Feast of Saint James, Apostle

Feast of Saint James, Apostle
Lectionary: 605



Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written,
I believed, therefore I spoke,


As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells 
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's 
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; 
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; 
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, 
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came. 

I say móre: the just man justices; 
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces; 
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is — 
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places, 
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his 
To the Father through the features of men's faces. 


The poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins requires more than one reading. By the time I had studied this poem and had learned to understand each line, I had memorized it. Well worth the trouble! It might be explained quite simply by Saint Paul's statement: 

I believed, therefore I spoke,
Baptism has been defined as the sacrament which leaves an "indelible mark on the soul." That was a fine explanation for second graders but it means little to adults. Baptism is the sacrament by which a person is transformed within her innermost being into a child of God. 

From that moment she must "justice;" that is, "do justice." She will deal out that being indoors which she is: a child of God. She can do only "one thing and the same" if she would act with integrity. She can only "go" herself, and no matter what she says or does her faith will "speak and spell" Christ. 


Today we celebrate the feast of the Apostle James and we hear Saint Paul speak of what it means to belong to Christ, to be his apostle, "I believed, therefore I spoke." Believing in Christ he could do no less than "act in God's eye what in God's eye he is -- Christ...." 


For Christ plays in ten thousand places -- that is, Jesus is present wherever a Christian abides. He is lovely... to the Father who sees him through the features of human faces; of your face and mine. 

Just as a bell sounds its name across the countryside (Bell! Bell! Bell!); a tucked (plucked) string of a guitar tells; and a stone, falling into a well, rings as it strikes one wall then the other, so does the apostle sound the name of Christ. 

...we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.