Speak Lord: Shepherd of all

DSC07647 Houghton St Giles.jpg
Jesus said:

‘I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.
The hired man, since he is not the shepherd
and the sheep do not belong to him,
abandons the sheep and runs away
as soon as he sees a wolf coming,
and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep;
this is because he is only a hired man
and has no concern for the sheep.

‘I am the good shepherd;
I know my own
and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me
and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for my sheep.
And there are other sheep I have
that are not of this fold,
and these I have to lead as well.
They too will listen to my voice,
and there will be only one flock,
and one shepherd.

‘The Father loves me,
because I lay down my life
in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me;
I lay it down of my own free will,
and as it is in my power to lay it down,
so it is in my power to take it up again;
and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’

Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Easter
John 10:11-18

At the heart of Jesus’ ministry as shepherd is courage, love and compassion. This shepherd does not value his own life above those of the sheep, but gives of his life for their well-being.

This ministry is now extended to the Church, the community that knows of the love of the Shepherd, and of how precious all people are in his sight. The ministry is exercised in  a variety of manners and in all sorts of circumstances. Perhaps its most usual form is in the ministry of parents caring for their children: but it extends so much more broadly including, for example, social workers, public servants of all kinds as well as clergy and catechists. Sometimes this ministry is exercised well. Always it deserves to be supported by our prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power
above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world,
its Lord, risen and glorified.

Let everyone who approaches the Church
feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate
all the faithful with its anointing,
so that your Church, with renewed enthusiasm,
may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.

We ask this of you, Lord Jesus,
through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy;
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Stained Glass. Church of St Giles, Houghton St Giles. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

Advertisements

Taste and See: a fishy tale?

2017-02-22 11.58.16.jpg

The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread.

They were still talking about all this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.’

Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
Luke 24:35-48

How resistant to belief in the Resurrection the disciples show themselves to be…

Two of them are even telling the story of their earlier meeting with the risen Lord when he appears and they don’t say ‘Look, we told you…’. No. They are alarmed, frightened and think they have seen a ghost. Even to handle the body of Christ is not enough they remain dumbfounded.  and unbelieving. Only his tucking into a bit of grilled fish does the business, or seems to…

Their struggle to apprehend and comprehend with Jesus physically there before them should serve us well as a reminder of the extraordinariness of the Resurrection. It is a mystery that should blow our mind – not least because it is beyond a simple restoring to mortal life, but a raising to and for eternal life of one who is now definitively revealed as God and Man.

Grilled St Peter Fish, Galilee. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: God for us

DSC07794aI am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin,
we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,
and not only ours,
but the whole world’s.

We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,
and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.

Second reading for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
1 John 2:1-5

“I am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but…”

For most of us just how important is that ‘but’. For despite the best efforts of the authors of scripture (humans and divine inspirer and all) we remain sinners. And it is not just that we have been sinners, but retain the title. We still commit sin. Maybe it is not grave sin – hopefully it is not: but we still sin. So that ‘but’ is mighty important.

The continuing answer to our sin is Jesus, God’s eternal yes and his eternal love.

In our sin we show our imperfection, we show that our knowledge and our love is indeed imperfect. We humbly admit that, please God, but…

Or is it ‘and’? We admit our sin, and the Lord Jesus comes close for our healing and for our help.

Statue in St Nicholas, Blakeney, Norfolk. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Mercy

DSC04106a.jpgPeter said to the people: ‘You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.

‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.’

First reading for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15,17-19

Peter’s offer of mercy is astonishing.

Of course principally, he is extending to others the mercy of God, a mercy and love that is without end, and has no favourites. But he is also investing himself in this action – turning to those who he considered his enemies too, and whom he was in fear of. And now he associates himself with this audacious, generous, always surprising but never changing, love and mercy  of God.

 

Carving: St Peter. Arles, France. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Heal and hold

DSC06572.jpg
Peter said to the people: ‘You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.

‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.’

First reading for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15,17-19

The Acts of the Apostles shows a community learning to be true to itself, true to Christ who calls it to be the new enfleshing of the Good News, united by him and with him.

Here Peter reaches out even to those who shared some responsibility for the killing of Jesus. Jesus is risen from the dead and the Gospel of mercy offers forgiveness to one and all. It is not a one-time-only offer. It is an offer made every moment through the Church. Sometimes it is made more generously and humbly than at other times. But the Church on earth is not infrequently marred by human fallibility. So at her best she knows she remains in need of that mercy to which she invites others.

Carving: St Peter. Collection of the British Museum. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: come to our aid

Window, Arles a.jpg

Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.
or Alleluia!

When I call, answer me, O God of justice;
from anguish you released me, have mercy and hear me!

Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.
or Alleluia!

It is the Lord who grants favours to those whom he loves;
the Lord hears me whenever I call him.

Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.
or Alleluia!

‘What can bring us happiness?’ many say.
Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.

Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.
or Alleluia!

I will lie down in peace and sleep comes at once
for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.
or Alleluia!

Responsorial Psalm for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
Psalm 4:2,4,7,9

Nothing but good comes from God and all that is good comes from God. Happiness light, peace, safety, freedom from fear – all this comes from God. And God intends that these goods, fruit of his love, should be ours. They are his free gift.

But, oh, how hard it can be sometimes for us to receive them. Sometimes we are denied them, alienated from them, by our own attitude or disposition; sometimes by the will, or by the actions of others; sometimes by circumstances or by something of all of these.

But God never changes his mind, and never withdraws the gifts. His gifts remain there for us. He seeks any way and every way to help us receive them and benefit from them.

Church window, Arles. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: our life

DSC01715a.jpg

The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread.

They were still talking about all this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.’

Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
Luke 24:35-48

The humanity of Jesus, the Sacramental form by which – through the Incarnation -his divinity is communicated to humankind is as much a part of him after the Resurrection as before. His body bears the wounds, and he eats and drinks. God in Jesus remains wed to us in the flesh…

Carving, Notre Dame, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.