Speak Lord: Giver and Gift

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On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to Jesus, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is my dining room in which I can eat the passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’ The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover.

And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’

After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.

Gospel for Corpus Christi
Mark 14:12-16,22-26

Jesus offers the gift of his very self – prefigured in ritual symbolism at the Last Supper; achieved in an ultimate way at Calvary and in the Resurrection; expressed in his teaching and miracles, his friendship and love; and made available to us today in the Sacramental Order.

He gives himself to us.

  • To who and how do we make gift of ourselves?

 

Reredos panel, St Peter’s church, Oundle. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Work to do

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The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them.

He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’

Gospel for Trinity Sunday
Matthew 28:16-20

Where will you go to seek to make disciples?

Galilee. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Cherished and equal before God

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Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God. And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.

Second reading for Trinity Sunday
Romans 8:14-17

In our age we do right to be sensitive to the social baggage that language carries with it. The language of the New Testament regular reveals that it was coined in a society even more patriarchal and oppressive of women than our own.

Yet here Paul seems anxious to stress that all Christians are truly children of God, and all Christians share in the rights of the (first-born) son, who in Greco-Roman households would normally be the sole inheritor of a father’s estate. All people, everyone, moved by the Spirit is such a son of God – be they second-born sons, slaves, women, Greeks, Jews, children: all who are moved by the Spirit.

We receive the Tradition in language that creaks and strains in order to convey the wonder and beauty of the new creation and of salvation. We have the responsibility of attempting to express the Tradition afresh so that it speaks still more clearly, more effectively to the people of our age.

God the Father. Maître de Feligne. Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Remember and know…

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Moses said to the people: ‘Put this question to the ages that are past, that went before you, from the time God created man on earth: Was there ever a word so majestic, from one end of heaven to the other? Was anything ever heard? Did ever a people hear the voice of the living God speaking from the heart of the fire, as you heard it, and remain alive? Has any god ventured to take to himself one nation from the midst of another by ordeals, signs, wonders, war with mighty hand and outstretched arm, by fearsome terrors – all this that the Lord your God did for you before your eyes in Egypt?

‘Understand this today, therefore, and take it to heart: the Lord is God indeed, in heaven above as on earth beneath, he and no other. Keep his laws and commandments as I give them to you today, so that you and your children may prosper and live long in the land that the Lord your God gives you for ever.’

First reading for Trinity Sunday
Deuteronomy 4:32-34,39-40

Moses witnesses to the glory of God, drawing on his own personal experience and the experiences shared with the rest of the people.

Those various experiences are likely to be more dramatic than our own experiences! However our own experiences are likely to be what sustains us in faith, and encourages us to seek to live faithfully. They are also likely to be amongst the most persuasive testimony that we can give to others, who teeter on the threshold of faith.

We should be ready to bear witness…

Moses. Chagall Museum, Nice. (c) 2005, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Glorious One.

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Moses said to the people: ‘Put this question to the ages that are past, that went before you, from the time God created man on earth: Was there ever a word so majestic, from one end of heaven to the other? Was anything ever heard? Did ever a people hear the voice of the living God speaking from the heart of the fire, as you heard it, and remain alive? Has any god ventured to take to himself one nation from the midst of another by ordeals, signs, wonders, war with mighty hand and outstretched arm, by fearsome terrors – all this that the Lord your God did for you before your eyes in Egypt?

‘Understand this today, therefore, and take it to heart: the Lord is God indeed, in heaven above as on earth beneath, he and no other. Keep his laws and commandments as I give them to you today, so that you and your children may prosper and live long in the land that the Lord your God gives you for ever.’

First reading for Trinity Sunday
Deuteronomy 4:32-34,39-40

In popular discourse, not least in debate with the secular world, God is reduced to the level of one of the gods, or some mythic figure. The glory of God, God who is source of all being, Creator of all that is, of the Universe that we are still in the process of coming to know, is too challenging for most to grapple with or seek even to contemplate.

Christian faith, informed by the faith of Israel, is that we are loved and purposed by this living Lord.

Isn’t it staggering! Let us rejoice and be glad.

Icon. Exhibition, Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Who loves us well.

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Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

By his word the heavens were made,
by the breath of his mouth all the stars.
He spoke; and it came to be.
He commanded; it sprang into being.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
The Lord is our help and our shield.
May your love be upon us, O Lord,
as we place all our hope in you.

Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

Responsorial Psalm for Trinity Sunday
Psalm 32(33):4-6,9,18-20,22

Who knows what lies ahead of us, ever? In terms of health, circumstances and the like?

All that is ultimately secure is that the Lord loves us and cherishes us. He shares his life, his love, his Spirit with us always

Carving. Iona Abbey. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: community of love and service

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Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God. And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.

Second reading for Trinity Sunday
Romans 8:14-17

‘Sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory….’

We are privileged – through God’s grace, through our baptism – to share in the life of God. This not only privileges us, but gives us the responsibility of continuing to enflesh that life of God in our troubled and fragile world as we seek to serve each other.

Throne of Glory. Musée Dobrée, Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: At one with the triune God?

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The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them.

He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’

Gospel for Trinity Sunday
Matthew 28:16-20

The command is to unite the peoples of the world with God the Creator, Saviour and Sanctifier; Father, Son and Spirit. Too often sadly this gift is used to distinguish and separate Christians both from one another, according to denomination or Church; and Christians from others of their brothers and sisters in the created order.

This sort of separation of Christians from others has to be distinguished from our  being set apart to be a holy people, in service of the will of God. The one is our honour; the other is to our shame.

Baptism of 2,000 Anglo-Saxons on the banks of the river Medway. Detail of Fresco by Sergei Fyodorov. Rochester Cathedral (c) 2012. Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: Forward!

DSC03404b NazarethWhen Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’

First reading for Mass during the Day of Pentecost
Acts 2:1-11

The Old Testament tells of the disintegration of the unity of the human family into nations and diverse language groups. Even the particular people chosen by God to enter into new and covenanted relationship with him cannot remain a single people, their nation divides and falls, whole communities are lost from our view…

The New Testament offers a new hope, and in this episode from the Acts of the Apostles a new unity is found in God’s spirit…

  • How do you share the gifts of the Spirit with others?
  • Which gifts do you yourself still need help to grow into?

Detail of doors to Basilica of the Nativity, Nazareth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Joy?

DSC06578a British MuseumIn the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’

Gospel for Mass on Pentecost Day
John 20:19-23

At the end of the day of Resurrection, after the appearance to Mary of Magdala; after her witness to the disciples; after  John and Peter have been to the tomb and seen, and believed – the disciples are still locking themselves into the upper room, for fear of the Jews.

How resistant, they and we are, to the good news that the Lord is risen, and to the knowledge that there is no reason for us to fear.

But the Lord come and sets them free, and empowers them for ministry…

So too with us?

Door Panel from Church of the Virgin, Cairo. in the collection of the British Museum. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.