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Download B&W issue - Portsmouth People

Download B&W issue - Portsmouth People

FEATUREOne of the great

FEATUREOne of the great gifts God gives us isthe spiritual banquet of the Eucharist.Unfortunately, familiarity cansometimes make us forget what a greatgift we are being offered. The Sundayreadings from late July till late Augustencourage us to reflect on this gift, bypresenting to us the sixth chapter of StJohn’s Gospel.One of the puzzles in Scripture is why StJohn does not narrate the giving of theEucharist at the Last Supper. Was itbecause he wanted to provide a kind ofwarning to the early Christiancommunity? Did he wish to emphasizethat liturgy would be empty withoutservice of others, symbolized by thefoot-washing? But the sixth chaptermakes it clear that St John knew allabout the Eucharist.The chapter begins with Jesus feedingthe crowd of five thousand people. OnlySt John situates this miracle in time: ‘Itwas shortly before the Jewish feast ofPassover.’ The early chapters in hisgospel look forward to his later detailedstory of the crucifixion. The one whogives bread shortly before the Passoveris the one who will give himself on thecross at the next Passover. And theabundance of the gift - feeding a crowdof 5000 - exceeds even the miracle ofElisha, who fed a crowd of 100 people.Whereas the other gospels move onfrom this miracle to other events inJesus’ life, St John reflects on its significancewith the ‘Bread of Life Discourse.’This is Jesus’ teaching in the synagogueat Capernaum. Jesus reminds the peoplethat they have been given the gift ofbread from heaven, like the earlyIsraelites in the desert who receivedmanna as bread for their journey. Butthe true bread is Christ himself, as hesays: ‘I am the bread of life.’This statement is one of seven ‘I am’sayings in St John’s Gospel, exploringthe mystery of Christ’s identity. In laterdeclarations he will present himself asthe Light of the World, the GoodShepherd, and the True Vine.Fr Jeremy Corley (scripture lecturer at Ushaw College)reflects on John’s Bread of Life DiscourseA SPIRITUAL BANQUETBy the end of the gospel, St Thomas willhave recognized Jesus’ full identity: ‘MyLord and my God.’Just as we are fed in the Mass from thetable of the Word as well as the table ofthe Eucharist, so St John’s sixth chapterpresents Jesus as the divine wisdom(6:35-50) as well as the eucharistic food(6:51-58). This divine wisdom will satisfyour inner hunger for meaning (Sirach24:19-22). Hence Jesus can speak of thefulfilment of the prophetic expectation:‘They will all be taught by God’ (Isaiah54:13).But as in the Mass we progress from thescriptures to the sacrament, so St John’ssixth chapter moves from the bread ofdivine wisdom to the food of theEucharist: ‘The bread that I shall give ismy flesh for the life of the world.’ Jesus’death, whatever its sad human circumstances,ultimately results from his freechoice to give his life to save us. Hencewe are reminded of Jesus’ generous loveevery time we come to Mass.The end of St John’s sixth chapter showsthat some people find the sacramentalmystery too hard to believe. Some ofJesus’ hearers walk away, perhapsthinking that he is speaking ofcannibalism. For us too, it is a mysteryexactly how Christ is present in HolyCommunion, but we believe, even if wedo not fully understand. Like St Peter,we say to Christ: ‘Lord, who shall we goto? You have the message of eternallife, and we believe.’Society of Saint Gregory80 Years Promoting LiturgyMonica Taylor reports onfour score yearsEverybody has anopinion on howMass is celebrated.We each preferdifferent styles ofcelebration andexperience joys andfrustrations,moments of deepprayer, and momentsof distraction in ourliturgies. Somefavour modern music others a moretraditional form, and still others wouldchoose no singing at all. Cardinal JohnHenry Newman, who may soon becanonized, had a vision that whateverour preferences, there should be aneducated laity in the Church. Thateducation begins with a deeperunderstanding of the mysteries wecelebrate Sunday by Sunday.This year, the Society of Saint Gregorycelebrates 80 years promoting just that,a greater understanding of and participationin our liturgies, and especiallythe music which is an integral part ofthem. Quite often, when people speakof liturgical renewal, they look to theSecond Vatican Council of the 1960s,but this celebration of 80 years reflectsthe important fact that those reformswere very much the fruit of work goingback long before then.The Society of Saint Gregory producesa quarterly magazine Music andLiturgy which has a worldwidereadership. The Society also runs anannual Summer School (this year heldat Ditchingham in Norfolk) whichappeals to a wide audience fromtalented musicians and composers tothose who simply love music or have agenuine thirst to know more about theliturgy and gain skills in otherministries.Monica Taylor, who represents PortsmouthDiocese at the Society of Saint Gregory, canbe contacted (monica.taylor@ssg.org.uk)for further information. Alternatively visitthe Society’s website (www.ssg.org.uk)and/or contact membership@ssg.org.uk fora free copy of Music and Liturgy.28PORTSMOUTH PEOPLE

CHURCH IN FOCUSWith this issue we look at theChurch of Our Lady and St Edmund of AbingdonThe next issue ofPORTSMOUTH PEOPLEwill be distributed at theend of September 2009

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