“..she herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her ; & graciously shows herself to them as they go, in every thought of theirs coming to meet them..” ..& who is she?.. ..in 1st OT rdg best description they could find in their distance from God was to call her wisdom.. & now in NT having experienced the divine incarnation, we call her the Holy Spirit.. the 3rd person of Trinity hokmah..the feminine dimension of God..”she..” indeed.. “..in every thought of theirs coming to meet them..” & when good things happen, come together, do we call it coincidence or the work of the Holy Spirit?.. “..by those who love her she is readily seen..” ; Lord have mercy “..watch for her early & you will have no trouble..” ; Christ have mercy “..you will find her sitting at your gates..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..five wise five foolish..very Matthew; definitively black & white..insiders outsiders, the early bird & the latecomer..would the Jesus of Pope Francis exclude the drowsy, the late comer or absentee? when, after all, the bridegroom himself had arrived late..what could have happened then, & more so 2000yrs later with our benefit of hindsight & wisdom of the Holy Spirit?..the five so called wise bridesmaids could/should have been alert bright eyed bushy tailed to the shortage of the foolish, & shared what oil stocks they had between them..”there may not be enough for us & for you; you had better go & buy some yourselves” what’s mine is mine..or we send to the Food Bank supermarkets own brand economy supplies we wouldn’t dream of feeding to our own family..& when bridegroom arrived “they went in with him & the door was closed”..no attempt at an explanation by the wise on behalf of the absent five..no plea to delay proceedings for few further moments in hope of their early return & inclusion..& the finality of the rejection “..& the door was closed” it reminds me of a phrase adopted by our Catholicism years ago & still held to by those under pressure to reform statute or practice..when the status quo comes under threat against an adventurous sighting of the Holy Spirit, the powerbrokers cite “Roma locuta..causa finita“” Rome has spoken..the matter is closed”..”Lord Lord, they said, open the door for us”..but he replies “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you”.. ..”solemnly” the cold dismissiveness of the judge in Canon Law..I wonder if the migrants awaiting entry into the EU in Greece or Italy feel the full force of this gospel, as they hear of it in the mosque or listen to it at Mass in their holding camps..an exclusion zone, the weakest & the most vulnerable denied access..oil in their lamps, the fire & the passion of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, desperate for shelter & acceptance in a continent which professes St Benedict Patron of Europe..the patron of listeners & advocate for welcoming each guest migrant stranger “as if Christ himself”..its in our Rule..its our mission statement under patronage of Our Lady & St Benedict..& coincidence or Holy Spirit last Sat evg as I began to shape these thoughts I received an email from one of our regular retreatants at Abbey on pilgrimage to Holy Land..at the Stations of the Cross outside Jerusalem he’d met a White Father & told him of my mantra of asking “how many times so far today have you met Christ?”..& he sent me words from one of Stations “ Jesus is looking for someone who will humble himself as He did & lovingly bear his Cross..will you be this disciple?”..coincidence or the Holy Spirit?..will you be this disciple?.. meanwhile the EU & the UK sleep on..soundly..& the Holy Spirit, where is she?..”she herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her, & graciously shows herself to them as they go”..does she find them snug warm & included in the wedding hall?..or on the other side of the barbed wire fence under the surveillance thus far of a security camera, & now under divine surveillance & protection for the rest of their journey to the ultimate wedding hall & feast.. & pray how would we react or respond if someone tried to rejoin us in here after months years away & apart, seeking to buy themselves time as well as the right make of oil & an re-entry visa, for a safe passage back home here?.. ..& when our bridegroom eventually arrives here, I wonder how quick he will be to close the door?..when he is more likely to ask the insiders, so busy trimming their lamps & carefully checking self satisfyingly their oil levels “where are the other nine? were not ten healed?..” ..& would he not delay start of the meal until all ten were accounted for? ..12 disciples called chosen appointed & he won’t settle in heaven until the last one..the one you might rashly want to name & exclude as Judas, arrives, late safe & well ; forgiven & redeemed..& whose lamp & thereby face shines the brightest..”how many times so far today have you met Christ?”..”will you be this disciple?”.. “..do this in remembrance of me..”..remember?. [ 32nd SunYrA; Mt 25;1-13]
“..this is my body which will be given for you..do this in memory of me” words of Jesus at the Last Supper..a meal of remembrance & a meal of making present, each & every time it is celebrated..Jesus fully present in body & spirit inviting his closest followers then & now to become even & ever closer..he was about to offer himself in sacrifice in order to redeem the world from its inherent sinfulness & mankinds addictive surrender to it..the thirst appetite for control & domination..so he came, sent by his Father, to rewrite the script..self sacrificially offering his body as a ransom for many..”do this in memory of me” remember always I did it..I did it first but now crucially now you do it in memory of me..each generation challenged to write its own chapter in salvation history, to fight the latest campaign in world conflict as the suffering servants of God fight forces of anti-Christ..in Syria Iraq Myanmar Yemen & Sudan..in Grenfell Tower, Manchester Arena & Barcelona..are we prepared to go to the front line in thought remembrance, love & prayer, & make a difference?..or at my age in my condition I ‘d rather sit back & listen to R4 or read my kindle..the white flag syndrome rather than the red poppy witness.. ..this morning we remember the series of campaigns in WW1 & WW2..a new covenant written enacted in blood..blood of Christ 2000yrs ago & ever since, the blood of Christ made flesh & blood in each follower of Christ who follows in his footsteps in fighting for the freedom of the gospel..”this cup is the new covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you” poured out for you, so that you can become what you receive..the body & blood of Christ..really present in each soldier/disciple who, in footsteps of Christ, paid the ultimate price..”we will remember them”.. 30yrs today since tragic Sun morning 8 Nov 1987 at Enniskillen Norther Ireland & the IRA atrocity at Cenotaph..Gordon Wilson had gone with his daughter Marie, like us here & now, to pray & to remember..the bomb blast caught them both & next morning Gordon told movingly of dying minutes of his daughters life thereby touching hearts of millions.. “the wall collapsed & we were thrown forward..rubble & stones all around us & under us ..I remember thinking “I’m not hurt” but there’s a pain in my shoulder; I shouted to Marie “are you all right?” & she said “yes” she found my hand & said “is that your hand Dad?” I said “are you all right dear?” but we were under six feet of rubble..three or four times I asked her, she always said “yes, I’m all right”..I asked her the fifth time “are you all right Marie?”; she said “Daddy I love you very much”..those were the last words she spoke to me..I kept shouting “Marie, are you all right?” there was no reply. I have lost my daughter but I bear no ill will, I bear no grudge..dirty sort of talk isn’t going to bring her back to life..I don’t have an answer, but I know there has to be a plan. If I didn’t think that, I would commit suicide..it’s part of a greater plan, & God is good..& we shall meet again..” “this is my body which will [ which has ] been given up for you..do this in memory of me” “we will remember them..” some years ago I used to help community of Poor Clare nuns in Arkley North London..enclosed sisters who live frugal life in community & prayer..prayer not for themselves but for needs of our busy world..rely totally on peoples charity “God will provide” & he does..many moving examples of miracles occurring at their intervention..now only 8 left all elderly..a residual group still trying to witness to a need for spiritual & material change..lofty heights of full convents & stream of young girls coming to join them have gone..easy to write them off as a geriatric community within an ageing & unchanging Church..dilemma few years ago, having been asked to host the ITV Morning Worship from their Chapel, was to let the nation see rows of empty choir stalls, or to ask other Poor Clare convents to lend them sisters & make it look full.. “what should we do Fr Bede?” asked Abbess..like best of questions she answered it herself ..they would do it themselves, warts & all..”a little band doing its valiant best” a little group, a hidden witness to the power of prayer, disturbing those of us who are self reliant or who have already self certificated as retired Christians..with our bus pass or blue badge instead of a crucifix.. & this morning we gather, another diminishing group..ageing, hidden, perhaps feeling misfits in a rapidly changing world..we come together once a year to remember, to witness, not primarily to a prayerful trust in faith that God will provide & renew the face of the earth, but to witness to the last resort of armed conflict, when you & your generation went to make peace by fighting for it..justifiably, with creative regret, when forces of evil oppression radicalisation & extremism needed to be overthrown & our own island nation & our commonwealth dependencies needed to be defended..like Poor Clare nuns, perhaps we ask ourselves should we carry on?..does the younger generation take any notice?..is our little band, as it does its best, doing any good?..we certainly should persevere, enkindling in our minds & hearts the cost in terms of human life, that the fight for freedom did & still does incur.. during WW2 German occupation of France man & his wife lived discreet quiet life in small town..one evg as they sat together intimate in relationship he asked his wife to do something for him..he carefully tore out of his treasured pocket bible three of his favourite gospel passages..gave them to his wife asked her to sew them into lining of his overcoat..week later Gestapo came to house & man was arrested..his wife never saw him again..a few years after end of war, knock came to her door & there was tall young man.. she asked him in..he explained he had been captured by Germans sent to a concentration camp..each night when guards locked them all into hut, the frail old man would open lining of his coat, take out his bible passages to read & pray them to inmates..young man hadn’t been a Christian when he was arrested but due to husbands faith he became a believer..he told her sadly he had been taken to the gas chamber,, “we will remember them.” Gordon & Marie Wilson..the frail old man..& Herbert Fox.. share some words of Fr Donal O’Leary article entitled “while the leaves fall”..”where the loss is caused by the death of a dearly loved friend or relation, that sense of loss may now begin to open the slow door to another way of being with that person. Unrestricted by time & place, a new intimacy becomes possible. Jesus was so conscious of that mysterious transition, the need to leave us so as to possess us more intimately. The felt sting of death lessens; the reality of the love does not. No matter what subsequently happens, where love was once true, it will never be replaced. Part of you will always be a presence around the other, & from their unseen places, they will most certainly be minding us with purest love.” He quotes great protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer..himself a prisoner of war, & how appropriate as we together, as parts of one body becoming ever closer, celebrate 500yrs since the Reformation..”nothing can fill the gap when we are away from those we love, & it would be wrong to try to find anything, since leaving the gap unfilled preserves the bond between us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap; he does not fill it but keeps it empty, so that communion with another may be kept alive even at the cost of pain.” “this is my body [ you are my body this little band doing its valiant best ] which will be given up for you..[ you out there who still rely on us here to keep the flame of faith & remembrance alive ]..do this in memory of me..” [ O’Leary ] “those who have loved & lost, & grown through it all, have already tasted death & resurrection. They have followed their passion, they have risked for love; they have been devastated by loss..& because they loved & trusted life once, the final death will never be a fearful stranger..” “..we will remember them..” [ Ampleforth Village Remembrance Service ; OL&SB ; 12 Nov 2017 Lk 22; 14-20]