Taste and See: The Lord present

IMG_6189 Bienealle Venice 2008

When Elijah reached Horeb, the mountain of the Lord, he went into the cave and spent the night in it. Then he was told, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’

Then the Lord himself went by. There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

1 Kings 19:9,11-13
First reading for 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

St Irenaeus spoke of the Sacraments as loud silences in the mystery of God.

Often enough the heart of the Sacrament  is surrounded by all sorts of activity – that of the Liturgy, and that of our daily lives. That activity is not without its importance – not least the proclamation of the word that most immediately prepares us for the sacramental encounter with the Lord in the washing with water, anointing with oil, tasting of Bread broken and Wine poured out and shared.

But there needs to be the opportunity to enter into the silence, and depth, of that sacramental encounter… Sometimes the liturgy presents us with that opportunity, sometimes life… but when it does not come to us so easily we need to make time to seek it out, lest we have the experience and miss the meaning… receive the gift, but still lack the giver.

Installation, Venice Bienealle, 2008. (c) Allen Morris, 2018

Taste and See: Called to be one.

DSC05548 St Paul Walker Gallery 2008

What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too. What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood.

They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.

Romans 9:1-5
Second reading on 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Our world is still hobbled by the fact of man’s cruelty to man: a cruelty most horribly expressed in the genocide of the Jews in the Nazi Terror. It is shocking how complicit ‘Christian’ individuals and institutions often were in that genocide. We find it so easy, so convenient, sometimes so comforting, to turn against others.

One of the many things that is remarkable about St Paul is that he, even when others turned on him, remained committed to trying to serve the common good, and especially the good of his own people.

Paul is one with Christ, and so called to be one with each and every other person, strong through love for love.

Detail from painting, Walker Gallery, Liverpool. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: faith alive

DSC00114a St Nicholas CHapel Kings Lynn 2016

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear.

But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’

And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’

Matthew 14:22-33
Gospel for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time 

It is instructive how Peter’s putting himself to the test, and failing and falling, brings his companions to new and deeper faith.

They remained safe in the boat, fearful and perhaps unsure even after Jesus identified himself to them. Peter alone trusts – to the extent he can. It is only after Jesus rescue of this disciple and his being returned safe to the boat that the disciples join in doing him honour and confessing him as Son of God.

  • What prompts you to confession of faith and praise of God?

Stained Glass. St Nicholas Chapel, Kings Lynn. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: in loud silence

DSC02596 Lerins, 2013

When Elijah reached Horeb, the mountain of the Lord, he went into the cave and spent the night in it. Then he was told, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’

Then the Lord himself went by. There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

1 Kings 19:9,11-13
First reading for 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Hopefully it is not wrong to suggest that maybe, after all, God was in the mighty wind and in the earthquake, just as much as in the gentle breeze. But the Lord did not need Elijah to meet him there and so kept quiet in all that noise and disturbance.

In the quiet of the breeze he speaks, and in that quiet silence he discloses himself to Elijah: he knows just how, just now, Elijah needs to know him and be known by him… and so silence speaks volumes…

  • Where might the Lord wish you to know him afresh?

Lerins. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Balm for our souls

DSC05326 Liverpool Cathedral 2016

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

The Lord will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Psalm 84:9-14

Responsorial Psalm for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

As we strive to make the most of life in this world, again and again we find ourselves confused and disoriented; our best motives can be so mixed.

But when we look to the Lord, and allow ourselves space to listen and learn, what a difference we find. How much help and clarity we find. Not immediately, not always: but in time a new way opens for us that is a way of mercy and love: his way for us to follow…

Stained glass. Liverpool Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Our hearts break…

DSC09806 Tewkesbury Abbey 2016

What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too. What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood.

They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.

Romans 9:1-5
Second reading on 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

How close Paul is to Christ is revealed by his heartbreak over those others who are distanced from Christ.

To be a Christian is to live in Christ, is to be called to endure the demands of the call to love and serve, is to be saddened by those who resist the compassion and care of the Father; and, of course, to be outraged, by those who who seek to deny that compassion and care to others.

  • For whom do you speak out?
  • To whom do you seek to share the good news?

Tewkesbury Avenue. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Saviour

DSC01319 Spilled Blood 2015

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear.

But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’

And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’

Matthew 14:22-33

Gospel for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time 

One more it is Peter who is the fall guy in the story – and this time, one with a sinking feeling. It is Peter who comes forward strong in faith and then finds himself overcome by fear and doubt.

It is comforting to think that it might well have been Peter that told the story against himself, and in honour of the Lord who came here, as always, to his aid.

Inevitably for one reason or another we stumble and fail, and do it again and again. How helpful that the scriptures are full of stories and teachings that our shortcomings are never allowed to be the end of the story for us or for others.

  • What fear or failing might you bring to the Lord, even for this first time, for his counsel and consolation?

Cathedral of Spilled Blood, St Petersburg. (c) Allen Morris, 2015.