May 24, 2013
I wonder how many sermons this Sunday will tell us how ‘difficult’ the doctrine of the trinity is to understand. It’s a shame really because the ‘problem’ with the Trinity is not that the concept so distant from us but rather because the persons are so close – in fact closer to us than our own breath. Just think about any act of prayer. We don’t pray to some distant deity hoping that they may just about hear us. Rather our desire to pray is the sign of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Similarly we don’t pray as creatures, though we are that, but as children, because we share in the Son’s risen life. And we don’t pray to any old god but to our Father. All our prayer is Trinitarian.
And that’s true of the greatest prayer of all – the Holy Mass. We are gathered by the Spirit to be the Body of the Son offered to the Father. At Mass we are not just in the presence of God we are caught up into that presence. We share in the very life of the Trinity.
Every aspect of our faith and practice flows from and is directed to the Holy Trinity. In the words of the Catechism ‘the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life’. It’s not a riddle or a conundrum or a problem, it is the mystery of God’s life shared with us.
May 20, 2013
On Sunday our Easter celebrations come to their triumphal climax with the feast of Pentecost. We recall and celebrate that day when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church so that it could continue the work begun by Jesus. The Church is not a fan club for the dead as the Richard III Society or Dickens Society could be seen, keeping alive the memory and importance of some historical figure, rather it is the body of the risen and living Christ in the world.
Notice in today’s readings the transformation that the resurrection has worked on the Apostles. Notice also that despite Jesus passing from their sight that they are not despondent or anxious. On the contrary they are brimming over with energy and zeal. The Spirit drives them out into the world to tell the truths they now know to the core of their being.
Throughout her history the Church has prayed for the renewal that the Holy Spirit brings, asking God that in every age there be a new Pentecost. And in every age God has responded by sending the Spirit afresh on the Church. The saints that we celebrate week by week, from every language, people and time are signs of that Spirit at work. And the Spirit wants to work through our lives too. ‘Come Holy Spirit; fill the hearts of your faithful!’
May 13, 2013
To a casual observer it might seem strange that we are celebrating the departure of our Saviour, Lord and King. Surely we would want him to stay with us? But of course he is still with us: in and through his Body the Church, in the sacraments especially, and above all in the Eucharist. He has passed beyond our sight but he has not left us on our own.
So we celebrate the Ascension because we know it marks the completion of Jesus’ earthly journey, but it also marks the start of our heavenly journey – he has gone ahead of us to prepare a place for us. Where he has gone we hope to follow. This feast, as with all feasts of the Lord, tells us about Jesus but also about ourselves. We are celebrating our ascension into heaven too. We are rejoicing that our human flesh has now been taken conclusively and irreversibly into the Godhead.
All these things and more are summed up in the readings, prayers and liturgy of the Mass. There we are led into a realisation of what it means when Jesus says: ‘I am with you ever more’.
May 1, 2013
Today we celebrate the feast of two of the Lord’s Apostles, Philip and James. We hear of them in the gospels. It is Philip who asks Jesus ‘Show us the Father and we shall be satisfied’. Both were part of the original band of twelve, both accompanied Jesus on his mission, and both seem to have been martyred for their faith in the first century.
The power of the resurrection was such that it transformed men like Philip and James from timid cowards into fearless preachers. They were driven to share their new faith with others. Even the threat of death could not stop them talking about Jesus and his resurrection.
Philip and James show us what an apostle is called to be – he or she is someone ‘sent’ to proclaim the gospel. We too are called to be apostles in our world. Through our baptism and confirmation we are sent in the power of the Spirit to proclaim the faith that comes to us from Apostles such as Philip and James. May they pray for us to be effective in our proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus.