Taste and See: Salvation

Stained glass, St Mary, Warmington. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

Grant us, O Lord, we pray,
that we may participate worthily in these mysteries,
for whenever the memorial of this sacrifice is celebrated
the work of our redemption is accomplished.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer over the Offerings

The Prayer over the Offerings heard at Mass yesterday is a sublime expression of Catholic theology about the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is memorial of the once and for all Sacrifice of Christ, his self-offering at the Cross. That Sacrifice is our salvation – the effective gift of God’s love to free us from sin and death – and it is accomplished here, now, in the memorial that makes it, him, really truly present.

If there is any provisionality about the matter, it lies in our response to the gift offered. And so we pray that we may participate worthily – worthy of God, true to how we ourselves are – and fruitfully, that the gift given and received in not received in vain.

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Taste and See: Communion

Capital, Cloister of Abbaye St-Pierre, Moissac, France. (c) 2018, Allen Morris.

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said, ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.

Gospel for 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
John 2:1-11

The mystery revealed is of God’s glory in Jesus Christ – but the Lord does not work alone. The occasion is the need of the wedding party; the prompt and encouragement comes from Mary, mother of Jesus, and servants and the steward all have their part to play.

We are not saved by God alone; together we cooperate with God’s saving power, and together we are saved.

  • With whom do you work to allow God’s glory to be seen?
  • Who helps you yourself to know and give thanks for God’s glory?

Speak Lord: Beloved of God

Enamel plaque. Collection of the Louvre, Paris. (c) 2018, Allen Morris.

About Zion I will not be silent, about Jerusalem I will not grow weary, until her integrity shines out like the dawn and her salvation flames like a torch.

The nations then will see your integrity, all the kings your glory, and you will be called by a new name, one which the mouth of the Lord will confer. You are to be a crown of splendour in the hand of the Lord, a princely diadem in the hand of your God; no longer are you to be named ‘Forsaken’, nor your land ‘Abandoned’, but you shall be called ‘My Delight’ and your land ‘The Wedded’; for the Lord takes delight in you and your land will have its wedding.

Like a young man marrying a virgin, so will the one who built you wed you, and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so will your God rejoice in you.

First Reading for 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 62:1-5

Last Sunday in the Gospel we heard a voice from heaven describe Jesus as God’s beloved, in whom he is well pleased.

This Sunday the prophet speaks to Zion and Jerusalem, and now also to people of the new covenant: all peoples and all lands are beloved of God. In each one and in all, the Lord rejoices.

  • How does this good news impact on you?
  • With whom can you share it?

Speak Lord: as we sing your praise

Detail of Marriage at Cana by Murillo. Barber Institute, Birmingham. (c) 2018, Allen Morris.


Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

 O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, bless his name.

Proclaim his help day by day,
tell among the nations his glory
and his wonders among all the peoples.

Give the Lord, you families of peoples,
give the Lord glory and power;
give the Lord the glory of his name.

Worship the Lord in his temple.
O earth, tremble before him.
Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’
He will judge the peoples in fairness.

Responsorial Psalm for 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 95(96):1-3,7-10

The new covenant initiated in Jesus Christ is a covenant open to all nations. Israel is secure in its relationship with the Lord, but now the promise to the nations comes into its own.

Now, all the earth can unite in common song.

Speak Lord: Gift and giver of gifts

Stained glass. Parish church, Lynton, Devon. (c) 2013, Allen Morris


There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them.

The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. One may have the gift of preaching with wisdom given him by the Spirit; another may have the gift of preaching instruction given him by the same Spirit; and another the gift of faith given by the same Spirit; another again the gift of healing, through this one Spirit; one, the power of miracles; another, prophecy; another the gift of recognising spirits; another the gift of tongues and another the ability to interpret them.

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, who distributes different gifts to different people just as he chooses.

Second Reading for 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 12:4-11

The Lord entrusts particular gifts to particular people – but for a good purpose which is always for the common good.

No good thing is ever given only for the benefit of one person only. It may be given uniquely and directly to one particular person: but if it is received and well-used it will prove to be of benefit to others also, and usually to many others, even if only indirectly.

  • What gift has God entrusted to you?
  • For whose benefit do you see the gift has been given?
  • What helps you use the gift well?

Speak Lord: source of Glory

Detail from 11th C, Hildesheim Column.
Plaster cast in collection in collection of Victoria and Albert Museum. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said, ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.

Gospel for 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
John 2:1-11

Formally, the Church’s season of Christmas ended last Sunday with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. However the Gospel of the 2nd Sunday has hints of Christmas about it – at least for those alert to the three Mysteries traditionally associated with the feast of the Epiphany. Those three are – the manifestation of the Lord to the Magi; at his Baptism the identification of Jesus as Son by the voice from heaven; and the Lord’s allowing his glory to be seen through this miracle at Cana.

What is the glory of the Lord? His power for good? His power to make good our shortcomings? Surely, yes. And more than this for he transforms water used for ritual purification into wine that is used to celebrate a new union, a new covenant. The covenant between this man and this woman, yes; and between their families; but also the covenant between God and his people.

The miracle opens up perspectives to eternity…

Taste and See: What it’s all about

Detail from Sarcophagus. Musee Arles, Antique. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

O God, whose Only Begotten Son
has appeared in our very flesh,
grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed
through him whom we recognize as outwardly like ourselves.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Alternative Collect for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord

We are called to authenticity in our Christian identity.

For us baptism can be a social ritual devoid of spiritual meaning, a joining of a club with a certain cachet (otherwise why bother) but a club that is self-serving and godless.

Or, for us, Baptism can be a personal response to the love of God, a sincere expression of our desire to live from that love, loving God, loving neighbour: the Baptismal vocation is something we commit to, almost as much as it is something we receive.

We can vary in our approach to Baptism. But for God Baptism is always a self-giving, a further manifesting of the divine will, and power to back up that will, that for us all should be well, godly and good.

Taste and See: Our God

Mosaic, Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

‘Console my people, console them’ says your God. ‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for, that she has received from the hand of the Lord double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low. Let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Go up on a high mountain, joyful messenger to Zion. Shout with a loud voice, joyful messenger to Jerusalem. Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him. The prize of his victory is with him, his trophies all go before him.

He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

First Reading for Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11


Here is our God – this man who comes to be washed for righteousness sake, who uses human, religious, ritual to demonstrate his desire to be faithful to God’s covenant, a servant to God’s people…

His life and love are gifted to us that we might live by him, in him, with him – this shepherd who cherishes his flock.

To live by, with and in him is to share in his love and in his mission.

  • To whom does God send you and why?
  • How will you respond to the call, and the opportunity?

Taste and See: God’s love

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 

Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’

Gospel for Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Luke 3:15-16,21-22

The Baptism of Jesus is one of the key moments of revelation – like the epiphany to the Shepherds, and to the wise men. Now it is an epiphany perhaps, limited to Jesus and to us. We are not told that anyone else hears. But Jesus does and we do…

And now we know that, not least through our baptisms, we too are beloved children of God: his sons and daughters in whom God is well pleased.

  • What might delight God about you?
  • What might delight God about someone (else?) you find difficult to like?

Speak Lord: to us

Figures by Publio Morbiducci. Museum of Modern Art. Vatican. (c) 2016

‘Console my people, console them’ says your God. ‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for, that she has received from the hand of the Lord double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low. Let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Go up on a high mountain, joyful messenger to Zion. Shout with a loud voice, joyful messenger to Jerusalem. Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him. The prize of his victory is with him, his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

First Reading for Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11

All is for us… For our consolation, for our salvation.

The Lord comes – and in so many ways – in the ways we have come to know and to expect – in the word that is Scripture; in Sacrament; in the Church; in our personal prayer, and in the countless ways (especially ‘coincidences’) where the Lord comes to us show he is with us, but in a completely anonymous way.

All is for us…

  • What comes to mind when you consider how the Lord has helped you?