A different John the Baptist

When I was in the art gallery in Berlin a few years ago; I was struck by a very different painting of St John the Baptist. Here Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, a liturgy lecturer from New Orleans writes about that same painting, Geertgen tot Sint Jans’ Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness.

“We meet the prophet in the wilderness. A lamb keeps him company as John sits on a jutting rock by a creek; heavily cloaked, deep in thought. Although known for his fiery passion, here we see a different side of St John: introspective, prayerful, meditative. The scene brings to mind Christ’s own time in the wilderness, a time of prayer, trial, and temptation right after he meets St John at the Jordan. Could it be that John was preparing the way for the Lord’s own trial in the wilderness?

Just as St John might invite Christ into the wilderness, he also prepares the way, for us to venture into our own wilderness. In the wilderness of our lives, we thirst for God’s grace the most. In our daily dry existence, any quick quench tempts us, even as we know that our thirst runs deeper. In the wilderness, St John prepares the way by prayers; his struggle there is not against the corrupt king, but against the desire of his will. Before he preaches repentance and calls for justice, he prays and ponders his utter reliance on God. And even in the midst of this spiritual struggle, he finds that God’s grace already holds him; he is seated by a life-giving stream, and the lamb curls up close by, both symbols to demonstrate God’s presence.

In these days of Advent, we experience the already and the not yet. We are in the wilderness, yet the life-giving grace of God is always and already there. At the same time, we still await the fullness of glory, the ultimate quenching of our thirst. May our own lives of prayer prepare the way of the Lord within us as we await his coming.”

To see the painting visit www.artbible.info/art/large/116.html
To hear the meditation on Youtube search “Arts and Faith Third Sunday of Advent Year A”

Christmas – the mass of Christ

December 25th draws near! In many languages it is simply known as “The Birth” as in Italian Natale or Spanish Navidad, and probably French Noel. All these come ultimately from the Latin “natalis” – the birth. In Germany it’s Weinachten Holy Night.
Yet the English speaking world makes it more clearly Christ-centred – the word Christmas is a shortened form of “Christ’s Mass”. It is the day when we celebrate the Mass of Christ! Well, of course we can celebrate the Mass any day, and surely every Mass is a Mass “of Christ”. Yet there is a profound link between the Birth of Christ and the Mass of Christ, and that link can be found in the meaning of the season we are celebrating now. The coming of Christ – the Jesus who comes in every Mass is the same one who came at Bethlehem so long ago. When we receive Holy Communion it is a personal Advent, a personal coming of Jesus to us, yes, a personal Bethlehem.
So to observe and celebrate Christmas without the Mass is not being true to the meaning of the word – the Mass of Christ. But it also breaks that link between the Feast and the Eucharist – the God who Comes.

Our Masses for Christmas will again follow a pattern similar to past years:
Christmas Eve – 6.00pm St Paul’s, St Brigid’s and Christ the King. 10.00pm Christ the King Church
Christmas Day – 9.00am St Paul’s, 10.00am Christ the King, 11.00am St Brigid’s

Remember also we have our 3 Churches Carol Service one week earlier, on Wednesday 18 December at 7pm in St Brigid’s. Do invite friends etc to a Christmas Mass, and / or the Carols, and spread the celebration of the Coming of Jesus.

Fr Matthew

And God said…

Welcome to the Church’s Year of the Word! This is how the Bible begins in Genesis 1:1-3…

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was a formless void,
there was darkness over the deep,
and God’s spirit hovered over the water.

God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light.
“God said” That means God spoke light into existence – and the earth and universe and all they contain – and us. And what do we use to speak? Words, of course!
As we begin Advent, the start of a new Christian year – this time a special Year of the Word – we remember and celebrate the fact that God’s Word has been active since the very beginning. In this season we are preparing to celebrate Christmas, and that is about the Word too, the Word made flesh. St John puts it beautifully in the first chapter of his Gospel (John 1:1-5,14).

In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things came to be,
not one thing had its being but through him.

All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men,

a light that shines in the dark,
a light that darkness could not overpower

The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father,
full of grace and truth.
Welcome to the Year of the Word, when we are invited to listen, learn and live God’s holy Word.