Speak Lord: Calm and guide our hearts…

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When they drew near to Jerusalem,
to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two of his disciples, and said to them,
‘Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately as you enter it
you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat;
untie it and bring it.
If any one says to you,
“Why are you doing this?” say,
“The Lord has need of it
and will send it back here immediately.’”
And they went away,
and found a colt tied at the door out in the open street;
and they untied it.
And those who stood there said to them,
‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’
And they told them what Jesus had said;
and they let them go.
And they brought the colt to Jesus,
and threw their garments on it;
and he sat upon it.
And many spread their garments on the road,
and others spread leafy branches
which they had cut from the fields.
And those who went before
and those who followed cried out,
‘Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming!
Hosanna in the highest!’

Gospel for the Procession on Palm Sunday
Mark 11:1-10

The principal Gospel reading on Sunday is, of course, the reading of the Passion, this year taken from the Gospel of Mark.

That text will be featured on this Blog over the Monday to Wednesday of Holy Week. On Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday the readings here will be taken from the principal liturgies of those days. Service as usual will resume on Easter Monday!

The above passage from Mark’s Gospel reminds of the hope that Jesus awoke in the hearts of many people. The Gospels are silent on whether these same people would form part of the crowd some days later calling for his execution, but we know from other occasions just how fickle a crowd can be, and how callous.

Passion in us is important, but not always trustworthy as a pointer to what is good and true. But it will regularly inform our actions.

  • Where has passion helped you?
  • Where has it caused you to hurt and do damage?
  • How do you seek to curb its raw power over you?

Figure for Palm Sunday Procession. Archiepiscopal Museum, Craco,. (c) 2015, Allen Morris. 

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Taste and See: Jesus for us

DSC02034.jpgDuring his life on earth, Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.

Second reading for the 5th Sunday of Lent
Hebrews 5:7-9

Jesus works for our salvation in every mode of his being – his humanity, his divinity; his works, his prayer, his words, his silence…

  • Where and how do we engage with the source of our salvation?
  • How might you maximise the impact of this in the coming Holy Week?

Head of Christ, Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Help!

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A pure heart create for me, O God.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

Responsorial Psalm for the 5th Sunday in Lent
Psalm 50(51):3-4,12-15

Give me again the joy of your help…

Sometimes help proffered is not welcome. It shows us up, reveals our weaknesses, injures our pride…

Ad yet when the help is accepted, and when we learn that it truly is offered with love, and that it is offered to build us up and strengthen us…

Then, sometimes, we say thank you !

Statue, Saint-Germain-l’Auxerois, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: knowing the blocks to our unity

Lourdes tabernacle pelican.jpgWe pray, almighty God,
that we may always be counted among the members of Christ,
in whose Body and Blood we have communion.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Prayer after Communion
for the 5th Sunday of Lent

As we begin the last week before Holy Week we are invited to know our disunity from Christ and from each other, to know our sin and its consequences.

Many of us will use Holy Week to make our Lenten Confession, as we prepare for the opportunity afforded by the holy Triduum to spend quality time with Christ, being renewed and inspired by his presence to us in word and sacrament.

But this week, let’s dare to know our need, to know the hollowness and the sham, the stumblings and fumblings and sadness of us in our lives, and prepare for our confessions.

When we know that sin, and are willing to say sorry; are aware of shadow befuddling our attempts to live well and say help, then we can leave all that behind as rising to newness begins, again, in Christ. Hope is reborn, we know ourselves not only as sinners, but as sinners called by God, cherished by God, trusted by God to be part of the saving of the world, part of the fullness of heaven.

Tabernacle door. Rosary Basilica, Lourdes. (c) 2004, Allen Morris. 

 

Speak Lord: Protector and guide

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See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel (and the House of Judah), but not a covenant like the one I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant of mine, so I had to show them who was master. It is the Lord who speaks. No, this is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel when those days arrive – it is the Lord who speaks. Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I will be their God and they shall be my people. There will be no further need for neighbour to try to teach neighbour, or brother to say to brother, ‘Learn to know the Lord!’ No, they will all know me, the least no less than the greatest – it is the Lord who speaks – since I will forgive their iniquity and never call their sin to mind.

First reading for the 5th Sunday of Lent
Jeremiah 31:31-34

Note the graciousness of God who is ready always to give us a fresh start, always to help us again to come closer to his love and to the fullness of life.

As we approach the end of Lent, perhaps newly mindful of our sins and heavy of heart because of them, we are invited to look up and beyond ourselves and know the love that urges us on and takes the load that we might progress further than we can even hope for.

The price is paid, the covenant is offered. Let us know the Lord and live in him.

 

Detail from Font, Lichfield Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: gives us fresh heart

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A pure heart create for me, O God.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

Responsorial Psalm for the 5th Sunday in Lent
Psalm 50(51):3-4,12-15

Our longed for newness always comes as gift. Often we need to work, and work hard, to receive the gift, but always that newness, that freedom, that life  comes as gift from God.

And the gift moves us from a preoccupation with self, which constrains us, to a new place where there is freedom for ourselves and love for others.

A pure heart create for me, O God… and help me to be ready to receive it….

Tabernacle Door. Church of the Madeleine, Beziers. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: tender to us

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During his life on earth, Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.

Second reading for the 5th Sunday of Lent
Hebrews 5:7-9

The glory of Christ’s achievement is evident to all, and we celebrate it in our liturgy – both its cost and its glory.

And we remember that all this was for us: for our salvation.

Stone Carving. Cloister, St Trophime, Arles. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Lord of the Harvest

DSC05244.jpgAmong those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. These approached Philip, who came from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put this request to him, ‘Sir, we should like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew, and Andrew and Philip together went to tell Jesus. Jesus replied to them:

‘Now the hour has come
for the Son of Man to be glorified.
I tell you, most solemnly,
unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,
it remains only a single grain;
but if it dies,
it yields a rich harvest.
Anyone who loves his life loses it;
anyone who hates his life in this world
will keep it for the eternal life.
If a man serves me, he must follow me,
wherever I am, my servant will be there too.
If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.
Now my soul is troubled.
What shall I say:
Father, save me from this hour?
But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour.
Father, glorify your name!’

A voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ People standing by, who heard this, said it was a clap of thunder; others said, ‘It was an angel speaking to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours.

‘Now sentence is being passed on this world;
now the prince of this world is to be overthrown.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I shall draw all men to myself.’

By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.

Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Lent
John 12:20-33

The harvest is won, but at no little cost.

  • Where does living faithfully and for others cost you?
  • Why pay the price?

New Hall Mill, Sutton Coldfield. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: grace…

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God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.

This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.

Second reading for the 4th Sunday of Lent
Ephesians 2:4-10

St Paul uses language which echoes that of the parable of the two brothers (aka the Prodigal Son). He says the we, like the younger son, were dead, but have now been brought to life. – not by our merit, but entirely by his grace.

We, the younger brother meet with welcome not only from the Father, but also from our older brother who has sought us out and brought us home.

Image derived from mosaic at the Sacred Heart, Aston, Birmingham. (c)  2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Sorrow

DSC04858a sorrow walsall.jpgO let my tongue cleave to my mouth if I remember you not!

By the rivers of Babylon
there we sat and wept,
remembering Zion;
on the poplars that grew there
we hung up our harps.

O let my tongue cleave to my mouth if I remember you not!

For it was there that they asked us,
our captors, for songs,
our oppressors, for joy.
‘Sing to us,’ they said,
‘one of Zion’s songs.’

O let my tongue cleave to my mouth if I remember you not!

O how could we sing
the song of the Lord
on alien soil?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!

O let my tongue cleave to my mouth if I remember you not!

O let my tongue
cleave to my mouth
if I remember you not,
if I prize not Jerusalem
above all my joys!

O let my tongue cleave to my mouth if I remember you not!

Responsorial Psalm for 4th Sunday of Lent
Psalm 136(137):1-6

 

How easily and quickly we can be overtaken by the consequences of sin. How easily we lose control of things when we do wrong, when we mess up or mess things up. It can start as a little thing, but rapidly can move out of control, and leave us – in ourselves –helpless, unable to do anything about it.

We can turn away and ignore it but generally that makes things even worse. We can linger helpless, but that way lies misery. Or we can gaze on the Lord and remember his love and compassion and ask for forgiveness. And it is there for us, freely given not needing to be earned, just asked for, when we are sorry and want to move on get things right.

Sorrow – a drawing by Vincent van Gogh. New Gallery, Walsall. Photo (c) 2017, Allen Morris