Tate and See: Spiritual things

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Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, always pondering spiritual things,
we may carry out in both word and deed
that which is pleasing to you.
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.

Collect for Sunday of 7th Week in Ordinary Time

What are the spiritual things we are to ponder on?

We single out certain events in the life of Jesus and Mary, for example as Mysteries. These, like the Sacraments and the Liturgy of the Church, disclose something of the love of God and the working of grace in our lives.

But the Sacraments take the form of simple human actions – washing, a caress, eating drinking – many of them repeated many times each day; the events of the lives of Jesus and Mary – birth, death, choice of the good and best – are in many respects similar to events in every person’s life.

Is there anything that is not a spiritual thing?  Capable of communicating something of God, or by our mis-use capable of disclosing something awry in us?

  • What in your experience in the last 24 hours would reward your spiritual pondering?
  • Bring the results to God in prayer…

Rosary Way, Aylesford Priory. (c) 2008, Allen Morris

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Taste and See: The Word and the word

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Alleluia, alleluia!
If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.
Alleluia!

Jn 14:23

Those who love the Lord and seek to live from the word – which surely includes those who read this blog! – are likely to have taken comfort from the Gospel Acclamation above, sung at Mass yesterday, the Sunday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time.

Actions have consequences, and not least in our relationship with God. He will never allow our good actions to outdo his goodness!

Our attempts to respond to God’s word are surely met by his love. We are caught up into his Communion of love – his gift, our joy.

  • Where have you been surprised by the generosity of God?

Mosaic, Hagia Sophia. (c) 2002, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Of the Law of Love

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The Lord spoke to Moses; he said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:

‘“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

‘“You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”’

Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18

The reading is the first reading at Mass today, the 7th Sunday in Ordinary time. It is chosen for the Lectionary because of it’s close relationship with the Gospel reading of the Day, which we prayed with on Thursday as part of our preparation for today.

Holiness is God is; but holiness is what we do.

Holiness is something we work for in our living lovingly for others. In that is our imitation of Christ and our aspiring for the holiness of God.

The struggle to live love drives us again and again to the tenderness of God. As we benefit from his love for us, so we have love to share with others.

  • What do you receive from God?
  • What do you presently lack?

Moses. Church of St Nicolas. Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Spring of mercy…

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The Lord is compassion and love.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion.

The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.

As far as the east is from the west
so far does he remove our sins.
As a father has compassion on his sons,
the Lord has pity on those who fear him.

Psalm 102(103):1-4,8,10,12-13

The psalm above is that which we will sing at Mass on Sunday, tomorrow, the 7th SUnday in Ordinary Time.

It speaks of mercy. As we approach the season of Lent it is good to remember the mercy of God. (When is it not!?!)

Sometimes there is talk of ‘Catholic guilt’. Often Catholics, like other people, have things about which we ought to feel ashamed and guilty. However, the distinguishing quality of Catholics is that we know the remedy for our guilt and are speedy in our recourse to the healing love of God.

  • Was there some experience in the recent Year of Mercy that stood out for you, and that symbolises the reason for our hope?
  • For what else do you give thanks?

Sign at the door of Mercy, at Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Build us up

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Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.

Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are; or again: God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise. So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.

1 Corinthians 3:16-23

The reading above is the second reading that we will hear on Sunday, the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The Basilica of St Therese of Lisieux, in Lisieux is designed and decorated to give expression to her faith and her spirituality.

However perfect we are – remember the Gospel of Sunday which we considered yesterday? – we are unlikely to be afforded such honour.

However we do reveal our faith, our spirituality in our daily living in our choices and our attitudes, in our being. We bring glory to the Temple – by God’s grace! And sometimes we besmirch and sully it.

  • In what way does your daily living show you to be temple of God?
  • How does the life of your parish community reveal Christ?
  • How does it obscure him?

Basilica of St Therese. Lisieux. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Of perfection

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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

Of course, at some level, many of us think that we already are perfect! Even as at another many of us know we are far from perfect and that we are hurting ourselves and othersw as a result.

The Gospel for Mass on the Sunday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time offers us counsel and guidance as, conflicted, we continue to respond to the invitation of the Lord to come close and learn from him, and be comforted by him.

And the guidance is to be open to the ‘other’, even those one we experience as aggresively other, as ‘enemies’. The way forward is to see them as like us, made in the image and likeness of God, and loved by him. We may hate what they do, and work to overcome the harm they do, but not by doing harm ourselves to the bond of love that rightly exists between all human beings. We are invited to build up communion, not to fragment it still further.

Think of someone you ‘hate’.

  • How are you different from them?
  • How the same?
  • What might help you reflect God’s love to them – to perhaps change them, and you?

‘Where’s the difference?’ Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Us at one with God

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They are happy who follow God’s law!

They are happy whose life is blameless,
who follow God’s law!
They are happy who do his will,
seeking him with all their hearts.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

You have laid down your precepts
to be obeyed with care.
May my footsteps be firm
to obey your statutes.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

Bless your servant and I shall live
and obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
the wonders of your law.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

Teach me the demands of your statutes
and I will keep them to the end.
Train me to observe your law,
to keep it with my heart.

They are happy who follow God’s law!

Psalm 118:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34

The Responsorial Psalm at Sunday Mass this week, the 6th week in Ordinary Time, reminds of the importance of the Law, God’s law.

There are many attempts to express what is good in human living – in our relationship to ourselves, our neighbour, and to God. None of them are perfect (cf the dialogue between different traditions regarding the Law in Judaism; the particular ‘take’ of Jesus, and that of Paul, and the tension between ‘Gospel’ and ‘Law’ in the Church subsequently.

 

The Judeo-Christian tradition is very familiar with laws and customs that arise within the community of faith, and which have their origins in the desire to hold the community together, and keep it healthy and faithful.

However none of these laws and customs are God. And what matters is God and us and our relationship with each other. It is our privilege not only to be gifted with life, but to be called into relationship, covenant, with God. Sometimes we find this in well-established ways: sometimes we are called to new ways…

  • What custom/habit presently weakens your relationship with God or others?
  • What custom/habit might help strengthen that relationship?

Poster, Beziers, France.  (c) 2015, Allen Morris