Friday, May 28, 2010

Homily for Trinity Sunday

For God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. John 3:17

No one person of the Trinity acts alone. When one acts, all act together, because God is one.
At the creation, the Father spoke his Divine Word and created through the power of the Spirit. The Father breathed his Spirit into Man to make him in his own image. The Spirit spoke God’s word through the prophets. The Angel visited Mary with the message of the Father so that she conceived the Word by the power of the Spirit. St John tells us ‘the Word (with God from the beginning) became flesh and dwelt amongst us’. At his Baptism, the Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove as the Father speaks from heaven. At his Crucifixion, the Son says ‘Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit’. And when the Son ascends to the Father he sends the Spirit, the Advocate, the Paraclete, to lead us into all truth. We pray to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. At Mass, we pray to the Father that he send the Spirit on the bread and wine that they become the body and blood of his Son.
Again and again and again it is Father, Son and Spirit who move together, who operate together.
God loved the world so much, that he sent the Son into the world to save the world: the movement of the Trinity is about entering into the created world, about reaching to humanity. It is about involvement, action. The Trinity is about drawing human beings into the life of God, in creation, in redemption, in prayer, in sacraments.
The best description of all is of course love - because love always involves another, and God is love because he lives love in himself, and extends his loving hand, his loving word, his loving Spirit, to embrace all humanity.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Homily for Pentecost - the multiplicity of tongues

This homily was written for our International mass, when the people led the worship in a wide variety of languages.

There are two occasion in Scripture when we hear people speaking in a wide variety of tongues.

The first is in Genesis, in the story of the Tower of Babel. The second is on the day of Pentecost.

In the first story the diversity of language is described as a kind of punishment for the arrogance of humanity. In the story, mankind says "look, we can do anything we like. We have the power even to build this great tower. Nothing is beyond our capability." Or, to put it another way they decided they could play God, because everything us within their grasp. It is a very familiar attitude today too. They thought they had no need of God, but the diversity of languages marks the weaknesses and limitations of humanity, especially a humanity whose only faith us in its own power.

In the second story, the first reading for today, the many tongues are not a punishment, but a blessing. They are a sign of God's creativity and also his extraordinary gifts. They nark a reaching out to the whole of humanity, abd the gift of geace which makes possible to humanity things it would otherwise br unable to do. They are a sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of the power if God's grace.

The first story is about division, distrust and suspicion. It is about human pride, and arrogance.

The story of the day of Pentecost, is rather different. It is about the grace of God, not human pride. It is about the Spirit of God calling together those who are so very different and granting them unity in diversity. It is about the love of God which embraces all people, all races, all nations and all languages. It is about the Power of God which blesses us with variety, and colour, creativity and difference.

It is about imagination and courage of humanity in response to God. It is the breath and fire of Pentecost. It is the descent of the Holy Spirit.


There are more photos of the Pentecost celebration on our Facebook page

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Homily for Pentecost

The Holy Spirit will teach you everything.

When people talk about the Holy Spirit, especially in modern times, the image we are given is of something exciting, something unpredictable. It is is true that the Spirit may well have been neglected in the past, and now those who call themselves charismatics, remind of the miracles and wonders which the Spirit can perform: speaking in tongues, the power of inspiration, the intensity of prayer and meditation. The image we have - one which comes from St Paul - is of the Spirit blowing where it wills - unpredictably surprising and challenging us.

And nothing at all wrong with that. At times we surely need imagination and a challenge.

But the unpredictable wind is not the only image which Scripture gives us. In todays Gospel we are reminded that the Spirit is also breath - the breath of God - and breath is at the same time a life force - so, very powerful - but also a regular, predictable, necessity for life. As breath it has structure and regularity. And while the wind is exciting and unpredictable, it is also abstract power. But breath - well, there no breath without a breather. Breath requires personality, more than a force, a living person.

And this is why the Spirit is a teacher. Because to learn is to grow. The word education comes from a word ‘to grow’. And teaching requires structure and content and form and knowledge. And teaching requires a school and a standard, material to teach.

Because of the Gift of Spirit, we have not only the opportunity to pray but we also have the Church and its ministers, the Sacraments and their saving graces, the faith and its teachers.

The Spirit can pass through and over every boundary, every limit, every fence and wall; and he also provides us with every true path, with every framework and all guidance. He teaches us, to protect and to guide us. And to save us.

Location:Eastwood Pl,Stoke-on-Trent,United Kingdom

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Homily for the Ascension

Homily for the Ascension

Why are you men looking into the sky? (Acts 1:11)

The trouble with the Ascension is that we think it is about the absence of Jesus - not his presence.

After all, he prepares his disciples for his departure. He tells them that soon they will not see him. He tells them that he is leaving them. The accounts in the Gospels tell us he was taken from their sight, that he disappear into the cloud, that he was carried up into heaven. In art, the Ascension is often pictured - a little oddly - by the sight of a couple of feet just visible, poking out of the bottom of a cloud. It seems that the Ascension is the end of that time of appearances and presences of Christ. Now these 40 days are concluded, he is taken away, to be seen no more.

But if we remain only with this image, this idea, we entirely miss the point. You will see me, then you won’t see me, Jesus says rather enigmatically. I will not leave you without comfort, he says. I will be with you always, even till the end of time. Where two or three are gathered together, I am in the midst of them. This is my body, this is my blood, do this to remember - recall - me.

Before the Ascension Christ was present in one place, now he is present in every place. Then he sat and eat with his disciples by the lakeside, now we receive his body and blood, the bread of life, in every country, in every city of the world. Then he walked the dusty paths of Palestine, now he strides through every land, borne by his Church. Then he dwelt in one man and one place, now he dwells in every person who has been baptised into his life. Then he healed a few of the sick, now he blesses millions of the sick through the sacrament of anointing. Then he taught the crowds in the market place, from the boat, and on the hillside, now his words are read from every Church and chapel and pulpit. Then he prayed in solitude on the Mount of Olives, now he prays in every believer. Then his body suffered for us on the cross, now we receive his risen and mystical body and blood in the Mass. Then he showed love and compassion to the weak and vulnerable, now his people bring that compassion to every community of the world, caring for the hungry and the distressed.

Now - we do not need to gaze up into the sky: he dwells with us, he lives in us, and is not absent - but among us for ever.