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Love Set Free: Meditations on the Passion according to St John – Martin Smith

Martin L. Smith

Love Set Free:  Meditations on the Passion According to Saint John

ISBN: 978I 8482 5100 7

Canterbury Press, Norwich, 2011, 60 pp, £7.99

 The author was a member of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (Cowley Fathers) for 26 years.  This led him to develop his own prayer life by drawing from the riches of the Fourth Gospel.  When invited to preach on Good Friday in a church in Boston, U.S.A., he shared his own spirituality by taking as his theme St. John’s account of the Passion, from which he wove a series of meditations.   This book gives us the text of his addresses.

Naturally this theme has been explored by countless preachers and writers over the years, but here we have some fresh insights and emphases, which the reader will need to take time to assimilate.  For example, he asserts that the crucifixion of Jesus was not only intended to destroy Jesus; it was designed to smash a movement, and yet it had the opposite effect because it drew people into the community of love.

It is sometimes said that the four Gospels are primarily accounts of the Passion, and that the preceding material is introductory.  This may be an exaggerated statement.  However, in this book there are many cross- references to events and sayings which are recorded earlier in John’s Gospel.

The final meditation on the silence of the tomb is very moving.  The author notes that Jesus appears out of silence, and the Baptist greets him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  He leaves the world, having accomplished his mission.  But there is no theory of atonement; instead the Evangelist bears witness to the experience of sin forgiven.

This book will repay quiet and prayerful study.  It is pre-eminently suitable for Lent reading and meditation.

Martin SSF