Speak Lord: Make us new

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Philip went to a Samaritan town and proclaimed the Christ to them. The people united in welcoming the message Philip preached, either because they had heard of the miracles he worked or because they saw them for themselves. There were, for example, unclean spirits that came shrieking out of many who were possessed, and several paralytics and cripples were cured. As a result there was great rejoicing in that town.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, and they went down there, and prayed for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, for as yet he had not come down on any of them: they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:5-8,14-17

The First reading at Mass today, the 6th Sunday of Easter, witnesses to the spread of the Gospel beyond Jerusalem.

Samaria was the centre of what was perceived by Jews as the centre for a breakaway corrupted version of Judaism. Now it is at the forefront of the spread of Christianity, which reveals the fulfilment of God’s promises made through Judaism and now beginning to be proclaimed to the whole world.

Samaria is renewed by the preaching of Jesus by Philip and sustained in her faith by the ministry of Peter and John, through whom she receives the Spirit.

  • Why and how do you accept the word of God?
  • What difference does the gift of the Spirit make to your life?

Mount Gerizim, Nablus (centre of ancient Samaria), Palestine. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Calling us to glory

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Cry out with joy to God, all the earth or Alleluia!

Cry out with joy to God all the earth,
O sing to the glory of his name.
O render him glorious praise.
Say to God: ‘How tremendous your deeds!

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth or Alleluia!

‘Before you all the earth shall bow;
shall sing to you, sing to your name!’
Come and see the works of God,
tremendous his deeds among men.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth or Alleluia!

He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the river dry-shod.
Let our joy then be in him;
he rules for ever by his might.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth or Alleluia!

Come and hear, all who fear God.
I will tell what he did for my soul:
Blessed be God who did not reject my prayer
nor withhold his love from me.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth or Alleluia!

Psalm 65(66):1-7,16,20

The psalm sung at Mass tomorrow rejoices in the glory of God.

Sometimes the beauty and the glory of the natural world seems not only to be ‘there’ but to be there active in response to the wonder of its making!

The psalmist calls us to join with all of Creation in the glorification of God.

How wonderful of God to reveal something of himself in the glory of His creation.

And, as described in the last two verses, how wonderful of God to reveal himself again and again in the thriving of human kind.

  • To what good does God call or draw you today?

Valley North of Llyn Ogwen, Snowdonia. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Loving heart

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Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience, so that those who slander you when you are living a good life in Christ may be proved wrong in the accusations that they bring. And if it is the will of God that you should suffer, it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong.

Why, Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life.

1 Peter 3:15-18

The Sacred Heart is one of most treasured images of Jesus in the Western tradition. The second reading on Sunday, the 6th Sunday of Easter, reminds that we are ourselves called to have hearts that, in sacred exactly  are certainly holy.

Our hearts become holy in Christ when we have there love for him and love for our neighbour.

That love is deepened when imperfect we humbly draw on Christ’s love for us and on the love of others so we may continue to attempt what is good and best. And it is deepened to when, as Peter notes, we sometimes are called to share in Christ’s suffering even for the good we do.

Kensal Green Cemetery. (c) 2008, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Unite us in your Spirit

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When the feast of the Ascension is kept on the 7th Sunday of Easter, as it is in England and Wales, the Second Reading and Gospel of that Sunday may be used  as an alternative to the readings provided for the 6th Sunday.

However, for the purposes of this blog, we stick with the regular readings the Lectionary provides for the sixth Sunday of Easter.

 Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If you love me you will keep my commandments.
I shall ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever,
that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive
since it neither sees nor knows him;
but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you.

I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you.
In a short time the world will no longer see me;
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will understand that I am in my Father
and you in me and I in you.
Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them
will be one who loves me;
and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I shall love him and show myself to him.’

John 14:15-21

The Gospel has us remember the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to sustain us in the truth and in the communion of the Church with Christ.

The Holy Spirit is sometimes spoken of as “the ‘and”‘ which unites the Father and the Son: never the Father without the Son, never the Son without the Father, thus the ‘and’.

In Christ we are never alone either. In his love we are sustained by the ‘and’ of the Holy Spirit – never is the here and now allowed to be the final word; not our successes nor our failures. The ‘now’ is always bound to the ‘next’, nourished by the saving Mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection – his outpouring of himself in love for us and for the Father, extended and applied to us still more particularly by the gift of the Spirit.

Paleo-Christian engraving, San Georgio in Velabro, Rome.  (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: The Way

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Alleluia, alleluia!
Jesus said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.’
Alleluia!

Jn14:6

The Gospel acclamation on Sunday put it very boldly and clearly.

Sometimes the statement that Jesus is the Way, the truth and the Life is understood as excluding all other ways. Sometimes it is propounded by those who would use it for purposes of religious or cultural imperialism.

There is no gainsaying the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only Begotten Son, truly God incarnate. But also we need to recall that there is nothing good that does not come from God; that God is the source of every life; and that all that is true shares with us some expression of the divine.

In Jesus all these things converge. In him all that is good and true meets with a warm embrace, and we continue, with him, toward the Father.

  • Confident in Jesus, learning from him, let us always have the courage to extend his welcome to all who seek the Way, Truth and Life

Red Square. Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Easter, still

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Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism
may, under your protective care, bear much fruit
and come to the joys of life eternal.
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 the 5th Sunday of Easter

During the season of Easter, the Church gives particular attention to praying for the baptised. She prays for those newly baptised, the neophytes who celebrated the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. She prays for the children baptised  as infants and often completing their sacrament initiation, through Confirmation and Eucharist, in the Easter Season. She prays too for all her members, made one with Christ and the Church through baptism, and still seeking to become one!

  • What is new about the way you live your baptism?
  • How is Easter featuring in your life at this time?

Poster. Sherringham, Norfolk. (c) 2010, Allen Morris

 

Taste and Say: Purpose and joy

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May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
or Alleluia!

Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.
Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
or Alleluia!

For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
or Alleluia!

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
or Alleluia!

Psalm 32:1-2,4-5,18-19

The Responsorial Psalm at Mass yesterday, the 5th Sunday of Easter, has us rejoice in the faithfulness of the Lord made known to us in the scriptures and in his works, and above all in the Word, Jesus the Christ.

We live among death and suffering, but the Lord offers us hope and a horizon of eternal life. This hope and this horizon draws us to life: it is also good news for us to share with the many who live with despair or lives without direction beyond themselves.

Image from shrine chapel at Tre Fontane, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: help us be available for others

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About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked.

So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; we will hand over this duty to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.’

The whole assembly approved of this proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith.

Acts 6:1-7

The First reading at Mass today, the 5th Sunday of Easter,  tells of the Church beginning to develop forms and structures that are more than an individual’s personal ministry or role. Here a distinction is made between what is to be expected of the Twelve, and what is entrusted to others.

This is presented by the Author of Acts as a differentiation which is of service to the word of the Lord and of benefit to the growth of the Church.

Over time such particular decisions may prove of lasting benefit or not. It is necessary, if the Church is to grow and the word of the Lord to spread, for us to carefully examine the structures we inherit and judge where they serve us well and where they do not.

The humility that this calls for is a challenge, always. In this respect it is perhaps notable that the Twelve did not themselves select the Seven, or invite them to put themselves forward, but entrusted the choice to the assembly as a whole.

  • Where are you serving well? And where not?
  • What might help your service to be more effective for God, Church and neighbourt?

The Twelve pray and lay hands on the Seven. Worcester Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Our stability and strength

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The Lord is the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him; set yourselves close to him so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house. As scripture says: See how I lay in Zion a precious cornerstone that I have chosen and the man who rests his trust on it will not be disappointed. That means that for you who are believers, it is precious; but for unbelievers, the stone rejected by the builders has proved to be the keystone, a stone to stumble over, a rock to bring men down. They stumble over it because they do not believe in the word; it was the fate in store for them.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:4-9

The second reading at Mass tomorrow, the 5th Sunday of Easter, reminds of how the Lord is what holds all things together for us. Without him, all tumbles

Peter and the other disciples learnt that again and again. We too, perhaps are learning that again and again, and often because when we forget everything does tumble, and then we need his help to get things back together and grow up, move forward…

And what a dignity is ours when , in Christ, we do get it together – called from confusion and tumble, out of darkness into light, and honoured as ministers of the Lord and his Gospel.

  • Where does Jesus support your life?
  • What in your life shows signs of ‘structural fault’ because it lacks his holding things together?
  • How do you serve?

Sion Abbey, Jerusalem. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: call us to righteous work

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May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
or Alleluia!

Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.
Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
or Alleluia!

For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
or Alleluia!

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
or Alleluia!

Psalm 32:1-2,4-5,18-19

Once more the Responsorial Psalm at Mass tomorrow calls us to rejoicing and praise.

And this time it reminds us of a way to extend that joy and that praise, but joining ourselves with the works of justice and righteousness.

This Sunday we pray for Vocations. Often the focus is especially on vocation to priesthood and to the religious life. However these ministries do not exist in a vocation – they are all the stronger, and more likely to be responded to when the whole Church is united in a sense of her vocation to extend the life and ministry of Christ in all her members, in every aspect of their lives.

Detail of Mural of Battle of Cable Street. Shadwell, London. (c) 2011, Allen Morris