Rogation: Father Gethin

Rogation Sunday
(Easter 5)

A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin

(The readings may be found here)

In a wonderful way, Eastertide is all about the discovery and development of a new and better religious language: “These things have I spoken unto you in parables: the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in parables, but I shall show you plainly of the Father.” Easter, the season of our Lord’s Resurrected presence, which is the securing of all our Christian hope, teaches us plainly who we are and how we shall make our way as the ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom. Always that is a matter of finding ourselves ‘in His name’: “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you,” for, as John recounts, “in Him[ is] life” and ‘He came so that we should have life, and have it abundantly”.

Therefore, Jesus told them, “Go, and make disciples of all the nations, … teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”   Teach them the new language of faith: that I am to be known not only as Master, but also as friend; that the New Covenant fulfills the Old, in the perfect and life-offering gift of my own body and blood; that they must be baptized, not only with water, but the Spirit; and most crucially that we learn to say, when we pray, “Our Father.” According to the language of the Old Covenant, God’s name was above and beyond our dignity, even to utter. God was ‘Adonai’, or ‘Elohim’, ‘the Lord’, and His revealed name, ‘Jehovah’ was abbreviated, ‘JWH’ and spoken only once a year, the day of Atonement, and then only by the high priest.

In Easter we make the joyful discovery, not only of God’s true name, ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’, but that we are to be reborn ‘into’ this reality, and told constantly to make use of His name in our praying. Christ’s Resurrection overcomes the tomb of our lost and darkened minds, and reveals a new, and better, way and truth and life, which opens to us Christ’s own intimacy and peaceful conversation with the Father. The way of life is the way of prayer, and prayer, as we come to find, is not a religious obligation, but is instead nothing less than the sharing and fellowship of ourselves with God: God who is ‘Lord’, but is also, and above all, ‘Our Father’, known and cherished ‘through the Son’, and ‘in the Spirit.’

‘My food is meat indeed’, Jesus told them, and so it is: the everlasting nourishment of our souls in free and open communion with God. He who continues faithful in this way will have heavenly manna to share, and springs of eternal water welling up from within. That is James’ point to us in today’s epistle: we have this new voice of prayer, the new language of Easter, within us. With our worldly-minded tongues ‘bridled’—that is, as we are made Christ’s disciples — we come to discover how our prayer, our ‘Rogation’, receives grace in excess of our desire, just as Love is first of all God’s boundless gift of Himself. Gradually we find we are made the vessels of this new and living glory, which is Christ’s life and body triumphant over all His sufferings. We find ourselves established in the perfect law of a new liberty, expressed only in this way: as freedom from fear, and therefore, as freedom to minister in love to one and other: let our joy be full, and so let us “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”

Rogation: Father Gethin