Category Archives: This week

7th Sunday of Easrter

The first reading is from Acts (1: 15-26 passim). It is just after the account of the Ascension, which we still celebrate as a feast; it reminds us that though God is still with us in all that we do (except sin) yet He wants us to make our own decisions about the details because He wants us to be friends not blind automatons controlled by Him. So the disciples have to get on with the practicalities of life. They are all Jews and they think that being a follower of Jesus is a renewed way of living as a Jew; so just as there were twelve tribes of Jews according to the Bible, they want to have twelve leaders to help with the organisation of the growing numbers of followers of the Way of Jesus; and the gospels that list the disciples give a list of twelve men. As they consider the replacement of Judas Iscariot they look in their Bible (which Christians now call the Old Testament) and seek there for support for their planned action. They set about to arrange this replacement in the very down-to-earth way of voting, but believe that the Spirit is with them in the doing of this. God leaves us to make our own decisions in our particular circumstances and we should consider prayerfully in the light of our Bible and our beliefs what we should be doing in our lives and in day to day activities.

In the second reading, we once more read of the great love of God for and in us, and the love we must have of others in our world. The reason why this letter repeatedly stresses these points lies in the situation of the church that is being addressed at that time. Some of the people are so caught up with their personal form of holiness that they think this world is all wicked and consequently God didn’t really become one of us, but just appeared to be human in the man Jesus. But the Christian message is that this world here and now is holy. Not only is it being created every moment by God, but also humanity is joined intimately with God through Jesus Who is both human and Divine. But this perfect creative activity of God is in process: it is ongoing and it depends on us – God in some way depends on us! This is because He truly loves us and love never over-rides or forces the decisions of those loved. The world is in the process of gradually becoming what it will; Jesus illustrated in His life, right up to death, how to return God’s love by loving his world – all the people in it – even if that leads to difficulties and death. What an example He has given us, what a challenge we face! But God gives us the strength.

The gospel is part of a whole section from the gospel according to John, comprising long speeches and prayers attributed to Jesus, made after the last supper and before His arrest in Gethsemane. It is thought that different amounts of these were read in the early Christian churches using this gospel, according to the timing of Easter, which then as now, could be early or late according to the lunar calendar. The prayer in this section is for God to protect the followers of Jesus, because it is not easy to live both in the here and now and with the life of God above and in eternity. When this refers to the difficulties of life here, which Jesus had experienced and his followers will now begin to realise, the writer calls this aspect of life here as being in the world: the word ‘world’ here means its failings, short-comings and even at times the opposition to the ideal for God’s work of creation. God Himself and His planned accomplishment is holy; Jesus as one of us is coming to His place in this scheme but the followers are still on the way. To be consecrated is to be united into this holiness; it is a task for the followers of Jesus – for us – for which Jesus here prays

There is a jotting also by me (Jeff Bagnall) which I posted 2 years ago about the feast of the Ascension

6th Sunday of Easter

In (Acts  10), Luke tells us how Peter realised something new about being a follower of Jesus. It follows most suitably after the much limited beliefs of Peter that we read about last Sunday.   Peter was a Jew and Jews believed that they were God’s people, which, they thought, meant that God didn’t have any regard for non-Jews. These beliefs were expressed in the everyday practices of eating – some foods were approved but others were judged to be unclean (ritually defiling). But before this section of Luke’s story, he tells us that while Peter was cooking for himself at his seaside lodgings in Joppa (not the place in East Lothian), he came to realise (see here) that these views were not in line with God’s wishes. This visionary message enabled him to welcome the Greek speaking friendly non-Jew Cornelius, and to preach to the assembled (not all Jewish) crowd and to witness the Spirit of God enthusing them. His view of God’s will for people had radically changed from what it had previously been.

There is a jotting about the first reading also by me (Jeff Bagnall)

The second reading (1 John 4:7-10) , as previous readings from this New testament book read during the period celebrating the Resurrection, focuses on God’s love and the core of the requirements for being a Christian – we should love one another. It says that God shows his love by sending his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. The word for sacrifice (‘ιλασμος in the Greek original) is used twice in this letter of John’s and nowhere else in the New Testament, and rarely in the Old Testament. Whereas the church over the centuries has sometimes seen the crucifixion as an appeasement of God’s wrath against human sin, this interpretation does not sit well with the overall tone of the letter which so much stresses the love of God – a God who would not make such a requirement of us or of His Son. The passage re-enforces the new expansive vision, that God’s love is not limited to the Jews but extends to absolutely all people to the extent that they themselves show this kind of love to others. This attitude supersedes the O.T. ten Commandments by including their core statements and raising the standard of what God wants of us in our lives.

The reading from the Gospel of John follows on from the image of the vine in last weeks reading. It is about the Father and the Son loving us, and how we are to remain in God’s love by keeping the commandments. But these ‘commandments’ are just the personal challenges that God as a friend, makes of each of us in our own particular circumstance: for Jesus this was that He should lay down his life for this kind of message. We each need to discern what God’s love calls on us to do with our lives: whatever, it will come under the umbrella of the commandment that Jesus spells out in our passage today – “to love one another” and that is where the reading ends

5th of EASTER

3rd May 2015

The first reading (Acts 9: 26-31) assumes that you know what has gone before in this chapter of Luke’s story of the early church. Saul, as Paul was called then, had been trying to suppress the followers of Jesus’ Way and in his travels to do this, on approaching Damascus had had a conversion experience: Jesus appeared to him, Luke says, and asked ‘Why are you persecuting me?’ The use of ‘me’ in these words is an indication of the presence of Jesus in His followers, though this may not have been interpreted then as we might take it today. In the Acts of the apostles Luke recounts this experience three times altogether, but in the letters of Paul’s which we have, he does refer to having a revelation (see Gal 1:11-17) but not in the visual and narrative terms used by Luke. According to Luke, after this experience, Saul himself became a believer in Jesus, and in our reading he tries to get accepted by the disciples in Jerusalem and to use his fluency in Greek to speak to the Hellenists who were Greek speaking Jews; but later his vocation will be beyond Jerusalem and even to non-Jewish communities.

The second reading this week is from the First letter of John again.  In chapter 3, verses 18-24 he writes about the loving and forgiving presence within those who follow the command of Jesus; the command to believe in Him and to love one another.  The 10 commandments have been superseded in this new era initiated by Jesus, which we now call Christianity, although, perhaps because of our weak human nature we still have and certainly need some guideline about how we should live as Christians. The writer’s message, however, is clear – whoever believes in Jesus and loves others lives in God and God lives in him, and the Spirit of Jesus within us assures us of this.  This is taken up in later Church teaching, notably by Athanasius, (whose feast it was yesterday), in his work 0n the Incarnation (

In the Gospel (John chapter 15), we have what might appear like the parable of the vine. The Old Testament often refers to the Jews as the vine of God; in that context it is seen as one that needs a lot of tending and that sometimes, even then, produces bad grapes (see Isaiah 5) – it is very frustrating for God to have such problematic people. But Jesus utterly dedicated Himself to please God His Father by loving others and giving them hope of a better life even here on earth. So Jesus is the true vine. But those who live in the same basic way of Jesus share in his life; and just as Jesus’ life was not easy-going, so the lives of His followers will have set-backs – and this is indicated in the parable by the reference to the pruning that the plants need in order to grow all the better and bear good fruit.

More comment by Jeff here –  reflection

4th Sunday of Easter

29 April 2018

Acts, chapter 4, verses 8-12 go straight into another speech of Peter that Luke inserts here. The context  is the very early activities of Peter in Jerusalem.   Together with John and others he had been gathering interested listeners in increasing numbers in the outer court of the Temple, and many of them were anxious to become believers and followers of Jesus.  He had cured a lame man in the name of Jesus and was proclaiming the resurrection and accusing the Jews (it would be chiefly the leaders) of having Jesus brought to trial and put to death.  The disciples had been arrested and kept over night, till in the morning they are brought before the high priest and other leaders and interrogated – “By what power or what name did you do this?”   Peter replies to his accusers, laying the guilt for Jesus’ death upon them and referring to Psalm 118, that shows this pattern of behaviour. Peter affirmed Jesus as the one who can save people from this persistent pattern of behaviour, and can lift us out of our pattern of falling short of the Christian ideal.  We have this Psalm after the reading, and the pasage quoted as the response: Jesus is the key-stone to the building of the kingdom, and we are the rest of the building – we are a bit like the awkwardly shaped stones in a dry stane wall.

From the opening two verses of first letter of John, chapter 3, we read again of the very basic aspect of God and of our relationship to Him. We are children of God even now, when we are loved by Him despite our inadequacies. It is quite unimaginable what it will be like when we pass over into the life after death and live even closer to God.

In the Gospel of John, (10:11-18) we are told that Jesus is like a shepherd to us. Shepherding was different then and there, from how it is now here in Scotland where we sometimes have severe weather conditions and the shepherd can use a trained dog and maybe a quod-bike as well. Shepherding was beset with problems from marauding wild animals, occasionally from rogues and thieves but always from the straying of the sheep away from safe areas and from the food they need.  In the Old Testament shepherding was often used as an image of God and His relationship with the chosen people. But here in the New Testament in this gospel the emphasis is on the love and care that God has for us, on the risks taken and on the ultimate aim of uniting all the people of the earth. We must recognise in the various hazards and straying nature of the sheep something of the way our own lives pan out; but also how like the shepherd with his sheep, God is with us; in Jesus, God Himself lives for us here and now, and dies to keep us safe and secure in following Him.

There is a reflection also by me (Jeff Bagnall)

3rd Sunday of Easter

In the first reading from Acts, (3:13-19) we have Luke’s report of what Peter preached to the early followers of the Way of Jesus. A message that looks very much like it is putting the blame for the death of Jesus on the Jews to whom it is addressed; yet it does add that they did not know what they were doing, and indeed they were fulfilling, it says, what had been foretold would happen. The idea of what sin is, in these words, reflects the common notion that it is going against what is just and right, with no consideration of the intention of those who are doing what may be seen as sinful by others or according to the law. We and Christians generally still have difficulty sometimes with understanding this distinction.  The address of Peter as reported by Luke, outlines the pattern of life that we humans generally have whether we call ourselves Christian or not. In this pattern we do things that interfere with the creative plan of God and that misinterpret the words and actions of others who are God’s creatures on earth; we do this without fully realising what we are doing though it can cause so much damage to the world and to others; however, as we more and more come to be followers of the way of Jesus, God’s personal representative among us, we should work at changing our way of life continually for the better. So Luke tells us Peter concludes, saying “Repent,” change your whole way of life for the better,” so that your sins may be wiped out!”

In the second reading, (1 John 2:1-5), the writer confirms that our sins can be left behind. There is the notion that God requires some recompense for the wrong done, and that the death of Jesus was a sacrifice that has won from God forgiveness of the sins of the world. The early Christians to whom the letter was written do not think that being a Christian means being free from sin, but it does mean that we have to try to leave all sin behind by doing the will of God. God’s love is in us, but we must let it come to perfection in us by obeying the commandments of God.

The Gospel reading (Luke 24:35-48), announces the resurrection: It is unbelievable! In story-form Luke tells us that God is still really one of us, but unlike us he is a human who has lived entirely for others, a life sacrificed for all; and this is all part of God’s plan from the start to the end – the End of time; the whole world should know the love of God! And Luke’s second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, illustrates the progress of this Way of life from Jerusalem to Rome, a progress that Jesus refers to at the end of this reading. We must try to become human like Him; He lived for others showing His love for the Father, so we must live for others, and hence for God! We, who know of this love that is everywhere, must express God’s love by loving others – a joyful but hard task.

There is a reflection also by me (Jeff Bagnall) for this Sunday

2nd Sunday Easter

The two Books of Samuel are classified in the Old Testament as History. History written then had the aim of influencing its readers morally, religiously or politically. The information included may have come from ‘historical’ annals, old folk tales and favourite stories which had something to say to all people. Our reading today is such a story; it has a message about how we might pick up on what God is wanting us to do with our lives. It has the homely setting of an old father-like figure and a young boy who related to him as to a grandfather; it has the characteristic pattern of threesome repetition; it is clearly set in a religious context (the Temple) and it has the engaging feature of misunderstanding prior to getting things right. It is an account of God’s call of the prophet Samuel. It is from such accounts that Fr. Daniel L. Schutte, S.J. took the refrain and used it as the chorus when he composed that now well-known hymn about our own renewed commitment to recognise God around us, His call to us and our positive response to it.

The second reading (2nd Reading – 1 Cor 6:13-20 passim) does not seem to fit in well with the other readings for today except that it illustrates the difficulty we might have in discerning exactly what is for us the right thing to do and what we should not be doing. Paul is writing to the Corinthians about a specific problem. His preaching has told these Gentile converts that now they are Christians they are not bound by any laws (Paul has in mind particularly the Jewish Law). He probably spoke most powerfully about this freedom, because he had been a strict Jew himself up until he became a Christian, but also because some of the Jewish converts thought the Gentile Christians ought to be bound by the Jewish laws. But in the morally loose city of Corinth, some of the Gentile Christians might have taken this to include freedom in sexual practices. Paul has to modify his revolutionary teaching; the freedom doesn’t extend to this; it affected the eating of food sacrificed to idols which Jews wouldn’t do, but, Paul thinks that is permissible, since the stomach is just an organ of the body; but our bodies as a whole are ourselves and are the shrine of the Holy Spirit and should not be defiled by inappropriate sexual behaviour. This is a good illustration for us of how the rules we have in our religion are derived from our beliefs about God, about ourselves and about the relationship we have with God which we know through Jesus Christ.

The gospel (John 1:35-42) passage can easily be taken to be a charming and believable narrative about John, Jesus and the first disciples, but in John’s gospel particularly, there are usually deeper meanings within the text. With no infancy narrative in his gospel the first public presentation of Jesus is made in this passage by the Baptist to two of his disciples, with the words used in catholic liturgy announcing communion: “behold the lamb of God!” The reply with a depth of inner meaning uses the word ‘follow’ as to walk behind and also as to be a disciple of. Jesus then asks “what do you want?” the words used by a priest when someone presents to be baptized and a question always challenging us. Notice also the query where Christ is to be found and the welcome “Come and see.” The call of the first disciples in the other gospels is while they are fishing (which they seem to abandon immediately), but here Simon Peter is called by his brother who first followed Christ. This all leaves us with questions about our own relationship with Christ which we need to regularly consider.

There is a reflection also by me (Jeff Bagnall) for this Sunday

Easter Sunday

The first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, (chapter 10, verses 34-43 passim), where we hear a speech made by Peter before a Roman Official about the resurrection of Jesus. The book of Acts is written as an history of the growth, spread and preaching of the early church chiefly through Peter and Paul. The book seems to be a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and also written by him. The custom at the time of writing such an account often included speeches by key figures written by the author. However, there are definite elements in the recorded preaching of Peter that reflect the use of an early source which may well have been Peter himself. You will notice that the way Jesus is described is less developed than the way even Paul writing in the 50’s described the nature of Jesus (as Son of God); at an earlier time it was said that God was with Jesus in all the things He did and after His death God raised Him to life with Himself and set Him up as judge of all. The opening remarks of Peter may reflect the change that he went through after encountering the attitude of Paul, from seeing the Jewish practices as essential to God’s favour to saying that God “accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”

The short second reading from Colossians, (chapter 3, verses 1-4) is addressed to a newly baptised Christian. After accepting the preaching about Jesus, a person could ask to become a follower of the Way of Jesus and be baptised and join the community of believers. Baptism was by total immersion and was a symbolic act of dying, being buried and rising anew; dying to a life of following the degrading values of money, pleasure and worldly success; putting all that behind one and rising (out of the water) to live with Christian values within the life of Christ now present on earth. The Christian lives with a new life that is visible only in the values that are followed and the sincerity of one’s life, but will be revealed completely at the end of time, when they expected Christ would come again in some way. We see here the use of a word probably coined by the writer of Ephesians (which we read on the 4th Sunday of Lent) – a single word meaning raised together with (συνηγερθητε) urging us to live up to what we are and with the life we share in of Christ!

In the gospel (John, chapter 20, verses 1-9) we have a description of the realisation that Jesus is risen. There is always much to consider in the words of this fourth gospel; we notice for example the significant role of women and that other disciples are secondary to Peter. And it makes us realise something about the resurrection that otherwise might not have been documented, namely, that none of the followers of Jesus, men or women, really had any idea that he would be raised up to life anew after His crucifixion – they thought the body had been stolen and had not understood any prediction of this event. The resurrection is a mystery – it is about the life of Christ not just after death but in a new way entirely within the Godhead but also present within our world, in all that is positive and good in it. This is a belief that we too are unable to grasp fully; and it is not so much something that we have to understand as something that we have to live out as the disciples and the early Christian showed us: this is how Easter should impact on us!

There is a reflection also by me (Jeff Bagnall) for this Sunday

Palm Sunday

The passage from Isaiah (50: 4-7), clearly reads as though it is from a prophet. He is one who knows what God wants to say to the people, and even though his words may be unwelcomed by those he addresses, he nevertheless puts up with the opposition of the crowd and follows his calling to listen to the voice of God and deliver the message to the people; their reaction may well bring him opposition, verbal or even physical. This passage, like a considerable amount of the Bible (Old Testament) would be quite familiar to the Jews at the time of Christ and in the early church. It is noticeable, for example, that in the Gospel written by Mark (probably the earliest Gospel) there are echoes and sometimes references to and quotations from his Scriptures. This Old Testament reading may well have been in mind as he wrote about the difficulties encountered by Christ in the account of the passion which we hear in the Gospel today.

In the second reading (Philippians 2: 6-11) Paul quotes from an early hymn about Christ. It forcefully and poetically attempts to express the ‘unbelievable condescension’ of God becoming human – one of us. It uses the Greek word for “to empty” (kenoein) which appears only five times in the New Testament and only here of God, of His act in Christ in person emptying Himself – from His divine nature – into our humanity becoming the man Jesus Christ This is a selflessness that we would emulate if we were utterly devoted to becoming saints. The adjective ‘kenotic’ and the noun ‘kenosis’ have now entered the English language and they are used to try and express this ‘emptying’ of Christ without denying His Divinity as well as being used about the implications of this for Christian living and spirituality. The poem we have in Philippians goes on to tell of the elevation that balances this, after Christ has undergone death – the details of which we hear in the passion account in the long Gospel reading that follows.

There is a Lenten reflection about Jesus’ prayer also by me (Jeff Bagnall) for this Sunday’s gospel.

The passion in Mark’s Gospel came to be written somewhat like this. After His earthly life, those who were ‘followers of the Way’ (later called Christians), acknowledged Jesus as Messiah, Son of God and Saviour. This belief arose from knowing His unique personality before and after His crucifixion, and from the impact He made upon their lives. But they had to find ways to put it into narrative for later generations using what they had experienced or heard of, namely all the significant events that led up to His departure from our world to be present in it in a new way. We have no record of precisely how they did this over the period of the first two decades or so. But then Mark incorporated their traditions, some oral and some already put into writing, into his gospel. So this narrative of the Good News culminates with the last three chapters of Mark’s gospel of which we read the first two today (chapters 14 and 15). Mark tries to make sense of the fact that Jesus was found guilty of blasphemy by the religious leaders and was executed as a criminal by the secular power for claiming to be a king; both authorities were worried about the reaction of the crowd and the disturbance of the status quo; and Mark also wants to admit how Jesus’ friends betrayed, denied and abandoned Him – save for a few faithful women; and how some taunted him, but a Roman centurion seemed to recognise him as son of God. We should not read it as an historical account so much as a powerful message to us about the enormous love of God for us and the selfishness, weakness and sinfulness of ourselves – a powerful homily!

5th Lent Cycle B

In last week’s first reading from the history book called Chronicles mention was made of the prophet Jeremiah; in our reading this week from that prophet (Jeremiah 31:31-34), we have the only explicit mention in the Old Testament of the New Covenant – a new pact of God with and for humanity in relationship with God, though Ezekiel expresses a very similar idea (11:19 || 36:26). The pattern of much of the history of the people descended from Abraham repeats again and again: God makes a covenant, – a promise, a command or an arrangement with conditions, and the people default on their obligation – are unfaithful, or just forgetful; disasters beset the people, usually trouble from neighbouring states; yet God renews His contract with them again and again. The prophets have the difficult and thankless job of encouraging and lifting the spirits of the people again and again, as well as berating their inadequate response to God. At the time of Jeremiah the ‘top’ people have been captured and taken into Babylon in exile; they feel quite depressed and let down by God, so there is need for a message of a new beginning. We realise this when, year by year, we go through the attempt to renew or refresh and re-invigorate our commitment to God in Christ during Lent and with the celebrations of Easter. It seems it is no different from the times of the Old Testament – yet, with the strength from Jesus Christ, a fellow human being of ours, we can – let us affirm we will! The responsorial psalm (from Psalm 51) is quite appropriate to these sentiments, it is sometimes called the ‘miserere’ from the first word of the Latin version (numbered psalm 50 there).

Read the Lenten reflection about this covenant also by me (Jeff Bagnall)

In the book of Hebrews, (Heb 5:7-9), the author is trying to express the ‘new’ situation that the Christians are in; and trying to do it in the language that they would understand. They might well be converts from the Jewish religion, perhaps living in Egypt and in the context of a culture and a view of life influenced by Greek thought and civilisation. Because of the literary style and intricate thought system, it would be best suited to well-educated Christians, knowledgeable of the Old testament and presently living their faith without much difficulty. In the last decades of the first century it presents the new and unique priesthood of Christ: a man with the appropriate priestly qualities, i.e. he can represent others (all other humans) since He became one of us, he has an empathy with the troubles and difficulties of being a good human (a righteous person) in an unsympathetic environment for he was tempted and had his agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and he has been appointed by God Who says to His disciples (and that includes us), “this is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”

The gospel reading is John 12: 20-32. Up to this point in this gospel the ‘hour’ of Jesus has not come – as He told Mary in the story of the wedding feast of Cana (John 2:4) when she looked for a miracle from Him. Also in this gospel apart from His dealings with the Samaritan woman (chapter 4) Jesus has confined all His activity to the Jews, but now we hear of Greeks wanting to see Jesus – and ‘seeing’ in this gospel often means coming to believe. Is it this that triggers Jesus’ words “now the hour has come?” He goes on to speak of the pattern of His life and death, which is one of self-denial and service of the other. The followers of Jesus must adopt this pattern in their lives too – it is a scary thing to do. And the writer alludes at this point to the agony prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, a prayer to be freed from this ending of His life, but the prayer is answered in a different way. (In this Gospel there is no account of the agony in the garden as in the other three gospels). His lifting up on the cross is also a lifting up to a new risen life, to the glory of God and to encourage all to ‘follow’ Him. Where He is we should be, and except when we are in sin, where we are, Jesus is there in us, with us and for us!

4th Lent Cycle B

The first reading is from the last few verses of the Second Book of Chronicles (2 Chron 36:14-23 passim). History is written not just to inform us about the past but so that we can learn something for our present situation and for the future. Much of the history of the nation of the people of the bible was written in the books called Samuel and Kings, then Chronicles was written to tell the story again, all with hindsight and to teach a new lesson to match the situation at the time. At the time of writing Chronicles the people had been unfaithful to their God and His laws (and not for the first time), they had not been radically changed by the preaching of the prophets or the efforts of reforming kings; this resulted in them failing as a nation and being overrun by other powers, and then many of their aristocracy were deported and Jerusalem left to rack and ruin – the Babylonian Captivity or the Exile as it is called. But after about fifty years they were allowed back by the grace of Cyrus the ruler at the time. God restored them through an unexpected power! The reading tells the last part of this account; it makes the point that God is not just the god of the Israelites; He is the god of all peoples, and they are moved by Him when whatever they do is good and righteous – Cyrus was such an one.

The second reading is from Ephesians (2:4-10). This book seems to be an encyclical i.e. a letter to be handed around to a whole group of Christian communities; it was written in general terms about the essence of Christian belief and about living in harmony with and for each other. In some of the manuscripts that exist, it is addressed to the Laodiceans, and sometimes just to “the saints” but mostly to the Ephesians which gives it the name we use for it. As we know Paul wrote many letters to the Churches that he knew well and addressed their particular situations and problems; in this letter we have ideas that are developed from the thinking of Paul but many think that the letter was not written by him; as well as the different theology, the style of writing is somewhat different as well. Nevertheless all this does not deteriorate from the great value of our inspired reading. The passage we are looking at affirms God’s great love, even for sinners, and says we are “the work of art of God”. It is difficult for the translator to capture the full meaning of some of the key words which literally say God “makes us alive together” (συνεζωοποιησε) in Christ, and “raises us up together” (συνηγειρε), and “seats us together (συνεκαθισεω) in the heavenly (sphere) in Christ Jesus.” We are just utterly involved in the life of God because He is totally in the whole of our lives (it’s a gift from God).

In the gospel (John 3:14-21) we read words on the lips of Jesus addressed to Nicodemus. First of all a reference to the incident in the Old Testament (Numbers 21:4-9) when Moses told the people who were ill to look towards the serpent lifted up (on a pole – a sign to be followed). So also Jesus will be lifted up (the same word is used each time), and those who believe (follow his way) will live with eternal life. It is in this section also that we have many beautiful phrases about the pattern of life we should lead and the love of God for us. This is the first time in this Gospel that the author uses the phrases “eternal life” and “lifted up” which have such a deep meaning (alluded to and expressed in the reading we had from Ephesians). The author of this Gospel uses words well; here he uses ‘light’ in a mystical, poetic but also in an ordinary sense, for shining a torch or switching on a light always reveals the reality that is there but otherwise unseen, and it is unseen because of the darkness (which is also a symbol of disbelief and wickedness). We shall use this symbol with the Easter (Pascal) candle on Holy Saturday when we celebrate the victory of Christ over sin through the fulfillment of His life on earth at His ‘passing’ (His dying and rising).

There is a Lenten reflection written by me (Jeff Bagnall) for this Sunday