Speak Lord: Our Love


The Lord honours the father in his children,
and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.
Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins,
he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.
Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own,
he shall be heard on the day when he prays.
Long life comes to him who honours his father,
he who sets his mother at ease is showing obedience to the Lord.
My son, support your father in his old age,
do not grieve him during his life.
Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy,
do not despise him in your health and strength;
for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten
but will serve as reparation for your sins.

First reading for Feast of the Holy Family
Ecclesiasticus 3:3-7,14-17

The pattern of life God seeks to share with us – his love, his care, and in time our grateful response for the life we enjoy, sets the pattern for the life we are call ed to share with each other.

Often this sharing takes place in our families, but it is not to be confined there – love of God, love of neighbour, love of self, is the deepest pattern for love here on earth, which keeps particular family life healthy and strong.

Statue. Park Arts Museon, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris


Speak Lord: Source of all blessing

DSC02870 Mother and child.jpgO blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
all the days of your life!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Responsorial Psalm for the feast of Holy Family
Psalm 127:1-5

The blessing of God is for all, and it abides for those who seek to share it.

Mother and Child. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris


Speak Lord: our agenda…


You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.

Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.

Second reading for the Feast of the Holy Family
Colossians 3:12-21

The Gospel – of God’s abiding love for his people, for all his people, always – is always good. But for it to be news too, it needs to surprise us by its goodness from time to time.

That surprise will sometimes come from our reading and reflection; sometimes from our listening. But most powerfully it comes from the examples of others who find their inspiration, sometimes in the good, and sometimes in the God who is the source of all that is good.

Inspired they give new flesh and presence to the love and mercy that heals hurt and gives hope…

And it is then our call, our privilege, to do likewise…

Stained Glass, Gloucester Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.


Speak Lord: Of your future and ours…


When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

Gospel for Feast of the Holy Family
Luke 2:22-40

The scriptures speak of fulfilment and challenge – all centred on the life and mission of Jesus.

We hear the reading on the feast of the Holy Family, a reminder of the challenges that they faced, for all of the privileging of Mary and Joseph in their service of God and their closeness to Jesus.

We too, of course, face all sorts of challenges in our family life, and sometimes times can be very dark indeed. But in Christ and his care of us, we meet with the light that can raise us up and guide us on…

Photograph of window depicting the Presentation at St Werburgh’s Church, Chester. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Our security, our calling


Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest from all the enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘Look, I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go and do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.’

But that very night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: ‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’

First reading for 4th Sunday of Advent
2 Samuel 7:1-5,8-12,14,16

David has good intentions, but he, flawed, damaged and damaging, is not the man to build a house for God. Rather God will provide.

The prophesy of Nathan seems to meet its fulfilment in Solomon, who builds the Temple at Jerusalem. But in fact it finds its fulfilment in Jesus who makes the only Temple worthy of God, the Temple that is his own Body, and the Temple that is the Church.

God does not wish to live apart from his people but to be at home in us and with us.

And this wonder is what we begin to celebrate tonight, as Christmas begins….

  • How do you join with others to form this living Temple?
  • What works of love distinguish you/identify you?

Casting from the Basilica of the Nativity, Nazareth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Loving Lord


I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord;
through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth.
Of this I am sure, that your love lasts for ever,
that your truth is firmly established as the heavens.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
I will establish your dynasty for ever
and set up your throne through all ages.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

‘He will say to me: “You are my father,
my God, the rock who saves me.”
I will keep my love for him always;
with him my covenant shall last.’

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

Responsorial Psalm for the 4th Sunday of Advent
Psalm 88:2-5,27,29

The Lord makes himself one with us, join us with him so that together we form family. Often a dsyfunctional family: look at David, look at us. But also often a holy family: look at Mary, Joseph, Jesus…

But underpinnning all and surrounding all is the music of love…

King David. Matthis Stom, Palis Longchamps, Marseille. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: God’s glory, our Glory

DSC04555 traherne.jpgGlory to him who is able to give you the strength to live according to the Good News I preach, and in which I proclaim Jesus Christ, the revelation of a mystery kept secret for endless ages, but now so clear that it must be broadcast to pagans everywhere to bring them to the obedience of faith.

This is only what scripture has predicted, and it is all part of the way the eternal God wants things to be. He alone is wisdom; give glory therefore to him through Jesus Christ for ever and ever. Amen.

Second reading for the 4th Sunday of Advent
Romans 16:25-27

Paul speaks of the triumph of Christ, made known in his ministry and in his victory over death.

This triumph is made known to us, shared with us in faith and in the Sacraments, shared with us so we might live from it and that we might continue to share the gift with others. It is the Christmas/Easter gift that God wishes the whole world to receive and rejoice in.

Detail from Traherne Window by Tom Denny, Hereford Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Speak Mary

Picture 420.jpg

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’

She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’

Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Advent
Luke 1:26-38

The story of the Annunciation to Mary is preceded of that to Zechariah, which does not turn out so very well for the father of John the Baptist!

How will this episode turn out? The priest failed, even in the very Temple of God. How will this young woman fare?

She questions, and she keeps us in suspense, but at the end her response is as form and and as clear and as faithful as it could be. Her answer changes the world, and allows for the salvation of the world.

Her answer might be ours this day, as we face our different, probably very different, circumstances…

Carving of the Annunciation. Exhibited in Pantheon, Rome, 2003. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2003

Taste and See: The one to whom we are, as yet, blind…

DSC05543 John the Baptist.jpg

A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light, so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Advent
John 1:6-8,19-28

John the Baptist models humility for us.

He also models faithfulness to God’s call to him to serve.

He speaks with simplicity and directness and in contrast to the people sent to question him. They speak wanting to categorise, contain and constrain John in their settled categories. But John refuses and points them to what is for them yet unseen, unknown.

Jesus is beyond what we know yet… But he comes to open our eyes and hearts to the love of the Father.

Detail of reredos in collection of Walker Gallery, Liverpool. Catalan School 15C. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.