Taste and See: speaking to God

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You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.

All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign
and declare your might, O God.

You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.

The eyes of all creatures look to you
and you give them their food in due time.
You open wide your hand,
grant the desires of all who live.

You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.

The Lord is just in all his ways
and loving in all his deeds.
He is close to all who call him,
who call on him from their hearts.

You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.

Responsorial Psalm for 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 144(145):10-11,15-18

Many of the psalms are attributed to King David. Songs o rejoicing and songs of deep sorrow. They model prayer, and especially give us confidence that there is nothing we need be afraid of bringing before God in prayer.

The sentiments we express when we begin our prayer may well not be the ones we feels and express at the end – and the psalms are witness to that too.

God is big enough to deal with what ever we might throw at him and compassionate and caring enough to accompany us through the ups and downs of our lives.

Detail of stained glass window in Sainte Chapelle, Paris. © 2017, Allen Morris

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Taste and See: God cares

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Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.

Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’

There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted.

When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

Gospel for Sunday of the 17th week in Ordinary Time
John 6:1-15

Having built up to Mark’s account of the feeding of the 5000 it was somewhat jarring to find ourselves yesterday listening to John’s account. There are significant differences.

As Jesus stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.

By now it was getting very late, and his disciples came up to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place and it is getting very late. So send them away, and they can go to the farms and villages round about, to buy themselves something to eat.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’

They answered, ‘Are we to go and spend two hundred denarii on bread for them to eat?’ ‘How many loaves have you?’ he asked. ‘Go and see.’And when they had found out they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’

Then he ordered them to get all the people together in groups on the green grass, and they sat down on the ground in squares of hundreds and fifties. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing; then he broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the people. He also shared out the two fish among them all. They all ate as much as they wanted. They collected twelve basketfuls of scraps of bread and pieces of fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

Mark 6:34-44

In Mark’s Gospel the feeding comes at the end of the day, and at the end of a narrative that has had the disciples being entrusted with more responsibility, and rising to it. However this particular episode, and others following, shows how far they have yet to go, how much they have still to understand, and how much they rely still on the Lord.

John makes the meal itself the centre of his story. There is no teaching of the people through a long day, but the planning of the meal takes place even as the people approach.

In John the meal and its meaning becomes the story – and that meaning is something that is explored through the rest of chapter 6 which we will be fed at Mass over the coming Sundays.

  • Jesus original audience in John’s gospel miss the point of the miracle in wanting to make him king.
  • What though is the point of the feeding?

Detail from early Christian sarcophagus. Le musée départemental Arles antique, Arles, France. © 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: loving Lord

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A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing Elisha, the man of God, bread from the first-fruits, twenty barley loaves and fresh grain in the ear.’ ‘Give it to the people to eat’, Elisha said. But his servant replied, ‘How can I serve this to a hundred men?’ ‘Give it to the people to eat’ he insisted ‘for the Lord says this, “They will eat and have some left over.”’ He served them; they ate and had some left over, as the Lord had said.

First reading for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
2 Kings 4:42-44

Love, true love, is its own reward. It works wonders.

Rarely will it go without other reward and gratitude.

  • Pray that love will always finds its echo in you, and inspire fresh love in you.

Charity. St Giles, Cheadle. © 2018, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: as we thank you

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You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.

All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign
and declare your might, O God.

You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.

The eyes of all creatures look to you
and you give them their food in due time.
You open wide your hand,
grant the desires of all who live.

You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.

The Lord is just in all his ways
and loving in all his deeds.
He is close to all who call him,
who call on him from their hearts.

You open wide your hand, O Lord, and grant our desires.

Responsorial Psalm for 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 144(145):10-11,15-18

The psalms are the inspired word of God, holy Scripture, but they are also the words of those who wrote them under that inspiration, and those who make them their prayer and praise of God.

They are texts of communion and covenant, sacraments that achieve what they proclaim.

Detail of altar frontal at St Peter’s church, Coughton Court. © 2018, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Freedom

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I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.

2nd reading for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 4:1-6

The message is profoundly simple: live love.

Our calling is truly challenging, for it calls us to live the life of God in the various circumstances in which we find ourselves. However that it is possible for us to do this, is made clear to us in the lives of those, such as St Paul, who find freedom in the Lord.

  • What in your life is not worthy of your vocation? Why?
  • How might you draw on the grace of God to grow in love?

Detail of West Doors, Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls, Rome. © 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Challenge our lack of imagination and charity

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Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.

Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’

There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted.

When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

Gospel for Sunday of the 17th week in Ordinary Time
John 6:1-15

With this reading we have sequed from Mark’s narrative which was building up to the feeding of the 5000 to John’s account of the miracle and his exploration of its meaning in the bread of Life discourse (which we will hear read over the coming 4 Sundays).

Last week we heard of Jesus feeding the people by his word, teaching them, and guiding them to faith in God and preparing them to live in God’s kingdom. This week we hear of a feeding with food, bread and fish. Both feedings were real and particular and both symbolise the Lord’s continued spiritual feeding of his people with his very self, by Scripture and the sacramental food of the Eucharist.

His ministry to them prefigures what can be our ministry to others.

  • What have we to share with others, that may seem quite inadequate to what seems to be lacking, but may in God’s grace become what is needed?

Stained glass. Church of the Magdalene, Beziers, France. © 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Love and care for us

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The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Responsorial Psalm for the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm 22(23)

What a shepherd!

Shepherds generally take care of their sheep for the sake of the return they hope to make – from the milk or cheese or wool, or flesh they will harvest.

Our God shepherds us simply for love’s sake, for care of us.

  • For whom do you show that same selfless love?
  • For whom might you show such love?

Shepherd from Nativity. St Philip’s Anglican Cathedral, Birmingham. © 2018, Allen Morris