Taste and See: Alive

O God, who have willed that we be partakers
in the one Bread and the one Chalice,
grant us, we pray, so to live
that, made one in Christ,
we may joyfully bear fruit
for the salvation of the world.
Through Christ our Lord.

The Prayer after Communion on Sunday, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, carefully links the privilege of sharing in the Eucharistic food and drink, with its dual ends of our full communion with Christ, and our fruitfulness in him for the good of others. 

God’s will is achieved in the sacramental action, but we pray for its deeper fulfilment in our lives. We pray that we have received and will become will be for our neighbours’ good.

  • Of what fruit of life in Christ are you most grateful?
  • Which fruit has been most hard won?
  • For which do you now strive most urgently?

Photograph: Pomegranate – symbol of Granada. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Salt and Fire

whitby-047-zoroastranism-fire-brookwood

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

Matthew 5:13-16

The Gospel at Mass on Sunday, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, had Jesus telling us that we are the salt of the earth and calling us to be salt of the earth. It perhaps rather reminds of Mrs May’s insistance that Brexit be Brexit!

Or maybe more appropriately of St Augustine’s urging the newly baptised as they prepared to receive their first comunuion: receive the Body of Christ and be the Body of Christ – receive what you are and become what you receive.

But, in the case of the salt of the earth, what exactly are we invited to be? The Jerusalem Bible translation speaks of the salt retaining its ‘taste’.

This may resonate with one of the more familiar uses of salt today, but it is not what the Greek says, and does not direct us to what Jesus surely meant.

The Greek word is ‘moranthe‘ – meaning ‘foolish’, or in this case ‘pointless’. The point of reference is to the practice of using a block of salt not as a condiment to flavour food, but as a catalyst to help start and sustain the fire in the oven.

Over time the catalytic power of the salt would diminish, and then it would be removed and discarded, fit for nothing other than to be trampled under foot…

The sequence of parables in this passage from fire to light makes much more sense when we understand the reference of the salt to fire rather than savour.

  • So… what fires you up, and how do you share that passion?

Detail from Zoroastrian tombstone. Brookwood Cemetery. (c) 2005, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Blessing

DSC01867Jesus world.jpg

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

Matthew 5:13-16

The Gospel at Mass yesterday,Sunday, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, called us to be what we are called to be – salt for the earth, light of the world.

We are called to be this, but are not expected (not able?) to be this alone, of our selves.

Rather it is because of the qualities we are strengthened in by our relationship with Jesus, He shows us what it is to be human. He shows us what it is to be faithful to the loving God, what it is to be available for, loving to, our neighbour.

  • In what way do you find the example of Jesus attractive and encouraging?
  • In what way do you strive to share this example?

 

Christ blessing the world. Bernardino Luini. In the collection of the Louvre, Paris. Photograph (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Love

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Thus says the Lord:

Share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,
clothe the man you see to be naked
and do not turn from your own kin.
Then will your light shine like the dawn
and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you
and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer;
call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.

Isaiah 58:7-10

The First reading at Mass today, the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, prepares us for the Gospel – we are not to be passive in the face of need. On the contrary we are to be the salt that brings about the fire of change, the light that helps people see what is right.

And the way we best do this is the way of love. We may be moved to passion, but we are not to respond with anger and wage war against evil and want. We need to let go of the violence – in action and in word – but simply to respond generously with ourselves and what we have. Make love not war…

  • What might you do today?

Studio of Luca della Robbia: Jesus comforts a poor man. In the collection of the Louvre, Paris. Photograph (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Enlighten us for your people’s sake…

img_0977The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.
or
Alleluia!

He is a light in the darkness for the upright:
he is generous, merciful and just.
The good man takes pity and lends,
he conducts his affairs with honour.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.
or
Alleluia!

The just man will never waver:
he will be remembered for ever.
He has no fear of evil news;
with a firm heart he trusts in the Lord.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.
or
Alleluia!

With a steadfast heart he will not fear;
open-handed, he gives to the poor;
his justice stands firm for ever.
His head will be raised in glory.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.
or
Alleluia!

Psalm 111:4-9

The Responsorial Psalm for Mass tomorrow, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, has us celebrate the good and, surely, also prompts us to long to be that good.

‘The’ good man is of course, Jesus. However as tomorrow’s Gospel reminds us he calls us to be light for the world, attractive and a force for what is good and best.

Some challenge, huh? But light is what we are called to be. And if that light cannot always eminate us, maybe we can strive always to be faithful in our witness to the true light, and and be as moon to his sun.

  • What attracts you to Jesus?
  • What about him do you most wish to be able to share with others?

Stained glass from Cromer Parish church. (c) 2010, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Broken for us

144cross-and-flowersWhen I came to you, brothers, it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you what God had guaranteed. During my stay with you, the only knowledge I claimed to have was about Jesus, and only about him as the crucified Christ.

Far from relying on any power of my own, I came among you in great ‘fear and trembling’ and in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy; only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

The Second reading on Sunday next, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, focuses us on the central teaching of Paul, the Cross and the Crucified Christ.

The glory of God is revealed in this ‘tragedy’, this ‘failure’. It is in turning from all other glories that we enter into the wondrous love and life of the Resurrected One, and the fulfilment of all God’s promises.

Photograph. York 2007. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Light of our lives

029lampJesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

Matthew 5:13-16

We are called to constant conversion and renewal in the Lord: it is a dimension of the universal call to holiness.

The readings at Mass this Sunday, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, remind us of this, and offer us courage to commit to this process and change and growth.

Time comes for most of us when we slip and slide and fail. Jesus challenges us to keep mindful of what he enables in us. We might not be the brightest light, or the saltiest salt, but we are called to be true to our better natures for our own sake and for the benefit of those others around us.

We may not be the brightest light, or the saltiest salt, but we can make a difference. In doing what we can we share in the ministry of him who is surely light of the world, and the one who gives taste to the whole of life.

  • Where do you see yourself being of benefit to the lives of others?
  • In what way would you like to be still more like Jesus?

 

Christian Oil Lamp in the collection of the British Museum. Photograph (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Blessed, happy, lucky…

p1000457a-paradise

In Greek the word is ‘makarios‘.

In English it is translated sometimes as ‘blessed’, sometimes as ‘happy’, at other times ‘lucky’.

‘It’ being the state enjoyed by those who do the good things Jesus singles out in the Beatitudes – heard in the Gospel proclaimed at Mass on Sunday, the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

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

And why are these ‘blessed’, ‘happy’, or ‘lucky’? Not because they shall be satisfied with some reward in the future – though they will. But because here, now they sahre in the quality of life that is God’s: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Future reward comes because God is king, and these people know it: and more importantly yet, because these people live according to the reign of God, here, now, like Jesus. On earth, as it is in heaven.

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  • Where do you seek to live heaven on earth ?
  • What helps?
  • What hinders?

Photographs: Liverpool. (c) 2006, Allen Morris