Taste and See: Hurt and Healing

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Resentment and anger, these are foul things, and both are found with the sinner.

He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin.

Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.

If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord?
Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins?

Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins?
Remember the last things, and stop hating, remember dissolution and death, and live by the commandments.

Remember the commandments, and do not bear your neighbour ill-will; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook the offence.

First reading for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiasticus 27:33-28:9

Corruption comes from within, not from without. External influences have their influence, but the mess for us is what happens within us: our disordered desires and actions.

Sometimes we can exercise some control over these things. Sometimes we find ourselves powerless. However in every case it is good for us to ask for the Lord’s help. If we can control our anger, resentment and all, we have good reason for turning to the Lord and asking for help.

Our ability to forgive and to heal so often relies on our having the humility to ask for help.

Detail of Satan/Mephistopheles, a bronze artwork by Jean-Jacques Feuchère in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

 

 

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Speak Lord: Our Life now, and for ever.

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The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord.

This explains why Christ both died and came to life, it was so that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Second reading for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Romans 14:7-9

There is a certain indifference evident in the passage above for whether we are alive or dead! But there is great concern that we are for the Lord and that, in the Lord, we have an influence that is good.

That this might be so, is his work, and our joy.

  • How today do you live for him?

Carving: Jesus being raised from the dead – Hans Friebuch: St Alban the Martyr, Holborn. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: help us to serve with heart

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Look upon us, O God,
Creator and ruler of all things,
and, that we may feel the working of your mercy,
grant that we may serve you with all our heart.
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 the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

To know of Jesus and to know Jesus are two very different things.

To know of him can involve the same sort of knowledge that we can have of any historical figure, or any physical place or thing.

To know him is, surely, to be drawn into relationship with him: to know his mercy and love. The knowledge is more of the heart than of the head – indeed it teaches the head!

It is for this latter teaching and learning and its transformational power that we prayed yesterday – and perhaps pray today too!

Icon at Entrance to Monastery of Alexander Nevsky, St Petersburg., Russia. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Rescue us

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Resentment and anger, these are foul things,
and both are found with the sinner.
He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord,
who keeps strict account of sin.
Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you,
and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.
If a man nurses anger against another,
can he then demand compassion from the Lord?
Showing no pity for a man like himself,
can he then plead for his own sins?
Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment;
who will forgive him his sins?
Remember the last things, and stop hating,
remember dissolution and death, and live by the commandments.
Remember the commandments, and do not bear your neighbour ill-will;
remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook the offence.

First reading for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiasticus 27:33-28:9

The sin of Adam and Eve is the original sin, a turning from God and a turning to self -tempted to independence and carelessness. It reveals the alienation of humankind and our neediness of sustained love and care.

The sin of Cain against his brother is fruit of that first fall, and reveals the deeper and darker potential of sin. Cain kills, but kills for no fault of his brother, only for jealousy of his goodness.

  • Where does jealousy and resentment corrupt you? Bring the pain to the light and tenderness of God’s love and compassion.

Carving, South Door, York Minster. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Love us to life

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The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

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.

The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

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.

His wrath will come to an end;
he will not be angry for ever.
He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.

The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

For as the heavens are high above the earth
so strong is his love for those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west
so far does he remove our sins.

The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.

Responsorial Psalm for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm 102:1-4,9-12

Our life begins with God’s creative act; it is sustained and restored and fortified by his love, and it finds its end with him and in him. Without him, we would not be. Apart from him we cannot be ourselves: we are otherwise overwhelmed by the ‘stuff that happens’.

This perspective helps us to know something of the contingency of our life, and to learn something of gratitude. But it helps the psalmist to know, above all, the beauty and goodness of God.

  • How today can you give expression to that beauty and goodness in your life?

West facade. St Trophime, Arles. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Life-changer

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The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord. This explains why Christ both died and came to life, it was so that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Second reading for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Romans 14:7-9

The disciples, the Christian does not live for him or herself alone. Their life is turned towards the other, be that neighbour or God. It is oriented to others by love: the Lord turns to us for love, and his love forms the motive and force that turns us out and beyond ourselves also.

Please God.

Altar frontal. St Matthew’s Church, Walsall. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

 

 

Speak Lord: helps us learn mercy…

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Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time” he said “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’

Gospel for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Matthew 18:21-35

‘Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.’

How acute our sense of when we have been offended, and how generous we are to ourselves in justifying our own failures and offences that have hurt others..

As we say at Mass, it takes real daring to pray the Lord’s Prayer – to call God Father and to pray that we be treated as we treat others!

Maybe we need to forgive them even more than 77 times…

St Peter at Prayer. Peter in Gallicantu. Jerusalem. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.