Tag Archives: Saint Thomas Apostle

June 18: Jesus meets a Woman and a Dog

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After our pilgrims’ canter through the book of Tobit, ending with Tobias and Sarah and the dog living happily ever after, here is a story about Jesus, a woman and a dog. I like to think, along with the master masons of Strasbourg Cathedral, that Jesus and his followers had a dog with them. Here he is a few months later, excluded from Saint Thomas’s moment of truth after thee resurrection.

Jesus was someone who went across the river, through the desert and over the mountains. And then again: over the mountains, through the desert, and across the river. Jesus walked everywhere, and one day he went across the border and came to Tyre.

A Canaanite woman there began shouting,

Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David: my daughter is grieviously troubled by the devil. Who answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying: Send her away, for she crieth after us: and he answering, said: I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel.

But she came and adored him, saying: Lord, help me. Who answering, said: It is not good to take the bread of the children, and to cast it to the dogs. And she said: Yea, Lord; for the pups also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.

Then Jesus answering, said to her: O woman, great is thy faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt: and her daughter was cured from that hour.                      Matthew 15:22-27.

REFLECTION

I think Jesus is teasing this woman – we don’t know her name but we can see that she knew about children, she knew about dogs, and she knew about Jesus.

And she will not be ignored!

Jesus does not send her away. He tests her as he teases her; by appealing to her sense of humour, he leads her to express her faith more clearly, running with the metaphor he challenges her with.

Let us ask God for the things we need, and for the things our family and friends need, and for a sense of our own littleness, as we pray:

Our Father.

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28 April: This is my body!

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We were put off by the grandiose monuments in the Conventual Franciscans’ church in Venice. A six metre high pyramid or a balcony upheld by gigantic black strongmen: I don’t see what their place is in a Christian church. Worse by far than what we have in Canterbury. But no more of that.

Take a look instead at this wall carving; it may be small but it says more than the marble monstrosities, however clever their workmanship.

This is Easter morning, first thing, before Mary reaches the tomb. The rising sun is gilding the tree and shining upon the One who has risen. An angel watches over him, as always. The angels had to watch the events of Thursday night and Friday without intervening. Were they already reassured that all would be well? We cannot know their experience of time.

Jesus is experiencing time, and space and all his senses, in a completely new way. The warmth of the sun on his chest makes him stop and think: This is my body!

His left hand explores his wounded side: no, I can feel it, but it doesn’t hurt. I can breathe freely, but I carry the marks, the stigmata, (as Saint Francis was to do). Time has left other marks, blotches, bruises, that probably were not all intended by the artist, but they point to this moment when Jesus took those first breaths, not in his new body, but in his body renewed, transformed; or in the process of transformation, in that twinkling of an eye, before he dressed and went out to meet Mary. Surely, with the blood flowing again – as we see it is – the bruises will disappear.

It was important to Jesus in this moment to explore his risen body, to know what he was waking up to. So, Thomas, come and put your hand in the mark of the nails, put your hand in my side, stop doubting and believe – just as I did last week!

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Happy Feast Day, Thomas!

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A Happy Feast Day to Our own TJH and all Thomases! We do value the gifts of the doubters and thinkers: as the artist of Strasbourg shows, you help the rest of us to understand. And no doubt you’ll let the dog in once he starts scratching the door!

 

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24 April: Editor’s Introduction: The Virtue of Prudence.

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Dear Reader,

What did we read yesterday: we should be grateful to Thomas for his doubts – people do not come back to life, do they?  

Thomas wanted facts. Well, more facts. That his friends, whom he trusted, were so changed by what they had seen and heard that Easter day, that was not enough. He probably saw himself as a prudent, thoughtful chap. And then when the evidence is flesh-and-blood before him his prudence throws him on his knees.

He should have read Sister Johanna; she has got me thinking. I trust she’ll get you thinking as well. Her series of reflections on the Virtue of Prudence might sound a bit dry, but take it from me, you’ll find well-presented food for thought. And Thomas Aquinas follows on nicely from Thomas the Twin.

I got to choose the pictures this time – a privilege, because Sister has a good eye for a picture herself – so I allowed myself the luxury of using this one. The houses at the back of my mother’s place represent Prudence since their builders chose a site and aligned the building with prudence to capture as much light as possible for the weavers at their looms upstairs. Of course there would have been no sycamores to overshadow them in the 18th Century, but no decent artificial light either.

When the series ends, I’d recommend you go back and read them all consecutively.

God Bless,

Will Turnstone.

 

 

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by | April 24, 2017 · 00:44

April 23, 2017: Be Grateful to Thomas!

Last Easter – well last Low Sunday – we visited Plowden, a small country church which would have been crowded if seventy people had gathered there. It was comfortably full, and comfortably friendly.

The priest, Fr David, was a visitor as well. If his homily had been written down, I would have published it here, but he said that he prepares his homilies and then lets them flow, hoping that the Holy Spirit can get a word in edgeways.

Well, the Spirit made an impression. One thing I will share. I paraphrase, wishing I could have recorded Fr David’s every word:

Saint John wrote for us, knowing that a different sort of Faith would be needed after Jesus had gone. We should be grateful to him for showing the disciples not understanding Jesus, betraying him – except John himself who stood by the Cross to the end. And we should be grateful to Thomas for his doubts – people do not come back to life, do they? Saint John tells us what we need to hear, that the twelve, whom Jesus had trained up for three years, doubted, let him down.

But Jesus came back, smiling, with no recriminations, just ‘Peace be with you’, and ‘touch my wounds.’

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And those are two excellent mottos for our task of spreading the Good News.

MMB.

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7 June: Year of Mercy: the Divine Mercy, is a GIVEN.

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Strasbourg Cathedral: Thomas, Peter, et al.

mercylogoGod is love. The unconditional love of God, the Divine Mercy, is a GIVEN. It is always available. The one unforgivable sin is to think that our sin is too great for the mercy of God. As we see during Holy Week this was the sin of Judas: not that he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver but that he denied the Divine Mercy. He thought that his sin was too great to be forgiven. He could have been forgiven just as Simon Peter was forgiven.

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Mary Magdalene, with her pot of ointment, meets the Lord on Easter Morning. York Minster.

See the lesson in this piece of verse – author unknown [to me].

St. Peter was a liar

St. Dismas was a thief

Mary Magdalene a party girl

and Tom without belief.

 

but there they are in Heaven

smiling down upon us now

as each wears a tilted halo

on a badly battered brow.

 

so the sin of all you sinners

doesn’t definitely damn

for your “wasness” doesn’t matter

if your “isness” really am.

Mercy does not come from the attributes of the God nor from the fruits of philosophical speculation – as the manuals suggested – but solely from the historical self-revelation of God in Jesus. Dogma has difficulty with a compassionate God. As God is total fullness of being – such perfection does not allow for God to suffer! So mercy became pity – God not suffering, but being with his people who do! God has no connection with life as we know it, which is why God has become irrelevant.

The manuals associated mercy with justice – as we know it – you get what you deserve. God rewards the good and punishes the bad – if this wasn’t so how could God be just? The answer often given was God is merciful to those who repent [conditions apply!] – And punishes those who do not. The relationship between justice and mercy divided the Church in the 16th Century. With the dialogue between Catholic and Lutheran in the 20th Century it was realised that God’s justice is God’s mercy. Now, mercy is no longer a Cinderella no way is there a saccharine God, but one who takes wholeness/holiness seriously. Mercy is out of place if it is not social.

 

AMcC.

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13 April – Reflections on Freedom and Responsibility XI

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In solidarity with Thomas, the disciples reach out to the risen Christ, who has set them free.

Pope Saint John Paul II, in his encyclical Redemptor Hominis, wrote,

Nowadays it is sometimes held, though wrongly, that freedom is an end in itself, that each human being is free when he makes use of freedom as he wishes and that this must be the aim of  individuals and societies.

In reality, freedom is a great gift only when we know how to use it consciously for everything that is our true good.

Christ teaches us that the best use of freedom is charity, which takes concrete form in self-giving and in service. For this freedom Christ has set us free.

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April 2: The Apostles’ Dog and the Doors of Perception.

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We have seen most of this picture before: the disciples crowding around the risen Jesus with Thomas among them, touching him, supporting each other as they come to grips with this unlooked-for reality. The Church comes to birth in solidarity.

The right hand frame though shows how determinedly the disciples kept themselves safe: that massive door, fit for a castle keep, and their dog, faithfully guarding the threshold. His ears are pricked; he knows something is going on inside, but wears the resigned look of a puzzled dog who knows he does not understand, although he’s been among them on the road, eating the scraps that fell from their table (Matthew 15:26).

Just once open the door and watch him bound in, greeting his old friend without inhibition, without question, without needing to understand. He would know with every doggy sense; now, with the door shut, he knows that he does not know!

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

So, let us pray that we may open ourselves up, or better allow the risen Lord to come in through the chinks of our cavern, bringing with him eternity, infinity, joy; that we may rejoice, even if we do not understand.

Strasbourg Cathedral.

MMB.

 

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Christ the King VII

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This is the scene in the Upper Room when Jesus appears to the disciples; I think it is his second visit because he is inviting them to touch his wounds; the first time he only told them to look. (Counting heads is inconclusive, but I think I made it eleven disciples.)

Why include this event as Kingly? Because Thomas’s words ring out: ‘My Lord and my God’ (John 20:28) Is it the wounds that convince him? Peer pressure had not done.

Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. (v. 29)

Peer pressure may not be quite the expression I wanted here, because look how the brethren are in solidarity with Thomas, all reaching out to touch the Lord.

Thomas knew that Jesus was not just his Lord and his God, but the One Lord and God of all who have not seen him. And so he took  the Good News to India; two thousand years in, some of his sons and daughters are enriching our Church in England.

Look at the community of believers around their Lord and God.

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