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|Buon Natale! Merry Christmas! ¡Feliz Navidad! |
Joyeux Noël ! Feliz Natal!
« …Christmas reminds us that a faith that does not trouble us is a troubled faith.
A faith that does not make us grow is a faith that needs to grow.
A faith that does not raise questions is a faith that has to be questioned.
A faith that does not rouse us is a faith that needs to be roused.
A faith that does not shake us is a faith that needs to be shaken.
Indeed, a faith which is only intellectual or lukewarm is only a notion of faith.
It can become real once it touches our heart, our soul, our spirit and our whole being.
Once it allows God to be born and reborn in the manger of our heart.
Once we let the star of Bethlehem guide us to the place where the Son of God lies,
not among Kings and riches, but among the poor and humble. ».
(Pope Francis, Address to the Roman Curia 2017)
Tag Archives: Son of God
A Christmas message from Pope Francis and the Synod.
Filed under Advent and Christmas, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', Mission
29 April: Our Jacob’s ladder, Traherne XXXIX
More Eastertide reflections from Thomas Traherne, Who makes the bold claim, ‘he was the son of God as you are’, but he was heir of the whole world’, meaning the whole of creation. As with all of Traherne, the passage repays slow, repeated reading.
The Cross of Christ is the Jacob’s ladder by which we ascend into the highest heavens.
There we see joyful Patriarchs, expecting Saints, Prophets ministering, Apostles publishing, and Doctors teaching, all Nations concentering, and Angels praising. That Cross is a tree set on fire with invisible flame, that Illuminateth all the world. The flame is Love: the Love in His bosom who died on it. In the light of which we see how to possess all the things in Heaven and Earth after His similitude. For He that suffered on it was the Son of God as you are: tho’ He seemed only a mortal man. He had acquaintance and relations as you have, but He was a lover of Men and Angels. Was he not the Son of God; and Heir of the whole world?
To this poor, bleeding, naked Man did all the corn and wine, and oil, and gold and silver in the world minister in an invisible manner, even as He was exposed lying and dying upon the Cross.
See also Francis Thompson on Jacob’s ladder.
Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, Laudato si', Mission
26 December: Venite, Adoremus
Another poem from Father Andrew. We won’t be able to press through the church doors this year, but still, every soul should be a shrine for God’s Eternal Son. We can all light a candle upon the altar that is our family dining table.
‘Come along, shepherds,’ the Angels cried,
‘Come along, every one!
For great things happen on earth to-night,
And you shall see a wondrous sight –
In bed of straw, on napkin white,
Come down to earth from heaven’s height
God’s own Eternal Son.’
‘Come along, comrades,’ the Shepherds cried,
And quick those men did run,
And in they pressed through the humble door,
And low they knelt on the stable floor,
Where Mary and Joseph, as poor as poor,
In rich contentment did adore
God’s own Eternal Son.
‘Come along, Christians,’ the bells ring out,
‘Ding-a-dong, come along, come along!’
For round the Altar tapers shine,
Where waits our Saviour, yours and mine,
Veiled ‘neath the mystic Bread and Wine,
And every soul should be a shrine
For God’s Eternal Son.
Filed under Advent and Christmas, corona virus, Daily Reflections, winter
25 December: Unto us a Son is given.
Unto us a Son is given
Given, not lent,
And not withdrawn—once sent—
This Infant of mankind, this One,
Is still the little welcome Son.
New every year,
New-born and newly dear,
He comes with tidings and a song,
The ages long, the ages long.
Even as the cold
Keen winter grows not old;
As childhood is so fresh, foreseen,
And spring in the familiar green;
Sudden as sweet
Come the expected feet.
All joy is young, and new all art,
And He, too, Whom we have by heart.
Alice Meynell, Later Poems, 1902.
‘By Heart’ does not mean – or should not mean – so well known that we do not appreciate the Infant of Christmas and take His Story for granted. I’d be tempted to say that Childhood is so fresh and unforeseen, after spending time with my grandsons. The feet are expected, but not where the feet take them. Joy is young, in the anticipation and the execution of scaling the climbing frame and whooshing down the slide, of trying out sounds: the Word of God was once Gada, gada, gada!
We don’t have to understand Christmas to enjoy it. Even when times are hard, as they are for so many this year, rejoice, and do not reason why. Just because.
Merry Christmas from us all, Will.
Image from L’Arche.
Filed under Advent and Christmas, Daily Reflections, poetry
10 April, Good Friday. Desert XL: Love and woe interwound.
No crown! the woe instead
Is heavy on his head,
Pressing inward on his brain
With a hot and clinging pain
Till all tears are prest away,
And clear and calm his vision may
Peruse the black abyss.
No rod, no sceptre is
Holden in his fingers pale;
They close instead upon the nail,
Concealing the sharp dole,
Never stirring to put by
The fair hair peaked with blood,
Drooping forward from the rood
On the cheek that waxeth colder,
Whiter ever, and the shoulder
Where the government was laid.
His glory made the heavens afraid;
Will he not unearth this cross from its hole?
His pity makes his piteous state;
Will he be uncompassionate
Alone to his proper soul?
Yea, will he not lift up
His lips from the bitter cup,
His brows from the dreary weight,
His hand from the clenching cross,
Crying, “My Father, give to me
Again the joy I had with thee
Or ere this earth was made for loss?”
No stir, no sound.
The love and woe being interwound
He cleaveth to the woe;
And putteth forth heaven’s strength below,
And that creates his anguish now,
Which made his glory there.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
This is the introduction to the first volume of EBB’s Poetical Works. It sees Christ as a second Adam, atoning for the sins of the first Adam and Eve, ‘fallen humanity, as it went forth from Paradise into the wilderness’. And here is Christ in the wilderness, the desert, of the Cross.
Filed under Daily Reflections, Lent, poetry
March 24, Desert XXVI: in the city.
While Jesus was in the Desert, the devil took him to the top of the Temple. I feel somewhat safer in the crypt of the Cathedral: there’s not so far to fall!
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and he said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself from hence. For it is written, that He hath given his angels charge over thee, that they keep thee. For it is written, that He hath given his angels charge over thee, that they keep thee. And that in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.
And Jesus answering, said to him: It is said: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
I do seem to be dashing my feet against stones quite a lot these days; is that my lack of observation or the lack of footpath maintenance, or perhaps both? Anyway, the Crypt is my go-to desert place in the city. But there are other spots where the desert awaits; even passing through the old orchard grounds for instance, or seeing the hazel catkins in full bloom in various odd spots.
Forty seconds, not forty days, I spend enjoying them, but the resilience of those soft, dangling catkins in this year’s high winds has been an object lesson to me.
Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', Lent, Spring, winter
7 April, Stations of the Cross for Saint Peter, I: Jesus on Trial; Peter denies him.
Scripture references: Jesus is the Messiah, Matthew 16:13-20; Peter’s betrayal, Luke 22:31-34; 54-62.
After Jesus was arrested Peter followed behind to where he was put on trial. Three times he said he did not know Jesus.
It wasn’t Jesus that I didn’t know –
it was Peter!
I knew he was the Messiah,
I knew he was the Son of God.
I thought I was someone special,
someone who would always be there.
I let him down,
I let him die
without his friend.
Let us pray for all who are unfaithful to their friends that they – that we – may have the strength to stand up for those we love and the courage to apologise and rebuild our friendships.
Jesus remember me, when you come into your Kingdom.
Filed under Daily Reflections, Lent
February 21. What is Theology Saying? XLVII: What if Jesus had not lived?
Jesus was not just a good man who founded a great religion. He is the Son of God, sent on a mission to transform the world by changing individual lives. Imagine for a moment what your life would be like if this wonderful life hadn’t appeared.
For two thousand years, followers of the loving Christ have carried his compassion and care to peoples everywhere. Nations have been won through his love. The majority of hospitals and other ministries of compassion around the globe have been launched in his name. Where there has been devastation through natural disasters, wars, or famine, people filled with God’s love have run to alleviate human suffering via the Red Cross, World Vision, and thousands of other agencies. Where would our world be without the love of Christ as expressed through his people?
What is our relationship with our world – with government, foreign policy, political parties..? Christianity is concerned not only with religion but with all human relationships between persons and groups – large or small. It is as much concerned with war, peace, poverty and race issues as it is with holy living [preacher stick to your pulpit]. It is concerned because these are the relationships that shape our lives; our way of living together and accepting our common destiny.
In Apostolic times the writers believed that history had more or less come to an end with Christ, and the Second Coming was imminent. This was no time to worry about politics and economics. They were to preach about the world that was on its way. They knew that Jesus had resisted all attempts to align him with the Zealots, who wanted to establish God’s kingdom through war and aggression. Jesus had said his kingdom was not of this world, he could not establish the kingdom using any kind of force.
Filed under Daily Reflections
November 8: Jesus Beyond Dogma II: viii – ‘ A radically new way of being human.’
Putting Jesus on a divine pedestal leaves no room for a radically new way of being human.
Why are we preoccupied with the divinity of Jesus? Presumably we believe this enhances our faith. But is this what Jesus wanted to bring? Was the salvation of the immortal soul his prime concern? The Synoptics, Matthew Mark and Luke, interpret Jesus as a divine figure – corresponding to their contemporary expectation of a divine liberator from Roman oppression. But what was in Jesus’ mind? He certainly promised liberation and new life; was this freedom the expected liberation, or was it a great deal more than that?
I was asked on numerous occasions do I believe in the divinity of Jesus – but never once: do I believe in his humanity. Jesus was offering a radically new way of being human – one totally disconnected from a way dominated by the thirst for power. We know from the Gospels that the disciples had problems with this – preoccupation with messiah-ship became a series of obstacles to seeing what Jesus was really about. Ignorance of the great human story meant they were unable to see the human face of God revealed in that story, reaching its apex in the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus.
Relishing and appreciating the full story, and appreciating God’s creativity at its core gives us a more credible and authentic appreciation of Jesus’ divinity – insisting that we attend much more to the new way of being human that this inaugurated, of which Jesus is the first disciple. We condemn Jesus to divine captivity – so divinely holy and remote – that his new way of being human is seriously compromised. Our preoccupation with his divinity is a distraction from knowing the real Jesus.
We picture Jesus as a loyal and faithful Jew, whereas the sources suggest something different; and the following of Christ was seen as fidelity to divine rules and laws. The Jesus story came to be known as a set of facts around which his life was written. Yet this shape doesn’t figure strongly in his life and mission – his stories testify to this: he defied convention, social and religious – and flaunted the hopes of the establishment by calling for equality based on inclusiveness.
Filed under Daily Reflections
28th June: Ubi Caritas et Amor Deus ibi est
It’s the old plainchant antiphon that becomes an earworm: ‘Ubi Caritas et Amor, Deus ibi est’ – Where Charity and Love prevail, there God is ever found’ – sung on Maundy Thursday when the priest washes peoples’ feet. I wonder what version of the hymn reached William Blake for him to write this meditation upon it: The Divine Image. Which includes ‘heathen, Turk or Jew’, as we can see.
Filed under Daily Reflections, poetry, Year of Mercy