanity to experience God’s healing both in spirit and body.

The angel asked the disciples why they were looking into the sky where Jesus had just ascended. We often find ourselves doing the same thing even today. We look heavenward for answers, but the answers we look for are found right here. They are in front of us and in our hearts where God dwells. The answers are found in the people whom God brings into our lives, and they are revealed in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Christ’s redemptive work on the cross was completed when he ascended into Heaven. There he intercedes for us in bodily form as we go about his business here on Earth. We have been redeemed, not only in our spirits but also in the flesh through Christ’s ascension.

Mortal flesh has been glorified in Christ, and along with that our dreams and hopes have also been sanctified. Go and live life to its fullest, don’t lose hope. “Stay steady and stay strong,” says the Lord. “And help me save the world-at-large by helping you save the world where you live.”

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Uncategorized