Taste and see: Training

Olympic rings

The second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, was taken from the Letter to the Hebrews.

The Letter as a whole offers an opportunity for a taking stock on what it means to be faithful, to be chosen, to be Christian, especially at a time of trial.

Sunday’s passage offers us help and encouragement….

Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons. Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness. So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.

Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13

 

The original setting for the Letter’s writing and reception was probably a time of persecution. For most readers of this blog the testing we face is different, more likely to come from the daily process of seeking to live well, and to respond well to the love of God, in the ordinary experiences of life – with family, work, neighbours. The testing can be acute there too.

To know that we are not facing it alone – that it is part of a regime to help us to succeed – is some comfort, and gives us a sense of direction and purpose to our day.

  • In prayer bring to the Lord the things that challenge you. Be sure he knows of them, and renew your trust in his care.

 

Olympic rings, London, 2012. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: as one people

Jerusalem 2The Psalm at Mass on Sunday, the 21st Sunday in Ordinary time, briefly and firmly calls us to praise of God and to confidence in God’s love for us, his people.

Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.

O praise the Lord, all you nations,
acclaim him all you peoples!

Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.

Strong is his love for us;
he is faithful for ever.

Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.

Psalm 116:1-2

 

A psalm from the Jewish Scriptures, and also the word of God for Christians, it is a prayer and song that all believers in the one God might sing with joy and assurance.

In this song the family of God, who know God as God, can join in a common song, despite difference of religion, faith, culture, language, whatever.

  •  In prayer today pray the psalm with and for all God’s people.

Church, Temple Mount and Mosque, Jerusalem. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Taste and See: newness

door alyscamps

Yesterday was the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, and the Gospel encouraged us to a new attentiveness about how we live: the we might live faithfully, fruitfully, well.

Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”

‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves turned outside. And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.

‘Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’

Luke 13:22-30

The image of the narrow door can be off-putting, but it is a way built to enable not diable, to help us to the new life we are offered. It is a way that Jesus went before us, and through which he continues to pass in the act of humility that is his feeding us with his Body and Blood at every Mass.

  • What causes you to hesitate, falter in moving forwards to Christ, in Christ?
  • Bring your uncertainties, fears to Jesus in prayer.

Mausuleum, Alycsamps, Arles. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Make us one

Nativity, LiverpoolThe first reading at Mass today offers an inclusive vision of God;’s blessing of Israel – this is a blessing to share with the whole world. Jerusalem may have been asked by its conquerors and its people dispersed. But there will be not restitution but restoration; and the blessing of one people will prove to be blessing for the whole world.

The prophesy made through Isaiah is understood in the Christian tradition as a foretelling of the gift of Christ and the good news of the Kingdom.

The Lord says this: I am coming to gather the nations of every language. They shall come to witness my glory. I will give them a sign and send some of their survivors to the nations: to Tarshish, Put, Lud, Moshech, Rosh, Tubal, and Javan, to the distant islands that have never heard of me or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory to the nations. As an offering to the Lord they will bring all your brothers, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules, on dromedaries, from all the nations to my holy mountain in Jerusalem, says the Lord, like Israelites bringing oblations in clean vessels to the Temple of the Lord. And of some of them I will make priests and Levites, says the Lord.

Isaiah 66:18-21

In part the prophesy is fulfilled in the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem – Jerusalem having been corrupted. In part the prophesy is still to be fulfilled by the faithful Christans and Jews – in each present day witnessing to God and his glory and so allowing them to share in the pure sacrifice of Christ, and be drawn to the heavenly Jerusalem.

Nativity, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris. NB Liverpool rather spoils the link by using a Bactrian camel and not a Dromedary!

Speak Lord: Our praise

Creation 6 and 7

The Psalm at Mass tomorrow, the 21st Sunday in Ordinary time, is a delightfully short psalm. It is a model of concision and assurance, both in the call it makes to the people and in its own proclamation of God’s love.

Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.

O praise the Lord, all you nations,
acclaim him all you peoples!

Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.

Strong is his love for us;
he is faithful for ever.

Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.

Psalm 116:1-2

We are all too familiar with bad news and that bad news can often constrain and diminish us. It can depress us and can restrict our ability to be fully human,  respond with unconstructive anger, or to become despondent, cynical, and (seem to) fail to respond at all.

The way of Christ, though sometimes fueled by anger or shaped by sadness, is always to respond, and to respond with love. His way is to join in the work of the Father, in the work of creation and of healing.

  • What bad news do you face today?
  • In what negative and unhelpful ways are you tempted to respond to it?
  • How might you respond with love and healing?

Detail of representation of Days of Creation. Peterborough Cathedral. (c) 20 , Allen Morris

Speak Lord: gently

St Peter getting our of the boat, Peterborough CathedralThe second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, comes from the Letter to the Hebrews.

Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons. Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness. So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.

Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13

Discipline rarely comes easy – whether it is self-discipline, or the discipline imposed by others. We can resent it and seek to resist it in countless ways.

The discipline of God is always for our good., our lasting good. Often though our timescale is rather more short term and we can miss the point of the training the Lord provides.

Experience suggests that, on the whole, our learning to accept his discipline does not come much easier, if any easier, with age.

We are always as children before him, needing his help, often being childish in our resentment and tantrums. But when we know our weakness and repent of our failings we are ever invited to return child-like to the loving Father; to the embrace of the beloved and beloving brother, secure in the Spirit of God.

  • What invitation from the Lord do you resist?
  • What impetuosity are you tempted to?

St Peter getting our of the boat. Peterborough Cathedral. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: That you might know us better

Gestapo priosoners memorial

The feast of the Assumption interrupted the regular sequence of the Sundays of Ordinary Time.

This coming Sunday is the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, and in the Gospel we enter that part of Luke’s Gospel which leads to Jerusalem and the Passion and Resurrection.

Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”

‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves turned outside. And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.

‘Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’

Luke 13:22-30

Jesus preaches salvation, but not ‘cheap grace’.

That phrase, ‘cheap grace’, comes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran Pastor who was executed in consequence of his active opposition to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.

In The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer wrote:

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

  • How do you cooperate with the grace of God so freely given?
  • How might you help others to do the same?

Memorial to prisoners of the Gestapo. Cracow. (c) 2013, Allen Morris