People must think of us as Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God. What is expected of stewards is that each one should be found worthy of his trust. Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you, or indeed any human tribunal, find me worthy or not. I will not even pass judgement on myself. True, my conscience does not reproach me at all, but that does not prove that I am acquitted: the Lord alone is my judge. There must be no passing of premature judgement. Leave that until the Lord comes; he will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions of men’s hearts. Then will be the time for each one to have whatever praise he deserves, from God.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
The reading above is the second reading on Sunday, the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Paul, who rejoiced in the freedom he received in Christ, speaks of the call to service that is also his joy.
In service we make some return to God, share the goodness of God with others. It matters not whether we are called to provide service small or great; whether it is appreciated by others or not. What matters is that we are ready and able to serve … as Christ for Christ.
- Note how you are ready or hesitant to serve today.
- Notice how Christ serves you today.
Detail from Doors to St Peter’s Basilica, Rome. (c) 2016, Rome.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.
‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith? So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’
Sunday is the Sunday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time. However that week is cut short on Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, when the season of Lent begins.
This Sunday’s Gospel is a good preparation for the season of Lent. It invites us, helps us, to look to ourselves and see where comes the motivation for our actions, what sets our priorities.
The motivation for Jesus – and the motivation he presses us to make our own – is love of the Father who loves us. From this all things flow… Jesus finds his everything is gift from the Father, and enables his love for his neighbour. In the Father’s love Jesus finds the security that allows him to live lovingly, daringly.
He extends his hand to us, and offers to help us live the same way…
Sparrow: Alhambra, Granada. (c) 2014, Allen Morris
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.
‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
The Gospel we heard on Sunday, the Sunday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, challenges us and encouraged in equal measure.
The encouragement comes in the form of a reminder of God’s love for us, awaking us to the blessings that surround us.
The challenge is not to hog goodness to ourselves, but to be ready to share it, even to extend it to others who we fear (sometimes, it transpires without good cause).
We are called to grow into the likeness of God, not to contribute to the fracturing of God’s Creation.
Peace and Division. Bethlehem. (c) 2007, Allen Morris
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, always pondering spiritual things,
we may carry out in both word and deed
that which is pleasing to you.
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 Sunday of 7th Week in Ordinary Time
What are the spiritual things we are to ponder on?
We single out certain events in the life of Jesus and Mary, for example as Mysteries. These, like the Sacraments and the Liturgy of the Church, disclose something of the love of God and the working of grace in our lives.
But the Sacraments take the form of simple human actions – washing, a caress, eating drinking – many of them repeated many times each day; the events of the lives of Jesus and Mary – birth, death, choice of the good and best – are in many respects similar to events in every person’s life.
Is there anything that is not a spiritual thing? Capable of communicating something of God, or by our mis-use capable of disclosing something awry in us?
- What in your experience in the last 24 hours would reward your spiritual pondering?
- Bring the results to God in prayer…
Rosary Way, Aylesford Priory. (c) 2008, Allen Morris
If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.
Those who love the Lord and seek to live from the word – which surely includes those who read this blog! – are likely to have taken comfort from the Gospel Acclamation above, sung at Mass yesterday, the Sunday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time.
Actions have consequences, and not least in our relationship with God. He will never allow our good actions to outdo his goodness!
Our attempts to respond to God’s word are surely met by his love. We are caught up into his Communion of love – his gift, our joy.
- Where have you been surprised by the generosity of God?
Mosaic, Hagia Sophia. (c) 2002, Allen Morris
The Lord spoke to Moses; he said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:
‘“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.
‘“You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”’
The reading is the first reading at Mass today, the 7th Sunday in Ordinary time. It is chosen for the Lectionary because of it’s close relationship with the Gospel reading of the Day, which we prayed with on Thursday as part of our preparation for today.
Holiness is God is; but holiness is what we do.
Holiness is something we work for in our living lovingly for others. In that is our imitation of Christ and our aspiring for the holiness of God.
The struggle to live love drives us again and again to the tenderness of God. As we benefit from his love for us, so we have love to share with others.
- What do you receive from God?
- What do you presently lack?
Moses. Church of St Nicolas. Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris
The Lord is compassion and love.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.
It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion.
The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.
As far as the east is from the west
so far does he remove our sins.
As a father has compassion on his sons,
the Lord has pity on those who fear him.
The psalm above is that which we will sing at Mass on Sunday, tomorrow, the 7th SUnday in Ordinary Time.
It speaks of mercy. As we approach the season of Lent it is good to remember the mercy of God. (When is it not!?!)
Sometimes there is talk of ‘Catholic guilt’. Often Catholics, like other people, have things about which we ought to feel ashamed and guilty. However, the distinguishing quality of Catholics is that we know the remedy for our guilt and are speedy in our recourse to the healing love of God.
- Was there some experience in the recent Year of Mercy that stood out for you, and that symbolises the reason for our hope?
- For what else do you give thanks?
Sign at the door of Mercy, at Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris