fullertont

RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Trinity Sunday

Rublev's Trinity Icon

 

RUBELEV ICON OF THE TRINITY

Today is Trinity Sunday and we think of the Father, Son and Spirit one. Three distinct persons within the one mystery how do we understand the trinity? We don’t! God, by definition, is beyond imagination, beyond language. The Christian belief that God is a trinity helps underscore how rich the mystery of God is and how our experience of God is always richer than our concepts and language about God.

 In the beginning was the relation of persons: Father, Son, and Spirit, so goes the Trinitarian formula. Yet this “glory be” is very different from some contemporary reformulations. Notice how “Creator, Sanctifier, and Redeemer”—a phrase sometimes used today—portrays the Trinity only in terms of its function with respect to the created world. It misses the point that God’s actual being is relational. There is otherness in God’s oneness. God is the beholder and the beheld, the lover and beloved. Eternal relationship is expressed in space and time. And the created world, thought and loved into being, is empowered to reciprocate. The human creation—“let us create man in our own image and likeness, God said: male and female God created them”—can love the creator back. With faith and hope in the otherness of God, we mirror the personal mutuality of the Trinity and reaffirm the order of all reality.

 When the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, it is an attempt to summarise the whole mystery of our God into one day. This is not just a “theological feast” ` but a feast which should speak to us of this simple fact of faith: the Father loves us, has revealed that love in his Son, and has called into a relationship sustained by the Spirit. It is our joy that, as baptised members of the Church, we can somehow share in that divine life and love which is the Trinity – becoming children of God. God has chosen us, and we are his own people, just as he chose the people of Israel long ago.

 In the remarkable Gospel story we heard a few moments ago, Jesus reveals to His apostles and to us, the very intimate relationship that He holds with both the Father and the Holy Spirit, making God a Trinity of Persons. He urges them and us  to “let go” of their narrow focus on His physical presence and to be prepared for their astounding new role of life “in the Holy Spirit” that will expand their minds and hearts to “all truth.” The Holy Trinity is not a distant truth, for we are temples of the Holy Spirit and possessed of the truth, the power, and the love of the Trinity. May we be caught up even now in the dance and joy of that life

Each Trinity Sunday, we only scratch the surface of this great mystery of our faith. In gratitude and faith, let us begin and end every prayer with greater faith and reverence “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Pentecost Sunday

 

penecost

 

Last Sunday we celebrated the Ascension when Jesus ascended to the Father  and in ordinary terms returned home. This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Pentecost which was the start of the Church. 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’ 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.

 The gospel reading for the feast of Pentecost has already been read, in a more extended form, on the Second Sunday of Easter. It was read then to include Jesus’ encounter with Thomas ‘eight days later’. On the feast of Pentecost we have the opportunity to focus on the earlier verses, in which Jesus brings the gift of peace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The account of the day of Pentecost is found in our first reading, from the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Fifty days after the resurrection there was a spectacular manifestation of the power of the Spirit. Jews and proselytes, gathered from the nations for the Jewish feast of Pentecost, witness the power of the Spirit and hear the preaching of the apostles each in his own tongue. This event launches the mission to the whole world.

Our gospel teaches that the Holy Spirit was also given by the risen Christ before the events of Pentecost. This is a quieter and more intimate demonstration of the power of the Spirit. It is related to the preaching of forgiveness and the possibility of new life for those who ask for it. The disciples are empowered to bring the forgiveness of Christ, but it is possible for people to reject this forgiveness. This seems to be the sense of the final verse, that some have their sins retained. This is the final day of the Easter period. The Lord who died on the cross has shown himself in his risen body. He has taken our humanity into the presence of the Father. He is no longer visibly present, but his Spirit is with us to remind us of Jesus and to lead us into all truth. That Spirit, as St Paul writes to the Corinthians, bestows gifts in abundance for the benefit of the whole Church.

 The apostles used the gifts of the Holy Spirit as they encouraged people to turn away from sin and as they transformed the world so that the kingdom of God could emerge in people’s lives. Although in earlier days they had deserted Jesus, most of them were eventually martyred because of their later faithfulness to his teaching. Pentecost was certainly a turning point in their lives. Applying this truth to ourselves, the sacrament of confirmation is our personal Pentecost event. It is the great sacrament of transformation. In confirmation we are ‘filled’ with the Holy Spirit and we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Our lives are transformed so that, like the apostles, we can be courageous witnesses for Christ. But also like them, we must choose daily to welcome and accept the Spirit.When we are responsive to the Holy Spirit in our lives, we joyfully proclaim the truth of God’s word in every situation whatever the consequences.

Every Pentecost is an exultant celebration of the gift and presence of the third person of the Blessed Trinity and a deep invitation to live out his guidance and purpose in every area of our lives. Pentecost reminds us that we are called and emboldened by the Holy Spirit to bring him into each moment of our lives and every interaction with others. The Holy Spirit gives us his gifts to dwell in and his fruits to bear to the world. In Acts 2 we read that people from every nation were gathered, yet with the coming of the Holy Spirit they all heard each other in their own language. How the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles to do this is a mystery – and yet, in a real way we are also called to “speak” to the world with a similarly unifying language as we share our faith: the language of love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, gentleness, wisdom, understanding, wonder, awe, right judgement  knowledge, courage and reverence. We remain committed to the Church as the guardian and teacher of the faith. We turn away from sin. By doing so, we begin to transform the world so that God’s presence is always glorified and many of the effects of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (what we call the fruits of the Holy Spirit) become evident in our lives. Among these effects are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity. Pentecost emphasises the continuous outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church and the Church’s worldwide mission. It also reminds us about the sacrament of confirmation and the personal transformation that is possible in our lives if we are open to the promptings and guidance of the Spirit. So now let us continue our faith Journey along the roads that lead to God during this year of Faith.

 

CL1794

 

 

The Ascension of the Lord

PAX

Recently it was decided to move the celebration of Ascension in of the  Dioceses to this Sunday. While this moves the feast away the fortieth day after Easter Sunday it does open up  the celebration of the Ascension as part of the journey of the Easter Season. This Sunday’s gospel passage contains part of the prayer Jesus addressed to his Father following his Last Supper discourse with its the promise of the holy Spirit. Jesus prays for his disciples and for all who will believe in him through their words. The depth and poetic beauty of Jesus’ prayer defies making an adequate prose summary. Principal elements of the prayer are listed here merely as an aid to memory for the reader — communion in the life of Father and Son, desire that the world come to believe in him, desire that all may see his eternal glory, desire that the Father’s love be in all who believe. Ascension is not just a feast that “happens to fall in Eastertide”: it is an integral part of the Easter mystery. Remember the Lord’s words at the Last Supper: “I am going to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me.” Jesus does not open the way to us just by rising from the dead: to complete the mystery presumes the Lord’s return to the Father. Ascension is therefore a feast of hope: our hope that the Lord will return, as he went. Our hope that he will take us with him, when our bodies are raised as his was. Our hope that in due course we will take our place in heaven, where he sits at the Father’s right hand.

 Our focus today is on the retelling of a story declaring that Christ has returned to the Father, and so we think of it as the ‘end’ of the Christ event or the ‘end of Easter’ – in times past there was a custom of extinguishing the Paschal Candle after the gospel to signify: ‘he is gone’. That said he is gone but at the same time we believe that he is truly here with us. The ascension is an end As well as a beginning. While it was the end of Jesus’ physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus’ presence with them and with us in  a new way. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time (Matthew 28:20)  and he is with us too in the Eucharist, that is also called the real presence of Jesus in the blessed Sacrament.  Now as the glorified and risen Lord and Saviour, Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, and he promised to send the Apostles the Holy Spirit who would give them his power on the Feast of Pentecost.

 The Feast of the Ascension is a call for us to renew our participation in the Church’s mission. We help to make disciples of others by our words and actions. When we are committed to the Church and its teaching, we teach other people about the eternal life that is offered to them whenever we speak about our faith and its relevance to our lives. This is how we participate in the Church’s mission and begin to understand more fully its nature. On the Feast of the Ascension then we focus our minds and hearts not so much on Jesus’ departure from this world but rather on his continued presence among us, albeit in   a different way. While his earthly mission concludes with the Ascension, his mission of salvation continues in the Church. We, together one and all are the Church. We are the Body of Christ which is a sign of God’s loving presence to the entire world. We are reminded to assume the responsibility that comes with baptism as we renew our commitment to being the Church and to loving the Church as a son or a daughter loves his or her Father. In this last Sunday before Pentecost, may we take courage in the vision of Jesus Himself of a world at peace, living in unity and love. May we pray today with Jesus’ prayer for unity, in local church, in our parish communities  and in the universal church. We beg God for stronger faith and stronger love and stronger courage in our own witnessing as we continue our journey of faith.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

conquerers_cross_wegast

Here we are at the 6th Sunday of Easter soon we will come to Ascension(Jesus returning to the Father) and then the end of the 50 days of the Easter season we get to  Pentecost (The coming of the Holy Spirit sometimes called the Holy Ghost). The Gospel reading for this Sunday tells us that if we love Jesus he will come to us and stay with us and he is with us in so many ways especially in the sacramental life of the church. But he is with us in a particular way in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ which is the Bread of life. Jesus also tells us in this Gospel that he gives us his peace which is not of this world. We have only to look at the various war zones in the world such as Iraq and the middle east where so many have lost so much, even the Holy Land where Jesus walked while on earth is at war with Israel and Palestine fighting over so many things.

I think that the Peace that Jesus speaks about is the peace of soul, spirit and mind that comes from knowing that we are all members of the family of God and that God the Father is with us in our daily lives and existence. The Gospel reading for this Sunday also tells us that Jesus will be soon leaving his apostles and yet here we are 2013 years later celebrating the rich inheritance of the faith that has been handed down to us through the generations from Jesus and the Apostles. The faith that has been passed down through the generations to us here and now will continue into the future. As Eastertide comes to an end we see the power and influence of the Spirit growing. This is the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, and the Spirit who brings the Church to birth at Pentecost which we celebrate in two weeks time. As we journey towards Pentecost – the climax of the Easter Season – we should be considering the presence of the Spirit in the Church today: the reconciler of disputes, the solver of problems, true inspiration for the family of God on our journey to the New Jerusalem!

For us Pentecost is about promise: the Lord at the Last Supper promises that He and the Father will be “at home” with all who keep his words (This includes you and me) – and it is the Advocate, the Holy Spirit who will remind us of these and all his words. Someone once said that the law of gravity and the law of love ultimately have the same source and are both driven by the same spirit, the Holy Spirit. We believe that all Scripture is “inspired” – the word of the Spirit – so as we listen this Sunday let us look for the fulfilment of the promise made by the Lord. 

Post Navigation