Sunday, June 24, 2012

St John the Baptist: Breathing the Orders of Prophecy

Today marks the Nativity of the Birth of St John the Baptist, the last great Old Testament Prophet who, ironically, features exclusively in the New!

It is also a time on which many Bishops ordain Deacons to the Sacred Priesthood. One such example is my good friend Fr Anthony Chadwick who celebrates the anniversary of his Priesting today. Here I  would like to publicly thank him not only for his ministry in France but also beyond to the wider world, and for his kind words and prayers for me.
The Church has often spoken of her Prophetic and Priestly ministries: she has Priests who offer the prayers of the people to God, and she has Prophets who speak the word of God to the people. Pope John Paul II spoke of the "two Lungs of the Church" being the Orthodox and Roman Churches. I'm not quite sure whether I agree with that statement entirely - I would need to think a little more on it - but I would certainly see the Prophetic and Priestly ministries as being the visible breathing of the Church. The Church breathes in the Holy Ghost in the Priestly ministry and breathes out the Holy Ghost in the Prophetic. I wonder then whether the two lungs of the Church are Holy Scripture and Tradition which operate with the diaphragm of Right Reason!

Now these Offices are part of the whole Catholic Church and thus every Christian participates in both the priestly and prophetic. In some sense, all Christians without exception have a priestly ministry of offering prayers to God every day and participating in the life of the Church through Sacrament and Fellowship - koinonia. There can be no exceptions for this because each Christian is to love both God and neighbour and to intercede for all Christians. In the Traditional St Augustine Prayerbook, there is a lovely litany for the Night in which a Christian may exercise a form of the priestly office by praying on behalf of those who have said no prayers and even to offer praise for those who have blasphemed or ignored God. We have the assurance that God hears the prayers of His Church and He will answer those prayers insofar as the free-will of man will allow.

But there is the Prophetic office too. How is a Christian to participate in this ministry? It is the duty of every Christian to discover the Will of God, to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and having made that discovery to share it somehow. This does mean speaking out. It means speaking out for justice, for mercy, for truth and for charity. It means speaking out for those who have no voice. Too often the Church is perceived as speaking out against something as if it sees every development as being negative or evil. This is not always the case and people very often mishear, though perhaps Christians have not been very good at proclaiming what they are for.

The trouble is that the zeal for our house does not consume us in the same way that it consumes Our Saviour when He throws the money changers out of the temple. It is often because that zeal is not Catholic, it is not for everyone but seeks to exclude. As I said in another blog post, the Church is for everyone, because God is for everyone. Yet, our zeal has the habit of promoting a god who is not necessarily the God in Whom we believe. Our bickering often reflects a lack of belief in an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnibenevolent God and the times that this has been demonstrated in the past is horrifying.

There are times when I sympathise with the late Christopher Hitchens when I hear of Christians being thoroughly beastly to each other and to the outside world. The god in whom he doesn't believe is a god in whom I do not believe, either, to paraphrase Dr Alister McGrath! I saw on Facebook a post from the Vatican explaining the decision by Dr Williams to step down from being the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first comment on that post was the single word "Heretics!"  However, I must also confess readily and to my shame that I have not been the best representative for God - in fact I often wonder whether I've done more harm than good! I am truly thankful for Romans viii.28!

However, we should remember that the Hebrews find the Ten Commandments as truly positive Laws which promote true love, peace, equality and generosity. We must ensure that our Prophetic message is truly positive and seeks to build up individuals and societies, to preach peace rather than hatred, to offer the hand of friendship rather than to denounce, and to seek to embrace rather than to push away even when we are faced with something that is truly abhorrent. Christ throws the money-changers so that people can enter the Temple to worship God. His zeal brings light to those whose lives had been darkened by the detritus of sin which He casts out. We are often called to be Christ in the darkness of the world, whether or not we are ordained. Our zeal needs to be Holy, positive and fully grounded in the Love of God if it is to be seen as true Prophecy.

Of course, the Prophetic ministry is not always popular and many prophets (St John the Baptist included) have suffered for it. This still happens and is certainly happening within Continuing Anglicanism, though this seldom ends in summary execution. It seems that many in society want the lungs of the  Church to breathe the wrong way - to breathe in the spirit of the world and then breathe it out in the face of God, like cigarette smoke! Many faithful priests have been left high-and-dry on account of their prophecy and have been hurt because they have dared to stand against a flow which they see as being contrary to the will of God. How do they know? Because they have used their connection to the lungs of the Church, Scripture and Tradition. True Prophecy requires education of the conscience, participation in the Church, and zeal to accept the consequences of receiving the Prophecy.

It is at this point that I must now announce the fact that the Anglican Catholic Church has discerned within me a vocation to Holy Orders and that Bishop Damien Mead will (subject to the Divine will) ordain me Deacon on Michaelmas Day (29th September) this year. I am deeply honoured and humbled to be receiving this ministry and look forward to seeing where God is leading me in His Service in His Church which I love. From what I have written above, I hope that I have demonstrated why I feel very unworthy of such a calling. I expect to work hard for Christ and to be beaten regularly by Sin, the World and the Devil, but I know I have the support and love of Holy Church. I pray that God would give me the ability truly to extend that support and love to those to whom I am sent.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Neither Male nor Female: A study in foolishness

Let's start here.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
What do you make of this?

It's verse 28 from the third chapter of St Paul's letter to the Galatians. What does it say to you?

We have three mutual antitheses, Jew/Greek, slave/free, male/female, which "are all one in Christ Jesus". Now, what can this "one" be? Does this mean that these antitheses become completely identified in Our Lord Jesus? Is that the same thing as unification? Well, one thing we do know about Our Lord is that He is Himself the union of two antitheses - the Divine and Human natures. Now these natures are one in Christ, but completely different. They remain antitheses, but are completely united. Thus we can understand that being one in Christ does not mean complete identification. Antitheses remain antitheses - they are not made identical or interchangeable by unification.
Now, let us pull back a little bit, because this verse does exist in context.

Chapter three begins with "O foolish Galatians". The Galatians have been bewitched by the Judaizers into believing that obeying the old Jewish Law is the root to Heaven, not by being united in Christ, that in order to be saved it is necessary to be Jewish. The Galatians are being taught by the first heretics that belief in Christ does not include the idea that He is the fulfilment of the law, thus diminishing the significance of the Cross. Indeed, as St Paul tells us in this chapter, if one holds to the Law, then one cannot believe in Christ as the Son of God. Under the Law, Jesus is a cursed criminal, executed upon a cross. Salvation comes through Christ, not through membership of a privileged community based on the Law of the Old Testament. On the contrary, adherence to Jesus as Christ creates a community of those who are redeemed through His blood and who are working out their Salvation with fear and trembling. It is adherence to Christ as King that defines Christianity, not the Jewish Law.

However, being Jewish does not rule out Salvation, but neither does being a Greek, or more properly, Gentiles. Likewise, a slave being subordinate to a master does not lose the potential for Salvation on the grounds of being a slave, similarly, being a master does not rule one out for salvation. There is a caveat to this latter, since St Paul then goes onto say how masters are to treat their slaves that subservience to Christ rules out slavery in favour of mutual service. Finally, the separate rules for men and women do not stop either sex from being part of Christ's community.

Notice that there is no "confusion of the substances" here. Greeks in Christ remain Greeks, Slaves in Christ remain Slaves, Women in Christ remain Women. This is about Salvation - who can be members of Christ's body. There is nothing here, in this third chapter, that says anything about how the Body of Christ is to be arranged. This chapter cannot be used to justify interchangeability of clearly defined entities. God does and has discriminated, though not to set up one group as being any better than another - just different. Slavery in the large has passed away because of the teaching of Christ about the value of individuals, and where slavery still exists, it is regarded by the majority as an evil.

Galatians iii.28 is constantly being trotted out to defend the notions of homosexual marriage or women's "ordination". We can see that the verse has absolutely no significance with regard to these issues. Those who believe it has, are reading into these verses that which is not there and eisegesis is not a good way to understand what a Scripture actually says. One must take context into account and too often the verse is taken out of that context.

Why not read all of the letter to the Galatians so you can see the overarching context for yourselves? That way we can stop ourselves from falling into the same foolishness.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Broken bones and broken hearts

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken , and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
St John xix.31-37
Why is it so important to us that Our Lord's bones weren't broken? We have the prophecies of the Old Testament: Psalm xxxiv.20 tells us, "He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken" and  from Zechariah xii.10
"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced , and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."
Thia might seem like a good prophecy about Our Lord's heart being pierced, but wait! What about:
"Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice ." (Psalm li.8)
"Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away : first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones ." (Jeremiah l.4)
"My flesh and my skin hath he made old ; he hath broken my bones." Lamentations iii.4.
Why don't these work as prophecy for Christ's suffering? Is the Bible covering both bases. If they had broken Jesus' legs would these verses be trotted out as Biblical "proof"?

What is very interesting is that the broken bones all refer to the consequences of sin and the concomitant punishment. David was punished for his adultery and his repentance is summed up in Psalm li. In Jeremiah, Israel is punished by her apostasy and her bones are broken by the Babylonians.

What is more interesting is the passage from Lamentations. For the majority of the book, the "I" refers to Israel toiling and labouring in the exile and yet we read of more Biblical prophecies of Christ's sufferings, "Is it nothing to you...?", "the wormwood and gall". Again, the bones are broken as the result of Israel's transgressions. The breaking of bones is the punishment of the guilty.

Now if we look at the suffering of Our Lord, perhaps we begin to see the significance of what He has done for us. His bones are not broken because He has no sin, yet it is his desire to identify himself with transgressors. This points to a deep fact about the atonement: God does not punish Jesus instead of us; Jesus takes the inevitable punishment of our sins upon Himself willingly. As we watch the jeering of the crowd around the cross, we see folk so infected with sin that they don't know what's they are doing! No wonder our rebuke breaks His heart. In fact, it does so literally with the point of a spear.

Further, we may also see the bones as being a type of the Covenant which we have with God. Human beings continually break the Covenant and suffer as a result of it in the same way that we suffer when we break bones. The only human being who does battle with the Devil and survives without breaking bones is Christ. It is the soft flesh of His heart that is broken in His compassion for us.

It is through this wound that we enter into Christ Himself. What a price!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Catholicism: Not a church for anyone

I do honestly puzzle over the meaning of a certain thesis-antithesis pairing which seems to affect the Church these days. What does it really mean for a church to be inclusive? For that matter what does it mean for a church to be exclusive? Why is inclusivity good? Why is exclusivity bad?

Many of us have suffered from being involuntarily excluded from an event which we would dearly loved to have enjoyed. Some people find themselves excluded from society because of reasons of accident, and our Lord Jesus did indeed reach out to those whom Society excludes. How many times do we hear in Holy Scripture of the need to care for the Orphan, the Widow and the Stranger, the Deaf, the Blind and the Lame, the Leper, the Poor and the Unclean. Notice how these have all been excluded passively. Their exclusion is the result of something happening to them.

There are others who have been excluded too whose exclusion does involve a choice that they have made, for example the Prostitute and the Tax Collector. Notice how, as Christ includes them, they find reasons not to be what they once were.

Thus, inclusion into the Church necessarily is a life changing aspect. For many their circumstantial needs are met and their dis-eases attended. For others, there is a discovery of self-worth and a realisation that their lives can be made better by being included into the Church of Christ.

Yet this is quite a pivotal idea. Inclusion into the Body of Christ requires the desire to be transformed, and that transformation is not something we control. Inclusion into the Church of Christ means that we have to give up the full control of our lives. While this may mean the end of the pain of our previous existence, it also means an end to that within us which causes that pain to recur. Inclusion in the Church of Christ is solely on His terms, not on ours.

The Church is certainly inclusive but it is also exclusive. Simply speaking, it excludes all those who don't want to be included.

Can we be this simple though?

The problem lies in this word "Catholic". There is a tension in how people interpret it. Literally it means "according to the whole". People interpret it as "universal" and again there is an equivocation. Does Catholic mean "for everyone" or does it mean "for anyone"?

There's a big difference: "for everyone" implies the general, "for anyone" implies the particular.
"For everyone" demonstrates a general principle applicable to the whole as a whole. "For anyone" demonstrates a general applicable to the whole as a particular. The statement "ice creams for everyone" (i.e. "everyone can have an ice cream") is different in meaning from"ice creams for anyone" (i.e. "anyone can have an ice cream").  The first implies that each and every person actually gets an ice cream, the second still has the possibility that individuals have the ability to refuse.

The Catholic Church is not for anyone. It's for everyone!

A Church that is for anyone is a Church that caters for the desires of particular individuals. This initially sounds fine, after all God cares for the individual, and the Church must follow her Lord, but what if the individual does not want to follow the Lord, at least not in the way the He desires? If the Church is for anyone, then the dissenting individual is not only welcome but needs to be catered for. We then have a Church in which those who do not wish to be transformed are allowed not to be transformed. This is a clear contradiction to what the Lord Jesus wanted. As we demonstrated above, membership of the Church entails a desire to be transformed according to the will of the One who Created. If Sin is indeed the mortal sickness of humanity leading to Eternal Death and the Church the Hospital, how can the infection be controlled if the Hospital is not kept as clean as possible. The infection is common to us all and we all suffer from the effects of Sin. We cannot therefore include those who not only refuse to be healed but also desire to keep the infection alive.

An Inclusive Church is therefore for everyone and, by "everyone", we mean all the Faithful, the Living and the Dead - after all, Death is no barrier to those who believe he Church to be the vehicle to Eternal Life. This relationship seeks true unity with Christ and with others all together, not the acceptance of ways of life which do not seek the transforming power of Christ.

If that's what makes the Catholic Church exclusive, well then, it is exclusive, but that does not mean that it is not for everyone!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Skeleton of Conservatism, Fleshly Liberality and Procrustean Polemics

Well, as the exam season has its hiatus, I have the opportunity to blog again. When I have moved on from being in charge of exam administration, I'll be able to concentrate more on writing for this blogling and elsewhere, I hope.

It's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. For me, all things Monarchist have somewhat lost their appeal since my move from the CofE. While I regard Her Majesty very much as my Governor and one deserving of my loyalty, I am no longer part of the state religion and rather find myself on the fringes looking in at the pageantry of which I once had some ownership.

I will be honest and say that I miss singing in cathedral choirs. Having heard Walmisley in D Minor and Wood in the "Fridge" recently, my memories have gone back to when I had a decent voice and a choir in which I could sing. However, my conservative beliefs have thrust me from places of great spires and vast organs into small chapels and upper rooms. One might say this is my own fault. Indeed it is my choice, but one that I should have made much earlier, despite the pain of not being able to sing again that wonderful Amen in Balfour-Gardiner's Evening Hymn.

I am very much a conservative in the real sense of the word. Mathematicians and Physicists speak of conserved quantities such as energy and momentum and use them to simplify what can be particularly nasty equations. Holy Tradition runs through the Body of Christ as its skeleton which has joints where it can bend and bones where it cannot. The trouble is that bones are hard, and when one hits bone, it hurts!

When I was fighting my battles all too Quixotically in the CofE, people accused me of seeing things only in black and white and not the shades of grey. Perhaps they were right so to upbraid me for those times when I overstated my case, but not all areas are shades of grey: some areas are black and white! Of course, in the CofE there were no such areas of black and white. I still do not understand how it is possible for a Christian priest to deny the existence of God or of the Virgin Birth, or to subscribe to the Creeds without believing them. Conservatism provides a framework which, though not immovable, supports a rigid structure and gives shape to our faith and our relationship with God.

There is, however, a rather worrying trend among conservatives now to use that rigid structure as a club with which to beat dissenters. I seem to get a picture of the bone-wielding apes at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey when I see some of the polemics that seem to abound on the internet. I notice that several of my online friends and contemporaries have ceased blogging because of all the negativity that is being expressed about the varying states of Anglicanism. There are shrill voices smashing some folk with "Extra ecclesia nulla salus", others with the XXXIX articles, others with Montanistic mantras, and still others with what amounts to a "be one of us or go to Hell" mentality though not always specifically defined. Perhaps this is what the com-boxes attract.

I have said many a time that the Church has only ever been given the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, not the keys to Hell. One of the Angels has these in the Book of Revelation and the implication is clear that judgment is only carried out by the Divine when judging individuals. I have also been lucky in that this little blogling does not have the readership of others, nor does it possess the intellectual kudos or scholarly learning of my contemporaneous blogs. I have thus fallen under the RADAR of some of the most spirited polemicists whose desire, it seems, is to foist their brand of Catholicism on others.

Once can understand to some extent whence they come. Many are like me, refugees from a body which has given up orthodoxy in order to pursue and synchrete modern secular standards. I have been most fortunate to find myself a place where I can not only grow, but really do feel myself growing. Others do the same. However, the fragmentation of the Orthodox into separate and rather disharmonic bodies, means that, in order to convince themselves that they have made the right decision in their move, some folk take up the trumpet and produce shrill discordant notes which drive more folk away than encourage others to join. The need to justify the move means that some go from the apologetic to the polemic and to the effective demonisation of the place they left. It is, however, tempting to do that and perhaps I am guilty of such behaviour too.

I maintain my stance that the Ordinariate is a marvellous place to be if one is happy to cease being Anglican but retain something of the substance of what Anglicanism possesses. I do, however, not believe that the Roman Catholic Church is THE One True Church in its entirety. Only God can say what the One True Church is; only God can say who are truly priests; only God saves, though Salvation is indeed integral to the Church. There is no point, then for the Ordinariate bound, to attack Continuing Anglicans for not being true Catholics when they should realise that true Catholicism is the driving principle of the Continuum. Nor should they attack Continuing Anglicans for their "alphabet soup" existence, especially in the light of recent interdenominational ecumenism. The Ordinariate is younger than Continuing Anglicanism and its future not known, though I pray for its flourishing just as I pray for the flourishing of the Anglican Continuum, especially my own beloved diocese.

Yet likewise, Continuing Anglicanism should not be attacking the Ordinariate-bound who have managed to find some integrity with which they can live, considering that they too have had to sacrifice much in order to pursue Orthodoxy. There is much that those who dissent from the secularism of the CofE have in common, and it seems strange that such polemics exist. These polemics are still the vestiges of the battle lines between Anglo-Catholics, Prayerbook Catholics and Anglican Papalists. Yet, how on earth does one win souls by polemic? One doesn't. Polemics ultimately attempt to force the Body of Christ onto the bed of Procrustes, taking pleasure in lopping off the bits which don't fit.
There really needs to be a liberality between all folk who call themselves Anglican. So far we have sniping, trolling, litigation and expulsion as being the major participles resulting from the interactions between Anglicans.  I no longer have to fight my corner with the CofE. Having left them to ordain whomsoever they please and use whatever liturgies they choose with their concomitant theologies which are not always compatible, I find myself thinking more about housekeeping and evangelising.

Good housekeeping is essential if one is preparing to invite others to come in. Fortunately, the Benedictine rule does flesh out this practice with its wonderful tightrope walking between extremes. How Aristotle would have loved St Benedict! Only in St Benedict can we find living in tension made practicable; corporate prayer is built in with private prayer, heads have to be in the clouds and down-to-earth, everyone is to be regarded as superior and yet there is one Superior.

If one truly wants to be conservative, then one must guard against atrophy and look for the soft, yielding flesh which covers the bone. If one regards oneself as liberal, then one must guard oneself against becoming amorphous and seek rigidity which gives the Body of Christ its distinctive shape. The Christian has to learn to live in tension with the two. Surely, this is easy since we live our human existence being precisely the union of soft flesh and hard bone every day of our lives. Since Christ shares our human nature, we need to look to him to show us how His Body works for the good of all Humanity. If Christ rejoices in our Humanity, then so should we. That doesn't mean chopping ourselves to bits in the process.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

One Human Being in a Multiplicity of Persons

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis for Trinity Sunday 2012.
Text:  Apocalypse iv.

Why is the liturgical colour
               for Trinity Sunday not Rose,
                        or at least a sort of light reddish-pink?

We only see Rose vestments
           twice a year in Advent and Lent.

Why not Trinity Sunday as well?

After all,
       we remember God the Creator
                in the weeks before Lent,
                       that’s violet.

We remember God the Saviour
          at Easter and that’s white,
               and last week
                     we remembered God the Sanctifier
                               in the Red of Whitsun.

 Violet, White and Red together
            make an interesting Reddish,
                       Rosy Pink.
Seems quite reasonable, doesn’t it?
Let’s be clear: today is Trinity Sunday.

We may think about God,
             and Sanctifier,
                       but what we have not heard used
                             is the phrase:
                                 Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

That’s important.

It’s very important,
         and it’s something we human beings
                  can and do miss
                          if we are not careful.

So what’s the problem?


You’ve in the process
              of meeting a new friend
                   and you’ve just uttered the first question
                             “Hello! How are you?”

 Your new friend
              has just told you her name is Elizabeth
                      and that she’s very well.

What’s your next question?

Well, chances are, you’ll say,
              “and what do you do?”

 It’s very natural and quite reasonable.

No-one is going to take any offence
                 at that question, are they?

But why do we go straight
                to asking what someone does?

What answer would you expect?
         “I’m a lawyer,”
          “I’m a doctor,”
           “I test the taste of cakes for Mr Kipling.”

It’s a rather good question to ask,
          “what do you do?”
                 because it opens up a conversation very nicely
                         without probing into anything
                                unnecessarily deep too soon.

However, as the days,
             weeks and months move on,
                        you begin to know Elizabeth better than that.

She doesn’t just test cakes for Mr Kipling;
            she paints portraits in oils;
                      she jogs 3 miles a day to stop getting too podgy
                                 from tasting all those cakes;
                                     she loves watching Desperate Housewives
                                              but can’t ever watch Watership Down.

You learn more about her history,
          her philosophy of life and how she sees herself.

And so you’ve made a new friend for life.
In order to know Elizabeth better,
          we have to go beyond what she does.

As the rather over-used phrase says,
            Elizabeth is a Human Being,
                        not a Human Doing.

Do we treat God in exactly the same way?
Do we ever try to focus on Who He is?

God is our Creator, yes
         but that doesn’t pin him down
                   – He’s more than a Creator.

God is our Saviour,
     but that is only one (albeit vital) aspect
              of His interaction with us
                   and says too little of His character.

God is our Sanctifier,
           but that tells us nothing about Who He is,
                    save that His Presence makes things Holy.

He is God.

   to describe God just by what He does
              means we never get beyond finding out
                    Who He is.

Many Christians these days make a big mistake
             of not Baptising people correctly.

Our Lord Jesus commanded us
         to baptise in the Name
                  of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
                          not in the Name of
            the Creator, Saviour and Sanctifier
                    as some Christians do.

How does this give any depth
            to the new Christian’s initiation
                         into the family of God? 

If this is a family,
       then we’re beyond talk of what people do.

We don’t call Dad,
       Mr Machinery Operative at Balfour Beatty,
              or Mum,
                     Mrs Part-time Lecturer at the local Sixth-form College.

 We call them Mum and Dad,
                because that is what they are.

Our relationship with Mum and Dad
          is not about what they do,
                    though they do do an awful lot for us,
                         but it’s a relationship of being not of doing.

So it is with our Christian Family,
             we have a relationship of being with God,
                  and the Lord Jesus reminds us that
                        He knows us more intimately
                                than we can even ever know ourselves.

It is God who searches us out and knows us.

He knows our down-sitting
            and up-rising and discerns our thoughts long before.

Not only does God know us,
            but He wants to be known by us
                    and he promises us that one day,
                              we shall indeed see Him as He is.

Actually, He promises us more than that.


St John reminds us that seeing God as He really is
           has a profound consequence for us:

     now are we the sons of God,
          and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:
             but we know that, when he shall appear,
                   we shall be like him;
                         for we shall see him as he is.

We shall be like Him?

He is One God in Three Persons,
      Blessed Trinity.

How can we,
         little single persons,
                all individual, be like that?


If we look hard,
       we begin, perhaps,
              to see why Lord Jesus gave us
                     the second commandment,
                            to love our neighbours as ourselves.

  He tells us first of loving God
          with all that we are
             and all the faculties we possess
                  and then goes on to show that the same love
                        must be lavished upon those who are around us.

Both commandments are about relationships
      and forging those relationships.

In so doing we become like God,
     that is to say “one human being
          in a multiplicity of persons”.

How do you feel about that?

Does it make you a little uneasy?

Do you really want to be one
     with every human being who ever lived?

Aren’t there some human beings
       who do some horrible things out there?

God is always showing us
     how much He loves humanity
            no matter what.

He created us to be like Him
          despite our tendency to sin.

 While we are on this Earth,
      we are to walk with Him
           and with our brothers and sisters.

In this we find out more about who we really are.

In the Mass,
          we find that relationship with God
                    and others at its very deepest.

It is our destiny to be perfected,
          our sins destroyed,
          our brokenness healed,
          our weaknesses strengthened,
          our souls nourished.

We will never understand the depths of our own being,
    let alone God’s,
           but trying to understand
               and meditating on the Holy Trinity brings about
                    a deeper relationship with Him.


God is love and love makes us one.

In being one, we do not lose our individuality,
       but rather it is perfected
              by being in communion with God and others.

How much more do we need to love others
     in order to become more human?