Taste and See: your will be done…

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The Collect at Mass on Sunday, the 8th in Ordinary Time, and the last before Lent, has us pray for the rule of God, here, now.

Grant us, O Lord, we pray,
that the course of our world
may be directed by your peaceful rule
and that your Church may rejoice,
untroubled in her devotion.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

At the end of Lent we remember Jesus in agony at the suffering that awaits him continuing to pray that, in all, God’s will be
done – whatever the cost.

There is a peace that goes deeper than superficial peace and apparent good order. Even in our agonies to respond properly, in any way adequately, to God’s faithfulness to us, we can be ‘untroubled’.

Let us pray for those who face troubles today, and hope they will pray for us.

Taste and See: Healing

DSC09481 servant.jpgPeople must think of us as Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God. What is expected of stewards is that each one should be found worthy of his trust. Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you, or indeed any human tribunal, find me worthy or not. I will not even pass judgement on myself. True, my conscience does not reproach me at all, but that does not prove that I am acquitted: the Lord alone is my judge. There must be no passing of premature judgement. Leave that until the Lord comes; he will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions of men’s hearts. Then will be the time for each one to have whatever praise he deserves, from God.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

This reading the second reading at Mass yesterday, calls us to be servants of Christ. In so being we imitate the Lord who comes to us as servant.

 

On Wednesday we begin the season of Lent, a season offered to us that we might be helped to deepen our relationship with Jesus and indeed become more like him, and closer to him.

He comes to us to heal us, and restore us to fullness of life.

One sign of our being restored to life is our ability in our turn to reach out to others in need, and minister to them.

Pass it on, and grow in it…

Detail from windows depicting the healing of the Centurion’s servant. Stafford parish church. (c) 2016, Stafford.

Speak Lord: Who cares…

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Zion was saying, ‘The Lord has abandoned me,
the Lord has forgotten me.’
Does a woman forget her baby at the breast,
or fail to cherish the son of her womb?
Yet even if these forget,
I will never forget you.

Isaiah 49:14-15

How we long to be acknowledged, remembered, cherished. How we long to matter…

The first reading at Mass today, the Sunday of the eighth week in Ordinary Time, speaks to that longing. And especially to those who feel their longing is in vain.

In that passage, the Lord himself, speaking through his prophet, assures that he never has and never will forget – not ‘us’ but, first person singular, ‘me’. The Lord forgets no one, no way, not ever.

We are his children and precious in his eyes.

Why? How might you live differently reminded of the love of God for you?

Figures in grounds of Rochester Cathedral, Kent. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: our peace

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In God alone is my soul at rest.

In God alone is my soul at rest;
my help comes from him.
He alone is my rock, my stronghold,
my fortress: I stand firm.

In God alone is my soul at rest.

In God alone be at rest, my soul;
for my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock, my stronghold,
my fortress: I stand firm.

In God alone is my soul at rest.

In God is my safety and glory,
the rock of my strength.
Take refuge in God, all you people.
Trust him at all times.
Pour out your hearts before him.

In God alone is my soul at rest.

Psalm 61:2-3,6-9

The Psalm at Mass tomorrow – of Sunday of the 8th week in Ordinary Time, of the last Sunday before Lent – calls us to peace, to know rest in the Lord, and to find confidence and security there.

There are maybe two remptations with regard to trust in God.

The first is to say we trust, and in fact only to trust in ourselves.

The second is to trust in God but have very particular idea of just how God has to respond to our trust in him. There is a famous joke that demonstrates this attitude:

A man named Jack was walking along a steep cliff one day, when he accidentally got too close to the edge and fell. On the way down he grabbed a branch, which temporarily stopped his fall. He looked down and to his horror saw that the canyon fell straight down for more than a thousand feet.

He couldn’t hang onto the branch forever, and there was no way for him to climb up the steep wall of the cliff. So Jack began yelling for help, hoping that someone passing by would hear him and lower a rope or something.

HELP! HELP! Is anyone up there? “HELP!”

He yelled for a long time, but no one heard him. He was about to give up when he heard a voice. Jack, Jack. Can you hear me?”

“Yes, yes! I can hear you. I’m down here!”

“I can see you, Jack. Are you all right?”

“Yes, but who are you, and where are you?

“I am the Lord, Jack. I’m everywhere.”

“The Lord? You mean, GOD?”

“That’s Me.”

“God, please help me! I promise if, you’ll get me down from here, I’ll stop sinning. I’ll be a really good person. I’ll serve You for the rest of my life.”

“Easy on the promises, Jack. Let’s get you off from there; then we can talk.”

“Now, here’s what I want you to do. Listen carefully.”

“I’ll do anything, God. Just tell me what to do.”

“Okay. Let go of the branch.””What?” “I said, let go of the branch. Just trust Me. Let go.”

There was a long silence.

Finally Jack yelled, “HELP! HELP! IS ANYONE ELSE UP THERE?”

  • What helps you to trust?
  • What enfeebles your trust?

On his holidays. John Singer Sargeant. In the collection of Lady Lever Gallery, Liverpool. Photograph (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Servant-Master

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People must think of us as Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God. What is expected of stewards is that each one should be found worthy of his trust. Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you, or indeed any human tribunal, find me worthy or not. I will not even pass judgement on myself. True, my conscience does not reproach me at all, but that does not prove that I am acquitted: the Lord alone is my judge. There must be no passing of premature judgement. Leave that until the Lord comes; he will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions of men’s hearts. Then will be the time for each one to have whatever praise he deserves, from God.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

The reading above is the second reading on Sunday, the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Paul, who rejoiced in the freedom he received in Christ, speaks of the call to service that is also his joy.

In service we make some return to God, share the goodness of God with others. It matters not whether we are called to provide service small or great; whether it is appreciated by others or not. What matters is that we are ready and able to serve … as Christ for Christ.

  • Note how you are ready or hesitant to serve today.
  • Notice how Christ serves you today.

Detail from Doors to St Peter’s Basilica, Rome. (c) 2016, Rome.

Speak Lord: our safety and help

 

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Jesus said to his disciples: ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.

‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith? So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

Matthew 6:24-34

Sunday is the Sunday of the 8th Week in Ordinary Time. However that week is cut short on Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, when the season of Lent begins.

This Sunday’s Gospel is a good preparation for the season of Lent. It invites us, helps us, to look to ourselves and see where comes the motivation for our actions, what sets our priorities.

The motivation for Jesus – and the motivation he presses us to make our own – is love of the Father who loves us. From this all things flow… Jesus finds his everything is gift from the Father, and enables his love for his neighbour. In the Father’s love Jesus finds the security that allows him to live lovingly, daringly.

He extends his hand to us, and offers to help us live the same way…

Sparrow: Alhambra, Granada. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Which way, God?

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Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

Matthew 5:38-48

The Gospel we heard on Sunday, the Sunday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, challenges us and encouraged in equal measure.

The encouragement comes in the form of a reminder of God’s love for us, awaking us to the blessings that surround us.

The challenge is not to hog goodness to ourselves, but to be ready to share it, even to extend it to others who we fear (sometimes, it transpires without good cause).

We are called to grow into the likeness of God, not to contribute to the fracturing of God’s Creation.

Peace and Division. Bethlehem. (c) 2007, Allen Morris