Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him
Year: C(II). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.
|St John of Beverley (-721)|
John of Beverley was born at Harpham a few miles from Driffield on the Yorkshire Wolds. He studied at Canterbury under St Adrian, the African-born abbot of the famous monastery there, who was a great scripture scholar and a fine teacher of Greek and Latin. When John returned to the North, he entered the double monastery at Whitby under the remarkable abbess, St Hilda, who had a great influence on many of the outstanding religious people of her time.
In 687 John was consecrated Bishop of Hexham in succession to Bishop Eata, one of the twelve disciples of St Aidan and the teacher of St Cuthbert. During his time at Hexham, John ordained the future St Bede as priest. He was a good pastoral bishop, a man who loved the Scriptures, and a patient teacher. Like many of his contemporaries he also had a deep seated need for prayerful solitude and used to retire to a quiet place on the banks of the Tyne for prayer and the study of Scriptures, especially during the season of Lent. In 705 he was appointed to the See of York in succession to St Bosa, himself a former monk of the monastery at Whitby. John remained in the diocese for 12 years but the call of solitude remained strong, and four years before his death he retired to Beverley to a religious house he founded there.
John died on 7 May 721, having worked for more than thirty years as a bishop. His shrine became famous up and down the country and was considered to be one of the chief places of devotion in England for many years.
Many miracles of healing are ascribed to John, and the popularity of his cult was a major factor in the prosperity of Beverley during the Middle Ages. He was celebrated for his scholarship as well as for his virtues. He was canonized in 1037. In 1541, his shrine was destroyed on the orders of Henry VIII. About a hundred years later workmen discovered a vault under the floor of the Minster’s nave. The inscription on it indicates that the contents contained the relics of St John. In 1738, when the present Minster floor was laid, these relics were disinterred and replaced in the same position with an arched brick vault over them. The inscription on the tomb now reads:
THE BODY OF SAINT JOHN OF BEVERLEY
FOUNDER OF THIS CHURCH
BISHOP OF HEXHAM A.D. 687-705
BISHOP OF YORK A.D. 705-718
HE WAS BORN AT HARPHAM
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Romans 5:10-11 ©|
When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Corinthians 15:20-22 ©|
Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ.
|Afternoon reading (None)||2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ©|
The love of Christ overwhelms us when we reflect that if one man has died for all, then all men should be dead. The reason he died for all was so that living men should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them.