Taste and see: the beauty and the challenge

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Grant us, Lord our God,
that we may honour you with all our mind,
and love everyone in truth of heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect for the Sunday of the 4th week in Ordinary Time

Sometimes the complaint is that the Collects of the current translation of the Roman Missal are too obscure in their language or complex in their syntax. No such problems this week – only in trying to follow through and do what we pray.

But that’s one reason we pray that sinners might become saints through their imitation of Christ and in love of God and love of neighbour: that we might become saints with the help of God, our first and greatest hope.

Interior of Cathedral, Kremlin, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: Life or death

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Moses said to the people: ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen. This is what you yourselves asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the Assembly. “Do not let me hear again” you said “the voice of the Lord my God, nor look any longer on this great fire, or I shall die”; and the Lord said to me, “All they have spoken is well said. I will raise up a prophet like yourself for them from their own brothers; I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell them all I command him. The man who does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name, shall be held answerable to me for it. But the prophet who presumes to say in my name a thing I have not commanded him to say, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”’

First reading for Sunday of 4th week in ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 18:15-20

In our youth most of us live like we will live for ever. It ain’t so.

We live only when we live in the Lord. Apart from him our lives are strictly time limited. But in him we flourish and live forever.

Life in God transcends the mortality we experience in this world: it draws us into the eternity of goodness and love that is God.

  • What are the choices you make this day because of your hearing the word of God?
  • Which choices would the word of God hold you back from?

Ruined memorial. Coventry Cathedral. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Keep us true

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Moses said to the people: ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen. This is what you yourselves asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the Assembly. “Do not let me hear again” you said “the voice of the Lord my God, nor look any longer on this great fire, or I shall die”; and the Lord said to me, “All they have spoken is well said. I will raise up a prophet like yourself for them from their own brothers; I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell them all I command him. The man who does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name, shall be held answerable to me for it. But the prophet who presumes to say in my name a thing I have not commanded him to say, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”’

First reading for Sunday of the 4th Week in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 18:15-20

The reading speaks of the power of the prophet – his words save; and the power of the message entrusted to the prophet – if he speaks falsely he dies!

There is no getting away from the seriousness of the life that God calls his people to. To choose it and work for it is life. To ignore it, refuse it, or misrepresent it, is death.

We may sometimes be closer to immediate experience of the Glory of God, and sometimes that Glory may be mediated through prophets or scripture or sacraments. But it is the same Glory – and we are invited to respond! In fact we have no choice: the fact of God, his Glory and love are there, we have to choose…

Moses and Joshua. Worcester Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Living water

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O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;
hail the rock who saves us.
Let us come before him, giving thanks,
with songs let us hail the Lord.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come in; let us bow and bend low;
let us kneel before the God who made us:
for he is our God and we
the people who belong to his pasture,
the flock that is led by his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

O that today you would listen to his voice!
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as on that day at Massah in the desert
when your fathers put me to the test;
when they tried me, though they saw my work.’

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Responsorial Psalm for Sunday of the 4th Week in Ordinary Time
Psalm 94:1-2,6-9

We are urged to listen to the voice of the Lord. But whose voice do we hear in the psalm?

We hear a call to praise addressed to those who know the Lord as Saviour: a call to praise and to worship.

But then, who is addressed? Maybe the psalm continues to address that same group, or maybe it begins to look beyond them, to us, to whoever does not listen to the Lord. And why? That we too might know their joy, their hope, their trust…

As today’s singers of the song may we too be inspired to bear witness and mission…

Detail of sarcophgagus, Musee Antiques Arles. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

 

 

Speak Lord: Call us to attention.

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I would like to see you free from all worry. An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband. I say this only to help you, not to put a halter round your necks, but simply to make sure that everything is as it should be, and that you give your undivided attention to the Lord.

Second reading for Sunday of 4th Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 7:32-35

One would hate to contradict an apostle, but…

…but maybe it is ok to criticise a common reception of the words of an apostle.

It is good that Paul would wish us all to be free from all worry. And maybe all an unmarried man might worry about is ‘pleasing the Lord’ but, take it from me, there are plenty of other things this unmarried man finds he worries about.

And I know married women who, if not without a care in the world, are very good at keeping their attention fixed on what matters.

Perhaps the emphasis,  as we read the second sentence in the passage from 1 Corinthians to be read to us on Sunday, should be on the word ‘need’. After all the unmarried Martha allowed herself to be distracted by so many other things, good things, probably, and perhaps focused on them with good motive, but she ended up neglecting the one thing necessary.

Lord, save us from that… and St Paul, pray for us in the diversity of our other states of life…

  • What distracts you from the Lord?
  • What helps you be attentive and develop your relationship with him?

Detail from 2nd Century sarcophagus. San Lorenzo, Rome. (c) 2016, Rome.

 

Speak Lord: Healer and Teacher

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Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

Gospel for the Sunday of the 4th Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 1:21-28

The effects of the teaching and healing that Jesus carries out are extraordinary. Yet more extraordinary is his desire to serve those in need of his teaching and his healing in order to find peace and wholeness, integrity as children of the Father.

What a contrast with the lack of engagement and care that is often shown to those in need.

People are easily astonished by the who, what and why of Jesus. What is also needed

Synagogue, Capernaum. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: walking with the Lord…

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Lord, make me know your ways.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Lord, make me know your ways.

Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me.
because of your goodness, O Lord.

Lord, make me know your ways.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Lord, make me know your ways.

Responsorial Psalm for Sunday of the 3rd week in Ordinary Time
Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

The ways of God are not our ways – and yet God calls us to make them ours, and tirelessly strives to guide our feet into his paths, drawing us into a deeper sharing of life with him.

The offer is to help us to live the life of heaven even here on earth, and to share that life with others: in our turn calling them to walk with us, learning to trust and follow the Lord even as we seek to do.

  • Where has the Lord led you that you would not have gone without his help?
  • How have you assisted others in their journey with God?

Pilgrim’s Way, Lindisfarne. (c) 2008, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Change ahead!

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After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

Gospel for Sunday of the 3rd week on Ordinary Time
Mark 1:14-20

Responding to the call of Jesus to follow him, allowing him to lead them in their turn to be truly fishers of men, made a most radical change to the lives of Jesus’ disciples.

The horizon of their life shifted radically. They moved from boats and the lake to a profound engagement with all sorts of peoples in all sorts of communities, across all strata of society, and beyond their nation and homeland. They found themsleves having to consider and respond faithfully to so many circumstances and situations.

Our discipleship may well be less dramatic, less exceptional in its development and how we live it out – so far! Yet we are called from the ordinary and worldly, and invited to enter into the very kingdom of God. There is surely change required by that move, if we are to allow ourselves to be enlivened by the Good News.

  • Where are you aware of change and development beckoning as you seek to follow Christ?

Architectural detail from Church of St Peter, Capernaum, Galilee. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Learn what lasts…

Rome Easter 2005 165a

Brothers: our time is growing short. Those who have wives should live as though they had none, and those who mourn should live as though they had nothing to mourn for; those who are enjoying life should live as though there were nothing to laugh about; those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.

Second reading for Sunday of the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 7:29-31

St Paul writes with an intense awareness that so many of the things which matter so much and seem so fixed and permanent part of our lives are in fact passing. They have their importance and often an abiding significance but they are not of themselves the sure foundation for our lives.

God alone provides such a foundation. In him all other things find their place, and from him we find their true value.

View across the Roman Forum. (c) 2005, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: even when we fall short…

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The word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least.

God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour. And God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.

First reading for Sunday of the 3rd week in Ordinary Time
Jonah 3:1-5,10

The irony,  of course, is that Jonah hates the Ninevites and longs for God to smite them, not for them to repent and turn to God for goodness and mercy.

But God is able to use even the most unwilling and disgruntled to fulfill his will, despite themselves! And maybe, in time, even the disgruntled might rejoice in this!

Detail of North Doors, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.