Taste and See: as we sing your praise

 

DSC03923 chester cathedral 2017.jpg

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

P1000507 Saint Germain des Pres.jpg

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…

 

DSC00815 Hermitage, 2015.jpg

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

IMG_0088

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