Prayers today: The Lamb who was slain is worthy to receive strength and divinity, wisdom and power and honour, alleluia. (Rv 5:12)
Father, by the love of your Spirit, may we who have experienced the grace of the Lord’s resurrection rise to the newness of life in joy. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen. Alleluia.
If Mary Magdalene was the victim of misunderstanding, George is the object of a vast amount of imagination. There is every reason to believe that he was a real martyr who suffered at Lydda in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine. The Church adheres to his memory, but not to the legends surrounding his life. That he was willing to pay the supreme price to follow Christ is what the Church believes. And it is enough. The story of George's slaying the dragon, rescuing the king's daughter and converting Libya is a twelfth-century Italian fable. George was a favourite patron saint of crusaders, as well as of Eastern soldiers in earlier times. He is a patron saint of England, Portugal, Germany, Aragon, Catalonia, Genoa and Venice.
The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John (6.52~59)
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My Flesh is real food and My Blood is real drink. Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood remains in Me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live for ever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
(Homily by Fr. E.J. Tyler)
The Oxford Movement of the third decade of nineteenth century England strove to defend intellectually the dogmatic character of Christianity against a growing liberalism that eschewed revealed dogma as rationally unsustainable. It insisted on the inviolable character of revealed dogma, and on the uniqueness of revealed religion. Revealed religion could not be reduced to what might be called the Natural Religion which is evidenced across the sweep of human history and society. However, this was not to say that the only form of divine revelation was the Judaeo-Christian Revelation — as recorded in the inspired Old and New Testaments. John Henry Newman firmly taught that there was a universal revelation, which is to say that the religions of man contained — together with their errors — certain tenets which in one way or another God had been revealing to the peoples. This universal revelation was not authenticated, but its presence could be judged by the yardstick of Judaeo-Christian Revelation which was authenticated. From the Christian perspective, this point could be granted in respect to, say, certain teachings of Islam on the One God and his absolute transcendence. There is no god but the One God of Abraham. I refer to this teaching, perfectly true as far as it goes, as an introduction to our Gospel today. There is no other god but the Lord and he dwells in light inaccessible. He is beyond. But if this is all that is said about God’s relationship with man and the world, then it stops far short of the fullness of his revelation. In fact it is open to the admission of numerous errors about him. For as it turns out, God is not simply beyond, above, high and utterly other. He is also unbelievably near and at one with us. He is God-with-us. He chose a people so as to prepare to make a home with both them and the world. And, breathtaking surprise! God the Son became one of us so as to be with us as our Brother. More still! The God who is our Brother bore on his shoulders the sins of each of us and died to set us free from them. He rose, returned to the right hand of his heavenly Father, and by their joint gift of the Spirit, brought each of us who are baptized into union with the three divine Persons.
God is thus revealed as a God who loves and serves. He kneels before his friends as represented in the Twelve, and washes their feet, going on from there to die for them. But especially amazing is his ongoing gift which is revealed in our Gospel passage today. “Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” Let us remember that our Lord’s unique words on this are uttered publicly. Were we to have had only the first three gospels (called the “synoptics” because of their likeness to one another), we may have thought that it was only in the privacy of the Last Supper that our Lord revealed the stunning gift of the Eucharist. But not so. It was revealed in the full light of day, publicly, in a synagogue — the synagogue of Capernaum. Our Lord did not even “tone it down” by explaining that the gift of his flesh as food would be in a sacramental mode. It was the starkest of statements. If they were to live, they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. The one who eats his flesh will be raised up by him at the last day. He is not speaking metaphorically, he insists. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink (John 6:52-59). Nothing like this had ever been said before, let alone publicly for it to be reported everywhere — and perhaps distorted and used by his enemies. It was a daring and unprecedented announcement and was, in fact, a fundamental teaching of the new revelation by Jesus Christ. God — the God of light inaccessible — was pouring himself out for man as their very food. He was not only before them as their Brother, but he was becoming much nearer still. He was, as their Brother and their God, making himself their very sustenance. They were to feed on him, and in this way they would live forever. It is an ultimate revelation of the love of God. God is utter love. How beautiful is God!
The Holy Eucharist, coming to us in the life and the ministry of the Church which is the mystical body of Christ, is our principal means of union with the God of all heights. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” Together with the doctrines of the triune God and the Incarnation, the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist is the most remarkable religious doctrine in the history of all religions. It is the mystery of faith, and it is, in the celebration of Holy Mass, the ongoing revelation of the love of God for man.
A second reflection for Friday of the third week of Eastertide (Acts 9.1~20)
Our Precious Vocation
(Homily by Fr. E.J. Tyler)
Chesterton was a famous English lay convert of the early decades of the 20th century who became a great apologist for Catholicism. One of his written sayings was "How odd of God to choose the Jews." Apart from pointing to the special election by God of the Jews as his chosen people with a world mission, Chesterton's remark may be thought of as applicable to every vocation. Why me, and not others? Each of us is chosen by God in Christ “to be holy and full of love in his sight.” for reasons we do not know. Our vocation is precious and it is mysterious.
Consider the mysteriousness and the uniqueness of St Paul's vocation, as narrated in Acts 9:1-20. The Lord Jesus told Ananias that 'this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before pagans and pagan kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he himself must suffer for my name.' What sort of background did Paul have for this extraordinary calling? A seemingly poor one indeed, and scarcely to be compared with that of the Twelve. Yet he was Christ's chosen instrument. Why him? There is a great mystery here manifesting the inscrutable mercy of God and his loving power.
Each of us has a vocation, a calling that has its origins in eternity, before the world began. Each of us is the object of God's inscrutable mercy, his loving choice. Our vocation, whatever it be, is precious. Let us not squander it. Live it to the full, daily. Let us meditate at length on the calling of St Paul.
Serenity. Why lose your temper if by losing it you offend God, you trouble your neighbour, you give yourself a bad time...and in the end you have to set things aright anyway?
(The Way, no 8)