Sermon for the Easter Vigil 2019
20th Apr 2019
Sermon for Easter
‘What a difference a day makes’ we might say as we come to this glorious Easter time. Within the space of three days, everything for the Christian Church has changed. And in the passing of this brief period of time - of Holy Week and now of Easter, the Church has endured the pain of death in the deep solemnity of Passiontide and now all is suddenly transformed. The Church’s proclamation proceeds out of the death of Christ, and through his Glorious Resurrection we proclaim new life to the world. Our joyful cry is “Alleluya!” And all this has been encapsulated into one single week; the saving events into three days, and now the day of Resurrection comes tonight to startle and amaze us and carry us yet forward.
The days of Lent and Passiontide cannot be experienced separately but together as one stream, leading inexorably toward their resurrection fulfilment. The life that Easter makes possible, is now brought to us as a delicate flame, The Light of the Risen Christ is proclaimed as “Christ our Light”, appearing first as light in darkness and then acknowledged and honored in the glorious Easter song ‘The Exsultet’ as our everlasting life..
Then there is the Vigil of Old Testament Readings for the recapitulation of our Christian Faith; the tracing of our spiritual origins. It begins with The Creation Narrative in Genesis, and then proceeds to the Exodus and Abraham and then the promise of the coming of the One who will promise us the God not our of religious duty alone, but his being from the communication of one heart speaking to another. This Easter Liturgy will be a profound celebration of the sacramental life that God has granted us through the blessing of the baptismal waters and of the renewal of our baptismal vows. We are to discover Easter in the outpouring of transformative grace. We come to celebrate the Eucharist anew, warmed and inspired by the presence of the great Easter candle, which is with us as ‘Christ our Light’.
I was in Waitrose this afternoon and saw the sad sight of the Easter eggs that had become too difficult to be sell. They sat on the shelves, forlorn, with their expensive price tickets waiting to suffer the ignominy of being reduced by half, or even more when the supermarket’s ‘Easter effect’, marketed since the end of February, had become redundant. We live in a supermarket economy in which sell-by dates mix with sales trends and Waitrose’s own seamless thread which runs both vaguely with and absurdly counter to the church calendar – how else can we explain the fact of hot cross buns sold in Marks and Spencer’s at Christmastime? In the popular mind’s eye, very little would be known about Maundy Thursday or Good Friday except as adjuncts to Easter. Easter-time stretches out for weeks. Lent is passed by, forgotten; after all how do you market Lent?
For Christians this is very strange. For Easter is the most significant time of the Christian Year, one in which Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday have been each and alone significant. Each belong to one another, and they all belong to that part of The Church’s life which places a premium on the hallowing of time with an intense experience of the saving events of the Faith. Our emotions have been dragged from pillar to post. The Church allows us to inhabit this time of intense contemplation with the profound awareness of its deeper meaning. Such a passing of time is not made without its being offered to God in and through his Son. It is experienced as kairos, God’s time. And so we don’t speak of the ‘Easter Effect’ or ‘The Easter Experience’ without we ‘gone through it’, write it on our hearts and make it come alive in our own witness to the saving events of the Christian faith. We become those same witnesses to the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ who rushed to the tomb. We become the ones who must now proclaim and share this message of life and hope in the discovery that he has risen and that life as we know it is now changed and transformed for good.
The contrary movement is the ’emptying out’ of the true Easter, and of the return to our unsold but expensive Easter eggs! We see a society which no longer memorizes a calendar which allows for Easter as the time of Resurrection. ‘On the third day he rose again from the dead’ we say in the Creed. We must proclaim this truth as in the Exsultet, the song of praise to the Easter candle, that Christian Faith may exist as a flame bravely burning, if necessary, counter culturally.
May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death's domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.
We value the Christian manner of time-keeping as it draws us more surely into Holy Easter, proceeding out of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, not by accident, but in and through God’s own kairos, his time.
The joyful message of Easter is that now God’s time and our time have become everlastingly one and the same. Pray that two hearts may beat as one!
Good Friday 2019
19th Apr 2019
Good Friday 2019
“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27.45-46 and Psalm 22.1
The Gospel writer Matthew has Jesus cry out in utter desolation. This cry issues out of the mouth of the dying Christ as his last words. So different from the more controlled words of Luke’s ‘Into thy hands I commend my Spirit’; and John’s direct ‘It is finished’. Matthew’s cry of dereliction is the cry concentrated into the one final, terrible utterance. This cry is the cry of all who have ever cried. When we see or hear someone crying from a place deep within we cannot fail to be moved. We recognise that sense of human frailty which is the lot of us all. We all cope with a sense of life as light and shadow, and of our own unknowing and of Shakespeare’s “… thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to…” Life is lived as a kind of Cross because in order to see life in its true light we have to admit the shadow, too. Our inward cry of longing is the cry that life can be both wonderful and terrible. We come to know the futility of living life as though it were a personal possession. It can truly be lived only in communion with the one who is its giver, God alone. Only then can we live lives which are not in vain, but it must mean that, in God, we will tend to live provisionally.
Jesus’ cry of dereliction is disturbing. At the moment of encroaching death He feels utterly forsaken and alone. And the question he puts before God is “Why have you left me?” “Why aren’t you there anymore?” The cry of the suffering one. The cry of the one who feels his suffering has not been heeded and for which there is no explanation. Good Friday sees the worldwide Church stand still today as it takes in the full meaning of Christ’s exposure to these elements. The Cross lands upon this world’s understanding with a loud thud. Our churches are stripped down, statues and images remain covered, and everything is laid bare. We observe not merely the dramatization of an event that happened 2,000 years ago, but are confronted in the present with a Cross which challenges us to the roots of our being.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4.12
The Cross lays bare in us what was once laid bare in Christ. And this ‘laying bare’ hinges on the fact of our lives as God sees them. In his Son Jesus Christ, we are given to reflect upon life as a dying of deaths, and the one great dying that Christian Faith asks of us is the dying to self, and especially to the self which would make God in our own image. The dereliction happens not to be God’s but ours, too. Too often we seek and we do not find God because we have made him in our image. We witness the many substitutes which modern culture puts in place, including the simple fact that of the 50 different designs on the Easter Cards sold at Waitrose, none feature either the Cross or the tomb, instead all is bathed in daffodils and coloured in pale yellows, blues and greens, featuring chicks and bunnies and speckled eggs. It would seem that the Cross and the Tomb are no longer good sellers. In a similar vein, ‘Game of Thrones’ introduces the onlooker to an escapist mix of the heroic, the romantic, the violent, the fantastic and the cruel and this takes us away from the Cross as it proclaims the very this worldly, questioning and yet truth telling mystery which is God.
In former times, it was common to speak of a person as ‘God-fearing’. This did not speak of an individual cowering under the influence of a tyrant, but one who acknowledged the God who ‘seeks us out and knows us’ the God whose love divines the truth about us and our existence. He is to be obeyed not because this has been forced out of us but because this obedience forms the full measure of what must remain truthful for our lives. God is our proper balance and compass. Christian Faith has not given us a holiday from the path we must tread in life, with all it contains for good or ill. Rather it has heightened the sense in which a belief in God exists as a revelation and an open wound. It is only The Cross (capital ‘T’, capital ‘C’) which heals, because in it lies the truth about us and our existence. Only in communion with God can the true purposes of our life be revealed to us. For in acknowledgement of the living God comes also the acknowledgement of the need to cry to the one who will hear us. The cry comes from the heart. It cries out for the God, the Holy One, who is our Way, our Truth and Our Life. As the baby cries as it emerges from the womb so too we are never far from that crying out at the being born into a life like ours, even if the cry is stifled and subconscious. Jesus’ cry of dereliction takes up all our own cries and in Him they are nailed to the Cross, the place of what one Archbishop has called ‘Crucifixion Christianity’.
The Spanish Mystic, John of the Cross reminds us that
“…we too must have our Cross as our beloved had his Cross until he died the death of love…”
The Cross of Christ is borne in so many ways by so many people. And they emit their own cry of dereliction. One woman used to regularly telephone me. She was a depressive. She would phone to ask me to continue to pray for her. The phone call always took the same form : it could even be scripted: “Would you pray for my depression to go away?” “Would you please pray for my survival?” The request was always gentle and courteous and the same call made in regular intervals of ten days or so. It ended like this once “Thank you for your prayers and may I wish you a very Happy Easter? Goodbye” and then the ‘phone clicks and she was gone again. In this terse exchange there emerged a deep and sharing trust between us, for when the calls ended came a shared silence, a deep intake of breath and time to take in the depth of what she was saying. Hers are one of the many human crosses which cannot be avoided or discarded but which must be held in the love of God as a prayer of the heart.
The Cross is being borne by this woman and shown forth by a painter, Terry Duffy, whose contemporary work, ‘Victim, No Resurrection?’ once hung above the altar at St Martins-in the Fields. It is a thoroughly challenging and disturbing work which is both a crucifix and also a window onto a violent world in which the real crucifix still stands. It is a work which depicts victims of suffering whose cross is perpetual and whose hurts have no seeming redress. All these reflect the lives of those who, like the Christ before them, are nailed to crosses and whose cries of dereliction go apparently unheeded… ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Duffy’s Cross has travelled from New York and was exhibited at Auschwitz.
Jesus’ cry is not the cry of desperation. It is a cry that must be heard as part of a dialogue with the Father. It is a cry that finalises the death-throws that they may be transformed into Resurrection life. It does this because it keeps in tension the willing self-offering unto death with the operation of the divine will. For the Gospel writer Matthew there is no immediate answer as to why God has temporarily forsaken his Son. But not all questions, least of all this one, have immediate answers. The God of the Cross as for the God of Job gives no immediate answer. He is silent. But he has not forsaken his Son. As Jesus utters his final cry of dereliction the salvation he wins for us is already being made. His cry is part of a divine exchange which makes possible what one Pope called a “radical evolutionary leap” in which our existence is placed on a new and Christ centred trajectory. It is a cry as the ‘birth pangs of a new age’. Mark 13.8. and echoed in the words of the ‘Salve Regina’, our prayer to the Virgin Mary:
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve:
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us,
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.
The crucified Christ, honored and adored in this Good Friday Liturgy, stands for the cry of the one who longs for reconciliation with God. It is centered upon something that happened, the nailing of Jesus Christ to the Cross for his death. For many this would achieve forever the obliteration from the map of human memory the one who had already been acclaimed as The Son of God, the promised Messiah. But it was not to be, the judgement, the punishing death and the final breath would not bring an end to him. Even his own last words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” are taken up into the heart of the Father. Nothing in the evolution of God’s grace, no moment, no prayer, no good deed is ever wasted least of all this one. It is all to be gathered up. The cry of dereliction is to be heard by the Father after all. For this is only the first day. On the third day all will be changed forever.
Sermon for Passion Sunday
7th Apr 2019
Sermon for Passion Sunday 2019 (Year C)
We mark the season of Lent in this church each Friday at 6 pm as we make a walk around the fourteen Passion ‘stations’, each one a stage on Christ’s ‘’via dolorosa’ or sorrowful way. These stations, or stopping off points, allow the Passion narrative to be prolonged and we see and experience Jesus’ suffering in the deliberate slowing down of our responses, as we start and stop and witness each of its stages. Each station presents us with a time for prayer and meditation. You will notice this morning that though all our pictures, statues and icons are covered, the stations of the cross are not. In this way they stand out in a church enshrouded in purple cloth, readying itself for the saving events of Christ’s death and resurrection.
The Church on earth holds its breath as it prepares for these solemn and soul searching events. Our Gospel this morning reminds us that Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus also foresaw the death of Jesus. She anoints Jesus with costly oil and wipes his feet with her hair. It is an act of extraordinary daring. Mary has grasped that Jesus’ sacrificial death is an essential part of his work, and this emerging truth takes her and us beyond the realm of what is merely ordinary or obvious. Like her namesake, Mary Magdalene, she is gifted with insight and foresight. The witness of the two Marys is to play a crucial part in the saving events of Christ’s life, death and resurrection and to challenge traditional and predictable patterns of thought.
“Mary’s act of adoration, her anointing, is an excessive, extravagant gesture, an act of love similar to the amount of water turned into wine at Cana. God’s love for us is not to be limited by rational calculation. The miracle at Cana prefigures the foolishness and scandal of Christ’s self-offering on the cross. It is therefore fitting that Mary’s offering, her anointing, is ‘beautiful, foolish and scandalous”.
Jean Vanier ‘Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through John’.
This idea of the ‘scandal’ of the Cross had been taken up by Paul when he said that “whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss through Jesus Christ”. Whether these gains were to do with my birth right, status, my bank balance, my looks, my self-conscious self-containment – Jesus’ own sacrifice has rendered these so-called gains as real, inevitable losses. Hence Paul speaks ironically about his ‘boasting’ and Mary crosses the boundaries of good taste and expense in delivering, from the immediacy of her own desire, an act of expensive anointing which brings the Church, two thousand years later, in close touch with the Passion yet to be revealed.
Only a week ago now I received an Email from Adi Widjaja, an up and coming artist who was looking for a home for his painting, a depiction of the Crucifixion. It is a painting which I have come to know over the past week as it has found its way to our St Peter Chapel. It is simply entitled “I died for You”. It is a powerful image which, like Mary’s anointing both draws us to itself and points away from itself and directly toward us. It depicts at once a crucifixion which is both violent and terrible and yet somehow beautiful in the love of the Son whose offering is fragrant because turned against himself and the world’s self.
In a similar way, Mary the sister of Lazarus might have said “I anointed your Saviour for his impending death even when he was alive, and I did it without thinking”. Life feels good when something brilliant and spontaneous breaks through the normal pattern of things. It rightly upturns our predictable sense of things and speaks to the soul. And so the arrival in our church of this painting, which has been given, as Mary’s anointing was given, at a very particular moment in time. Given for Passion Sunday, when we remember Christ’s going unto death. The painting is a message for us, delivered suddenly and unexpectedly by its creator in that same spirit which gave Mary that same imaginative impetus which enlarges and enriches our sense of what God makes possible in and through his servants.
These messages summon us to be a church which has not become atomised and routinized in the life of faith, but one emboldened after the example of Christ and Mary the Anointer to strike out imaginatively, creatively and daringly on behalf of the community we serve. In this way Holy cross will become a church truly turned ‘inside out’ in the spirit of those who daringly reached out to acknowledge their Saviour Christ as he stood in their midst.
For now we say, in the words of the apostle Thomas as Jesus journeys toward Jerusalem – “Let us go with Him, that we might die with Him”. John 11.16
Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
31st Mar 2019
The Fourth Sunday of Lent
Luke 15.1-3, 11-32. The Prodigal Son.
But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found. Luke 15.32
Luke gathers together in his gospel in the one place three stories of Jesus -- the parable of the Lost Sheep – the parable of the Lost Coin – and the parable of the Lost Son, otherwise known as the Prodigal Son. They follow each other – one—two—three. All these parables enhance and elaborate the theme of loss, each in its own way enlarging the dimensions of what it means to be lost and then to have found and to celebrate with great joy and thanksgiving. All of these parables tell us profound things about the nature of God, and of his unconditional love.
The theme of love and of loss is a key to our understanding of who we are. You know the old piece of unwanted advice given to someone after the collapse of a relationship: “Better to have loved and lost and not to have loved at all”. (From Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’). It is irritating because there is more than a grain of truth in it, and that love and loss walk hand in hand. But any saying which becomes well-worn is often used in an insensitive manner. And then there is the long tradition of singing songs which in a melancholy way, celebrate the idea of love as a parting of company and of a meeting again and of a keeping of faith. In the last World War, songs like ”We’ll Meet Again” and in the First World War “Goodbyee, Goodbyee, Wipe a Tear Baby dear from your eyee” struck a deep chord… Because death and unsureness intervened. Two statues in London railway stations commemorate the poignant quality of human separation and the hope of a return to meeting once more. The giant modern one at St Pancras International Station by Paul Day entitled ‘Meeting Place’ and the rather beautiful and moving bronze statue of a (departing) soldier by Charles Jagger on Platform 1 of Paddington Station and entitled ‘Letter from Home’ (see over).
Let us remember that the Parable of the Prodigal Son is seminal Christian Teaching and arguably Jesus’ most important parable. Important because it teaches us about God and about the extent of his love. If God is love then this must be a love which is recognizable for us and for our experience of life on this earth. It must be seen and known. As we look at the painting of the prodigal son by Rembrandt we come to know that this is no ordinary scene but shot through with much deeper meaning. The Father and the son are plunged into full light. This light reaches its most intense power as it shines on the father’s face and onto the sons shoulders as a blessing. The son who stayed at home is painted scowling down at this scene and standing in the half light. The father’s face is as we might imagine God the Father, infinitely kind and loving, as he places his hands in blessing on the son very delicately, almost with reverence. The love the father has shown the son, even as he experienced its apparent rejection is nonetheless returned to him. Love has won through and this is cause for rejoicing. The painting presents an icon of God the Father’s love for us all, we who have in the past found ourselves in the prodigal state. In the context of Lent, it is this same strong and unconquerable love which under vastly different circumstances will enable God’s own son, Jesus Christ to proclaim that “I and the Father are One”.
I once was once asked to take a Bible Reading Class at Pentonville Prison, and the chosen reading was the Parable of the Prodigal Son. About 50 prisoners came to the meeting and after some prayers and initial discussion we split up into three groups, with one group taking the part of the father, the other the prodigal son and the third the son who stayed at home. What ensued was fascinating. The parable encouraged the understanding of these three men from within the prisoners’ own experiences of their own fathers. Swirling around this story were feelings of anger at the favoritism shown to the prodigal son, of thinking about the father/son relationship generally and of differing accounts of its trustworthiness. Someone came to see this parable as the one which provides the Christian answer to all the earlier Old Testament accounts of sibling rivalry, as between Cain and Abel, Joseph and his brothers, and of Jacob and Esau…But undoubtedly what was moving was the idea of a love from which a restoration to new life and of forgiveness could emerge. The hope of this for many prisoners was felt very deeply. Lost sons seeking to find a loving father. The gap between the experienced reality and the hoped for, perhaps impossible reconciliation with the father was expressed very movingly and even tearfully.
The theme of love and of loss and of the keeping faith is allied to the theme of love’s return. But this is no romance that is being playing out: it is no sentimental ‘weepie’. Because this love is who God really is. He loves what we are and longs for our reconciliation; come what may. The Gospel writer Luke makes it clear that the prodigal Son guesses (perhaps in a calculating way) that his Father will forgive him. His return would be manipulative were it not for the fact of his willingness to ‘own up’ and to put a name to what has been going on and of his own unworthiness. To repent. He begs understanding. He has in a sense touched ‘rock bottom’ and now throws himself into his Father’s dependable care, just as his father’s understanding issues in joy and in the throwing of an extravagant party. His experience is a resurrection experience ‘This my son was lost and is found was dead and has come back to life. What a journey out! What a return!
The restoration of love is likened to the return to God after a long absence, or after an absence of care on our part: God is always, like the father he is, ready to welcome us back. His love is for us a restoration of our life’s experience to its place of truest order and of peace. It is a love that has never ever gone away. It is we who have gone away.
We may like the prodigals we are, choose to wander, and we are of course free to do that. We bear in mind, however, that God remains the place of our true return and its everlasting habitation. I is this note of joyful assurance the beckons us to enter into Christ’s Passion in the triumph of grace over adversity and of dependable love over the wayward heart.
Sermon for the Third Sunday of Trinity
24th Mar 2019
The Third Sunday of Lent Year C.
1 Corinthians 10. 12 “God is faithful”.
In today’s reading Jesus recalls a human tragedy, of the collapse of the Tower of Siloam, which killed 18 people, and with it the question which plays upon everyone’s lips. It is a question which honestly doubts the existence of a loving God because of the existence of impossible amounts of human suffering. And so we ask ‘Why suffering?’ Or, ‘Why does God allow so much suffering?’ The news this week of the three teenagers crushed to death at a party in Ireland, the thousands drowned in the floods in Mozambique as well as those slaughtered in New Zealand confounds any easy belief in God who stands for ever as the ‘easy answer’.
It is only natural that faith in a loving God is tested. It is not possible for the Christian to justify the existence of God apart from the fragility of our existence. Nor is it proper to use God as a tool to assuage grief. At times of great and unbearable tragedy and loss the voices of sorrow and anguish are not silenced, and many cry out to God to invoke his blessing on the dead and upon the suffering. Our Epistle this morning has St Paul remind us that in all this “God is faithful’. God is present both in terms of the present tense (here; now) but also present in the profound sense of ‘being in the midst of’ and truly ‘in and with’ the devastation after the storm that has broken.
In what sense then, can God, given the evidence to the contrary, ‘remain faithful’? God is not the One who changes the basic laws of nature and gravity. Jesus, God’s Son, beholds the world as he finds it, in all its beauty and brutality. Jesus enters into this world’s pain as he finds it. He is ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’. He is a healer and a mender of lives. He does not come to magic away the pain and suffering that surrounds him but to point to the life in and beyond it. His healings are not just literal, final acts of proof for his divinity. Rather, they are signs that point the faithful to a new and larger understanding of their own existence. Jesus stays with so much suffering and struggle rather than avoid them either out of fear or for his own convenience. He accepts the cup of suffering, which will not ‘pass from his lips’. Jesus leads in the direction to which the fuller meaning of human existence tends. It is ultimately borne by Him on the Cross. His Cross can then make sense of our crosses, too. If God is Love then this is a love which will prove trustworthy because based on the truth of what we are and what this world really is. Jesus does not take away the fact of life as a running of risks and the endurance of trials and tragedies of many kinds. And along the way many will have lost faith – especially when things have felt forever irreparable and intractable and hopeless. But many too will ‘hang on in there’ not out of desperation but out of real hope and trust beyond any ready assurance.
On July 7th 2005, the day of 7/7, I found myself here in King’s Cross, in the middle of a group of people, transport police, firemen, chaplains and railway personnel standing one or two hundred feet above a hell. Down below, in the depths of King’s Cross Underground Station, I later learned, lay a scene of almost unimaginable horror. I remember the feeling above ground of the eerie silence that befell King’s Cross on that day, and the sense of dislocation, both emotionally and in relation to the quietness. Everything seemed out of place. But in all that awful strangeness something quite remarkable was beginning to take place. Helpers on the ground were going about doing their duty and doing it without fuss, thoughtfully and carefully. In and through the horror and the chaos there began the doing of ‘mending work’ - in the ordinary business of caring, reassuring, saving, listening; of the showing of basic human concern with generosity and of kindness. Of the training which was revealing itself on a day that should never have come. The Salvation Army personnel had set up a refreshment centre after commandeering McDonalds. All these kind human works, were, in the midst of this terrible event, for me, the revealing of the faithfulness and the gentleness of the living God, who, from within the heart of human devastation, was working through ordinary individuals. In this activity lay no cure or answer for all that devastation but at least the beginning of its mending. Archbishop Donald Coggan once said, “With the breaking comes the re-making”.
Christian Faith is tested in the keeping of those questions which cannot in this life have ready or easy answers. The message to us at this stage in the Lenten season is that God remains and his mercy lies ever before us. The Jesus Prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy upon me, a sinner….’ has now become the prayer of Humble Access, the way of communicating our need in the acknowledgement of God and ourselves as just we are; just as we find ourselves. There is too the reaching out for God’s mercy as though it were a living stream. As the Prayer Book reminds us, ‘We know of what we are made’ Carl Jung once said ‘Bidden or not bidden, God is present’. God is indeed present and faithful. He, above all others, knows of what we are made. Our trust lies in that mind which is God’s alone. We stand for ever in need of God’s loving mercy. We maintain such faith not as ignorant of the question of human suffering but in realization of its reality – its gravity and normalcy. Jesus holds before us a costly love which stands as faith’s ultimate challenge : the love which for St Paul ‘bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things’. (1 Corinthians 13.7-8).
This is the love which has a correspondent. This is the love that never ends. This is the Way of Christ. This is our necessary Cross.