It’s not about personalities, is it?
In the Eastern Churches, the apostle Andrew is venerated as the apostle who is foundational to the preaching of the gospel. Venice claims St Mark, Ethiopia cites Philip, and we in the Latin West (that’s Europe south of the Urals) look to Peter and Paul. These personalities were key to the growth of the early Church. They come from the apostolic age, as we call it now: that generation who walked, talked, and ate with Jesus.
Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that Christianity is not an abstract notion or idea; it is, rather, an encounter with a person—Jesus Christ. Pope Francis invites Christians everywhere to a renewed encounter with Jesus Christ each day. No one is excluded from the Joy brought by the Lord. Whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met. Living like that we are robbed of our joy.
Personalities matter: our approach to life, faith, and others matters. Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but an encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Thanks be to God for that person and all the personalities who lead us to Him, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Next week, we celebrate with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, the faith of our fore bearers, who 150 years ago built a church on this site to shelter the Catholic community and praise God. The solemn Pontifical Mass will be celebrated at 11am, followed by a parish party.
Please remember, there is no 10.30 am or 12 noon Mass.
Who has ever been at Mass and suddenly heard the name of a completely unknown character in one of the readings?
This Sunday might be one of those days, and since the temptation to pull out the phone in the middle of Mass and Google the name might just get a little too overwhelming for some, I decided to spare you the struggle by dedicating a few lines to the character of Melchizedek. He appears only twice in the Old Testament: in Chapter 14 of Genesis, and once more in Psalm 110. Despite his being such an obscure individual, the striking similarities between him and Jesus have fed Christian imagination from the very early days.
Melchizedek was King and Priest of Salem, a place that Psalm 76 identifies as Jerusalem. Jesus, too, is King and Priest of the Heavenly Jerusalem. His name can also mean ‘King of justice’ and ‘King of peace’, but is there any king who has brought to the world justice and peace like Jesus has? Melchizedek was believed to be “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life” (Heb 7:3), and so does Christ exist from before all ages. But also, having no father and mother, and therefore being unable to trace his ancestry to the tribe of Levi--from which all priests must come--Melchizedek’s priesthood had to be of a completely new kind, just like Jesus’ priesthood is of a new kind. And if that was not enough, Melchizedek appears offering unusual sacrifices of bread and wine, which Jesus also used when he instituted the Eucharist.
Who exactly was this figure of the Old Testament? This is a question that still remains open. Some say he was a Canaanite priest, others believe he was Shem, the firstborn son of Noah. What all Christian theologians agree on, however, is that he is a figure that points towards Christ and speaks of God’s intention to save the whole of humanity.
Fr Daniel Herrero Peña
The Holy Trinity, God, is not an idea. The blessed Trinity is the reality of God, the ground of our being. As Carl McColman writes:
God is in us, because we are in Christ. As members of the mystical body, Christians actually partake in the divine nature of the Trinity. We do not merely watch the dance, we dance the dance. We join hands with Christ, and the spirit flows through us and between us, and our feet move always in the loving embrace of the Father.
The early Saints of Cappadocia came to express this insight by using the analogies, similes, and metaphors of dance.
God is not just a dancer; God is the dance itself. Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between three--a circle dance of Love.
Want to discover more? Consider reading Brother Elias Marechal, a monk of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia: Tears of an Innocent God
(Paulist Press; New York, 2015).
Or simply pray each day:
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen
Fifty days, or seven weeks, after the Feast of Easter, the Jewish people celebrate the feast of Pentecost, from the Greek πεντηκοστη, which means “fiftieth.” The feast is also known by its Hebrew name Shavuot שבועו)), which means “weeks,” referring to the seven weeks that separate it from Easter.
The feast of Pentecost commemorates the day in which God, seven weeks after rescuing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, appeared on Mount Sinai and gave them the Ten Commandments (the Torah). On that day, God transformed a group of slaves into his people by establishing a covenant with them. We can find in the book of Exodus the account: “There was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire, the smoke went out like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.” (Ex 19:16-18)
The occurrence is strikingly similar to what happened with Mary and the apostles 50 days after the resurrection of Christ. They were together in a room, when suddenly a mighty wind blasted the house, shaking it, and fire appeared that divided and rested on each of them. It was the new Pentecost, the day in which God manifested himself again–as on Mount Sinai.
Only this time, God did not intend to speak exclusively to the Israelites. Instead he separated from the Israelites a small group—the twelve apostles. He filled them with the power of his Spirit so they could spread the Good News to all the nations of the world–the news that God had established in Christ a New Covenant to which everyone, Jews and non-Jews, are invited. As a sign, God gave his apostles the gift of tongues, so that all people could hear them speaking in their own languages. They could welcome the Good News and receive in themselves the same Holy Spirit and become children of God. Thus, the prophecies of old were fulfilled: “In the last days–the Lord declares–I shall pour out my spirit on all humanity.” (Acts: 2:17)
Fr Daniel Herrero Peña