Taste and Say: Gratitude

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My soul rejoices in my God.

My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her nothingness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.

My soul rejoices in my God.

The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear him.

My soul rejoices in my God.

He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant,
remembering his mercy.

My soul rejoices in my God.

Responsorial Psalm for the Third Sunday of Advent
Luke 1:46-50,53-54

Sometimes in our preparation for Christmas our focus is narrowly on the birth of Jesus.

Mary sees the wonder of the conception of her son and her calling to serve God as mother and disciple, in a much broader context…

  • For what do you give thanks to God?

Our Lady, Eglise St Didier, Avignon, 2014.

Taste and See: And share..

DSC05824 AvignonThe spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,
to bind up hearts that are broken;
to proclaim liberty to captives,
freedom to those in prison;
to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.

‘I exult for joy in the Lord,
my soul rejoices in my God,
for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation,
he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity,
like a bridegroom wearing his wreath,
like a bride adorned in her jewels.

‘For as the earth makes fresh things grow,
as a garden makes seeds spring up,
so will the Lord make both integrity and praise
spring up in the sight of the nations.’

First reading for the 3rd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11

The prophecy of Isaiah gives us all hope. It reminds of the desire of God that all should be restored to life and health and wholeness.

And it gives those who believe a mission, a work to do. We are called to share good news and make the good news visible in lives of love and service, especially for those most in need.

  • How might you do this today?

Light catcher, Prison Sainte Anne, Avignon, France. (c) Allen Morris, 2014. 

Speak Lord: Newness and hope

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The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,
to bind up hearts that are broken;
to proclaim liberty to captives,
freedom to those in prison;
to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.

‘I exult for joy in the Lord,
my soul rejoices in my God,
for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation,
he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity,
like a bridegroom wearing his wreath,
like a bride adorned in her jewels.

‘For as the earth makes fresh things grow,
as a garden makes seeds spring up,
so will the Lord make both integrity and praise
spring up in the sight of the nations.’

First reading for the 3rd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11

Imagine… just how different the world would be, and its people, were we all to hear the prophesy and know it applied to us, and if we then went out and did as we were, (as we are), called to do.

It would be the difference between winter and spring.

Advent prepares us for the coming of the light who longs to enlighten and enliven the world and all its peoples. He asks our help. How shall we respond?

Magnolia, St Johns Wood. (c) Allen Morris, 2009. 

 

Speak Lord: Loving God

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My soul rejoices in my God.

My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her nothingness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.

My soul rejoices in my God.

The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear him.

My soul rejoices in my God.

He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant,
remembering his mercy.

My soul rejoices in my God.

Responsorial Psalm for the Third Sunday of Advent
Luke 1:46-50,53-54

The Psalm at Mass tomorrow comes from the New Testament, and would be better termed a Gospel Canticle. However it fulfils the same function in the Liturgy of the Word as does the more usual Psalm: it puts on the lips of the congregation a song which is their response to and (usually) echo of the first reading.

Here Mary gives thanks to God for her particular situation, but it is a song that finds its place in the hearts and on the lips of all God’s children. Mary’s situation is an honoured (if challenging!) one – but each one of us is blessed by God, each one has their own reason for giving thanks.

He leads us to life.

Magnificat in Chinese, at Church of the Visitation. Ein Kerem, Israel. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Holy One

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Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.

Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything – hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.

Second reading for 3rd Sunday of Advent
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

The good life no longer just happens ‘naturally’. We live in an environment which in so may ways is not apt for it: there is pollution of selfishness, exploitation, acquisitiveness most everywhere in our society.

There are good qualities there too. God’s creation is marred not broken. But if we are to survive in it we need to make the right and good choices. And the HCF in them all is holiness.

It is to this that God calls us, for this God made us. We are fools if we think we can achieve it by ourselves and without God, but then we do not need to. In creation and in his transcendent grace God is ready to help us every step of the way.

  • How might you resist the call to holiness today?
  • What might help you live a ‘yes’ to the call?

Photograph of window at St Peter the Apostle, Leamington Spa. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: For whom we long

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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 is a most exceptional witness. But in his humility he puts himself entirely at the service of the one who is to come.

Likewise the Church, when she seeks to share the Good News with others, speaks not of herself but of the Lord. Her witness prepares the way for their real and unique encounter with Christ too, an encounter which offers them eternal life…

Photograph of Reliquary for bone from arm of John the Baptist. Collection of the Louvre. (c)  2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Steadfastness

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There is one thing, my friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord, ‘a day’ can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not being slow to carry out his promises, as anybody else might be called slow; but he is being patient with you all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and fall apart, the earth and all that it contains will be burnt up.

Since everything is coming to an end like this, you should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, when the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. What we are waiting for is what he promised: the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.

Second reading for Second Sunday of Advent
2 Peter 3:8-14

A​ day can mean a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day…

​In other words says Peter, let us not look today or tomorrow or the day after for fresh proof that the Lord is good and is fulfilling his promises. We are to walk ​​by faith and walk in hope.

There are and will be moments where we find reassurance of the Lord’s present care for us and the gift of consolation and salvation even now.

But there will surely be other days where there are no signs, when the heavens look firmly closed, and the Lord far away and unhearing, unresponsive. On those days faith may seem less like a gift we receive from God, but a gift we offer to God.

And on those days especially, as we strive to do our best, living holy and saintly lives’ finding in the consolation of that a foretaste of that infinitely more that God will offer to us…

Photograph of Unemployed Man by Gordon Herickx and Bag #9 by Gavin Turk. New Art Gallery, Walsall. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Hope

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Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for his people.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

The Lord will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Responsorial Psalm for Second Sunday of Advent
Psalm 84(85):9-14

In the congregation’s response to the verses of the psalm we sing our prayer to the Lord asking for his help..

In the verses the cantor develops our response, expressing assurance that the Lord will respond favourably and that we will make the most of what he offers to us; that we will listen; and that we will benefit from what we hear.

Even now, as we wait for the final fulfilment of our hopes, hope is granted to us, and hope enlivens us – if we look, if we listen.

Photograph of Fabric Hanging in Chapel at National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffs. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Work to do

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Console my people, console them’
says your God.

‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

First Reading for the Second Sunday Of Advent.
Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11

The Lord offers to move heaven and earth to bring his people back to him. Valleys are filled in and mountains laid low so that the people God calls can travel more easily, more speedily, to return home to the Lord.

  • What are the barriers between God and his people?
  • How might you help shift or reduce these?
  • What are the barriers between God and you?
  • Who might you help shift or reduce these?

Image of Centenary Square, Birmingham, 2016. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Help us to hope

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‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.

‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

First Reading for the Second Sunday Of Advent.
Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11

​The message is indeed joyful. Freedom and wholeness, liberation and mercy is offered to those who have known punishment and confi​nement, frustration and misery.

The Lord orders the prophet to offer this goodness, because it is for the betterment of his people.

Though our baptism we share in the prophetic ministry of Christ and his Church. We too are called to be ministers of consolation in the world, missionary disciples who do not only talk to each other, but go further to those others who are also part of God’s people.

The message is joyful, but sometimes the intended messengers are hesitant or even refuse.

  • On a scale of 1-10 with 10 highest, where would you place yourself on the scale. And why would you find yourself at that point?
  • Where would you put your parish in its response to the call of the Lord?

Photograph: At a caravanserai, east of Konya, Turkey. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.