Bread of heaven, cake, muffin, scone, or hearth cake?



The bread of angels :  Honey, that ain’t no scone

Last Sunday’s First Reading is from the First Book of Kings, part of Elijah’s story. He has just fled for his life from the wicked queen Jezebel and her husband Ahab,  and has gone to hide from retribution (after slaughtering all the priests of Baal) in the desert. He falls asleep in despair, unable to see a way out for himself, but an angel wakes him up, with a jug of water and something to eat.  He eats a little, and goes back to sleep, but the angel wakes him again and insists that he has more to eat and drink, to strengthen him for ‘the journey’ (whereas Elijah had been hoping just to die quietly). He eats and drinks, and then walks for forty days and nights (where have we seen that before?) till he reaches Horeb, the mountain of God. And the story moves on.

Elijah, angel and bread
Elijah with the angel… and supplies

The prophet Elijah

I love this reading. Elijah is one of the most human and engaging of the prophets anyway, because his narrative is more practical than most. God has to keep stepping in to feed him, because he concentrates on being a prophet and forgets to worry about his own needs until it’s too late. His story starts in I Kings 17, and is a corking read, which I warmly recommend, with heroes, villains, food-delivering ravens, a wicked queen, slaughter and smiting, fire from heaven and all sorts of excitement.  There is a great cartoon, courtesy of Welsh television, available on the internet here, which uses Mendelssohn’s Elijah for part of its soundtrack (good call).

I want to focus on one tiny element, though, because it was what struck me on Sunday.  The angel touches him to wake him up, and tells him to get up and eat.  ‘He looked round, and there at his head was a scone baked on hot stones, and a jar of water’ (1 Kings 19.6, Jerusalem Bible).

Bread in corner
The bread is bottom left
Catering for Elijah

This manages to be both vague and oddly specific.  The same thing happens earlier, when Elijah has no food and there is a drought and a famine.  God tells him where to go, and adds ‘I have ordered the ravens to bring you food there’ (1 Kings 17.4).  The ravens duly supply  ‘bread in the morning and meat in the evening’ (1 Kings 17.6).  When the stream dries up, God has thought ahead : ‘Up and go to Zarephath! […]. I have ordered a widow there to give you food’ (1 Kings 17.9).  Elijah goes off, asks the widow for water, and as she goes to fetch it, he calls after her to bring him ‘a scrap of bread in your hand’.   That ‘scrap’ is interesting; it’s not the usual word for a piece of bread.  Other translations have ‘piece’ or ‘morsel’.  She tells him that she has ‘no baked bread, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug’.  She is fetching fuel to cook that into a last meal for her son and herself, ‘and then we shall die’.   Elijah tells her to go ahead, ‘but first make a little scone of it for me and bring it to me, and then make some for yourself and for your son’.  He promises her that the meal and the oil will not be finished before God sends rain again.  She believes him and does as he asks.  Later in the story, the son dies, and Elijah brings him back to life, the first time this happens in the Bible.

Elijah, widow and son
Elijah restoring the resurrected son to his mother
What has the angel actually brought him?

Being a baker myself, I find this really interesting.  It doesn’t sound like a scone to me, more like a flatbread, but then Elijah tells her to make ‘some’ for her little family.  The only ingredients are flour of some kind, oil and water : no yeast, no raising agent, so not a scone.  (She must have put a little salt in it, though.)  So far I have been using the Jerusalem Bible translation, but I thought it might be interesting to see what the other translations might have to offer.

A cake is a loaf is a bread

What about the angel’s catering?  Mostly the translators seem to go for ‘bread’, but there is also ‘cake’, ‘a cake of bread’, a ‘bread cake’, a ’round loaf of bread’.   The same set of words occur in what Elijah requests from the widow.   They are all trying, but they are floundering.  The International Standard Version has, egregiously, ‘muffin’, and the Douay version has ‘hearthcake’, which is possibly the best for those who know what that is, but overwhelmingly I think what we have here is translators not knowing very well what they are describing.  The ’round’ seems to come from the more literal Aramaic translations, and probably reflects what was familiar, but it’s very difficult to make ‘a round loaf’ (not to mention a scone) if you bake it on hot coals or hot stones, especially with no raising agent.  You’re much more likely to end up with something more like an oatcake or a bannock, something you can make on a griddle or a hearthstone.  The Georgians and Turks make lavash, the Mexicans have tortillas.  You roll or pat them out to cook quickly, and then you can tear them into pieces or roll them up.  For a loaf that we might recognise as such, even a flat loaf like focaccia, you need yeast (or raising agent of some kind) and some sort of oven.

Viaticum, journey food

This is food to strengthen Elijah for his journey, like the Passover bread for the Exodus, which is also unleavened and quick to cook.  He doesn’t take it with him; he is described as eating it all before he goes, marching for weeks on one meal, but if this wasn’t a hero story, maybe he could have packed some, because it would fold down easily.  The practical problem would be to stop it getting mouldy.

A scone is not bread

Scones are different.   They seem to be a natural cause for debate and disagreement, from how they are pronounced (skons or scoanes), to whether you put the cream or jam on first (depends whether you’re from Devon or Cornwall; I just put on first whichever is thicker).  But they should always be light, which is why you need either yeast or baking powder or bicarbonate of soda or cream of tartar.  And they tend to be baked in an oven.  They are smaller than a loaf of bread, though of course bread can be divided into small chunks for speed of cooking (bread rolls), and this can lead to smaller bread chunks being referred to as scones, like Irish soda bread.  If you cook those on a griddle, you might even end up with soda farls (from the old word for a quarter, like farthing).

There’s another sort of scone which you can cook on a griddle.  That’s a drop scone (always pronounced ‘dropskon’ with the emphasis on the first syllable).  These are made from a sort of batter (hence ‘drop’), rather than a drier mixture (like Welsh cakes, say, probably very similar to the ‘raisin cakes’ that David has distributed in 2 Samuel 6.19).   Drop scones in old recipe books are often called Scotch pancakes, but that name seems to have died out as ‘Scotch’ has been replaced by ‘Scots’.  But they are very similar to what Americans call pancakes, which has also led to confusion.  Scones strike again!   Let’s not even mention the different understandings of ‘flapjack’.

I say baking powder, you say something different

Bread and baking terms are as confusing as the names for fish, and vary considerably across even a small geographical area.  It’s always fun to find out the local word for a bread roll, but you will need to ask an older person quite often.  It’s not just shape or size, it’s often linked to a particular glaze or finish.  Baps in the Midlands are always flour-dusted and soft, cobs are golden and crusty, and so on.  Loaves can be plaits (Kent), bloomers (everywhere south), cobs, tins, or other names, but are mostly currently described by what they are made from (‘wholemeal’, ‘white’, ‘brown’, ‘rye’, ‘sourdough’ etc.)  ‘Roll’ seems to be the nearest thing to a generic term for ‘small hunk of bread’ (though it’s definitely southern rather than northern British), and I’m surprised to find that no translation offers that to Elijah.  Maybe it sounds too dainty, because you wouldn’t eat part of a roll and then lie down again. 

But how could you resist a drink of water in a cutglass goblet in the desert?
Griddles, girdles and bakestones

And you really want something more rustic and a bit less shaped, if it’s been made on a griddle or cooked on a hot stone among the ashes.  What sort of bread can you cook on a griddle?  That’s a whole other group of possibilities, from the drop scones to singing hinnies, pikelets, crumpets, oatcakes and muffins (the UK sort, not the US).  But none of those is really bread, and drop scones need an egg where the others mostly use yeast.  We want to think of something more like Indian breads, I suspect, or the Turkish bread I’ve already mentioned.  An unleavened, possibly slightly tough, sort of pizza base, cooked in a frying pan if a griddle is not to hand.  This would tear into something like ‘scraps’, but I wouldn’t ever call it a scone.

Wesh cakes
My griddle’s bigger : we can do seven Welsh cakes at once
The Heavenly Diner or Carry-out

Of course none of this matters very much.  I do love the idea of God running a staff restaurant for the angels, from which he can feed deserving (and undeserving) mortals, like Elijah repeatedly here, or like the manna in the desert.  This seems to be the general understanding in the Old Testament : ‘Mere men ate the bread of angels’ (Ps 77/78.25) ‘You gave them bread from heaven’ (Nehemiah 9.15).  Bread is vital, so if God’s people cannot make it for themselves out of what he supplies, he will actually supply the made bread himself.  Not to lack for bread is a sign of divine favour.  We tend to think of the angels as not needing bread, but that’s a modern idea.  Everyone needs bread, so there’s obviously bread in heaven for the angels, and it can be sent out in case of need.  This whole web of ideas is behind all the bread images and discussions in the New Testament, underpinning the feeding of the multitudes and of course the Last Supper and the revelation at Emmaus.

Le pain juste

I still think ‘scone’ is not a good translation, but I am feeling much friendlier towards ‘muffin’.  The classic English muffin is indeed baked on a griddle, and is a bit more bread-like, but it needs ingredients which would not have been to hand….except I suppose in heaven you would be able to find anything you needed.  It’s not right as a translation here, because it brings in all sorts of unnecessary ideas, and is an intrinsically comic word, which doesn’t help.   But Elijah would have wanted something reasonably familiar and definitely substantial, for the journey he is about to embark upon.  I think I’d go for something like ‘bannock’, which sounds rustic and wholesome but has the big advantage that most people will have some rough idea but not anything too specific.  I do think that any Bible translation would be seriously improved if a few more women were involved in the discussion.  Some of them would know how to cook.

Classic Scottish bannock

 

© Kate Keefe and Music for Mass 2021 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kate Keefe and Music for Mass with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The early Church, from fear to courage: Eastertide B

First, an apology… Year A escaped me

I managed to miss writing about the narrative of the Eastertide Sundays in Year A last year, because we were all shell-shocked by the pandemic and locked down with no music.  I empathised much more with the fearful apostles after the Ascension, so I wrote about that, but we have worked through into calmer waters (even if we still aren’t allowed to sing in many churches), so I’m determined at least to have a look at the Eastertide Sundays events for Year B, and A will have to wait until it comes around again.

Christ leaving tomb
the Resurrection…and what happened next
Eastertide Year C

When I wrote about the story in the Eastertide Sundays for Year C, it was because I was intrigued to see how the focus moved from Jesus as the usual centre of the action at the Gospel reading, to what was happening with the early Church, headless and frightened, in the First Reading. Usually our first readings are from the Old Testament, to give deep historical context, but at Eastertide they are from Acts, the account of the development of the early Church, written by Luke.  Usually the Gospel gives us the main story for the liturgy on any given Sunday, but in the Sundays after Easter, time stands still for the Gospels (or even goes backwards) because we are hearing parts of Jesus’ teaching and talkings from earlier periods of the narrative.  The action (at least from the point of view of Jesus’ story) cannot move on until the Ascension.

Second Sunday of Easter, and Thomas
A tender moment : doubt no longer

The first Sunday after Easter, aka the Second Sunday of Easter, is the story of Thomas, an apostle often unfairly criticised.  I’ve talked about him before, so I won’t go into it again here.  His story and its lesson for us all is so important that all three liturgical years are the same.  After this Sunday, though, the Lectionary Years diverge, but not in the usual way by choosing a Gospel writer and following him (Year A : Matthew, Year B : Mark, Year C : Luke).  Most of the Gospels for Eastertide in all three years are from John; but not all.  They are not chronological; they have been selected.

Overview, Year B Eastertide Readings

The First Reading over Eastertide, for all three years, comes from Acts, because the story is now about the early Church, as I explained when discussing Year C, but different sections of Acts come into focus.  The Second Readings differ considerably; Year C takes them all from Revelation, Year A from Peter’s first letter, and Year B takes all its Second Readings from the first letter of John.  In Year B, the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Easter is the aftermath of the trip to Emmaus (the account of the encounter itself is in Year A), the Fourth Sunday is the Good Shepherd, the Fifth is I am the vine, and the Sixth is what sounds like Jesus’ final charge to the apostles, an envoi of sorts, though in fact it’s from chapter 15 of John’s Gospel rather than later.  As I said discussing Year C, the time in the Gospel readings can go forwards and back over Eastertide, because the linear onward progression has shifted to Acts.  All these B Gospels are from John except Third Sunday, which is from Luke, because he is the only evangelist who gives us the Emmaus story.

Second Sunday of Easter B

The First Reading is from Acts 4, a simple statement of how things were done among the community of believers in the early Church, with everyone sharing and helping each other, and the apostles spreading the word to great effect.  By now, the transformation has taken place; there is a sizeable group of believers, they have become ‘the early Church’, and this is how they are behaving.  All three First Readings (Years A, B and C) have this same message of reassurance, even though they come from different chapters of Acts.  After the tragedy of Holy Week and the surprise and joy of Easter Sunday, here is the pattern for the way ahead being worked out, by a group of converts and believers, just like us.  We stay with the great Easter psalm (117/118), with only minor variations, because the Octave of Easter is like an echo, reverberating the same message.  The Second Reading, from the first letter of St John, gives us the tools to live like the early Church: love, obedience to God, and the Holy Spirit.  The Gospel is Thomas’ encounter with Jesus.

Third Sunday of Easter B : first reading

We start in early Acts, earlier in fact than the previous week, with a speech from Peter, in his new role as leader of the Church.  It sounds in our First Reading as though he is trying to pick a fight, but this is due to slightly awkward editing.   This speech follows the healing of the lame man at the gate called Beautiful, when Peter says ‘Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, I give you’.  The lame man walks and leaps and praises God, now that his legs and feet can support him, and a crowd gathers. 

healing the lame man at the gate called Beautiful

Peter addresses the crowd, ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this?’  and goes on to explain that the healing is nothing to do with Peter and John, but is all the work of (their own) God to glorify his servant Jesus.  He encapsulates the whole story with commendable brevity, and then clarifies that it is not their fault that they killed Jesus because they did not know what they were doing; so now they can repent and turn to God.  Peter turns all the crowd’s assumptions upside-down, he accuses them of a dreadful act, the murder of God’s representative, and then shows them how to clear matters up – all in a few lines.  It is masterly.  Peter has been transformed since Pentecost. He is now a leader, eloquent, confident, convincing, and completely fearless.

…the psalm and second reading

This same confident touch is echoed in the choice of psalm, the simple and beautiful Psalm 4, which reinforces many of Peter’s points : God’s justice, his favour for the ones he loves, God as the source of all happiness and security.  The second reading is again simple and confident, ‘I am writing this to stop you sinning, but if anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father’, so again, we have what looks like a condemnation, but again immediately we have the promise of pardon.

…the Gospel : Emmaus, main account in Year A
so he went in to stay with them (Lk 24)

On the corresponding Sunday in Year A, we have the story of Emmaus, where Jesus falls in with two disciples on the road, and they fail to recognise him. He explains to them how his own death (and subsequent entry into glory) was foretold in the scriptures from Moses onwards.  We aren’t given all of Jesus’ words, but it sounds to me as though he also defends the testimony of the women at the tomb, which the apostles had discounted, as he reproaches them for being ‘foolish […] and slow of heart to believe’ (Lk  24.25).  They prevail upon the unknown traveller to stay with them, and they realise who he is when he shares the bread among them at dinnertime.  Then he disappears.

Year B : Emmaus 2.0

This year (B), what we have is the next stage of the story.  To set the scene, because these are verses of Luke’s account which are not included in our Gospel reading, the two minor disciples, only one of whom even gets a name (Cleopas), have come rushing back to the Upper Room in Jerusalem, even though it is already late, and they have been walking all day.   They find the apostles ‘and those who were with them’, which I am taking as those faithful and long-suffering women, and they all exchange their exciting news.   The atmosphere has been transformed.  You can almost hear the buzzing excitement as Cleopas and his friend (his wife?) tell their story, and the others tell them that the Lord ‘has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’  We never hear anything else about that encounter, but we can hear that the group is beginning to dare to believe that it is all true.

you can even see the fish on the table

Suddenly, in the middle of all the talking, Jesus is there among them, and this is the event that our Gospel reading is centred on.  He lets them have a good look at him, he encourages them to touch and hold him to prove that he is not a ghost.  It is particularly poignant to read these words at a time when we are all still socially distanced.  In a touching, homely detail, he asks them if there is anything around that he can eat, and they give him a bit of left-over grilled fish, which he eats to demonstrate even more clearly that he is really there.  Then he explains again to the bigger group, as he has already done to Cleopas, how everything that happened to him is the fulfilment of the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms.  Jesus’ last paragraph is an even shorter summary of what Peter has already said succinctly in the first reading, even down to the repeating of the word ‘witnesses’, a tightly-woven piece of ring composition.

Fourth Sunday of Easter B  (Good Shepherd Sunday)

This might equally be called Cornerstone Sunday.  The First Reading picks up Peter and John more or less at the same point where we left them the previous week.  Peter, the transformed Peter, has gone on explaining his message forcefully and clearly to the assembled crowd, so the Temple authorities are not happy.  They arrest Peter and John and put them in prison overnight to cool off.

Jesus before the high priest, with Peter downstairs

Our reading is what Peter says the next day, in the presence of Annas and Caiaphas, so really in the lions’ den here: these are the people at least partly responsible for the Crucifixion, which Peter knows because he was there in the high priest’s courtyard (Lk 22).  He repeats the same message even more clearly, he is filled with the Holy Spirit, and sounds completely ‘confident and unafraid’, as the Canticle in Isaiah 12 says.  He quotes the line about the stone rejected by the builders out of Psalm 117/118, the psalm which comes back and back again through the Easter season for us, but also seriously familiar to Annas and Caiaphas, although they would totally reject Peter’s interpretation of it.  Our reading stops there, but if you carry on reading, the authorities are completely flummoxed by Peter and John’s clarity and confidence and cannot work out what to do with them, so they let them go.

What psalm could we sing after this except Psalm 117/118 (yet again)?  It’s not exactly the same version that we sing on Easter Sunday, because this is quite a long psalm and we sing several different selections of verses, put together in different formats, so I have different tunes to fit.  For some reason this version has v.21 duplicated and used a second time (and out of sequence) in the last stanza, making that stanza seven lines rather than the usual six.  I suspect there’s a mistake there, but it’s of long standing and in every anglophone Lectionary, so I’ve just written an extra bit of tune for it.  The Response is the crucial line repeated, which feels exactly right.

The second reading is another beautiful extract from John’s first letter about our being God’s children.  John’s letter is particularly significant for the early Church, as he is always completely inclusive.  Anyone can be God’s child; anyone can do God’s will.  The Gospel, marking chronological time again, is away back in John 10, where Jesus calls himself the good shepherd and lays claim to all the sheep, including those ‘not of this fold’, again expanding the potential reach of the Church.

Fifth Sunday of Easter B : I am the vine

We have leapt forward in Acts for our First Reading this week, to chapter 9, and our central character is suddenly Saul.  All sorts of things have been happening to the early Church.  Peter and the apostles have even been put back into prison, but this time an angel came to fetch them out.  They have now been summoned in front of the authorities repeatedly, and Peter’s message remains the same, becoming simpler and clearer at each iteration.  Their numbers are increasing, they have had to rope in some new men to help with practical charity, Stephen has been appointed deacon, called upon to testify and then martyred.  The community is being persecuted by various people including one Saul.  There have been healings, miracles, conversions and all sorts of events. 

Conversion of St Paul
Fierce encounter of the third kind

At the beginning of chapter 9 of Acts, Saul is struck down on the way to Damascus in an encounter with the Lord.  We don’t get any of these events in our reading.  We have Saul, newly arrived back in Jerusalem, and trying to join the disciples who are understandably very suspicious.  Saul has escaped from Damascus in a basket (there are times when Acts reminds you of Dumas, or The Wind in the Willows), and luckily he has Barnabas to speak for him.  He preaches fearlessly and convincingly, and Jerusalem too becomes too hot to hold him.

What psalm after this?  We have Psalm 21/22, which is a great choice, because it is so appropriate for Saul and because he would have known it so well, as a Pharisee and Talmud scholar.  This psalm beautifully takes the words of a virtuous and observant Jew and repurposes them into a call for the whole world to come and join in the worship of Jesus the Messiah.  The ‘great assembly’ in the synagogue which Saul knew so well flowers out into ‘all families of the nations’.

The second reading is John on active love and not being afraid in God’s presence.  The Gospel hops forward to chapter 15 of John and Jesus’ extended comparison of himself with the vine.  Last week, we were sheep;  this week we are branches, part of a growing whole, and bearers of fruit (we hope).

Sixth Sunday of Easter B : all are welcome

Saul has been sent off to Tarsus, to help with the Church there, so the focus of Acts returns to Peter for a while.  He too is travelling, first to Lydda, where he heals a paralysed man called Aeneas, and then to Joppa, where he raises Tabitha (actually labelled as a ‘disciple’) from the dead.  Then he goes on to Caesarea, because he has been sent for by Cornelius.  Cornelius is a centurion of the Roman army, with all that implies about allegiance and position, but he is also a man of virtue who is earnestly trying to do the right thing.  An angel has told him to send for Peter, and even gives him the address where to find him.  Cornelius is not short of servants or soldiers, so he puts a little group together and sends them off to Joppa.

Peter’s vision on the rooftop

As they approach the city, Peter is praying on a rooftop before a meal, when he has a vision in which God lowers a great sheet or tablecloth full of animals, birds and reptiles and tells him that nothing can be unclean if God has cleansed it.  This happens three times, like watching a nature video repeatedly.  He is baffled as to the meaning of this vision, but then the Holy Spirit tells him to go downstairs to see the three men at the gate who are looking for him.  He is to go with them ‘without hesitation’, even though some of them are Roman soldiers.  Peter goes downstairs, welcomes Cornelius’ men, hears why they want him and invites them in for supper and to stay the night; the next morning they all set off back to Caesarea.  It is easy to miss how amazing these events are, how upside-down all this would appear to someone on the outside of the transformation that the early Church has undergone with the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Cornelius kneeling before Peter

When he meets Cornelius, they explain to each other how they have each been directed towards the other.  Peter has come with some of his people from Joppa, and Cornelius’ whole household is there, so this is a sizeable group of people.  Cornelius invites Peter to address them all.  All this has happened before our first reading starts. We begin with the meeting between the two men, and what happens next, Peter’s words to those assembled.  What is omitted here (see the list of verses at the beginning) is another of Peter’s summaries of Jesus’ life and death, and the Resurrection.  This is in fact the first reading of the Mass on Easter Sunday.   We usually repeat the Baptismal promises after the Gospel on Easter Sunday, but we don’t miss the Creed because Peter has already said it for us.  This whole section is not in our current reading because the importance of the encounter between Peter and Cornelius is Peter’s new understanding that the Gentiles are to be converted as freely as the Jews, and that God sends his Spirit as freely to the one as to the other.

Trinity - Jesus juggling
King of all the ends of the earth, and juggling as well
Psalm 97/98 : wider still and wider

The following psalm (97/98) is a victory psalm, stressing the international aspect of salvation.  Nothing has been taken away from Israel, but the pagans have been added (second stanza).  Even the ends of the earth have seen salvation, like the corners of the great sheet in Peter’s vision.  The second reading is another of John’s reflections on the all-encompassing nature of God’s love, and the Gospel is from John 15, following directly from the previous week.  These readings from John are part of the Last Discourse given to the apostles before they all set out for the Mount of Olives where the Passion will be set in train by Judas’ kiss.  Jesus repeats his command to love one another, trying to make this the message that they will all understand and remember even when he has gone.  It is the nearest thing the early Church has to a mission statement.

It is allowed in the rubric to swap the second reading and Gospel for the seventh Sunday  in place of sixth Sunday, if the Ascension Mass takes the place of the seventh Sunday, but the message remains the same, just coming slightly later in the text.

Onward and upward
Ascension
I particularly like the feet and the footprints in this one

The next event after this is the Ascension, whether you celebrate it on the traditional Thursday or the following Sunday; but we have come a long way in these six weeks, and we now know that the group of disciples will find a way to cope after Jesus’ departure.  The early Church is on its way.  There is another of those screeching changes of gear and direction at the beginning of the readings for the Ascension, because we go back (all three Liturgical Years the same) to the very beginning of Acts, with the apostles waiting in the Upper Room.  Jesus tells them to stay there and wait for the Holy Spirit, and after his Ascension, this is precisely what they do.

Penetecost dove
the arrival of the Holy Spirit

But now we already know, because of the Eastertide readings, that after Pentecost, amazing things will happen, and the disciples will find a way to carry the story forward even without Jesus.  The Eastertide readings are like an interlude.  Like the apostles, we are waiting for the next event to happen (first the Ascension, and then Pentecost), but it’s not like the waiting of Lent or the Sundays of Ordinary Time.  We are celebrating the fact of the Resurrection over these six weeks.  This joy is too much for one Sunday, and that’s why we keep on using the double alleluias at the end of Mass as part of the dismissal.  But we need a story to keep us interested from week to week, so we find out how Jesus’ followers started to carry out the charge he gave them. The early Church is a complicated and messy phenomenon. There are several protagonists and there are several different cities where it is all happening.  This is exciting; these are signs of success.  It is difficult to take it all in, especially in bite-sized Sunday chunks; but the Sundays of Eastertide give us a chance to see how the mustard seed of faith takes root and grows into the great tree so that all the birds can come and nest in it.  Quite a story.

Yggdrasil tree
Celtic roots, wider outreach

©Kate Keefe and Music for Mass 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kate Keefe and Music for Mass, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.