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The Divine Mysteries

Paula O'Shaughnessy

Sunday 12th May, 2019

Here we are, at the fourth Sunday of Easter, contemplating the divine mysteries.  The mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the son of God.

 As mere human beings, seeing only through a glass darkly, we can only begin to try to understand the divine mysteries.  Our life as Christians, is one where we try to live with faith, practising love and mercy.  For we know that we have received the mercy of God.  There is so much that we cannot know or understand, but we try just the same to grow closer to God, and to live in faith.

 Heaven and earth.  God and man.  Light and dark.  Joy and pain.  Life and death.  These are the contrasts and challenges to living the life of faith.

 There is so much pain in the world, so much suffering.  As Christians, we have our faith challenged in the face of all of this.  How to live in faith? 

 I stayed in Birmingham a few months ago and saw frightening, dark scenes.  A homelessness epidemic, to put into the shade what you see on the streets of Manchester.  The people lying prone on the steps of New Street station had lost all hope.  They were barely recognisable as human, underneath heaps of undefinable layers of cloth.  It is a loss of humanity and recognition of human dignity in our land.  Overseas, there is worse still.  Street children, with no parents or guardians.  Human life is devalued, and structures to care and protect are either non-existent or being eroded.

 The book of revelation today, amongst our readings is an apocalyptic vision of extremes.  This is no easy read.  The world is in torment, turmoil and is a threatening place.  The significance of what takes place is no more no less than good versus evil.  God is supreme.  Satan – the source of evil - is to be destroyed.  Each man and woman is to be judged by their faith and actions, whether in accordance with the will of God.  Today's passage – we learn of the lamb (or Jesus) who has made the sacrifice of his blood, to cleanse the people. 

 So too, in the passage from John's gospel – Jesus tells the Jews that only through him will people receive eternal life.  He is one with the Father, with God.  Jesus will tend and care for his sheep.  His love is eternal, for those who live and believe in God.

These are powerful words, and for this, the Jews then take up stones to attack Jesus with.  They accuse Jesus of blasphemy.  The Jews represent the vested interests, the establishment, part of the framework of earthly power.  Their real fear is that they will lose authority and control in the land.

 In these terrifying scenes in scripture, mirroring the terrors of real life today, which we either see, know of or worse, can render us paralysed with fear and not knowing what to do.

 There is though, hope in the Gospel and in revelation.  The promise of salvation, god's love is there.  The world has good in it, and the kingdom of heaven will come.  In our world, there are good people though, who do care and who act to help those in need.  As a church, we can help – through prayer and acts of christian love and charity.  Each of us, as individual Christians can model godly love and make the kingdom of heaven more real.  It can seem like a massive task, and where to start?

The rule of life from Bishop Paul gives us a path to follow, a framework to put our thoughts, beliefs and feelings into action.  The six steps – called to pray, read and learn.  Then sent to tell, serve and give.

 To be true – to be true to oneself and to God is at the heart of this pilgrim journey.  To guard against the seven deadly sins, to see when these vices may be taking hold.  Instead, to nurture the seven virtures – kindness, temperance, charity, self-control, humility, diligence and patience.  These will grow, as we make the rule of life our reality.  With faith and love, we will grow in courage and strength.  Our outlook become clearer.  As Christians, we are here together and we can be stronger together, in faith, prayer and acts of love.


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