A Man in a Hurry

Christ Preaching in Galilee

Mark 1,29-39

Familiarity with these verses, and those immediately preceding, can mask the sheer impact of Jesus’ visit to Capernaum at the start of his ministry. Here is power at work – not power as the world understands it, for worldly power often becomes an exercise in control – but the power of liberation, liberation from the shackles, often unseen by others, that imprison and can ultimately destroy. The shackles of illness, guilt for past failings, of lives broken by the pressures of everyday living. And time is limited, to preach the good news that a new age is dawning, where in the words of that much loved hymn by Charles Wesley [our] chains fell off, [our] heart was free, and to demonstrate in acts of healing God’s love at work in the lives of ordinary people. Jesus comes to the people of Capernaum two thousand years ago, and to us and our world today as the answer to the deepest human needs, the need to be valued and loved, the need to be accepted – warts and all – in the words of Oliver Cromwell. Read more.

Meditations on the Images and Marks of the Church – Parts 1-5

Fathers Geoffrey Neal and Edward Bryant have launched a series of web meditations on the images and marks of the Church that have underpinned an orthodox vision, with the following main themes:

  1. The Church, the Creation and Gift of Christ
  2. The Church as Bride and Mother Church
  3. The Church Catholic
  4. The Church is One and Holy
  5. The Church Evangelical and Apostolic

The first four meditations have been published and can be accessed via the links above; the last one will follow in the months to come, announced by updates to this document.

Meditations on the Images and Marks of the Church – Parts 1-5

Fathers Geoffrey Neal and Edward Bryant have launched a series of web meditations on the images and marks of the Church that have underpinned an orthodox vision, with the following main themes:

  1. The Church, the Creation and Gift of Christ
  2. The Church as Bride and Mother Church
  3. The Church Catholic
  4. The Church as One and Holy
  5. The Church Evangelical and Apostolic

The first three meditations have been published and can be accessed via the links below; the others will follow in the months to come, announced by updates to this document.

Meditations on the Images and Marks of the Church – Parts 1-6

Fathers Geoffrey Neal and Edward Bryant have launched a series of web meditations on the images and marks of the Church that have underpinned an orthodox vision, with the following main themes:

  1. The Church, the Creation and Gift of Christ
  2. The Church as Bride and Mother Church
  3. The Church as One
  4. The Church Holy
  5. The Church Catholic
  6. The Church Evangelical and Apostolic

The first two meditations have been published and can be accessed via the links above; the others will follow in the months to come, announced by updates to this document.

Ascensiontide Reflections

Icon of the Ascension (unknown painter of Candia / Public domain)

On the outskirts of Bexhill in East Sussex, near a former parish of mine, stands a grand mansion, now divided into flats, but once the home of an Indian prince. The prince’s wife died and he erected a shrine to her memory in the grounds; it is so positioned that, at certain seasons, the moon shines right in to it, to light up a diamond that marks the spot where the lady’s ashes are buried. And there is the most haunting inscription – the hours part us, but they bring us together again … read more.

A Meditation for Epiphany

Is it true? Is it true, this fantastic story of wise men from the East coming to worship the baby Jesus? Before we simply dismiss this as a piece of beautiful but fanciful writing on the part of St Matthew in his Gospel, we do need to remind ourselves that the Middle Eastern world of two thousand years ago was very different from Western Europe in 2020.

Gentile da Fabriano: Adorazione dei Magi [Public domain]

There were Wise Men – Magi, astrologers – in abundance in the ancient world, they did study the stars, they did believe that important messages came to them in that way, they were prepared to travel long distances in search of the truth; further, it appears that at about the time of Jesus» birth, there were strange phenomena apparent in the stars, even if we now know that a star would not literally go in front of people to guide them; we also know that Herod the king really was paranoid – he trusted no one and in the process had his wife and mother in law and three of his sons assassinated.

For all these reasons, therefore, and, yes, recognising that to the modern mind there are problems with the story, we still should not be too ready to dismiss it as a mere flight of fancy.

Further, beyond the literal level of the text, there are important religious truths contained in this passage. To take just one: to state the obvious, these men were not Jews. It is one of the wonders of Christianity that it exists at all. At the time of the first Pentecost, and for some years afterwards, it was really little more than a Jewish sect. Had it remained so, it would almost without question have died out when the Romans smashed the Jewish nation in the year AD70. But before then, men of vision, and notably St Paul, had helped the new faith to break the bonds of Judaism and set it on the path to becoming a faith for the whole world.

The point about the Epiphany is that, right from his birth, the Lord Jesus is shown to be Lord of all creation, and not simply another Jewish prophet. The Wise Men come looking for the one born King of the Jews, but they acknowledge his dominion over them as non-Jews also as they present their gifts to him. This child born in obscurity to a humble Jewish family is to change the world, and the world, in the shape of the Wise Men comes to pay him homage.

Our task is twofold: first to join with the Wise Men in the symbolic offering of our lives to the Lord Jesus, but second to play our part in the ongoing revealing of Jesus to the world, for there is great ignorance about who he is, ignorance as great as that shown by Herod. And we will be doing our part by the kinds of lives we lead and by the words we say.

As St Paul puts it, by virtue of our baptism we are all ambassadors for Christ, and we must take this calling not as an imposition but as a wonderful opportunity to bring Christ to the world, and the world to Christ.

Fr Edward Bryant,

https://nordiccatholic.com/