Taste and See: And listen to the silence

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’

Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Lent
Luke 15:1-3,11-32


The image of the parable that heads this posting is a little unusual in that it shows women as well as the male characters that are named in the narrative – and they are, presumably, not the ‘women’ presumed and held in bad repute by the elder brother!

They are maybe the wife of the father and mother of the sons, or sisters, or aunts or neighbours. In some way or other they are women that have some care of the men of the parable, men who are all in their way passionate, and all, perhaps, blinkered and selfish.

Possibly the women are that way too. But we don’t get to hear from them in the parable? Why might that be? At other times Jesus makes a point of using women and their lives to tease our minds into a new contemplation of love and of God’s love in particular. Is it that having men only better suited the story? Does he intend us to notice, in this story, the absence of women and their voices?

  • Whose voices are not heard in your family and the other groups to which you belong?
  • Whose voices are not heard in wider society?
  • What difference might their silence make?
    • To conflict?
    • To conflict resolution?

Image: Plaque. Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

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Speak Lord: Free us

The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you.’

The Israelites pitched their camp at Gilgal and kept the Passover there on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening in the plain of Jericho. On the morrow of the Passover they tasted the produce of that country, unleavened bread and roasted ears of corn, that same day. From that time, from their first eating of the produce of that country, the manna stopped falling. And having manna no longer, the Israelites fed from that year onwards on what the land of Canaan yielded.

First Reading for the 4th Sunday of Lent
Joshua 5:9-12

Shame and guilt can come upon us for many reasons. Sometimes it is our internalisation of the attitudes and actions of others. Sometimes it is our own response to our own attitudes and actions.

Shame can be healthy if it draws us from what is harmful. It can, though, be harmful if it leads us from what is in fact godly and wholesome.

  • For what are you right to be ashamed? What might you bring to the Lord in the Sacrament of Penance?
  • What belittlement do others seek to impose on you? How might you doraw on the power and love of God to resist the damage they intend?

The Prodigal feeding pigs. Collection of the Library Museum, Stoke on Trent. (c) 2018, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Lord of the feast

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.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
from all my terrors he set me free.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Look towards him and be radiant;
let your faces not be abashed.
This poor man called, the Lord heard him
and rescued him from all his distress.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Responsorial Psalm for the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm 33(34):2-7

The Lord tastes good – but sometimes other things are more tempting!

  • If you do, what makes you choose the Lord over the alternatives?
  • How do you live your gratitude for the choice?
  • And if you presently choose an alternative over the Lord, why?
  • And would you wish it were otherwise?

Bring your answers to God in prayer.

Image: The debauchery of the Prodigal. Print by Galle after Heemskerk. Barber Institute. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Make us new

For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here. It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation.

In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.

So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.

2nd Reading for the 4th Sunday in Lent
2 Corinthians 5:17-21

For those in Christ there is a new creation – and for all who are not in Christ there is the offer of a new creation. That new creation gathers us into the ever-ancient, ever-new love of God – the One love that is offered in an infinite number of ways but always to build us up, and to unite us with each other and with God.

  • Where do you experience disunity and fracture? In yourself? In your relationships with others? With God?
  • How might you draw on the newness of God’s work for healing and help?

Image: Return of the Prodigal by O N Garkushenko, Park Arts Muzeon Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: let us hear afresh…

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’

Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Lent
Luke 15:1-3,11-32

We have probably heard the parable of the father and his sons many times. There is a certain danger that we might think we know it so well that it can have nothing more, nothing new to offer us.

Put that starkly we might well jib at the suggestion! But…

The Gospel passage proclaimed remains the living Lord personally present to us. We are in constant need of the care, encouragement and challenge that he offers us. And so we need to try to take steps to enable us to listen attentive to what he hear and how it moves us – and ready to be changed by it.

Time was when we might have found we had most in common with the younger brother; then with the elder; perhaps now it is with the father – or maybe we wander a little off piste and wonder where the mother was, or the sisters. The Lord speaks, and most often connects with us in ways we would never have anticipated…

Image: Hermitage, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The real thing

The Lord is compassion and love.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.

The Lord is compassion and love.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion,

The Lord is compassion and love.

The Lord does deeds of justice,
gives judgement for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses
and his deeds to Israel’s sons.

The Lord is compassion and love.

The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
For as the heavens are high above the earth
so strong is his love for those who fear him.

The Lord is compassion and love.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 102(103):1-4,6-8,11

The Lord IS compassion and love.

We might try to be likewise, but what are we, in fact, right here, right now.

We are called to that sort of honesty about ourselves always and everywhere, but especially during Lent.

As we prepare (?) for our Lenten confession, where are we falling short? For what are we striving and why?

Tabernacle/The Tree of Life. Pius X Basilica, Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Grace

I want to remind you, brothers, how our fathers were all guided by a cloud above them and how they all passed through the sea. They were all baptised into Moses in this cloud and in this sea; all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, since they all drank from the spiritual rock that followed them as they went, and that rock was Christ. In spite of this, most of them failed to please God and their corpses littered the desert.

These things all happened as warnings for us, not to have the wicked lusts for forbidden things that they had. You must never complain: some of them did, and they were killed by the Destroyer.

All this happened to them as a warning, and it was written down to be a lesson for us who are living at the end of the age. The man who thinks he is safe must be careful that he does not fall.

2nd reading for the 3rd Sunday of Lent
1 Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12

For Paul, here, Jews and those gentiles called to faith in the One God through Jesus Christ, share in the same life-sustaining food and the same spiritual drink. That food, that drink, God’s gift to us comes from Christ, perhaps is Christ.

So often we consider ourselves separated by our different religious beliefs, traditions and practices, here St Paul sees what binds us – the love and care of the very God

Fruits at Market. Toulouse. (c) 2018, Allen Morris.