Speak Lord: healing and holding

Palestinian home, Taybeh

The Gospel reading in Sunday, the 14th in Ordinary Time, has the disciples able to ‘try out’ the discipleship that has been the focus of teaching in recent weeks’ readings.

The try it out, and their work is succesful. Jesus himself sees Satan fall in consequence of what they do.

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.

‘Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.

‘Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, “We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near.” I tell you, on that day it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.’

The seventy-two came back rejoicing. ‘Lord,’ they said ‘even the devils submit to us when we use your name.’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Yes, I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’

Luke 10:1-12,17-20

The discipline of the disciples mean that they remain on message, and focussed on the ministering of the Gospel – healing the sick, and assuring, preaching, that the Kingdom of God is very near to those to whom they speak.

The fall of Satan is testimony to its very nearness: the world, the communities to whom they go is restored to its original purpose of closeness to God. What Israel was called to, but again and again fails to live up to; what the disciples before and after this episode again and again find difficult to keep hold of and live – here in this prescious moment is achieved. The power of disciples to make a difference is demonstrated and assured.

Pass it on.

Interior of a typical hillside 1st C Palestinian home. Taybeh, Palestinian Territories. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

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Taste and See: Committed to communion

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The second reading on Sunday, the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, draws our attention to the tension between freedom and obedience; liberty and service.

In the UK there has been much talk of independence in recent months; and not a little snapping, even of ‘tearing each other to pieces’. There has been also – for many – a keen awareness of the importance for our social/political health of being co-responsible for each other, of relating well with our neighbours, individual neighbours and neighbouring nations. But there is still much to be done to find health together again.

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.

Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.

Galatians 5:1,13-18

  • What do you receive from others?
  • What are you able to contribute to them?

Detail of Poster for Chora, Venice. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Becoming the Bread we eat.

Tabernacle, Osterley

The Prayer after Communion at Mass on Sunday, the 13th of Ordinary time, provides the ever-timely reminder of a principal reason for the Mass.

The Mass is gifted to us not only that, through our participation  in Christ’s Sacrificial self-offering, bread and wine will be changed into his Body and Blood. It is also gifted to us that through our participation we, who are his Body, might also be changed, so as to be more like him, more fruitful in him.

May this divine sacrifice we have offered and received
fill us with life, O Lord, we pray,
so that, bound to you in lasting charity,
we may bear fruit that lasts for ever.
Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

In the image above Mary receives the Body of Christ by her yes to what God invites her to. We can say our yes to God in a myriad ways, and maybe we do. But we especially say our ‘Yes when we say our Amen as we receive the Bread of life and the Chalice of Salvation.

But the Lord nourishes us so we might live our ‘Yes’ in the daily business of life, in our work, in our care of neighbour, in our fulfilling the potential of our selves.

  • How do you live your ‘Yes’?

Icon of Annunciation and Tabernacle. St Vincent de Paul, Osterley. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: as we follow, as we serve…

Saints Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo

The Gospel on Sunday, the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, spoke about decision making and following through. These are matters that are rather preoccupying the UK at present!

The Gospel shows how easily disciples – even the good ones! – get off track. But it also calls them and us again and again back to what is fundamental: following the Lord. Nothing else is more important. Everything else finds its meaning in him, the ultimate source of all that is good

As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?’ But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.

As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me’, replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’

Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say goodbye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’

Luke 9:51-62

  • Why do you want to follow Jesus?
  • How – in your life – do you follow Jesus?
  • What recent decision have you made because you follow him?

Saints and Martyrs, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: keep us true

Holy Family MarseilleThe First reading at Mass today, the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, is a glorious vivid account of a change of mind!

The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go, you are to anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel Meholah, as prophet to succeed you.’

Leaving there, Elijah came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. Elijah answered, ‘Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?’

Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.

1 Kings 19:16,19-21

Elisha is challenged by Elijah and sees the error of his ways. To want to say farewell to parents before leaving does not sound too outrageous a request, but in the world of the story it prefigures what might so easily become a series of hesitancies and drawing back from the will of God in this prophet, similar to those which the Old Testament tirelessly recounts in other prophets, patriarchs , kings and judges, and which are told to shame Israel into greater faithfulness in the present day.

  • What restricts your freedom to act?
  • What sustains it?

Holy Family, Marseille. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: counsellor and friend

ExpositionThe Psalm at Mass tomorrow, the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, draws us to a confession of our reliance on God to be what, who, we are called to be, want to be.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.’

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion.

Psalm 15:1-2,5,7-11

In these present days many people find themselves unsettled; and their trust in themselves and in others challenged.

A Christian is encouraged always to start not from where we were, but from where we are. In this present situation, always, the call is for us to do what is loving and good for others, thereby always doing what is good and right in our relationship with God, and learning how to be ourselves.

So – in new and changed circumstances – we turn to God. We turn to God, not as a refuge and escape from reality, but precisely in order to help us to live well in our new situation.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, as Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has written:

A great tradition of the United Kingdom is to respect the will of the people, expressed at the ballot box. Today we set out on a new course that will be demanding on all.

Our prayer is that all will work in this task with respect and civility, despite deep differences of opinion. We pray that in this process the most vulnerable will be supported and protected, especially those who are easy targets for unscrupulous employers and human traffickers.

We pray that our nations will build on our finest traditions of generosity, of welcome for the stranger and shelter for the needy.

We now must work hard to show ourselves to be good neighbours and resolute contributors in joint international efforts to tackle the critical problems of our world today.

  • Of what are you afraid? Why?
  • What of God might give you hope and strength? How might you cooperate with that?

Exposition at Bishop Walsh Catholic School. (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Please pray for the students and staff of Bishop Walsh who next week have a mission week – including extended times of Exposition. United in Christ.

Speak Lord: Move us on…

Tabernacle St Paeter and Paul, Cracow

The second reading on Sunday, the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time continues our reading of the letter of St Paul to the Galatians.

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence.

Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.

Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.

Galatians 5:1,13-18

St Paul calls on us to look beyond ourselves and our needs, beyond ‘fighting our corner’but working for the common good.

In the past weeks and month, in the context of the EU referendum, there has been much setting up of ‘opposition’ to those of different opinion. But now the vote has been taken. The decision has been made, and it seems it is to leave.

As we await the final results the challenge for us all is how do we – all together – accept and implement the expressed will of the community (at least of those parts of the community permitted to vote!).

Almost half of those who did vote do not agree with the decision, but somewhat more than half have won the vote. Now, together, we need (learn again) to work for the common good. Some will see it (at least for a while) as trying to make the best of a bad job, but it is now for the best that, together, we must work, together.

To make bread grains of wheat have to be crushed and ground to form flour. To make wine, grapes are pressed and the juice collected. And then dough has to be made from the flour, and baked to form the one bread for Mass. And the grape juice fermented so that it might becomes the wine, the  drink for the one Chalice. In making bread, in making wine what is broken has – through our industry – become something new and whole.

This fruit of our industry is then taken and transformed by Christ into himself – offered as Sacrifice to God, and Sacrifice for us – and then shared with us as food and drink for the next stage of our journey that leads through this world and to eternal life.

  • What helps you to seek common-ground with others?
  • What frustrates any such attempt to seek common-ground?
  • To what and how does the Spirit guide you?

Tabernacle from Church of Ss Peter and Paul, Cracow. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.