Speak Lord: Speak life

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I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead,
restored me to life from those who sink into the grave.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

Sing psalms to the Lord, you who love him,
give thanks to his holy name.
His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life.
At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

The Lord listened and had pity.
The Lord came to my help.
For me you have changed my mourning into dancing:
O Lord my God, I will thank you for ever.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

Responsorial Psalm for the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm 29(30):2,4-6,11-13

Some are dead to life in this life.

The Lord seeks to help us be free us for life that extends even beyond our physical death so that (even) in death we might live with him and for ever.

Detail of memorial tomb. Montmarte Cemetery, Paris. 

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Speak Lord: Help us share your gifts….

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You always have the most of everything – of faith, of eloquence, of understanding, of keenness for any cause, and the biggest share of our affection – so we expect you to put the most into this work of mercy too.

Remember how generous the Lord Jesus was: he was rich, but he became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty. This does not mean that to give relief to others you ought to make things difficult for yourselves: it is a question of balancing what happens to be your surplus now against their present need, and one day they may have something to spare that will supply your own need.

That is how we strike a balance: as scripture says: The man who gathered much had none too much, the man who gathered little did not go short.

Second reading for the  13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 8:7,9,13-15

All is gift. Even what, now, is ours is not for us alone, but is ours for us to use for the common good.

  • What helps you to be generous?
  • What makes it more difficult?

Harvest of Grace. 12th C stone carving. All Saints, Billesley, Warwickshire.

Speak Lord: Healer and Lord

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When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.

Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’

While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.

Gospel for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 5:21-43

The excerpt that we hear from Mark’s Gospel this Sunday is a marvellously constructred narriatve passage, one of the longest sustained narriatves in the Gospel. It is a clear demonstration of the power and authority of Jesus over sickness and sin, over life and death, over his ministry to heal and set free.

To hear this passage is to hear encouragement to entrust ourselves to the Lord – whatever our need, whatever our frailty, he provides what we lack, and in him we can have absolute confidence.

  • How might we better share that confidence and trust with others?

 

Carved ivory panel. Collection of the Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: A new dawn…

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The Gospel Acclamation and the Communion Antiphon for Sunday’s Mass were drawn from the Benedictus, the great song of Zechariah,  sung each morning by the Church at Morning Prayer, part of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Alleluia, alleluia!
As for you, little child, you shall be called
a prophet of God, the Most High.
You shall go ahead of the Lord
to prepare his ways before him.
Alleluia!

Gospel Acclamation for Solemnity of nativity of St John the Baptist
cf.Lk1:76

The Gospel Acclamation sings the prophecy of John’s vocation, to prepare the way of the Lord; and the Communion Antiphon sings of how this same Lord will come to us, mercy and tenderness visiting a new dawn upon us…

Through the tender mercy of our God,
the Dawn from on high will visit us.

Communion Antiphon for Solemnity of nativity of St John the Baptist
Cf. Lk 1: 78

The old story gives new hope and reminds of how in God we are always present to newness and refreshment, and how always we too are called to be servants of the grace of God made available and accessible to us. We are invited to be witnesses for that newness ourselves.

  • How might you prepare the way for the Lord?
  • In what ways does/has the Lord visited you?

Chinese version of the Benedictus. Ein Kerem, Israel. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Christ in them

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I thank you for the wonder of my being.

O Lord, you search me and you know me,
you know my resting and my rising,
you discern my purpose from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down,
all my ways lie open to you.

For it was you who created my being,
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you for the wonder of my being,
for the wonders of all your creation.

Already you knew my soul,
my body held no secret from you
when I was being fashioned in secret
and moulded in the depths of the earth.

Psalm for the Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist
Psalm 138(139):1-3,13-15

We are invited to know something of the Mystery of God through our awareness of the beatitude that surrounds us, that give us life, and sustains us in life and gives us purpose in life.

To contemplate God’s goodness to us is a powerful way of becoming more aware of the greatness of that goodness, and becoming both more grateful for it, and enabled to cooperate with it even more.

However God is, of course, good not only to me and us but also to ‘them’.

Many of us (most of us?) have a strong awareness of some people not being like us, but being less than us. We account for their lack in all sorts of ways – sex and gender, race and colour, class and wealth, education,, the position they hold or lack… Sometimes the way we distinguish is more pronounced, sometimes less, but always it runs the risk of obscuring what they have in common with us, and especially of helping us to ignore that they are beloved children of God, equal with us in his sight…

If we usually experience the psalm above as an affirmation of our dignity before God, we can also use it as a test of conscience and consciousness with regard to others. Just change the first person pronouns to third person; then think of him, or her, or those for whom you have least love; and then pray the psalm again….

Symbols of victims of the Holocaust. Holcaust Museum, Berlin. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Wait and see

DSC00821a.jpgThe time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.

Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.

Gospel for Solemnity of St John the Baptist
Luke 1:57-66,80

Again and again the birth of a child is a joyful moment in the life of a family or community. It awakes hope: it gives a focus to the purpose of the lives of others

Sadly though there are other times. There are times when a child is unwanted and remains uncared for. There are times when the family or community that a child is born into  is so fractured and needy that, despite its best efforts, it is not equal to the responsibility of receiving the new born and helping realise the potential there.

Yet, very often, even in the least opportune of circumstances, people are moved to perform miracle of love for the well-being of a new-born, indeed of any other human person that they see as another human person, one of us, not one of them.

The answer to the question ‘what will this child turn out to be?’ relies very much on the answer to the question ‘what sort of people will we turn out to be?’

Puppets in the Schindler Factory Museum, Krakow, Poland. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: that we may echo your living word…

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Islands, listen to me, pay attention, remotest peoples. The Lord called me before I was born, from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name. He made my mouth a sharp sword, and hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me into a sharpened arrow, and concealed me in his quiver.

He said to me, ‘You are my servant (Israel) in whom I shall be glorified’; while I was thinking, ‘I have toiled in vain, I have exhausted myself for nothing’; and all the while my cause was with the Lord, my reward with my God. I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength.

And now the Lord has spoken, he who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to him: ‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’

First reading for the Solemnity  of the Nativity of John the Baptist
Isaiah 49:1-6

How often do we hesitate over the lesser things that God invites us to, and that challenge our vision of ourselves and others. And yet, as with Isaiah, we are also called to share in the great work of being a light to the nations!

How we live our faith can illumine the lives of others and it can cast a sombre shadow over them too.

Sometimes we know what to do.

Sometimes we are mightily puzzled.

  • What have been examples of both for you recently?
  • Bring your relfections to God in prayer.

 

Stained glass. St-Germain-l’Auxerrois, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris