Taste and See: Nourishment

London-Calix-Logo2.jpg

Nourished by these redeeming gifts,
we pray, O Lord,
that through this help to eternal salvation
true faith may ever increase.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion, 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The prayer above, prayed at Mass on Sunday, served to remind us of the expectation that we draw strength from our Sunday Eucharist for faithful living during the days, months and years that follow.

We all from time to time have experiences of Mass which seem not to engage, not to encourage. Indeed they may even seem to sap us of energy or the will to live!

Yet even in those less than positive reactions we receive something which may prompt us  – because of the ‘bad’ experience –  to return to the Lord in prayer, or take up – even more deliberately, carefully and appreciatively – our own Christian ministry and witness.

The Mass is gift from God – as indeed are in some sense, all aspects of our lives. Always, everywhere, they give us something to take back to God in prayer, for our good and the building up of the Kingdom.

  • What gifts – welcome or unwelcome – did you receive from Mass on Sunday?
  • How have you lived from them, brought them to prayer in the time since?

Graphic prepared for Calix Society London. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: unworldly?

dsc08241-hirshfield-montage

How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free.

How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down,
the Lord, who protects the stranger
and upholds the widow and orphan.

How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

It is the Lord who loves the just
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age.

How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Psalm 145:6-10

The Psalm at Mass yesterday, the 4th Sunday of the Year, set before us God’s choices, and challenged us about ours.

Are the choices we make about self-protection and seeking after our own well-being or do they have us seek to respond lovingly to the needs of others.

  • As we go through this new day, maybe we can keep a check. What am I doing for others? What am I doing for myself.
  • How do I invite them to an experience of unity with me and ‘us’, and how do I define them as ‘them’ and other’?

The choir of manufacturers of weapons: a strong fortress is our Geneva.’  John Heartfield, photomontage for AIZ magazine, 1934. Displayed in Tate Modern, London. Photograph (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: guide us to deep life…

dsc00522

Seek the Lord,
all you, the humble of the earth,
who obey his commands.
Seek integrity,
seek humility:
you may perhaps find shelter
on the day of the anger of the Lord.

In your midst I will leave
a humble and lowly people,
and those who are left in Israel will seek refuge in the name of the Lord.
They will do no wrong,
will tell no lies;
and the perjured tongue will no longer
be found in their mouths.
But they will be able to graze and rest
with no one to disturb them.

Zephaniah 2:3,3:12-13

The first reading at Mass today, the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, calls to us as the humble of the earth, obedient to God. It also calls on us to seek integrity, seek humility: it sort of implies these are qualities we have not yet got.

And as we gather for prayer today maybe we will recognise – and not only in the other people gathering – that we have some way to go before we meet the description in Zephnaniah of the people God wishes to leave to the world, for the worlds good.

We know to what we are called, and at our best we know how far short we fall.  And so we gather seeking what we lack,  with repentence, and in hope.

  • For what do you pray today?
  • Why?

Faith, Hope and Charity. All Saints, Leamington Spa. Photograph (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Be our ruler and our rule

DSC01404 Christ the Shepherd.jpg

How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
or
Alleluia!

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free.

How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
or
Alleluia!

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down,
the Lord, who protects the stranger
and upholds the widow and orphan.

How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
or
Alleluia!

It is the Lord who loves the just
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age.

How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
or
Alleluia!

Psalm 145:6-10

Tomorrow – the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time –  in the Responsorial Psalm sung at Mass, the Church sings of the Lord’s ministry of mercy.

The Kingship of God is beautifully, tenderly, expressed there in the description of his service and protection to those in need. Even the thwarting of the paths of the wicked is an act of love – not just for their would be victims, but for the wicked themselves – part of his work of giving sight to the blind, setting prisoners free.

The Kingship of God is over all people and for all people. Into his care we can relax. And his love, at our best, we strive to imitate.

  • From what does the Lord call you?
  • To what does the Lord call you?

Karl Hoffman: Christ. In the collection of the Hermitage, St Petersburg. Photograph (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: a humble way…

entrance-to-a-cave-church-goreme

Take yourselves for instance, brothers, at the time when you were called: how many of you were wise in the ordinary sense of the word, how many were influential people, or came from noble families? No, it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning; those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything.

The human race has nothing to boast about to God, but you, God has made members of Christ Jesus and by God’s doing he has become our wisdom, and our virtue, and our holiness, and our freedom. As scripture says: if anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

St Paul calls us a realistic sense of ourselves. Humility about who were are/were in ourselves; proper pride about who in Christ we have become.

On the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the sequence of readings invite us to a fresh humility about ourselves, and a fresh dedication to the Lord and his way of living.

In God’s purview so many of the things we have considered strengths are revealed as weaknesses, sapping us of our purpose and drawing us from what makes life most worth living.

To take to ourselves God’s vision and God’s life is not necessarily easy! But we seek to do it, not alone, but as very members of Christ. From him will come the strength we need, and from him the love and patience we need as we struggle as we learn to live by his strength.

  • In what do you take false pride?
  • In what can you take real pride?

Rock church, Goreme, Turkey. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Speak up?

Beatitudes 2.jpg

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

Matthew 5:1-12

This coming Sunday, the 4th in Ordinary Time, we hear teh Beatitudes from Matthew’s Gospel as our Sunday Gospel.

The passage from the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is a key exposition of the teaching of Jesus. Perhaps because they never read to the end, some -for example Goebbels, have belittled it as proclaiming a Gospel of weakness and impotence.

Monty Python offered their own take in the Life of Brian, exploiting the sermon on the mount to provide a funny tale of poor crowd control and mishearing. They provided a sympathetic sign-off to the sketch, but again one which focuses on the softer element of the teaching of Jesus.

MAN #2: You hear that? Blessed are the Greek.

GREGORY: The Greek?

MAN #2: Mmm. Well, apparently, he’s going to inherit the earth…..

 

MRS. BIG NOSE: Oh, it’s the meek! Blessed are the meek! Oh, that’s nice, isn’t it? I’m glad they’re getting something, ’cause they have a hell of a time.

Jesus himself ends with a challenge to his listeners to be strong and resilient as they engage with the evils of the world: to endure abuse and persecution for the cause of right and in defence of their following of Jesus.

  • Which Beatitude do you find most attractive?
  • Which do you find most challenging?
  • Which Beatitude most deepens the quality of life in you?

 

To see the Sermon on the Mount scene from The Life of Brian click here.

Photograph of Church at the Mount of Beatitudes. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: at home with the Lord

Alhambra-Nazarid Palace VIIIa.jpg

The Lord is my light and my help.

The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink?

The Lord is my light and my help.

There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to savour the sweetness of the Lord,
to behold his temple.

The Lord is my light and my help.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord!

The Lord is my light and my help.

Psalm 26:1,4,13-14

The Responsorial Psalm at Mass on Sunday had us proclaim the love and care of God, and express our longing for us to be allowed/be able to entrust ourselves always to his tender care.

The psalmist speaks of the temple and the house of the Lord. In our world there have been many glorious temples and palaces, designed to give eloquent expression of the power and glory of the monarch or dynasty that posseses them.

Yet what the psalmist’s most longs for is not a housing upgrade, but a deeper and abiding closeness to the Lord himself. And this is what is offered to us again and again.

  • Take time to pause and rejoice in the Lord’s tenderness and love for you….
  • Give thanks.

Exterior facade of Nazarid Palace at the Alhambra, Granada. Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris.