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1 June 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 06-06-2014

5th Sunday After Easter

It's natural to be critical about what is new when you are comfortable with the old. The new translation of the missal has not escaped criticism.  What do the words actually mean?  Surely a prayer which is to be proclaimed, spoken aloud, should be instantly meaningful? Recently we heard in an opening prayer at Mass that we are to be ‘rightly conformed to the paschal mysteries’. That, I suggest, is obscure. What it means is that in baptism we died with Christ, we rose with Christ and we have ascended with Christ - we have been through death, resurrection and ascension. ‘Hold on’, you may say, ‘I’m not dead yet’. ‘Oh, yes, you are’. In baptism you died to what you were. Sacraments effect what they signify. Sacramentally you were buried with Christ and you rose with him to share his new life. Now he has ascended into heaven; he is in the presence of his Father as man. So are we.  You say: ‘We’re not in heaven yet’. Heaven is not a place. Heaven is a relationship - and we are in a relationship with God - we share the relationship of Jesus to his Father. A rose, tightly in bud, is a real rose in a stage of development. It will bloom and spread its petals to become fully itself. So, for us the difference between earth and heaven is one of development. We already have that essential relationship with God that places us within the Blessed Trinity - that makes us God, as Leo the Great, for instance had no hesitation in saying. At the Offertory I add a drop of water to the wine in the chalice. This is not to dilute the wine; it is symbolic. We are the drop of water absorbed by the wine: we become what Jesus is: ‘By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity’. Many a mother, looking at her child, may have said: ‘You’re divine‘. Without her meaning it, that is literally true.  So this feast of the Ascension completes our ‘conformity to the paschal mystery’ as the prayer in the missal rather foggily put it. We are, each one, intimately in God’s presence. We are a presence of God. Our Lord, at the Last Supper, put it quite simply: We are in him and he is in us.   We are to manifest that presence in our relationships - and first of all by acknowledging it in others.  The dignity of every human being is infinite.  That’s why I said last Sunday that we are awesome.



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