SOUL FOOD FOR HUNGRY ADULT COMMUNITIES, May 5, 2013, 6th Sunday of Easter.
As a priest, I love it when a couple arrive for their wedding rehearsal the night before the wedding, and the ‘bride’ has the curlers in the hair, a scarf over them, and no make-up or jewellery on. But the next day, there is a radiant difference. Well, sometimes the ‘bride of Christ’ has no makeup on, and doesn’t always look her best,- and sometimes, in some ways, doesn’t really look the part. But that’s ok, too. We’re on the way, we’re pilgrims, and we’re none of us too perfect in reality!
‘I will show you the bride that the Lamb has married.’ These words come immediately before the words of the Second Reading, from Apocalypse 21:10-14, 22-23. The ‘bride that the Lamb has married’ is us,- the people of God, the church, but this time seen with eyes of faith, as God sees us, as the radiant bride of Christ. The Lamb sees us as we can become, with the grace of God, ‘without spot or wrinkle’ when grace prevails.
‘Christ is the light of the nations’ and ‘the light of Christ …is resplendent on the face of the church.’ Again, ‘the Church is a sacrament –that is, a sign and instrument- of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race.’ Sometimes the ‘sacrament’ is very ordinary, and apparently flawed, but the mystery and the wonder is that the people of God are indeed the ‘spouse’, the ‘bride’ of Christ Jesus. He loves us to bits, and is in the process of making us whole and beautiful. (Those quotations above are in the very first paragraph of the very first document produced about 50 years ago, at the Vatican Council. Christ is the ‘Lumen Gentium’, the Light of the World.) Now, read again today’s reading from the Apocalypse,- read it slowly, and relish the imagery; the holy city, with ‘all the radiant glory of God and glittering like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond’. ‘The City did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was the lighted torch for it.’ It takes faith to see the People of God, the Church, this way, but that’s how God sees us. Olé!
Now, have a slow read of the Gospel of today,- from the long discourse given on the last night of his life, among the chosen twelve, but spoken to the whole people of God who are founded on these same twelve ‘pillars’ of God’s temple- from John 14: 23-29. See how, again, Jesus tells us all that the Father, Son and Spirit are living with us, in us,- individually and in our communities when we ‘keep my words’ as Jesus says: ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them’ (v.23) Yes, we are indeed ‘temples’, ‘a city’ of God.
And the Holy Spirit/Paraclete/Advocate/Comforter will come and be with us and teach us all things, and remind us of all that Jesus has said to us. Paraclete and Advocate are the same thing, one in Greek, the second in Latin, meaning Someone we call to be by our side,- either in court, or in daily living. The Spirit is with us, full stop.
And, with all the stresses and pains and worries, Jesus says ‘Peace I leave with you my peace I give to you.’- but not as the world gives. His peace is a deep-down peace, a deep joy within us, no matter what the storms about us are, as a community or nation, or family or individuals. ‘Peace I leave with you’. (Find this on Youtube: click here)
Peace be with you all, in the Risen Lord! Remember, even with the curlers, we are still ‘the bride’ of Christ, together!
Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R. firstname.lastname@example.org