Speak Lord: Call us to attention

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It is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change. By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all that he had created.

Accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.

Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.

Second reading for the 22 Sunday in Ordinary Time
James 1:17-18,21-22,27

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost,
For want of a horse, the rider was lost,
For want of a rider, the message was lost,
For want of a message, the battle was lost,
For want of a battle, the war was lost,
For want of a war, the kingdom was lost,
For want of a nail, the world was lost

One failing can have unforseen and damaging consequences.

But the opposite is true too, the gift of one good and generous act can be part of the salvation of the world, and us with it.

Stained Glass. Birmingham CIty Museum. (c) 2018, Allen Morris.

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Speak Lord: Keep us real…

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The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:

“This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless, the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.”

‘You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’ He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’

Gospel for the 22 Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23

Purification rites can serve us well by helping us to be mindful of the holiness of God and to prepare ourselves to be humble ad attentive in his presence.

But as this gospel passage suggest they can also become ways in which we relieve ourselves of need for God, insulating ourselves, isolating ourselves from real life, real relationship with God and with neighbour.

  • How does your religion help you be more loving?
  • Where might it make you less loving?

Purification fountains, Western Wall. Jerusalem. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Living Word

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Alleluia, alleluia!
Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life; you have the message of eternal life.
Alleluia!

Gospel Acclamation for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Printed on the page, voiced and proclaimed by a minister, the words of Scripture can seem just like any old words, bound to flesh and to earth.

And yet, inspired and enlivened by the Spirit of God, they become Christ present for us and speaking to us in the depths of our hearts and being…

They speak of the past in our present, and call us to future glory…

Medieval carving of monk at prayer. Church of St Peter, Coughton Court, Warwickshire. (c) 2018, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The God we choose

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Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel together at Shechem; then he called the elders, leaders, judges and scribes of Israel, and they presented themselves before God. Then Joshua said to all the people, ‘If you will not serve the Lord, choose today whom you wish to serve, whether the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are now living. As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord.’

The people answered, ‘We have no intention of deserting the Lord and serving other gods! Was it not the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery, who worked those great wonders before our eyes and preserved us all along the way we travelled and among all the peoples through whom we journeyed? What is more, the Lord drove all those peoples out before us, as well as the Amorites who used to live in this country. We too will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’

First reading for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Joshua 24:1-2,15-18

Forty years on from leaving Egypt, Israel seems to have learnt its lessons will.

But look closer in the book of Joshua and the associated books of the Old Testament, and things are not quite as the people say they are, nor will they be.

They talk the talk, but are not so good at walking the walk.

  • Where do you find you hesitate and vacillate?

Ancient carvings. Cairo Museum. Egypt. (C) Allen Morris, 2004.

Taste and See: washed, clean, ready to go…

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Give way to one another in obedience to Christ. Wives should regard their husbands as they regard the Lord, since as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church submits to Christ, so should wives to their husbands, in everything. Husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy.

He made her clean by washing her in water with a form of words, so that when he took her to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless. In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is for him to love himself.

A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church, because it is his body – and we are its living parts. For this reason, a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one body. This mystery has many implications; but I am saying it applies to Christ and the Church.

Second reading for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 5:21-32

Most of s will not be able to remember our baptism. What a pity that is.

But just imagine,

  • being chosen, and saying yes
  • being anointed for protection and strengthening
  • washed head to foot
  • anointed again as a sign of your calling
  • clothed
  • and then gifted with Christ’s light to light our way as we strive to live with him the graced life we have been granted.

Stained glass. Parish church, Stratford upon Avon. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Our Lord!

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Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel together at Shechem; then he called the elders, leaders, judges and scribes of Israel, and they presented themselves before God. Then Joshua said to all the people, ‘If you will not serve the Lord, choose today whom you wish to serve, whether the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are now living. As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord.’

The people answered, ‘We have no intention of deserting the Lord and serving other gods! Was it not the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery, who worked those great wonders before our eyes and preserved us all along the way we travelled and among all the peoples through whom we journeyed? What is more, the Lord drove all those peoples out before us, as well as the Amorites who used to live in this country. We too will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’

First reading for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Joshua 24:1-2,15-18

‘To be or not to be…’ was what Hamlet had to try to puzzle his way though. For Isaiah, and for us, the challenge is will you be of God’s people or not; and if not God’s whose will we be.

Maybe the choice is not so different to that which Hamlet faces.

  • Which do you choose?
  • Which do you want to choose?

 

Wall drawing of Joshua. Harvington Hall, W Midlands. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: redeemer

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Taste and see that the Lord is good.

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad.

The Lord turns his face against the wicked
to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
The Lord turns his eyes to the just
and his ears to their appeal.

They call and the Lord hears
and rescues them in all their distress.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.

Many are the trials of the just man
but from them all the Lord will rescue him.
He will keep guard over all his bones,
not one of his bones shall be broken.

Evil brings death to the wicked;
those who hate the good are doomed.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants.
Those who hide in him shall not be condemned.

Psalm for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 33(34):2-3,16-23

In the famous story of Israel’s escape from Egypt the ‘wicked’ are drowned as they race in pursuit of their foe. Sometimes bad things do happen to ‘bad’ people.

In this psalm the wickedness is destroyed and the good people are saved. They turn to the Lord in their brokenness – and he cherishes and saves them.

  • What – if anything – would stop you calling to the Lord for help?

Enamel, Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.