Taste and See: as we sing your praise

 

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Alleluia, alleluia!
I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father. Alleluia!

John 15:15
Gospel Acclamation for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The dignity that God affords to us! Especially when, though he may well have made known to us all he has learnt from the Father, we have yet to understand all that, and to put it into practice.

Hopefully as we sing to give praise to God for his goodness we do – not just sing, but give praise, mindful of what we have to give thanks for…

Angelic minstrels, Chester Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Keep us true

DSC07834 Solomon St Martins in the Bullring

The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, ‘Ask what you would like me to give you.’ Solomon replied, ‘O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in succession to David my father. But I am a very young man, unskilled in leadership. Your servant finds himself in the midst of this people of yours that you have chosen, a people so many its number cannot be counted or reckoned. Give your servant a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil, for who could govern this people of yours that is so great?’

It pleased the Lord that Solomon should have asked for this. ‘Since you have asked for this’ the Lord said ‘and not asked for long life for yourself or riches or the lives of your enemies, but have asked for a discerning judgement for yourself, here and now I do what you ask. I give you a heart wise and shrewd as none before you has had and none will have after you.’

1 Kings 3:5,7-12
First reading for 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Solomon is one of the tragic figures of the Old Testament – rich in wisdom and full of potential but he cannot sustain his faith and his love for the Lord is tainted and diluted as he gets drawn into other concerns. And following his reign, and the succession of his sons, the Kingdom is divided and fails…

Our first potential too may often enough be compromised and frittered away. But we can turn again to the Lord, and find in him a new way into communion with him. The Kingdom is the Lord’s and not ours – and he is ready always to welcome us in.

  • Where better than Mass today to give thanks for that welcome, that constant love?

Stained glass. St Martins in the Bulling, Birmingham. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: speak true

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Lord, how I love your law!

My part, I have resolved, O Lord,
is to obey your word.
The law from your mouth means more to me
than silver and gold.

Lord, how I love your law!

Let your love be ready to console me
by your promise to your servant.
Let your love come and I shall live
for your law is my delight.

Lord, how I love your law!

That is why I love your commands
more than finest gold,
why I rule my life by your precepts,
and hate false ways.

Lord, how I love your law!

Your will is wonderful indeed;
therefore I obey it.
The unfolding of your word gives light
and teaches the simple.

Lord, how I love your law!

Psalm 118:57,72,76-77,127-130
Responsorial Psalm for 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The disciple – called by the Lord – now chooses the Lord, and strives to walk in his ways.

But it is a struggle so he calls out, sings out, asking for help and encouragement. And it comes as wisdom and enlightenment, refreshing love.

Altar and Tabernacle. Shrine Chapel, Saint Germain des Pres, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: make us one…

 

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We know that by turning everything to their good, God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those he has called according to his purpose. They are the ones he chose specially long ago and intended to become true images of his Son, so that his Son might be the eldest of many brothers. He called those he intended for this; those he called he justified, and with those he justified he shared his glory.

Romans 8:28-30
Second reading at Mass on Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From our perspective we make the running, or we try to. And yet Paul sees more clearly: it is the Lord who sets the stage, and fits the players for their role. We are invited to take the role, he doesn’t force or even insist. He makes it as if it were an agreement, an opportunity, for fulfilment that is entered into collaboratively, as equals.

Icons and Crosses. Hermitage, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Our prize

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Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea that brings in a haul of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in a basket and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’

Matthew 13:44-52

The Gospel on Sunday, the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, presents us with a series of parables that engage us with the reality that is the Kingdom of Heaven.

This Kingdom is something that is worth everything we own, and it is something we can gain or lose through our own ‘work’  – even if it is also and entirely God’s gracious gift!

The gift is freely given, but we need a certain wisdom and persistence if we are to be possessed by it.

Detail of Stone capital from Lewes Priory, c. 1125 (collection of the British Museum). Photograph (c) 2012, Allen Morris 

 

Taste and See: the one who comes to call

DSC08577 Shrewsbury 2016a.jpgBehold, I stand at the door and knock, says the Lord.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door to me,
I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.

Alternate Communion Antiphon: 16th Sunday
of Ordinary Time.

Revelation 3: 20

How the Lord loves and cherishes us.

He is our Lord and Saviour, and yet again and again he comes humbly to us inviting us to offer him hospitality.

And he comes bringing us gifts that far outweigh what we are able to offer him: love; peace; hope…

Christ, light of the world. Shrewbsury Abbey. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: gifts we offer…

DSC03009 bread 2017 JerusalemO God, who in the one perfect sacrifice
brought to completion varied offerings of the law,
accept, we pray, this sacrifice from your faithful servants
and make it holy, as you blessed the gifts of Abel,
so that what each has offered to the honour of your majesty
may benefit the salvation of all.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer over the Offerings for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The above prayer, heard at Mass on Sunday, makes it clear that the Offertory is not just the bread and the wine presented from the assembly and placed upon the altar. Joined with them are the spiritual offerings of each and every  person present – if we have made them.

Some of these spiritual offerings will be our achievements; some will be our failures, humbly acknowledged; still others will be our acts of faith and trust regarding the challenges and trials that we think lie ahead of us. All these are offered at the altar, united with the gifts of bread and wine and, ultimately with the self-offering of Christ through his incarnation, ministry, and his Passion and Death.

Breads, Jerusalem. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: The Kingdom

DSC04342.jpgJesus put another parable before the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered. And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.”’

He put another parable before them, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.’

He told them another parable, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’

In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy: ‘I will speak to you in parables and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.’

Then, leaving the crowds, he went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us.’ He said in reply, ‘The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

Matthew 13:24-43

Gospel for yesterday, the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Kingdom is to be found in a field overrun with weeds; a plant run wild; and in bread making!

So is its opposite, surely… but as yet can we be sure we can tell the difference.

Bread oven, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford upon Avon (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Wonder of wonders

Notre Dame de la Major Angel, Arles, 2014

There is no god, other than you, who cares for every thing, to whom you might have to prove that you never judged unjustly; Your justice has its source in strength, your sovereignty over all makes you lenient to all. You show your strength when your sovereign power is questioned and you expose the insolence of those who know it; but, disposing of such strength, you are mild in judgement, you govern us with great lenience,for you have only to will, and your power is there.By acting thus you have taught a lesson to your people how the virtuous man must be kindly to his fellow men, and you have given your sons the good hope that after sin you will grant repentance.

Wisdom 12:13,16-19

The First reading at Mass today hymns the wisdom, mercy and justice of God.

And the author of the word, quite properly, seems overwhelmed at the goodness of the God that he contemplates.

Perhaps in the modern era we over-concentrate on God in ordinary, and neglect the extraordinariness of God. Both are necessary, and we’ll never get the balance right: but for today maybe we can spend time with Wisdom and be newly amazed and awestruck.

Angel from Notre Dame de la Major , Arles, France. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Loving Father.

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O Lord, you are good and forgiving.

O Lord, you are good and forgiving,
full of love to all who call.
Give heed, O Lord, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my voice.

O Lord, you are good and forgiving.

All the nations shall come to adore you
and glorify your name, O Lord:
for you are great and do marvellous deeds,
you who alone are God.

O Lord, you are good and forgiving.

But you, God of mercy and compassion,
slow to anger, O Lord,
abounding in love and truth,
turn and take pity on me.

O Lord, you are good and forgiving.

Psalm 85:5-6,9-10,15-16

 

The Responsorial Psalm at Mass tomorrow, the 16th Sunday of the Year, comes from the heart and mind of the child of God who is grateful for all that his Father has done for him

And if he can see what God has done, surely everyone else will too. For that the psalmist hopes, but closes again, eager to know again the love and mercy of God for him.

Light and stone. Roman Theatre, Arles, France. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.