Saturday, 27 December 2008

Saint John's Day.

Today is the memoria of Saint John the Evangelist, can I ask you to pray for the peace of the Kingdom to be given to the soul of Malcolm John. Above is the Lady Chapel of the Minster Church of Saint John the Evangelist in Preston the week of Gaudete Sunday, as you may see from the altar frontal. This is a good feast to keep so close to Christmas, before Holy Family Sunday, as Saint John was part of the family of Jesus and Mary, chosen from before time to be with his beloved master and His Mother the hour of the death of Christ and chosen by God before time to have the Blessed Mother commended into his care and, if I am not very much mistaken, vice versa.

We celebrate the feast of the Holy Family tomorrow, of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but also of our Church family and our own families, whatever they may be, our closest friends, Mothers and Fathers, children both born to us and, as Saint Joseph gave the example, adopted by us. A rag tag family of people bound by love for one man and belief in the salvation He brought to the world, who are as prone to falling out and arguing as any other family, unfortunately. Whatever we may think of our brothers and sisters in Christ, those baptised under the same sigh but to whom we maintain a distance, we celebrate, tomorrow, something of unity and a family resemblance in this time, two millenia after the shepherds, that despised group, were called first out of the fields and into the glorious light yearned for by the prophets. They gloried in the incarnation of the eternal word and not in their calling, not in their perceived exclusivity. Whenever I am about to speak publically in a religious context, I say semi audibly as I approach the lectern or whatever, 'God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of Christ my Saviour'. God forbid that we should glory in our faith anymore than we may need to share it with others.

Here is part of a poem by another John, Saint John of the Cross. It speaks something of the transient nature of this life and the fragility of the human condition and is a good reflection for this time of year, I think.


Where have You hidden Yourself,
And abandoned me in my groaning, O my Beloved?
You have fled like the hart,
Having wounded me.
I ran after You, crying; but You were gone.

O shepherds, you who go
Through the sheepcots up the hill,
If you shall see Him
Whom I love the most,
Tell Him I languish, suffer, and die.

In search of my Love
I will go over mountains and strands;
I will gather no flowers,
I will fear no wild beasts;
And pass by the mighty and the frontiers.

O groves and thickets
Planted by the hand of the Beloved;
O verdant meads
Enameled with flowers,
Tell me, has He passed by you?


A thousand graces diffusing
He passed through the groves in haste,
And merely regarding them
As He passed
Clothed them with His beauty.