Speak Lord: source of life

Architectural fragments from Baptistry, paleo-Christian basilica, Cimiez, Nice..jpg

When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.

But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:3-4,8-11

The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, reminds of the glory that is ours through baptism – made one with Christ, members of his Body.

That unity is not pretend or honorary. It is real and it is abiding. No one can take it from us, and it offers us the gift of life eternal. It is a life and a quality of life that we begin to live here, even in our mortal bodies, but it is a life that endures beyond this world and beyond our death here. In Christ we will be raised again, ourselves called into the life of heaven.

  • How is your life today going to reflect and share that glory?

Architectural fragments from Baptistry, paleo-Christian basilica, Cimiez, Nice. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

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Speak Lord: Lead us to your cross and ours…

DSC06826 Lerins.jpg

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows:

‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.

‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.

‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.

‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’

Matthew 10:37-42

The Gospel on Sunday, the 13th Sunday of the Year, reminds of the call to follow Christ and the challenges it contains.

At one level all is easy: welcome a prophet, give a cup of cold water to ‘one of these little ones’. At another level all is difficult even counter-intuitive: called to communion with Jesus and the family of the Church? Well, have no preference for your own family. Choosing life? Well, take up your cross and follow…

This is a choice that has to have real consequences in our lives and our other choices. Otherwise we have not chosen.

It is also a choice that cannot be made once and for all, never to be revisited. Rather it is a choice we have to make and affirm each day, indeed each moment that we face any choice: do we respond as disciple of Jesus, or not. Holy habits can make some of these choices, well, habitual, and help us form certain dispositions… but there will still be those moments, those choices we have not prepared for. Closeness to Jesus will help us make the better choice: closeness to Jesus, and recourse to him will be our consolation and our aid as we struggle and even as we fail.

Abbey Interior. Lerins, France. (c) 2005, Allen Morris.

 

 

Taste and See: The gift of God’s love

IMG_1088 Epstein Madonna and child.jpgGospel Acclamation

Alleluia, alleluia!
The Word was made flesh and lived among us: to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God. Alleluia!

Jn1:14,12

The Gospel Acclamation above is one of the two offered for use at Mass last Sunday, the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

The Gospel of the Day speaks of our call to faithfulness to Jesus. The acclamation reminds of his radical commitment to us – evidenced in the Mystery of the Incarnation – God taking flesh and not just for the 33 years or so of Jesus life on earth, but remaining joined with us in the flesh after the Resurrection and the Ascension. God in flesh is one with us for ever.

May we choose likewise: to be one with him, and for ever…

Sculpture by Jacob Epstein. Cavendish Square, London. (c) 2009, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: beyond harm

P1000505 Martyrs chapel St Germain des PresJesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not be afraid. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.

What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.

‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

‘So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

Matthew 10:26-33

The Gospel heard on Sunday, the 12th Sunday of the year, sets against each other two approaches to human life; ‘mere bodily life’ and ‘life of the soul’.

The latter does not exist independent of the body, but is more than just that. And that more is found especially in a relationship of trust and faith in the Father, and Jesus, who love and are for us, and who are our assurance that despite anything that might happen to the body, we are safe and secure in God.

This knowledge itself frees us from fear and for more adventerous, generous, godly life here. We can live in the now, without the dread that ‘this’ might very soon come to an end and us with it. We can live the promised eternal life even now.

Chapel to Martyrs of 1792, St Germain des Pres, Paris. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: Faith

Refugee Crib.jpg

Jeremiah said:

I hear so many disparaging me,
‘“Terror from every side!”
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’
All those who used to be my friends
watched for my downfall,
‘Perhaps he will be seduced into error.
Then we will master him
and take our revenge!’
But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero;
my opponents will stumble, mastered,
confounded by their failure;
everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs.
But you, O Lord of Hosts, you who probe with justice,
who scrutinise the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.
Sing to the Lord,
praise the Lord,
for he has delivered the soul of the needy
from the hands of evil men.

Jeremiah 20:10-13

Many of us hearing the above reading, the first for Mass, yesterday, the 12th Sunday of the Year, will have wanted to transpose it to a spiritual/abstract pitch. For though we may know disparagement and insult, many (most?) of us will not experience to the intense level that Jeremiah did.

Yet to drain the reading of its particularity, and the violence and threat of violence of its direct and bruising quality, can neuter the text and remove its force and potency.

There are many in our world who do face such threats, such persecution, whose lives are indeed at risk – and who remain steadfast in faith, powerful witnesses to the reality of God and his gift and promise of life.

As we learn from them, and give thanks to God for them, let us also pray with them, and seek to come to their aid in what ways we can…

Refugee City, Lebanon (?), 2015

Speak Lord: My protector

Prophet Louvres.jpg

 

Jeremiah said:

I hear so many disparaging me,
‘“Terror from every side!”
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’

All those who used to be my friends watched for my downfall, ‘Perhaps he will be seduced into error. Then we will master him and take our revenge!’

But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero; my opponents will stumble, mastered,
confounded by their failure;
everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs.

But you, O Lord of Hosts, you who probe with justice, who scrutinise the loins and heart, let me see the vengeance you will take on them, for I have committed my cause to you.

Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for he has delivered the soul of the needy from the hands of evil men.

Jeremiah 20:10-13

The First reading at Mass today comes from the prophet of Jeremiah and tells both of his trials and persecution, and, especially, of his trust in the Lord who is his protector, even as he endures hurt and harm.

The hurt and harm is passing. The Lord will sustain him in this, and deliver him into newness of life; where love and care and security will be his; where his faithfulness, achieved at his cost and with God’s help, will meet with reward.

Jeremiah prays for his opponents to stumble, be thwarted and disgraced. It is understandable…. But the teaching of the Gospel moves us beyond that desire for revenge and ‘satisfaction’.

In the love of God made known in Christ, we are to learn to love our enemies too. We are called to victory with God, and for all peoples.

Prophet. Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Comfort in our need

 

In your great love, answer me, O Lord.

DSC01801 Macquete for memorial Tikhvin Cemetery St petersburg

It is for you that I suffer taunts,
that shame covers my face,
that I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my own mother’s sons.
I burn with zeal for your house
and taunts against you fall on me.

In your great love, answer me, O Lord.

This is my prayer to you,
my prayer for your favour.
In your great love, answer me, O God,
with your help that never fails:
Lord, answer, for your love is kind;
in your compassion, turn towards me.

In your great love, answer me, O Lord.

The poor when they see it will be glad
and God-seeking hearts will revive;
for the Lord listens to the needy
and does not spurn his servants in their chains.
Let the heavens and the earth give him praise,
the sea and all its living creatures.

In your great love, answer me, O Lord.

Psalm 68:8-10,14,17,33-35

The Responsorial Psalm at Mass tomorrow, the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, comes from the lips of the Church called to imitate Christ, and experiencing something of the persecution that the Lord himself experienced.

But the Church travels in the steps of Love and in her trials receives love to endure and be raised again to joy in God’s presence.

Maquette for memorial, Tikhvin Cemetery, St Petersburg, Russia. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.