Speak Lord: through Peter, through us…

Pentecost Nantes.jpg

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:

I saw the Lord before me always,
for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
So my heart was glad
and my tongue cried out with joy;
my body, too, will rest in the hope
that you will not abandon my soul to Hades
nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.
You have made known the way of life to me,
you will fill me with gladness through your presence.

‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.’

Acts 2:14,22-33

The first reading at Mass today is an explosive profession of faith by Peter, once broken and afraid and now restored to faith and given fresh purpose in the Spirit.

The Liturgical feast of Pentecost still lies some weeks off. But we live in the age of the Spirit, every day.

Inspired by the Spirit, in his age, Peter speaks words of hope and new life.

  • What words will you speak today and to what aim?

Pentecost. St Nicolas church, Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Guide us…

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Show us, Lord, the path of life oAlleluia!

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.’

Show us, Lord, the path of life oAlleluia!

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

Show us, Lord, the path of life oAlleluia!

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

Show us, Lord, the path of life oAlleluia!

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

Show us, Lord, the path of life oAlleluia!

Psalm 15:1-2,5,7-11

The Responsorial Psalm at Mass tomorrow puts words of praise and thanksgiving on our lips; and has us confess our trust in the Lord.

It is a song that knows of sorrow and death; knows of fear and loss. But it is a song that knows those are passing things, that have no final purchase on us and our lives.

From God we receive security, freedom and life.

The response we sing as we pray the psalm may be a request for the way of life, the path of life, to made clearer to us, or it may simply be ‘alleluia’, praise of God. The two may seem quite different, quite distinct. But when we are confident of the Lord’s love, even our most urgent asking is an act of praise.

Meteora, Greece. (c) 2006, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Who are for us and for all

DSC06648 revelation.jpg

If you are acknowledging as your Father one who has no favourites and judges everyone according to what he has done, you must be scrupulously careful as long as you are living away from your home.

Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold, but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ; who, though known since before the world was made, has been revealed only in our time, the end of the ages, for your sake.

Through him you now have faith in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory for that very reason – so that you would have faith and hope in God.

1 Peter 1:17-21

The reading above is one that we will hear as the Second Reading at Mass on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Easter.

At the heart of our celebration of the Easter Mystery is the person of Jesus and his saving work.

That work is a continuity of God’s saving self-disclosure, especially as engaged with in the scriptures of the Jews, in the New Testament, and in the history of the Church since.

One thing those scriptures and that history make very clear is that again and again when humankind fails to rely on God’s self-revelation it falls into folly and does great damage.

Jesus takes folly and hurt to himself and transforms them into a new and powerful witness  to God’s love for all.

  • Today try to notice if and when you act on favouritism, and what its consequences are for you and others.
  • Today give thanks that God has no favourites, but does love you and all.

Revelation by John Reinhard. St Trophime, Arles. (c) Allen Morris, 2014

 

Speak Lord: help us listen…

113

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’
Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

Luke 24: 13-35

The Gospel on the third Sunday in Ordinary time has proved such an important narrative for helping Christians to reflect on the way in which we learn our faith; understand the Mass; offer catechesis to others; accompany people in their life in faith.

It is also a wonderful testimony to the gentleness of Jesus in accompanying us, patiently waiting for the penny to drop; gently assisting us to know him, and more than know him, know his importance for us, and renew, deepen, our trust in him, and ourselves.

Which part of the story presently resonates most strongly with you?

  • The despair?
  • The experienced of being pressed to dialogue?
  • Of learning from the Scriptures?
  • Of finding Christ in the Sacraments?
  • Of being called to mission?

Bring your experience to the Lord and speak with him about it. ‘Listen’ for his response…

Stained glass. Hampstead parish church. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Listen and Live

Easter Dismissal.jpgOn Sunday last, the second Sunday of Easter, we heard the Easter dismissal for the last time until the end of the Easter Season. It was sung each day of the Easter Octave and will be heard again at the end of the Liturgy at Pentecost.

It combines the sense of joy at the Resurrection and assurance that we share in it.

It also, as with our every dismissal from Mass, should remind us that we do not just ‘go’ from Mass but are sent from Mass with purpose – to proclaim the Gospel and share the Good News.

  • How today will you seek to proclaim the Gospel and share the Good News.

Text and Music setting: (c) 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation.

Taste and See: Gift of the Spirit

DSC04380.jpgIn the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’

Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Jesus said to him: ‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.

John 20:19-31

The Gospel heard on Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, speaks of disciples coming to faith, and of disciples being missioned to serve the Gospel.

What responsibility is given to them!

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

The power to bind and loose is accompanied by the gift of the Spirit, the Spirit of  wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and piety (as it is put in the Rite of Confirmation).

The power to bind and loose is not given subject to the disciples’ personal whim, but to further the building up amongst us of the Kingdom.

As Jesus himself ‘transgressed’ human understanding of the will of God, in order to free from sin and death, so too the disciples had (and have!) to rely on the guidance of the Spirit to know what is God’s will and what is not. Surely sometimes they got it wrong – as we do – but even from ‘failure’, as the world sees it, God can help us to rise and journey on to deeper unity with him and each other.

Stained glass window. Parish church, Colombiers, Beziers. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Saviour

DSC03309 SAVIOUR

God of everlasting mercy,
who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast
kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,
increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,
that all may grasp and rightly understand
in what font they have been washed,
by whose Spirit they have been reborn,
by whose Blood they have been redeemed.
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.

Amen.

The Collect at Mass yesterday, the Second Sunday of Easter, challenges teh sort of easy ‘I’m ok/you’re ok’ sensibility that informs much contemporary culture.

If the Christian is ‘ok’, it is because of what Christ has won for us – our salvation, our life in him, our daily sustenance at his hand.

Without these things we would be still slaves of sin and living in shadows.

Once we have professed Christ, been initiated by the Sacraments, and got into the (holy) habits of Christian life, we can soon slip into taking these things for granted, even claiming credit for ourselves for who we are and what we achieve! The Collect helps us to a new and joyful humility. Christ is for us so that we may be for Christ.

Sculpture. Cathedral of Christ our Saviour, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris