Speak Lord: Call us to life


The Gospel heard at Mass today relates the enthusiasm of the first response to Jesus of four men: Simon, Andrew, James and John.

Place your name beside theirs as you begin to read, disciple of the Lord.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

Mark 1:14-20

  • What form did your call to follow take?
  • How did you first answer and how do you answer now?
  • How is the call made through your parish today? What helps and what hinders it’s being heard?

Photograph of the shore and Sea of Galilee. (C) Allen Morris, 2013


Speak Lord: about dying to live


The second reading at tomorrow’s Mass, that of the 3rd Sunday of the Year, somewhat starkly encourages us to recognise that we are creatures, passing things.

Brothers: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

What prevents this from being simply a sobering and probably upsetting or nihilistic reminder of our mortality is, of course, its context. The reading is part of a ritual action which is a memorial, an active remembering, of the Paschal Mystery, the Easter Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.

And Paul, above all the other writers of the New Testament, knew how those who are ready to die in Christ will rise with him. Our lives are characterised by a dying so that in our dying we might live for ever.

Detail from the Church of all Nations, Gethsemane, Jerusalem. (C) 2013, Allen Morris.


Speak Lord: In your goodness and for our need


The responsorial psalm for Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary time, is beautifully simple.

The psalmist is open in his neediness, and frank in his profession of thankfulness for the goodness of God.

Lord, make me know your ways.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Lord, make me know your ways.

Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me.
because of your goodness, O Lord.

Lord, make me know your ways.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Lord, make me know your ways.

Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

The psalmist’s song is put on our lips. We sing a different melody, but hopefully the same sentiment and thought expresses itself in our singing of the scriptural song.

One of the simplest and most important ‘notes’ for choirs – and congregations – is to remember that when you sing at Mass what you are singing is a prayer. And if you are singing it, it needs to be your prayer, as well as ours.

The psalm encourages us to know our need, frankly, simply, and to know why we give thanks.

Plenty of work to take to our private prayer today, as we prepare for Sunday’s Mass.

Photograph ‘Showing the Way’ in Cork, Eire. (c) 2010, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Call us to repentance


The first reading at Mass on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, comes from the book of Jonah.

An interesting fact is that the translation of the Book of Jonah in the Jerusalem Bible translation  was made by JRR Tolkein. Share that information with Hobbit and Lord of the Rings aficionados and see if you can get them reading one of the most delightful and funny books of the Bible!

The word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least.

God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour. And God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.

Jonah 3:1-5,10

Not too much humour there -but context is (almost) all.

Here we find simply testimony to the generosity of God, and to the readiness of some of the most unexpected people to respond generously to the opportunity to repent.

  • What helps you examine your conscience and repent?
  • When did you most recently make confession and why?

Photograph is of a detail of an early Christian sarcophagus in the Musée départemental Arles antique. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The New Day


Meadows, Oxford

The Gospel  for the 2nd Sunday of the Year, in Year B, comes from the Gospel of John, (rather than ‘the Gospel of the Year’ – namely, Mark’s Gospel).

John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi,’ – which means Teacher –’where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day. It was about the tenth hour.

One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock.

John 1:35-42

The narrative is tightly and sparely told. Beyond the essentials of the story there is use of titles to describe Jesus which function as short-hand (or teasers?) for his meaning. There is care to name some of the persons featured in the narratives, and to explain the meaning of Rabbi.

There is one detail which seems redundant, but some have suggested is a key to the symbolic meaning of the passage – and John is keen on on his symbols.

‘It was about the tenth hour’. ‘About 4pm’ says the note in one edition of the Bible.

Other commentators see this as suggesting that the visit to where Jesus lived began at sundown, and on a Friday. (‘In my beginning is my end…’) They arrive as shabbat begins, and the rest of the day that they spend with Jesus is the full length of the shabbat.

They arrive, in other words, on the last day of the week, the 7th day, the day of rest. They arise to leave on what Jews call the first day of the week, and Christians have variously called the Lord’s Day, the eighth day (interesting concept when the week ordinarily has eight days!), or more prosaically, Sunday. In their encounter with him, which allows Andrew to know the Jesus, the Lamb of God as the anointed one of God, the Saviour, they enter into the new creation won by the Paschal Death and Rising, and shared more usually through the sacrament of Baptism.

  • Where is newness and creativity experienced in your life today?
  • Who might you point towards Jesus today?

Photograph of Christchurch, Oxford, in the early morning (according to the Latin way of counting time!). (C) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The goodness of the Lord


Santa Maria degli Angeli

The response to the responsorial psalm provided for Mass on Sunday last, the 2nd Sunday of the Year, is very much about our response to the Lord. And the one put on our lips is a generous, fulsome response: ‘Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will’.



Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.
He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings,
but an open ear.
You do not ask for holocaust and victim.
Instead, here am I.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

In the scroll of the book it stands written
that I should do your will.
My God, I delight in your law
in the depth of my heart.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

Your justice I have proclaimed
in the great assembly.
My lips I have not sealed;
you know it, O Lord.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

Psalm 39:2,4,7-10

So we sang, and so, hopefully, we will – do his will.

But for the moment note again what the psalmist says in the first verse:

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.
He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.

His response is response to a direct action of the Lord for him, and a humbling act of the Lord at that. ‘… He stooped down for me.’

Still in the wake of Christmas we might most easily think of that stooping down being the kenosis of Christ, the descent of God to share in our human flesh and circumstance.

However God’s humility expressed in his love and care for us creatures takes many forms. Just for the Creator to love and care at all is self-emptying, stooping enough.

Perhaps in prayer you could pause and wonder at the love God has for you. And once more given thanks for it, and – perhaps – recommit yourself in love for God.

The photograph continues the green and architectural theme of the week. This time the view is from Assisi down towards the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Listening and obeying…

Chateau Noir, Aix

The first reading on at yesterday’s Mass of the second Sunday of Ordinary Time  speaks of the sort of confusion with which we may be familiar.

Sometimes of course we may not hear the Lord speak. Sometimes we may mistake another’s voice for his. And sometimes, like Samuel, we hear the Lord speak, but mistake the speaker.

Samuel was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord, where the ark of God was, when the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ Then he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli said, ‘I did not call. Go back and lie down.’ So he went and lay down.

Once again the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ He replied, ‘I did not call you, my son; go back and lie down.’ Samuel had as yet no knowledge of the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

Once again the Lord called, the third time. He got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli then understood that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, and he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if someone calls say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The Lord then came and stood by, calling as he had done before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’
Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and let no word of his fall to the ground.

1 Samuel 3:3-10,19

One remarkable feature of the story is that Samuel listens. Another is that he cares that someone is calling. He is ready to serve, ready to respond.

His regular duty is to Eli. But his deeper duty is to the Lord. He serves both faithfully.

  • To whom do you listen?
  • Who are you ready to obey? Who do you wish you were more ready to obey – and what gets in the way of hearing and responding faithfully?

Photograph of Chateau Noir, near to Aix en Provence, and often featured in paintings by Paul Cezanne. (c) 2006, Allen Morris.