Speak Lord: that we may give you praise

St GermansThe Responsorial Psalm on Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Easter, puts a song of praise on our lips. Praise is what we sing of, and praise is what we do.

You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly.
or
Alleluia!

My vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and shall have their fill.
They shall praise the Lord, those who seek him.
May their hearts live for ever and ever!

You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly.
or
Alleluia!

All the earth shall remember and return to the Lord,
all families of the nations worship before him;
They shall worship him, all the mighty of the earth;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust.

You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly.
or
Alleluia!

And my soul shall live for him, my children serve him.
They shall tell of the Lord to generations yet to come,
declare his faithfulness to peoples yet unborn:
‘These things the Lord has done.’

You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly.
or
Alleluia!

Psalm 21:26-28,30-32

What we praise God for in the psalm, is that God is God, not just God for us. We pray in words that alert us afresh to the generosity and mercy of God for all, always.

The evident meaning of ‘great assembly’ in the psalm is the liturgical assembly, be that in Temple, synagogue or Church. However, perhaps the still greater assembly is that of all of God’s children, even those who have never yet known the wonder and glory of God.

  • Where do we see the goodness of God to ourselves?
  • Where do we see his goodness for others?
  • How might we share his goodness to us with others?

Photograph is of the great West Door of St German’s Priory, Cornwall. The door defines the threshold that we cross to receive great blessings, and cross again with great blessings to share. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Let us know our strengths and weaknesses.

Peter and Paul II

The first reading on Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Easter, gives a certain insight to the tensions that challenged the early Church. Saul had once persecuted the Church: now a Christian he faces death – yes, death – at the hand of other Christians. ‘Peace’ is only achieved by packing Saul off to modern day Turkey!

When Saul got to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him: they could not believe he was really a disciple. Barnabas, however, took charge of him, introduced him to the apostles, and explained how the Lord had appeared to Saul and spoken to him on his journey, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Saul now started to go round with them in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. But after he had spoken to the Hellenists, and argued with them, they became determined to kill him. When the brothers knew, they took him to Caesarea, and sent him off from there to Tarsus.

The churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were now left in peace, building themselves up, living in the fear of the Lord, and filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 9:26-31

In the absence of Paul, it is Peter who is the key figure in the ‘liberalisation’ of the Christian community, helping shed some of the customs and laws of Judaism, opening the Church directly to Gentiles.

The ‘exile’ does not prevent the mission of Paul, maybe it even helps focus it and empower it.

Maybe the absence of Paul opens up a space in the leadership that Peter rises to in a new way, and forces him to exercise the discernment proper to the leadership of the Church.

  • Where has reversal helped you?
  • Where has it hindered you?
  • When has it been best to flee?
  • When to fight?

Bring the fruits of your reflection to the Lord in prayer.

Photograph of early Christian memorial plaque, Vatican Museum. (c) 2005, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The greatness of the Lord and the Easter Mystery

IMG_2228a

There are five Easter Prefaces that can be used with the Eucharistic Prayers during the Eater season.

The following one was used in St John’s Wood last Sunday – and perhaps in your church too – it’s title indicates the enormous theme it approaches:

The restoration of the universe through the Paschal Mystery

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
at all times to acclaim you, O Lord,
but in this time above all to laud you yet more gloriously,
when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.

For, with the old order destroyed,
a universe cast down is renewed,
and integrity of life is restored to us in Christ.

Therefore, overcome with paschal joy,
every land, every people exults in your praise
and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts,
sing together the unending hymn of your glory,
as they acclaim:

Easter is certainly not just about Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies! Nor is it ‘just’ about the rising of Jesus from the dead – or at least there is much more to the rising of Jesus from the dead than an event in the history of one man.

IMG_2229aThe Resurrection is one might say a ‘game-changer’ or at least it reveals the nature of the game that is being played: the salvation of the world – of humankind and all creation.

This is no matter of personal devotion or private religiosity. It is much more, and it is at our peril that we allow the Resurrection to be domesticated in our prayer, our worship, our theology.

  • Where is the power of God’s salvation needed in your life?
  • In your community?
  • In our world?

Photographs of the 15th Station, Lourdes. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Made new, made better.

BernadetteThe Psalm for the 4th Sunday of Easter had us sing of the goodness of the Lord, and of the way in which the rejected one becomes in fact the cornerstone of what is new and good and right.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in men;
it is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

I will thank you for you have answered
and you are my saviour.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

Blessed in the name of the Lord
is he who comes.
We bless you from the house of the Lord;
You are my God, I thank you.
My God, I praise you.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good;
for his love has no end.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

Psalm 117:1,8-9,21-23,26,28-29

Often the point of growth for an individual or for a community is what seems the weaker part, or even the damaged part. From that different perspective can be found the way forward for all sorts of change and growth.

Where has this been true in your experience?

What ‘weakness’ or ‘disability’ might have potential for your future development, or that of your community?

Painting of Bernadette Soubirous, Bolly Mill, Lourdes. Photograph (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Lord, that I might see

That I might seeThe First reading at Mass, yesterday, the 4th Sunday of Easter came from the Acts of the Apostles.

St Peter speaks to those who are scandalised by the love and compassion of God made manifest in the healing of a crippled man.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said: ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple, and asking us how he was healed, then I am glad to tell you all, and would indeed be glad to tell the whole people of Israel, that it was by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the one you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man is able to stand up perfectly healthy, here in your presence, today. This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’

Acts 4:8-12

How often our ability to see and know God and God’s actions by our preconceptions and self-interest.

Where might that be a factor in your life now?

Lord, that I might see. Statue in Lourdes. Photograph (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Good Shepherd, speak.

Chancel Screen, RavennaThe Gospel for today, the 4th Sunday of Easter and Vocations Sunday, presents us with Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

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.’

John 10:11-18

The photograph above shows a sheep, the Cross, and some part of a serpent. In that simple schematic carving is proposed the relationship between us, and the Lord, and the evil that besets us, leading us to sin and the Lord to die on the Cross.

Yet his love frees us from sin for he vanquishes death and evil. It is his pleasure and joy to set us free, to save us.

His pattern of service is one for us not only to be grateful for and admire, but also to imitate. We are able to make his way ours, not by our own strength, though we have to desire it, but by his strength shared with us in grace and especially in the Shepherd’s self-gift becoming for us the Lamb of God, giving his life for us in form of Bread and Wine.

Photograph of Chancel Screen, Ravenna. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Call us, your children…

Eucharist

The Second reading on Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Easter, comes from the 1st letter of St John. It calls us to be awake and alert to all God has done for us.

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;
all we know is, that when it is revealed
we shall be like him
because we shall see him as he really is.

1 John 3:1-2

As with most families what helps us to be who we are and to become who we are to become happens as we share in the family meals and the family stories. These can limit us and constrain us, or open our hearts, minds and lives to the newness that is available to us.

  • At Mass are you closed down or opened up by what takes place?
  • How can you better play your part in helping that sacrament of word and symbolic action more fully engage you and others, and help you to the newness and the dignity proper to the children of God?

Photograph of station of Mystery of Institution of the Eucharist, Medjugorje. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Make us new, let us see.

Tabgha

The Psalm for the 4th Sunday of Easter reminds of the dramatic reversal between the rejection of Jesus as a blasphemer and injurious to faith in the true God and the recognition that in Jesus God is with us and for us.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in men;
it is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

I will thank you for you have answered
and you are my saviour.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

Blessed in the name of the Lord
is he who comes.
We bless you from the house of the Lord;
You are my God, I thank you.
My God, I praise you.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good;
for his love has no end.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

Psalm 117:1,8-9,21-23,26,28-29

Such a dramatic reversal may be rare, but reversals as such are not uncommon!

Sometimes the rejected becomes the accepted; and sometimes the previously accepted calls out to be rejected.

Prejudice and habit can blind us to the truth. This day let us pray for the freedom to see things for how they truly are.

Photograph of the rock at Tabgha where the multiplication of the loaves is commemorated. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of your life and love

Sarcophagus, Cathedral, Aix 2014

The First reading at Mass on 4th Sunday of Easter continues our reading of Acts of the Apostles.

The story is about them: their focus is him.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said: ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple, and asking us how he was healed, then I am glad to tell you all, and would indeed be glad to tell the whole people of Israel, that it was by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the one you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man is able to stand up perfectly healthy, here in your presence, today. This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’

Acts 4:8-12

At the end of this day, your day – the day given you by the Lord – spend some time reviewing how it has gone. How have you received and lived the day? Where have you found yourself enjoying the salvation of the Lord? Where – in kindness, love, healing and reconciliation – have you been able to share it with others?

Detail of carved Sarcophagus, Arles. Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: all is new

Aix fish 2014

The Gospel reading on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Easter, concludes the episode,  the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and their encounter with the risen Lord, and over things on a little!

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

They were still talking about all this when he 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.

Luke 24:35-48

The reality of the Lord’s resurrection is at one and the same time a source of joy and of uncertainty. He is risen and the world’s ‘nature’ turns out to be not as we knew it.

His resurrection is about him, of course, but is also, and radically, it is also about us. We cannot be said to live if we live the same after the Resurrection if we live as we would have done before.

  • What is different because Christ is risen?
  • What is different about you because Christ is risen?

Carving, Aix en Provence. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.