Taste and see: together for love

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Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’

Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Easter
John 15:1-8

Vine-growers do not leave their vines to grow as they please. They trim and train: they take care…

God too, with us. Cares and helps and trains. God does this for our own sake, because he cherishes us. God does it also for the sake of the Kingdom, for the quality of relationships between us, enabling us to cooperate with him in the works of love, and care for each other.

Stained Glass. Hampstead parish church.  (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

 

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Speak Lord: even through Paul?!

DSC05962.jpgWhen Saul got to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him: they could not believe he was really a disciple. Barnabas, however, took charge of him, introduced him to the apostles, and explained how the Lord had appeared to Saul and spoken to him on his journey, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Saul now started to go round with them in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. But after he had spoken to the Hellenists, and argued with them, they became determined to kill him. When the brothers knew, they took him to Caesarea, and sent him off from there to Tarsus.

The churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were now left in peace, building themselves up, living in the fear of the Lord, and filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.

First reading for the 5th Sunday of Easter
Acts of the Apostles 9:26-31

Paul always seems to have been perceived as a challenge – to Jews, Christians and pagans alike!

And yet he preaches a way of love and a way of freedom, a way that is firmly rooted in the person and teaching of Jesus, redolent with the grace of God.

Maybe the problem is not Paul, but us!

Mosaic of St Paul. Basilica of St Paul outside the walls, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Make all right

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You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly or Alleluia!

My vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and shall have their fill.
They shall praise the Lord, those who seek him.
May their hearts live for ever and ever!

You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly or Alleluia!

All the earth shall remember and return to the Lord,
all families of the nations worship before him;
They shall worship him, all the mighty of the earth;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust.

You, Lord, are my praise in the great assembly or Alleluia!

And my soul shall live for him, my children serve him.
They shall tell of the Lord to generations yet to come,
declare his faithfulness to peoples yet unborn:
‘These things the Lord has done.’

Responsorial Psalm for the 5th Sunday of Easter
Psalm 21(22):26-28,30-32

The Psalm evokes communities being healed, turning to love, turning to the priase of God, flourishing in the Lord. It gives us hope and refocuses us reminding of the potential of our lives in all the circumstances in which we might find ourselves.

Alleluia! Let us praise him in the great assembly this Sunday!

Stained Glass. St Editha church, Tamworth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Our help, our liberator

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Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire,
and they are burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’

Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Easter
John 15:1-8

Vines are treasured for the fruit they bear. They are not an end in themselves.

We, however, have an ultimate value ourselves. And yet one of the signs of our value, in ourselves as it were, is the work that God does on us and with us to help us to be fruitful. He prunes and tends us that we may do the work of love – to our fulfilment, to his glory, and for the good of our neighbour!

  • To what might the Lord be ready to apply the pruning sheers in your life?
  • What will help you to submit/cooperate with him?

Tending the vine. Anglo-Saxon carving. British Museum. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Guide and support us

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My children,
our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active;
only by this can we be certain
that we are children of the truth
and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,
whatever accusations it may raise against us,
because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.
My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence,
and whatever we ask him,
we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.
His commandments are these:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we love one another
as he told us to.
Whoever keeps his commandments
lives in God and God lives in him.
We know that he lives in us
by the Spirit that he has given us.

Second reading for the 5th Sunday of Easter
1 John 3:18-24

A timely reminder, always: there are no days off for the Christian. Actually, there are no days off what is good and true for anyone. It is in striving for that which is true and good and loving that we find rest and joy and fulfilment. Not without struggle, but supported always by the love of God which makes all things possible.

Reredos of Chapel of St Mary’s University, Twickenham. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Taste and See: One flock?

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Jesus said: ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.

The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep.

‘I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.

And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, and one shepherd.

‘The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again; and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’

Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Easter
John 10:11-18

These days the words about ‘other sheep not of this fold’ are often understood as referring to other Christian communities, divided from one another because of, well all sorts of reasons – including cultural difference, theological dispute – but separated despite their basic unity through the one baptism that most (if not all) Christian communities acknowledge.

And yet maybe those differences and distinctions  are not what Jesus (and/or John) have in mind. Maybe the reference is to those other members of the human family who do not profess faith in Christ at all, or even in the One God professed by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The unity for which Jesus works may easily be broader than we perhaps too narrowly conceive of it. Inspired by his example many may find encouragement and the freedom to live a life lived for love of neighbour, without (yet) being ready to profess faith in Jesus, or live as formal members of his Church. Let us be ready to find common purpose with them, and rejoice in those things which we find we share, rather than be distracted by the things which distinguish us.

Stained glass. Eindhoven, Netherlands. (c) 2003, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The love, the care…

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Grant, we pray, O Lord,
that we may always find delight in these paschal mysteries,
so that the renewal constantly at work within us
may be the cause of our unending joy.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer over the Offerings for the 4th Sunday of Easter

Theprayer above reminds that the end of our journey in faith, of our growth in holiness, is joy. The journey may be challenging and tough, but God steers us towards everything that is honest, true and life-giving.

Let us rejoice and be glad. He is risen that we too may rise in him.

Chapel of the Good Shepherd (Fresco by Duncan Grant). Lincoln Cathedral. (c) 2011, Allen Morris