SUNDAY – Christ the King
When something horrible happens to you, it is no bad thing in the quiet watches of the night to reflect on the day’s readings. I was mulling things over in my mind and the words of today’s Gospel suddenly came back to me:
“… I was a stranger and you never made me welcome. ‘Lord, when did we not come to your help?’ Then He will answer, ‘I tell you solemnly in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.’”
And then suddenly, as in an inspiration, came the memory of Peter denying Christ three times. How often do we walk away from difficult situations and abandon those in trouble? I slept now soothed in my conscience.
MONDAY – St Andrew Dung Lac & Companions
I was in Strasbourg and went to the evening mass in the seminary. Looking at the picture of the Virgin and thinking of those in trouble in the world, I was filled with the most profound emotion. The Gospel read out in French made a powerful impression on me.
“For those have all, all contributed money they had over, but she from the little she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
For a moment I wanted to be like her, to embrace the outcast and unpopular causes, but of course the will is week.
The Pope was visiting Strasbourg to talk to us in the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. The readings this week are from the Book of the Apocalypse. At Mass it was read very fast in French and I failed to catch it, but I caught the words of the Gospel – “Take care not to be deceived” (Luke 21) – underlined in the sermon several times. The Pope talked a lot about transferability. I’m not sure we all understood, but I think he means that Europe, like the old, is tired, that in the young is hope, but sadly they grow old.
I went to the Requiem for deceased members of the Order of Malta in St James, Spanish Place. It is a Tridentine Mass which some might find obscure. I found it a continuous beautiful prayer and it enables the knights in choir robes with lighted candles to stand around the bier, knocked-over candlesticks on a pall. Unique to the Order.
It was strange to think that this is the same mass which has been said for hundreds of years in gothic churches, sun-drenched cathedrals in Malta and Rhodes, and embattled Norman churches in the Holy Land, with knights knelt in chain mail before battle.
“Men will seize you and that will be your opportunity to bear witness.” (Luke 21)
I was thinking, reading this, of the present, not former days.
The sermon in the Cathedral was around the story no doubt well-known of the man who goes to interview and only realises too late that his fellow interviewees in the waiting room are in fact his interviewers.
In other words, we are not judged at death, we are being judged every day. That in life’s successes and, more often, disappointments, in ultimate ill health and death, the only mark is do we see Christ in others; do we act like Christ to others.
I could not remember the reading and had to get up in the middle of the night to remember it. But here the Book of the Apocalypse meets the summit of glorious poetry.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now. … I saw the Holy City.”
I went to our local church and looked up Psalm 33: “Exalte justi” – Rejoice with God all ye righteous, the words in the King James bible glorious.