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Saints Alive – M. Marshall

December 22, 2015

Ss AMichael Marshall was our hero during the heady days of (Anglo) Catholic Renewal in the 1970s. He was young and had a vision far wider than the parochial. He was also an evangelist.

This book gives six weeks (for Lent or any other time, e.g. I reread this during All Saints tide) of daily meditations on the lives of various saints. This sort of thing was very popular in times gone by but we have become skeptical about hagiography and whitewash.

But saints are not heroes to stand on a plinth. They are people like us, which is why their examples and prayers can come to our aid. As Paul said, ‘We have this treasure in earthern vessels’ – feel of clay.

The author wants to give prominence to ‘Anglican saints’ but there are still quite a few from the wider Western church but the latter lack the somewhat exotic feel that the Roman Daily Missal tends to give them.

The book is very thought-provoking, profound yet chatty, and there are questions at the end of each week for group discussion or individual reflection.

He supports women’s ministry though not of their ordination (A woman can no more be a priest than she can be a father.”)

I found the section on Constantine very odd.

On p. 112, he talks about seven important things but then only lists six of them.

However, he is ‘sound’ on the Pharisees as being good people, not the nasty types stereotyped in the New Testament. He is less ‘sound’ when he says that a quorum of ten men ‘was’ needed in the synagogue. This is still the case and he is showing supercessionism here.

Quotations:

Clearly, Jacob is not in for a particularly comfortable night’s sleep! He is greatly disturbed, yet in that godfor­saken place, where he could be forgiven for assuming that he was safe from any divine intervention, “even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Peradventure the darkness shall cover me: then shall my night be turned to day” (Ps. 139:10-11).

For it is in that deserted place that Jacob sees the angels of God restoring the broken communication between earth and heaven: those messengers of reassurance in the very place of despair, those angels of light in the darkness; pil­lows of comfort among the hard rocks of disturbance and fretful anxiety.

So Jacob might well ask, also in the words of the psalmist: “Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit: or whither shall I go then from thy presence?” (Ps. 139:7). For in the game which most adults play most of their lives—the game of hide and seek—it is the Son of Man who comes “to seek and to save” the lost children of Abraham (Luke 19:10). God’s message and God’s messengers will search us out, even in the desert of our sin and rebellion, restoring those broken lines of communication between heaven and earth and giving us the reassuring vision and glimpse of the glory and majesty of God’s great and abiding love for us. It is a love which, since the dawn of time, has always been ready and willing to go out of its way to seek and to save us.

The vision of the burning bush that was burned but not consumed is the first great “theophany” of the Scriptures. As such, it “shows forth” something of the nature of God himself—a God whose love burns without being consumed.

Because we are creatures and not the Creator, intense human love is often self-destructive: we are consumed by it, and it leaves us as burned-out cases. That is not so with God. God is a Trinity of Love, Love given and received in love without loss or fatigue. Even at the beginning of his new life, Moses is granted something of the vision of God with its implied ultimate alternatives: “consumed by Fire or by fire” (T.S. Eliot).

It is not accidental that many of the leading figures of the Scriptures received their call to advance when they were in retreat. It is when our natural energies have been con­sumed by the passing enthusiasms of the years that God can then best use such men and women who have been “fired up” (as we say) by his grace and by the vision of the fire of his love. From a human point of view, Moses, in his eighti­eth year, tending the flock of Jethro at the “backside” of that godforsaken desert, must have appeared a bit of a “burned-out” case. Yet, he is precisely the kind of old man who can still dream dreams and also see visions.

So, not surprisingly, Moses turns aside to investigate, probe, and look more deeply into the mysterious phenomenon of that burning bush. One of the temptations of old age is to suppose that you have seen it all before, and that there is nothing new under the sun. Such was not the case with Moses. Those years in the desert had heightened his awareness and developed his perception and insight. Such is one of the gifts of the desert with its highly contrast­ing elements of darkness and light, color, sounds, and silence. It is the place of extremes. It was years of contemplation in that environment that brought Moses to the place of holi­ness and redirected him into the ways of ministry and lead­ership.

In any event, Isaiah sees for the first time something which had been there all the time, staring him in the face. He was too blind to see it, because a false security had given him no incentive to look hard enough. The real King was holy and demanded Isaiah’s total worship. (Perhaps some of this had been transferred to the shadow king, Uzziah, during those years of false security and vanity fair.) Isaiah, the courtier, could be forgiven for thinking that the bottom had fallen out of his world when the long and prestigious reign of Uzziah finished. In fact, it turned out not to be the end of anything of eternal significance. Rather, it was the be­ginning of everything of lasting significance for Isaiah, the courtier turned prophet.

So suddenly, as we say, “the penny dropped.” At times of vision such as this, when we suddenly have a totally new insight into the real shape of things, we often exclaim, “Now I see,” and frequently we preface the remark with the divine name: “My God, now I see!” It is not that we see a different world, but rather that we see the same old world very differently—in a new light, and a new perspective. Shakespeare, in his play King Lear, refers to God’s people as “God’s spies”—and so, in a sense, they are, if they are true to their contemplative and prayerful calling. The spectator sees most of the game, and so it is with the contemplatives who really see the world for what it is and for what it could become. It is the contemplatives—men and women of vi­sion—who really make a difference in the world. They have a vision. So all Christians are called to go frequently into the “temple” or some holy place to look, to listen, and to wait upon the Lord. Isaiah tells us from his own experience that “those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isa. 40:31).

In the early church, the new Christians who were being prepared for baptism during Lent and leading up to Easter would be anointed by the bishop. He would touch their eye­lids and put his fingers into their ears, repeating the word of Jesus, “Ephphatha—be open.” In this way, he would anoint with holy oil their senses so that they may, by God’s grace, be made more aware and become more sensitive to the word of God, to the vision of God, and to the touch of God.

So, whether we are seeking renewal personally or for a parish congregation (and we should be doing both of these all the time), we need to realize the prime importance of vi­sion—that new insight which alone can bring a totally new outlook upon the whole of life, leading, as it does, to repen­tance and renewal.

Yet, all of this is the Lord’s doing. Our part is to keep our eyes open and our ears ready to hear. Spiritual short­sightedness will lead us to turn inward in a wrongly intro­spective way, turning molehills into mountains; being blind to the wood for the trees; unable to see the larger picture, perpetually confusing means and ends and tactics with strategy. On the other hand, spiritual longsightedness tempts us to escape into generalities, programs, schemes, and projects, while we remain blind to the familiar figure of Lazarus sitting right there on our very doorstep!

So it will take vision to bring focus to mission, witness, and service. We need to be kept on our toes, as we stretch to look over the top of distractions and obstructions to that glory which is always there, whether we see it or not, and which is always just beyond our reach, over the next hori­zon where God is preparing our true future.

if the Golden Age is in the past, as it was for the pagan world, then you will naturally glorify youth and wilo regard all the years between as necessarily “downhill.’ Hopefullly, however, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has changed all that for those who have placed their hope in the resurrection and all that it implies. The Golden Age is in the future for us. The witness of humanity and a universe which is running down would suggest that the only prudent thing to “set forth the good wine at the beginning,” and then, when people “have drunk freely, that which is not so good. The resurrection has reversed that weary process, of Cana in Galilee is the glorious first sign. In our dealings with God, at every step along the road, we can keep saying, or indeed singing, “You have kept the best wine !” The best is yet to come.

His vision of God as friendship meant that it was love (sexual and divine love) which led him through the pitfalls to express, and not repress, all that he was and would become in God and through God to his intimate friends and lovers. It is of the highest significance that the Hebrew language, unlike Greek, has only one word for love­ ahava. Hence, the Judeo-Christian tradition should not di­vide love into different categories, but rather sees them all as belonging to each other. So for Aelred, God was in his friendships and his friendships belonged to God, who is himself love. That does not mean that Aelred got it right im­mediately. He fell into the ditch many times on his own admission, but what kept him from staying in the ditch and enabled him to move on was his continual reliance upon for­giveness, grace, and the infinite opportunity to make a new start. He did not need to settle for second best or to justify his actions—or, worse still, just try to make the best of a bad job, as we say.

The glorious thing about being a Christian is that we do not always have to be right, and that we have the freedom to fail—many times. Aelred kept his eyes continuously on the mystery of the Word made flesh—that great contradic­tion of Christianity which is such a stumbling block to those with a Greek mind and outlook. For in the end, after all the analysis, probing, and discussion (and there is plenty of that in Aelred’s writings), he is still traveling toward that heav­enly city, knowing that there are no easy answers on the way, that problems are indeed solutions in disguise, and that, in the end, perfect love casts out fear—that deadly weapon of the devil who would always try to seduce us into settling for the second best and justifying our actions in the process. The real enemy of the best and of holiness is the self-justifying virtue of the Pharisee; for the alternative to sin is not so much virtue as worship in which all our years­ings, desires, and drives find their ultimate expression, as-summation, and fulfillment.

Both small and great, high and low need to know the greater love and the higher esteem in which God in Christ holds them. Only so shall we refuse to settle for too little and the false glitter of worldly esteem. It would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures,” writes C.S. Lewis, “fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on mak­ing mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too eas­ily pleased” (The Weight of Glory).

Repentance leads to reconciliation. In the wilderness, eating the leftovers from the swine (an unclean animal for Jews) and with an empty stomach, empty pockets, and no friends, the young prodigal son “comes to himself.” Most of the time, we are beside ourselves. Little wonder that we do not know who we are. Suddenly, with a flash of painful in­sight, he realizes the absurdity of it all. There, back at home, his father sees to it that even the servants get enough to eat. Here, as a son, he is dying of starvation. “To repent is to come to your senses. It is not so much something you do as some­thing that happens. True repentance spends less time looking at the past and saying, `I’m sorry’, than to the future and saying, ‘Wow!'” (Frederick Buechner). Notice the base motive behind the young man’s repentance. It does not say that he came to himself because he realized that he loved his father. On the contrary, we are told that he was motivated to return home because his belly was empty. Perhaps God knows that the way to a man’s heart is literally through his stomach!

So, back he goes to his father. All the way, he rehearses his three-point speech, with the concluding verse, “Treat me as one of your hired servants.”

Yet, once he is in his father’s arms, there is no way that he could possibly repeat that third clause. Clearly, he is a son yes, a bad son, but he is a son. He could never become a ser­vant. It might make him feel better if he had worked hard enough, and he might have been able to justify himself if he had gone home under those conditions. As the robe is put upon him, and shoes upon his feet, he realizes that he is eternally a son, and will remain a son all his life. It is the steadfast and unconditional love of the father that slowly turns the bad son into a good son and, indeed, into an even better son than the elder boy who had never strayed away from home or stepped out of line. Such is the “economy of repentance.”

John paints for us an unforgettable picture of a huge crowd of people, from every nation on earth, who are now caught up in the bliss, the glory, and the worship of heaven.
The diversity is the first thing which strikes us as we share in John’s vision. We see a truly catholic community from all nations and kindred and peoples and tongues. Their unity is in the dynamic of their worship and their singlemindedness—the worship due to one God who is in all and above all. We see this body of people corporately, which is not the same thing as seeing them collectively.
The redeemed are dressed in white robes, we are told. The Greek word signifies long robes, the very opposite, in fact, of workaday overalls. This is full party dress!
The palms in their hands are emblems of victory and triumph. But, clearly, they are not celebrating their victory, but his. Salvation is not the property of the saints: it is God’s gift and belongs to him and to those to whom he chooses to give it.
Their principal occupation, from start to finish, is worship—a worship freely offered from a free heart. “Oh, for a heart to praise my God, a heart from sin set free!”
And who are they all? These are they who literally have been through it! But now all of their desires are satisfied in the One who is their hearts’ desire, They will know no hunger. They will not thirst. Typical physical ills which afflict humanity on earth are taken as symbols. In a word, whatever the torment, the divine community is now free from it. God’s tender concern makes complete provision for all our needs.
How can this be? It is because the shepherd is also the lamb. The word in Greek used for “guide” is the word applied to a shepherd. Here we see a reversal of roles. John is making the point that Christ, in the sacrifice of himself, has made provision for all the needs in the way that a shepherd would normally do. Jesus is both the good shepherd and the sacrificial lamb. He is all, in all.
The observance of a day to celebrate All Saints—known, and unknown, named or anonymous—was originally fixed on May 13, the day for the dedication of the Pantheon in Rome. Certainly, such a feast day was observed as early as the fourth century. In the eighth century, we have evidence of a special feast day on April 20 as the day for celebrating “all the saints of the whole of Europe.”
However, we are on firm ground by the year 800, for we know that by that date, Alcuin was in the habit of observing All Saints Day on November 1.
So it is that the church has recognized the place of saints and holiness within the total life and witness of God’s holy people, and has rightly set aside a day each year to celebrate the saints and to thank God for the gift of the saints in every generation.
The saints are the best proof there is that the resurrection is true, that grace triumphs over sin, and that love casts out fear.
If the principal end of humanity is worship, then it will be in the true worship of the true God that we shall find our freedom and our fulfillment. To sin means to miss the point of it all. Therefore, in a sense, a sinful life has not discovered the point of it all which is true worship offered to the one God.
If we were made for the worship of God, as the Bible and the church teach, then it means that come hell or high water we shall find someone, somewhere to worship, somehow! The danger is that we shall worship false gods, or worship the creature rather than the Creator, as St. Paul warns us in his epistle to the Romans. When we do this, we are drawn into compulsive behavior, as the object of our worship cannot ultimately satisfy the needs we have for worship. It is then that we fall into bondage and lose our freedom.
The significant difference between the worship of the one true God and the worship of all those false gods is simply that, as we worship the true God, he gives us back our freedom which we lost in the false worship of the Garden of Eden. In God’s worship and service, the saints have found true freedom. They have found their strength and their joy in him who is the ultimate object of their love as well as the cause of all their joy.
“Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.”

“The important thing is that the seventh day will be our Sabbath, whose end will not be an evening, but rather the Lord’s Day, an eighth day as it were, which is to last forever, a day consecrated by the resurrection of Christ, foreshadowing the eternal rest not only of the Spirit but of the body also. There we shall be still and we shall see; we shall see and we shall love; we shall love and we shall praise. Behold what will be, in the end, without end! For what is our end, but to reach that kingdom which has no end?”
(Augustine)
Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Exceedingly odd is the means by which God
Has provided our path to the heavenly shore— Of the girls from whose line the true light was to shine
There was one an adulteress, one was a whore:
There was Tarnar who bore—what we all should deplore— A fine pair of twins to her father-in-law,
And Rahab the harlot, her sins were as scarlet,
As red as the thread that she hung from the door;
Yet alone of her nation she came to salvation
And lived to be mother of Boaz of yore—
And he married Ruth, a Gentile uncouth,
In a manner quite counter to biblical lore:
And of her there did spring blessed David the King,
Who walked on his palace one evening and saw
The wife of Uriah, from whom he did sire
A baby that died—oh and princes a score:
And a mother unmarried it was too that carried
God’s Son, and him laid in a manger of straw,
That the moral might wait at the heavenly gate
While the sinners and publicans go in before,
Who have not earned their place, but received it by grace,
And have found there a righteousness not of the law. (Michael Goulder)
So the last word should, perhaps, be with one of the saints who is most conspicuous in the history of the saints, and who indicates perhaps most clearly the power of grace and of true worship. Set free from bondage to creation, for free worship and love of the Creator, Augustine looks to the worship of heaven where we shall know the true freedom and joy of holiness.

there are none so blind as those who are certain that they see it all! Yet, the requirement is not so much that we should see it all, at least not all at once, otherwise we should be blinded—”Teach me as best my soul can bear” (Wesley).

For in that time of “blindness” we are simply compelled to reach out and take hold of another’s hand to be led in the right direction. Perhaps Ananias should be called the patron saint of spiritual directors or soul friends, since his hand was available to lead Paul in the darkness of the light which had temporarily dazzled him. Ananias set Paul on the right road, pointing in the right direction.

Zacchaeus was hiding from Jesus, in one of those trees. He wanted to see Jesus, but he did not want Jesus to see him! Zacchaeus did not want to get at all involved with Jesus, but as a collec­tor—a tax collector—he just wanted to add Jesus to his collec­tion. Instead, Jesus was to add Zacchaeus to his collection!

In fact, everything that happened that day in Jericho was a complete turnaround, back to front and upside down. Jesus looked up at little Zacchaeus who had spent all his life being looked down upon. That was how it all began. Jesus asked Zacchaeus if he might stay at his house. Zacchaeus, who had always taken, now wants to give, and in the whole game of hide and seek, Jesus openly admits that he, not Zaccha­eus, is doing the looking and the seeking,… He had been standing on his tiptoes all his life —climbing up trees and trying to raise himself to advanta­peous positions. Revelation had made self-elevation redun­dant. He came down from the tree with genuine second thoughts about everything and everybody.

Low self-esteem is often at the root of sin, pride, ambi­tion, and covetousness. It has taken God in Christ to change all that by “looking up to us and restoring our image. Jesus comes to us to show us that we are worth too much in God’s eyes to settle for anything less than the best.

John paints for us an unforgettable picture of a huge crowd of people, from every nation on earth, who are now caught up in the bliss, the glory, and the worship of heaven.
The diversity is the first thing which strikes us as we share in John’s vision. We see a truly catholic community from all nations and kindred and peoples and tongues. Their unity is in the dynamic of their worship and their singlemindedness—the worship due to one God who is in all and above all. We see this body of people corporately, which is not the same thing as seeing them collectively.
The redeemed are dressed in white robes, we are told. The Greek word signifies long robes, the very opposite, in fact, of workaday overalls. This is full party dress!
The palms in their hands are emblems of victory and triumph. But, clearly, they are not celebrating their victory, but his. Salvation is not the property of the saints: it is God’s gift and belongs to him and to those to whom he chooses to give it.
Their principal occupation, from start to finish, is worship—a worship freely offered from a free heart. “Oh, for a heart to praise my God, a heart from sin set free!”
And who are they all? These are they who literally have been through it! But now all of their desires are satisfied in the One who is their hearts’ desire, They will know no hunger. They will not thirst. Typical physical ills which afflict humanity on earth are taken as symbols. In a word, whatever the torment, the divine community is now free from it. God’s tender concern makes complete provision for all our needs.
How can this be? It is because the shepherd is also the lamb. The word in Greek used for “guide” is the word applied to a shepherd. Here we see a reversal of roles. John is

making the point that Christ, in the sacrifice of himself, has made provision for all the needs in the way that a shepherd would normally do. Jesus is both the good shepherd and the sacrificial lamb. He is all, in all.
The observance of a day to celebrate All Saints—known, and unknown, named or anonymous—was originally fixed on May 13, the day for the dedication of the Pantheon in Rome. Certainly, such a feast day was observed as early as the fourth century. In the eighth century, we have evidence of a special feast day on April 20 as the day for celebrating “all the saints of the whole of Europe.”
However, we are on firm ground by the year 800, for we know that by that date, Alcuin was in the habit of observing All Saints Day on November 1.
So it is that the church has recognized the place of saints and holiness within the total life and witness of God’s holy people, and has rightly set aside a day each year to celebrate the saints and to thank God for the gift of the saints in every generation.
The saints are the best proof there is that the resurrection is true, that grace triumphs over sin, and that love casts out fear.
If the principal end of humanity is worship, then it will be in the true worship of the true God that we shall find our freedom and our fulfillment. To sin means to miss the point of it all. Therefore, in a sense, a sinful life has not discovered the point of it all which is true worship offered to the one God.
If we were made for the worship of God, as the Bible and the church teach, then it means that come hell or high water we shall find someone, somewhere to worship, somehow! The danger is that we shall worship false gods, or worship the creature rather than the Creator, as St. Paul warns us in his epistle to the Romans. When we do this, we are drawn into compulsive behavior, as the object of our worship cannot ultimately satisfy the needs we have for worship. It is then that we fall into bondage and lose our freedom.
The significant difference between the worship of the one true God and the worship of all those false gods is simply that, as we worship the true God, he gives us back our freedom which we lost in the false worship of the Garden of Eden. In God’s worship and service, the saints have found true freedom. They have found their strength and their joy in him who is the ultimate object of their love as well as the cause of all their joy.
“Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.”

“The important thing is that the seventh day will be our Sabbath, whose end will not be an evening, but rather the Lord’s Day, an eighth day as it were, which is to last forever, a day consecrated by the resurrection of Christ, foreshadowing the eternal rest not only of the Spirit but of the body also. There we shall be still and we shall see; we shall see and we shall love; we shall love and we shall praise. Behold what will be, in the end, without end! For what is our end, but to reach that kingdom which has no end?”
(Augustine)
Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Exceedingly odd is the means by which God
Has provided our path to the heavenly shore— Of the girls from whose line the true light was to shine
There was one an adulteress, one was a whore:
There was Tarnar who bore—what we all should deplore— A fine pair of twins to her father-in-law,
And Rahab the harlot, her sins were as scarlet,
As red as the thread that she hung from the door;
Yet alone of her nation she came to salvation
And lived to be mother of Boaz of yore—
And he married Ruth, a Gentile uncouth,
In a manner quite counter to biblical lore:
And of her there did spring blessed David the King,
Who walked on his palace one evening and saw
The wife of Uriah, from whom he did sire
A baby that died—oh and princes a score:
And a mother unmarried it was too that carried
God’s Son, and him laid in a manger of straw,
That the moral might wait at the heavenly gate
While the sinners and publicans go in before,
Who have not earned their place, but received it by grace,
And have found there a righteousness not of the law.
(Michael Goulder)
So the last word should, perhaps, be with one of the saints who is most conspicuous in the history of the saints, and who indicates perhaps most clearly the power of grace and of true worship. Set free from bondage to creation, for free worship and love of the Creator, Augustine looks to the worship of heaven where we shall know the true freedom and joy of holiness.

As in the gospel story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter, so here again Peter finds, on his arrival, a great commotion, with widows wailing around the death bed. Taught by Jesus what to do, Peter turns them all out of the room, exactly as Jesus had done in the case of Jairus’ daughter. Kneeling down by the bed, Peter then prays to Jesus. He then turns to the dead woman and says, “Tabitha, get up.” If we assume that Peter said this in Aramaic, he would have said, “Tabitha, koum!” We know from the gospel account of the raising of Jairus’ daughter that Jesus said on that occasion, “Talitha, koum!” “Little girl, get up.” Notice, there is a difference of only one letter between the instruc­tion of Peter and that of Jesus.

telephone, we can nearly always recognize the caller by their voice, and furthermore, the absence of visual charac­teristics on a telephone means that our sense of hearing is more intense, so that we are more sensitive to the tone of the voice at the other end and can often tell whether the caller is tired, annoyed, happy, or rather flat.

The voice of God is equally distinctive for those “with ears to hear.” We are told that little Samuel did not yet “know the Lord.” He had not yet learned to distinguish the voice of God. Therefore, Samuel confuses the voice of God with the voice of Eli, the old patriarchal figure.

We live in an age of words and mass communication. How on earth, we might well ask, are we to learn to hear the voice of God and his call and to recognize that call amidst the cacophony of the many competitive words, sounds, and noises of our contemporary world? Certainly we should not try to pretend to have some hot line to God. Certainly for most of us, God speaks through the words and sounds and lights of everyday life. So we must first learn to know God’s word somewhere, before we shall be able to recognize his voice and his word anywhere. Samuel did not yet know the Lord, so how could he have recognized God’s voice and God’s words?

Yet, we must come in some sense to know the Lord, his ways, and his words. In order to do that, we must study the revelation of his word so that we shall be able to spot and recognize other revelations when we see or hear them. It is only as we come to know God’s holy word, his call, his voice, and his presence in Scripture and in the sacraments that we can become more and more aware of his living word and his presence in and through the words and fea­tures of everyday life. “The Word became flesh” and has continued to do so, embodied in the most unlikely and sur­prising tones, features, and guises, so that we often entertain angels and messengers unawares, as little Samuel did.

So we need to pray to the Holy Spirit for that precious gift of discernment. At the same time we must not forget that the devil masquerades as the angel of light and can imi­tate God’s voice and even use God’s word for his own ends, as he did with Jesus in the wilderness temptations.

Yet, it is only in prayer and in silence, as we study God’s blown word and revelation and his call to his people in tunes past, that we can more easily recognize that same word through the words of the preacher, as we read “between the lines” of the daily news, of as we increasingly see Cod’s hand in “the words of the prophets, written on the subway walls”—so that heaven and earth come alive with The “sounds of silence,” the echoes of God’s voice and the traces of his glory.

It is most interesting to note that the call of Matthew is recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels. In both Mark and Luke, however, Matthew’s old name, Levi, is used; and only in Matthew’s Gospel—almost certainly written by Matthew—is the new name of Matthew used at all. Levi means, in Hebrew, “he who cleaves to the old ways.” On the other hand, Matthew in translation means “the gift of Jehovah.”

Matthew’s call constitutes a move from the old conser­vative man with his grasping and cautious ways to the new man who is learning to love by gift under the grace and

generosity of God. The difference is between night and day. The call of Matthew is recorded briefly and with little or no background. Could it be that Matthew had already heard some of the teachings of Jesus as he sat in his booth, pursu­ing his thankless task and his ill-gotten gains? He might have heard Jesus tell that story of the tax collector and the Pharisee who went up into the temple to pray. In any event, the two simple words—”Follow me”—were apparently enough to do the trick.

notice that it is not a method that seeks to copy the parliamentary procedures of democracy, and note how the church falls into disrepute and fragmentation when it mod­els its decision making upon the world’s methods. That is how parties and factions arise in the church, as we play with majorities, with winners and losers, in a process which re­flects the best the world can manage. Christians have access to a much better way.

It is consensus through the communion of the Holy Spirit which should form the mind of the church. Many parishes in renewal are adopting this method of decision making in their congregations and, far from finding it a slower and less efficient method, they are finding the very opposite: it is proving to be a remarkably efficient, effective, and smooth method for discerning the will of God and his call to his people. The church in Jerusalem, after prayer in the Spirit, came to a consensus on the potentially highly di­visive matter of Gentile conversion and chose Paul and Barnabas for special apostolic work to the Gentiles.

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