Day 35: Love bade me welcome


Amongst our 40 meditations on the Mass, we scatter prayers and poetry and hymns to help us reflect further on the deep meaning of the Eucharist.

This poem by George Herbert (1593-1632 ), a Welsh born poet and priest of the Church of England, is like a journey into love, with various stages travelled in just a few short verses.

Welcomed by Love, the subject seeks a more worthy guest at his table, but Love says ‘You shall be he.” Being content to simply serve at Love’s Table, Love bids him sit and eat.

In the Eucharistic banquet, we are given a foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet. Though unworthy, Christ’s death has paid the price of our sin, he has “borne the blame.” And so, at the Eucharistic table we can say, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.’

 Love
  
 Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
 Guilty of dust and sin.
 But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
 From my first entrance in,
 Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
 If I lacked anything.
  
 ‘A guest,’ I answered, ‘worthy to be here.’
 Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
 ‘I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
 I cannot look on thee.’
 Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
 ‘Who made the eyes but I?’
  
 ‘Truth Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
 Go where it doth deserve.’
 ‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘who bore the blame?’
 ‘My dear, then I will serve.’
 ‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat:’
 So I did sit and eat.
  
 George Herbert, 1593-1632 

Monday 29 March 2021


The perfume of love

Read

Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom he had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there; Martha waited on them and Lazarus was among those at table. Mary brought in a pound of very costly ointment, pure nard, and with it anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair; the house was full of the scent of the ointment. Then Judas Iscariot – one of his disciples, the man who was to betray him – said, ‘Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor?’ He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions. So Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial. You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.’

From JOHN 12:1-11

Reflect

A the election of Pope Francis, the Archbishop Emeritus of San Paulo gave him a hug and a kiss and said, “Don’t forget the poor.’  Later, in an audience given to representatives of the media Pope Francis said, ‘How I would like a church which is poor and for the poor!’

In the gospel reading, Judas Iscariot seems to have a point, and with his eyes set firmly on the bank balance, expresses the waste that Jesus has allowed to happen in his presence and, seemingly, for his own benefit – as expensive ointment is poured over the feet of Jesus.  However, what Mary does is a touching, profound, beautiful, fragile and disturbing thing.  She is anointing him, so Jesus says, for his burial.  Death is in the air. ‘You will have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.’ There is no escaping it.  It is not long now before his hour will come.

In the prophecy of Isaiah we are given the image of the suffering servant, one who makes no song and dance, he does not cry out, he does not complain.  He walks gently, humbly, submitting to all that will come to him, to the blows and insults.  Our own sins weigh heavy on us.  Consider how heavy it is to bear the sins of the whole world.  Jesus is, in every way, poor and humble.  In his first Palm Sunday homily as Pope, Francis said, ‘Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world.’  May this Holy Week teach us humility and poverty.  May it deepen our love for Jesus and give us a greater love of the poor. Let our hopes be reawakened, our eyes opened, our hearts softened, our faith reignited, our lives be filled with the scent of Jesus death, which is the perfume of love.

Pray

Loving Father, reawaken our hope, open our eyes to the needs of the poor, and deepen our love for Jesus, who is Lord for ever and ever. Amen. Amen.

Sunday 28 March 2021


Love, not hate

Read

And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed cried out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!’

From MARK 11:1-10

Reflect

Positions of celebrity and fame can be fragile. Certain newspapers and magazines are all too quick to catch someone out. The paparazzi swoops in, invading people’s privacy, claiming their story is in the pubic interest. Their claims are clarified by those who dip into their pockets to pay for a copy of the latest headlines, revelling in the downfall of a pop star or politician or who ever it may be. How quickly a situation can change.

And so too for Jesus. Yes, he has made his enemies, and there are many who have already plotted his downfall, planned his death. But for now, on that first Palm Sunday, Jesus is hailed as a King. The crowd sings ‘Hosanna!’ They strip trees of branches and remove the cloaks off their back to create a royal road for Jesus. A few days later, and the cheering of the crowds has turned deathly, as they cry, Crucify him! Crucify him!” This is his downfall.

Or so they think. Whilst Jesus enters Jerusalem, he is also entering the reality of his suffering and death. The difficulty of embracing his call, the cost of love, will be played out in Gethsemane, as he prays that the cup of suffering may pass from him, and yet still he seeks the Father’s will. Far from being his downfall, Jesus breaks the power of sin and death. He is raised from the dead, raised to the heights of heaven. Our downfall is transformed. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Pray

Loving Father, through love for us you sent your Son into the world. Our pain is his pain, our death is his death. May we also share in his resurrection. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 34: Changing Rooms (4)


Introduction

Amazing things happen in the most ordinary of places.  When Jesus sent Peter and John to find a room to prepare the Passover Supper little did they know the amazing things that would happen in that room over the next fifty days!

We complete our sideways glance and quirky look through Scripture (Luke chapters 22-24) from Maundy Thursday to Pentecost Sunday, and focus on that ‘Changing Room’ – where the room in which they lodged really did become a venue where they were changed for the good.

The Apostles have left the building

The room had changed.
They waited.
And waited.
And waited.
  
There was noise in the city outside.
It was only nine o clock
but already the crowds had taken to the street. 
A thousand, thousand Pentecost Pilgrims
winding their way to the Temple,
the stadium of light.
  
Children shouted and ran through the streets
with banners and flags.
Dogs barked,
hooters hooted.
  
It was like match day!
  
‘I hate Pentecost,’ thought Matthew,
as he twitched at the net curtains,
peering at the crowds outside.
‘Jerusalem is full of foreigners.
You can’t move for them.
A hundred different languages.
And they've closed off the roads
so you can’t get across the city.
Shopping's out of the question!
  
And then he returned to the others.
Quietly, patiently praying.
Waiting for promises.
'At least it’s quiet in here,’ he thought.
  
And then it happened.
  
It was as though the doors of the room had been broken down,
as if the passing pilgrims
had invaded the house
with their colour and noise and foreign ways.
As though the room had become
a refuge for travellers.
A stopping place for all nations,
as though the whole world had been sucked in.
  
Peter felt a warmth, a fire.
And the breath of God whispering secrets
he had never heard before.
His heart beat to the rhythm of God.
Heaven had opened, proving its power with wind and fire.
A torrent.
A furnace.
A whirlwind,
like the one Elijah was caught up in.
Peter thought he too would be taken up to heaven.
But there were no fiery chariots or horsemen to lead the way!
  
The room had changed.
They had changed.
Peter pressed the handle of the door
and left behind the room in which so much had happened
and walked into the street
where things were about to begin. 

Saturday 27 March 2021


Love, not hate

Read

The Jewish Passover drew near, and many of the country people who had gone up to Jerusalem to purify themselves looked out for Jesus, saying to one another as they stood about in the Temple, ‘What do you think? Will he come to the festival or not?’

From JOHN 11:45-56

Reflect

Some years ago, speaking to a group of young people of different faiths, I asked where they got their news from. Was it though watching or listening to the news on tv or radio, or from picking up a newspaper? The answer, of course, was no. They simply got their news from Social Media, with its complicated algorithms which decided what it thinks you should or want to see, and through the shared posts of friends and comments made on timelines. Whilst social media has so many positives and blessings we know too how rife it can be with rumours and inaccuracies, subjective comments disguised as news, and sometimes awash with intentionally misleading news that turns out to be false.

As Passover draws near, there are many rumours abounding about Jesus. And some of the Pharisees and Scribes, the leaders of the day who feel challenged by him, have been busy bolstering rumours and false news about Jesus. People are talking among themselves, conjecturing if Jesus will come to the festival or not, as they stand around wondering who to listen to, trying to work out what is true. There is an air of tension and many mixed messages. In the midst of these tensions is a plot to kill Jesus who has, for a while, retreated to the countryside, away from the public light. Soon his time will come.

We all have a responsibility to seek the truth and help to create a world that is open and honest. Even the little things we say can have a huge effect on people. We can counter false rumours and misleading negative narratives with kind and gentle words which seek to bring peace not pain. In many ways, the world is so polarised, people are so divided. Today, how can we enter the divisions of our world and live well in that space between people of opposing views? How can we bring peace not pain, truth not rumour, love not hate?

Pray

Loving Father, may we always seek the truth and bring peace not pain to those whom we meet. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 33: Changing Rooms (3)


Introduction

Amazing things happen in the most ordinary of places.  When Jesus sent Peter and John to find a room to prepare the Passover Supper little did they know the amazing things that would happen in that room over the next fifty days!

We continue our sideways glance and quirky look through Scripture (Luke chapters 22-24) from Maundy Thursday to Pentecost Sunday, and focus on that ‘Changing Room’ – where the room in which they lodged really did become a venue where they were changed for the good.

Closed Doors

‘Ding!’
It was the doorbell.
They used to have a bell that played Greensleaves
but with all the coming and going
over the last two days it had broken.
And now they were left with a simple ‘Ding.’
The ‘dong’ had long disappeared!
Peter answered the door.
It was Cleopas.
Have we got some news for you!’ he exclaimed,
and then stopped short.  
‘Eughh! What’s that smell?’
‘It’s Matthew,’ said Peter.  ‘He’s cooking again.’
‘What is it this time?  Kedgeree?’
‘No grilled fish.’
‘Oh …very Jamie Oliver!’
‘Apparently it’s all the rage in Jerusalem,’ said Peter.
‘There are Grilled Fish Restaurants
popping up all over the place.
MacDonald’s have even introduced a Mcfish burger.
Anyway, don’t just stand there
Come in. 
Matthew, there’s another one for supper!
So, what’s up?'

‘Well - to cut a long story short!’
shouted Cleopas, 'we’ve seen him!’
‘Who?’
‘Jesus.’
‘When?’
‘On the way to Emmaus.  We didn’t know it was him at the time.  It wasn’t till Supper that it dawned on us!’
‘So why didn’t you bring him back?’
‘He disappeared from our sight.’
‘Cleopas,’ said Peter, ‘I know you have a habit of losing things but this is ridiculous!’
Suddenly, there was commotion in the kitchen:
the drop of a pan and a shout from the fish chef.
He emerged from the kitchen, armed with a fish slice.
And then the questions followed.
‘What did he say?’
‘Where did he go?’
‘How did he look?’
Where is he now?’
‘What should we do?’
‘Slow down, slow down!’ shouted Cleopas.
‘One question at a time…please!’
And then there was silence.
An eerie silence.
'Don’t look now,’ whispered Matthew,
‘but I think there’s a ghost in the room.’
Don’t be stupid!’ said Peter disparagingly.
‘What do you think this is? An episode of Scooby Doo?!’
They turned to where Matthew was staring,
and saw a figure in the room.
Peter stood still.
John froze to the floor.
Matthew dropped his fish slice.
'I’m scared,’ said Bartholomew.
'I’m going,’ said Matthew
as he picked up his fish slice from the floor.
‘What are you so afraid of?’
It was Jesus.
‘Look at me.  Touch me.
I’m flesh and bone.  Hardly a ghost!’
He showed them his hands and feet,
wounded with love.
'This is too good to be true,’ said Thomas.
‘Do you have anything to eat?’ asked Jesus.
‘Well,’ said Peter, ‘as it happens we do have some grilled fish.’
‘It’s Matthew,’ said Cleopas.  ‘He’s been cooking again’
‘I wondered what the smell was!’ said Jesus.
Matthew handed him a piece, with a look of eager expectation.
‘The others are afraid to taste my cooking.
They think it’ll kill them!’
Jesus took the fish and ate it before their eyes.
  
He sat down with them,
led them in a brief Bible study,
telling them everything,
opening their eyes, talking about more promises,
and other things to come.
‘Wasn’t this enough?’ they thought.
‘Is there really more to come?!’
‘Come on,’ said Jesus, ‘we have to move on.’
It seemed he could never stay in one place for long these days.
He pressed the handle of the door.

A few hours late they were climbing the side of a mountain.
‘Mountains, mountains, always mountains,’
moaned James as he climbed.
‘Stop moaning,’ said John.
‘You’ve always been a moaner.  Never happy.'
‘Will you just mind your own business!’ fired James.
‘Will you two stop arguing?’ interrupted Peter.
Jesus raised his hands and blessed them.  And then he was gone.
But this time: no tears, no silence, just joy.
This was the beginning of something.
Things would never be the same. 

Friday 26 March 2021


A share in his divinity

Read

They fetched stones to stone him, so Jesus said to them, ‘I have done many good works for you to see, works from my Father; for which of these are you stoning me?’ They answered him, ‘We are not stoning you for doing a good work but for blasphemy: you are only a man and you claim to be God.’

From JOHN 10:31-42

Reflect

Casting even just a quick eye over history one can appreciate both how amazing human beings can be and how terrible. Inspirational figures stand out as well as despots. Life enhancing advances and discoveries stand alongside destructive and demoralising actions. Is this what it means to be human? To have the potential for such greatness and beauty and the ability to stoop so low?

“You are only a man and claim to be God,” is the accusation thrown at Jesus. Certainly, there is no question about Jesus’ humanity. It’s plain to see. He stands there in their midst, lives alongside them, breathes the same air. And yet there is more.

“God became human so that human beings could become like God,” said St Augustine. Our hope and destiny is to live with God for ever. In Christ we see what it means to be perfectly human, and his Sacred humanity reveals God to us, who stands in our midst, lives alongside us, breathes the same air. The mysteries of God are too much for us to grasp. He is above and beyond us, certainly beyond our understanding. And yet he wants to and does reveal himself to us so that as a prayer uttered by the priest at the Eucharist goes “having shared in our humanity we come to share in his divinity.”

Pray

Loving Father, we see in Jesus true God and true humanity. As he shared in our humanity may we be drawn deeper into his divinity. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 32: Changing Rooms (2)


Introduction

Amazing things happen in the most ordinary of places.  When Jesus sent Peter and John to find a room to prepare the Passover Supper little did they know the amazing things that would happen in that room over the next fifty days!

We continue our sideways glance and quirky look through Scripture (Luke chapters 22-24) from Maundy Thursday to Pentecost Sunday, and focus on that ‘Changing Room’ – where the room in which they lodged really did become a venue where they were changed for the good.

Room for Change

Thomas was last in and bolted the door
as he closed out the night.
The warm glow of the lamps did nothing to comfort them.
There was silence in the room.
No tears, no talk.
Just silence.
‘I’ll put the kettle on,’ she said.
It was Mary - practical and down to earth.
She put the kettle on and waited for water to boil.
They drank the tea, hot and sweet.
James slurped his and John nudged him in disapproval.
Sons of Thunder, they were called.
Always arguing.
But this was no time for falling out.  
They had to stick together.
The one thing they had in common had been taken from them.
And now, as their minds were blown by the day’s events,
they had nothing to say to each other.
They concentrated on the ordinary.
Clutching the mugs, picking at the pottery,
holding warmth in their hands.
Seeking comfort in a drink.
Mary busied herself.
Occupying her mind with domestic chores,
trying to fill the void with the mundane.
There was still bread on the table,
crumbs and spilled wine from the night before.
Memories hung in the air.
The lamp flickered,
the flames teased by the draught from the window.
Peter stared at the fire,
looking for a sign of the divine.
A promise of his presence.
An unburned bush.
But nothing.
And then his gaze dropped to the floor,
looking for holy ground and hoping to hear a voice.
He picked at the mud on his shoes
and could think of no reason to remove them.
And then cradled his head in his hands
as if nursing a hangover.
  
Things would never be the same. 

Thursday 25 March 2021


There is no angel now

Read

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

From LUKE 1:26-38

Reflect

There is no angel now but soon she begins to feel the presence of another, growing within her, as her body begins to change, a physical presence that over the months begins to move and kick, eager to move into the world, to move others.

She places her hand upon him, strokes his form, ponders on the past, frets about the future, not too certain what will become of her. Her questions to the angel are open ended. ‘How can this be?’ She trusted the angel’s words which were God’s Words, begins to trust the Word growing within her now, an eloquent expression of God’s love.

There is no angel now but something brighter begins to move, filling her life with God’s love. She breathes, slowly, feels the breath of God, whispering mysteries, telling her she is loved as she loves the one within her very self, and sees something of what God is doing now, as the flesh of her flesh begins to move, to make his presence felt.

Pray

God our Father, through your gentle Spirit helps us to be attentive to the presence of Jesus in our life, for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

Day 31: Changing Rooms (1)


Introduction

Amazing things happen in the most ordinary of places.  When Jesus sent Peter and John to find a room to prepare the Passover Supper little did they know what would happen in that room over the next fifty days!

During this and the following three Meditations, we take a rather sideways glance, a quirky look, through Scripture (Luke chapters 22-24) from Maundy Thursday to Pentecost Sunday, and focus on that ‘Changing Room’ – where the room in which they lodged really did become a venue where they were changed for the good.

Late Rooms

'www.laterooms.com.  Enter.’
What are you doing?’ asked John
'Booking a room,’ said Peter. 'There are some amazing deals on here…’
‘But he’s already told us how to find the room.’
‘What?  A man carrying a water jar?  And what are the chances of that?’
‘Come on,’ said John, ‘lets give it a go.’
They walked to the city gates.
‘What are the chances of meeting a man carrying a water jar?’ repeated Peter, as he stumbled into a man carrying a water jar.
  
They followed the man and met the owner of the house.
‘We’ve come to see the room for the Passover.’
The room was already prepared.  An ideal venue for a festival.
Upstairs, out of the way.  A proper party room.
They wouldn’t be disturbed.
  
They did a shop at the local super market,
and got all they needed.
John was the creative one and laid the table with royal precision.
‘I think that’s enough, John!’ exclaimed Peter,
as John added yet another table decoration.
‘We have to get it right,’ he replied.
‘We have to get on with it,’ said Peter.  ‘The others will be here soon.’
‘Maybe a bit of atmospheric music?’
‘Maybe not!’
  
Soon they were all sat at table,
staring at him over a lit candle
that cast shadows over the darkened walls.
They waited for words and all they got was silence. 
Not an awkward silence –
but the silence two lovers hold
when they gaze into each other’s eyes.
  
They could have been there for minutes or months,
and then movement as he reached out and offered them food.
A strange disjointed gesture.
Their minds had been fixed on love
and here he was breaking the stillness, the silence…with food.
He gazed at the crust in his hand, lovingly,
as if offering them something rare and precious,
a piece of himself.
‘This is my body,’ he said.
And so they ate.
  
They raised their eyes to him again.
A glass of wine, deep and red, almost a toast.
But not quite.
More a sharing, an intimate moment for friends.
‘This is my blood,’ he said.
It was sweet and strong.
They were intoxicated by love.
  
And then the door opened as someone slipped into the darkness.
The candle flickered in answer to the breeze,
painting ominous pictures on the plaster.
  
Jesus’ eyes followed the one who departed,
and then his gaze fell to the floor
as if focusing in on the future.
And then he rose from table.
The others had been ready for a late night talk,
the kind they’d enjoyed before,
listening to Jesus put the world to rights.
But this night was different.
  
Peter shuddered as Jesus pressed the handle of the door.
He looked at them, a silent gesture to follow.
John glanced back, looking at the table remains.
The remnants of love.
He closed the door behind him.
And then the room was empty.
  
Things would never be the same.