Speak Lord: Be with us

Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons.

Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness.

So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.

2nd Reading for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13

God made us good and that goodness continues…

However that goodness is often, too often, buried under a lot of other stuff that is not good. And, as St Paul notes, often we want to do good but find we fail…

But we are not alone, and left to our own devices – not ever, not even when it feels that way. The Lord is for us and with us. Emmanuel, God with us, even when we cannot see, feel, his presence…

  • Pray for those who experience loneliness, that they may benefit from your love and know the Lord’s goodness.

Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris. Holy Door, St Mary Major, Rome.


Speak Lord: Help us in …

Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”

‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves turned outside. And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.

‘Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’

Gospel for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 13:22-30

To know of the Lord – even to know of him and to admire him, or to long for a share in his goodness – is not at all the same as knowing the Lord and beng known by him.

The Lord calls us to communion of life with him and with each other. In that communion we find strength, hope and protection.

To know of that goodness, but not to choose to live in communion, and benefit of it – that’s foolish…

And, as Jesus says, has consequences…

Photograph (c) 2010, Allen Morris. Disused church, Norwich.

Taste and See: Communion

O God, who have prepared for those who love you
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,
so that, loving you in all things and above all things,
we may attain your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Lord invites us to deepest communion with him, in this life and the next.

He calls us to himself and sends us out to be other-Christs to our neighbours, our brothers and sisters, so that all may be one in him.

To fulfil our mission we need to live in community with him. In our wholeness or in our brokenness he calls us to communion with him; finding nourishment in his love, fellowship in our struggles.

Every new day calls for the same generous response from us. Every new day promises us the same generous support from the Lord.

  • Give thanks!

Photograph (c) 2007, Allen Morris. Detail of plaster cast of the Hildesheim Font – Israel enters the promised Land, crossing the Jordan, carrying the Ark of the Covenant. Collection of Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Taste and See: Onwards, upwards…

With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us, we too, then, should throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily, and keep running steadily in the race we have started.

Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right of God’s throne. Think of the way he stood such opposition from sinners and then you will not give up for want of courage. In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death.

Second reading for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 12:1-4

The Letter to the Hebrews urges confidence and encourages us to move forward in faith and mission. It encourages us to find strength in solidarity in what, now, we might call the communion of saints.

A Christian is never alone. A Christian is always participating in the life of Christ and benefiting from our communion with him. And we are supported by each other also – fellow-Christians now and all those who have preceded us.

There are things that hinder us, even grave things. But as we pause to shrug those off, we also breathe in deeply and then continue…

  • What irks and distracts you from your Christian vocation?
  • When has have you most been aware of the role of the communion of saints

Photograph (c) 2006, Allen Morris. Font at St Augustine of Hippo, St Austell, Cornwall.

Speak Lord: Help us choose you.

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!

‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

Gospel for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 12:49-53

For many of us, Baptism was something others chose for us. ‘Being Christian’ is part of the culture that we have been born into and raised to.

Baptism from the Church’s side and from Christ’s is a gift given to us, life in communion with Church and Christ. But it is also something that we are to choose, and for many the radical choice to be ‘one with Christ’, or not, is something we have been denied, by the practice of infant baptism.

Of course we are invited everyday to choose our baptism, to live according to its meaning and potential – but it’s not the same.

Jesus speaks of the second baptism, the baptism in blood, that is his at the Cross.

We might not be so eager for that! But every day, too, we have the choice to take the way of love that often enough will lead to division, persecution, mockery…

  • Why do you choose that way today – if you do. Or not, if you don’t?
  • How does your choice express itself in your life?

Photograph (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Font and Stations of the Cross. St Mary’s (The Hidden Gem) Manchester.

Speak Lord: win us for good

The king’s leading men spoke to the king. ‘Let Jeremiah be put to death: he is unquestionably disheartening the remaining soldiers in the city, and all the people too, by talking like this. The fellow does not have the welfare of this people at heart so much as its ruin.’ ‘He is in your hands as you know,’ King Zedekiah answered ‘for the king is powerless against you.’ So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the well of Prince Malchiah in the Court of the Guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the well, only mud, and into the mud Jeremiah sank.

Ebed-melech came out from the palace and spoke to the king. ‘My lord king,’ he said ‘these men have done a wicked thing by treating the prophet Jeremiah like this: they have thrown him into the well, where he will die.’

At this the king gave Ebed-melech the Cushite the following order: ‘Take three men with you from here and pull the prophet Jeremiah out of the well before he dies.’

First reading for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 38:4-6,8-10

Ebed-melech comes to the rescue! And how? By challenging the king in his weakness, by pressing him to correct his error, to take a stand, to save the innocent.

It is not every time that we get a second opportunity, the chance to put right what we have made wrong. But when they come they are precious opportunities and not to be missed.

Often the opportunity comes not in the form of someone has forceful as Edeb-melech. More often the opportunity is quietly prepared for by qualms of conscience, troubling regrets, feelings that could be brushed aside but which are stirrings provoked by the Spirit that can lead us back to virtue, rightousness, and justice…

  • Where is your conscience troubled?
  • Why?
  • What will you do about it?

Photograph (c) 2004, Allen Morris. Sanctuary Screen, Ravenna, Italy.

Speak Lord: You have rescued me

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.

He drew me from the deadly pit,
from the miry clay.
He set my feet upon a rock
and made my footsteps firm.

He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.
Many shall see and fear
and shall trust in the Lord.

As for me, wretched and poor,
the Lord thinks of me.
You are my rescuer, my help,
O God, do not delay.

Responsorial Psalm for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 39(40):2-4,18

The Psalm’s function in the Liturgy of the Word this Sunday makes most sense when it is heard after the first reading – a reading which tells of Jeremiah’s unjust imprisonment and of his liberation.

The psalm puts the thanksgiving of the prophet on our lips too…

Photograph (c) 2007, Allen Morris. Detail of plaster cast of the Hildesheim Font – showing the Lord bringing Israel safely through the Red Sea. Collection of Victoria and Albert Museum, London.