Speak Lord: Paterfamilias

DSC03365 Moscow

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
all the days of your life!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 127:1-5

The blessings of a secure family life are evident, and well worth recounting. Blessings are something to rejoice in.

But for the psalmist they are not a matter of good fortune only. Security and blessing in family life is not accidental, and it is not self-earned. Like all good things, ultimately it is ours as gift of God and fruit of our cooperation with him. And therefore our rejoicing will always find its most fit end in giving thanks and praise to God.

The life lived in fear – awe, love, honour, respect and worship – of God is a proper response to these gifts, and the most apt setting for the flourishing of these and all such gifts and blessings.

Art work. Moscow Metro. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

 

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Speak Lord: God of Judgement, Father of Mercy

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You will not be expecting us to write anything to you, brothers, about ‘times and seasons’, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there will be no way for anybody to evade it.

But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober.

There is no place where God is not, no moment where we do not have the opportunity of choosing the godly or not, and no moment when we are not under the judgement of God.

And there is no moment when God wishes to withhold his mercy from us, embrace us with his love and restore us to life and health through his tenderness and compassion.

And if sometimes awareness of the former (combined with knowledge of our sinfulness and incompleteness) would paralyse us with fear and give up hope, being reminded of the latter will give us the encouragement we need to live as children of the light, of the day, children of the loving Father.

There is no way for us avoid the truth about ourselves, but every reason for us to embrace the truth about the loving Father.

  • For what do you ask God’s compassion today?
  • Of what brokenness do you repent and ask for help?
  • For what triumph of grace do you wish to give thanks to God?

Second reading for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

 

Speak Lord: Uber-Capitalist? or Super Socialist?

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Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”

‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’

Gospel for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 25:14-30

The Master of the parable, who reaps where he has not sown and gathering where he has not scattered, does not seem to be familiar with Scripture’s counsel against usury! Indeed the third servant’s safeguarding of the money entrusted to him was judged responsible behaviour according to the norms of the day. The other two make profit, hand over fist.

And yet Jesus says, this is the way the Kingdom of heaven is.

Maybe the clue is not in the finance as such but in the third servant’s representation of the Master. Does he reap what he has not sown? Gather that he has not first scattered for our gathering? Maybe, but look how generously he rewards the servants who cooperate with him? Do they cooperate with him for the common good or are they collaborating in ripping profit wherever it is available.

It probably finally comes down to whether or not we judge the Master according to servant three or his treatment of servants  one and two. Are they plunderers of the common wealth, or servants of the common good? Hm….

And how does this lead us to think of our God, our Master?

Our Master does not reap where he does not sow. For every good thing, even those fostered by our efforts too, come from God. So is servant three just failing to honour and serve the loving God. Hm…

And maybe nothing suggests that the parable‘s Master is a hard man, except the third servant’s fearful and angry words, and in his willingness to reject the servant who rejects him, and fails to contribute to what (turns out to be) the common wealth and happiness. Hm…

We have a parable that does what it says on the tin: that teases our heart and mind into active thought…

  • How do you use what is entrusted to you, and that has potential to contribute to the common good?
  • How do you view the commands of your Master? And your Master?

Docklands, London. (c) 2009, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: Bread broken for us

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The disciples recognised the Lord Jesus in the breaking of bread.

Alternate Communion Antiphon for 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The brief antiphon above reminds of one of the central moments of our participation in the Mass – our recognition and personal encounter with the living Lord, who comes to meet with us.

He comes to us in the assembly that is his Body; the word proclaimed; the ministry of the priest acting in persona Christi; and in the Eucharist the Sacrifice of Calvary re-presented to the Father and shared with us in Holy Communion. Christ really present for real and effective engagment with us, to draw us to life.

Carving from Lower Stations, Lourdes. (c) 2008, Allen Morris

 

 

Taste and See: Love for us…

Willenhall ParkWisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.
By those who love her she is readily seen,
and found by those who look for her.
Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself known to them.
Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;
you will find her sitting at your gates.
Even to think about her is understanding fully grown;
be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.
She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
and graciously shows herself to them as they go,
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.

First reading for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 6:12-16

How solicitous Wisdom is for us and for our welfare; how good, caring ….

It is not we who have to seek her out, she seeks for us.

Used to the ways of this world we sometimes feel that we have to earn such love, such care. And yet as always with God’s grace, it is ours freely given. The only doubt is ever our readiness to receive it…

Willenhall Memorial Park. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Loving Wisdom

 

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Wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim.
By those who love her she is readily seen,
and found by those who look for her.
Quick to anticipate those who desire her, she makes herself known to them.
Watch for her early and you will have no trouble;
you will find her sitting at your gates.
Even to think about her is understanding fully grown;
be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.
She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
and graciously shows herself to them as they go,
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.

First reading for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 6:12-16

We who so often get things wrong, who are too often lazy or selfish (like the bridesmaids in today’s Gospel?) are not left to our own devices. It might be better if we had recourse to God’s Wisdom first, but when things are messed up is not too late to seek her and ask for help.

And maybe by then experienced in the consequences of the mess we make we might ask for that help not just for our sake, but also for those others we may have hurt…

Wisdom is there and Wisdom’s love is for us, for all. Seek her, share her…

  • Where/when did you last mess up?
  • Why?
  • What comes next?

Stained Glass. Basilica of the Annuniciation, Nazareth. (c0 2017, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: thirsty Lord…

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For you my soul is thirsting, O God, my God.

O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.

For you my soul is thirsting, O God, my God.

So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.
For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.

For you my soul is thirsting, O God, my God.

So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.

For you my soul is thirsting, O God, my God.

On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.

For you my soul is thirsting, O God, my God.

Responsorial Psalm for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 62:2-8

As he dies on the Cross, Jesus cries out that he thirsts. Early In John’s Gospel he thirsts also, and he asks a Samaritan woman for water to drink. In the lively exchange which follows Jesus reveals that his deeper thirst is for the salvation of this woman, reveals his desire for the salvation of all.

And that salvation is achieved when like him we thirst for the living God, when our love of God and desire for God informs our waking hours and shapes our dreams.

In the psalm sung at Mass tomorrow the thirst for God is described as like a pining, but it is also seen as leading to our fulfilment. What we long for will not be denied us, and then we will rejoice. Even now, inspired by the faith of the psalmist and the hope Christ has planted in our our hearts – even now, and as we thirst, we can be filled with joy…

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman. Chester Catedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.