Speak Lord: Giver of good

A man in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.’ ‘My friend,’ he replied, ‘who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.’

Then he told them a parable: ‘There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, “What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.” But God said to him, “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?” So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.’

Gospel for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 12:13-21

The Gospel warns us about the insatiable appetites and greeds that can obsess us and draw us away from love of God, and love of neighbour, and from proper love and care of self too.

  • What are the things that might make us rich in the sight of God?
  • How rich in those things are you?

Photograph (c) 2005, Allen Morris. Ceramic Figure, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin.

Taste and See: The Lord is good

The Lord said, ‘How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin! I propose to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them that has come up to me. I am determined to know.’

The men left there and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Approaching him he said, ‘Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Will you really overwhelm them, will you not spare the place for the fifty just men in it? Do not think of doing such a thing: to kill the just man with the sinner, treating just and sinner alike! Do not think of it! Will the judge of the whole earth not administer justice?’ the Lord replied, ‘If at Sodom I find fifty just men in the town, I will spare the whole place because of them.’

Abraham replied, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this to my Lord, I who am dust and ashes. But perhaps the fifty just men lack five: will you destroy the whole city for five?’ ‘No,’ he replied ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five just men there.’ Again Abraham said to him, ‘Perhaps there will only be forty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the forty.’

Abraham said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry, but give me leave to speak: perhaps there will only be thirty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this, but perhaps there will only be twenty there.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the twenty.’ He said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the ten.’

First reading for 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Genesis 18:20-32

Abraham is not alone in thinking that he might be better or more just than God! But we do take a risk when we start to take God to tasking – because the likelihood is that he will the edge on us, and probably by quite some miles.

Yet there is nothing in this passage that suggests that the Lord resents the testing of his justice by Abraham…

Maybe he even enjoys it, taking delight in the love of justice and concern for others displayed by Abraham…

The lord does not patronise us, but he is surely allowed from time to time to take a certain delight in our doggedness and striving after what is good and best

Photograph (c) 2018, Allen Morris. Carving. MUsee Paul Dupuy, Toulouse, France.

Taste and See: The way forward

O God, protector of those who hope in you,
without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy,
bestow in abundance your mercy upon us
and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide,
we may use the good things that pass
in such a way as to hold fast even now
to those that ever endure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are greatly gifted. Each one of us…

The challenge we face is to put those good gifts to good use. For this we work, for this we pray, as we offer praise to God, and pray for the coming of his Kingdom, and for our daily needs.

Photograph (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Cathedral of St Stephen, Toulouse, France

Taste and See: The source of our being and our becoming

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’
He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray: “Father, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come; give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. And do not put us to the test.”’

He also said to them: ‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

Gospel for 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 11:1-13

Jesus invites us to absolute trust in God our Father.

Why? Because God is source of our being. God is creator and we are created creatures.

And this God is course of all love, all life, all loveliness. Our experience of our world, and ourselves, is often at odds with that: but accepting God – indeed welcoming and honouring God as Father, King, Shepherd is a first way of cooperating with the God who seeks to save us and raise us up.

Photograph (c) 2017, Allen Morris. Collection of the Louvre,Paris.

Speak Lord: Persuade us to pray


The Lord said, ‘How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin! I propose to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them that has come up to me. I am determined to know.’

The men left there and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Approaching him he said, ‘Are you really going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Will you really overwhelm them, will you not spare the place for the fifty just men in it? Do not think of doing such a thing: to kill the just man with the sinner, treating just and sinner alike! Do not think of it! Will the judge of the whole earth not administer justice?’ the Lord replied, ‘If at Sodom I find fifty just men in the town, I will spare the whole place because of them.’

Abraham replied, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this to my Lord, I who am dust and ashes. But perhaps the fifty just men lack five: will you destroy the whole city for five?’ ‘No,’ he replied ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five just men there.’ Again Abraham said to him, ‘Perhaps there will only be forty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the forty.’

Abraham said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry, but give me leave to speak: perhaps there will only be thirty there.’ ‘I will not do it’ he replied ‘if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘I am bold indeed to speak like this, but perhaps there will only be twenty there.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the twenty.’ He said, ‘I trust my Lord will not be angry if I speak once more: perhaps there will only be ten.’ ‘I will not destroy it’ he replied ‘for the sake of the ten.’

First reading for 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Genesis 18:20-32

Abraham proves a dogged negotiator, active in his persuasion on God.

Sometimes, maybe, Christian prayer is a little too polite and not full-throated enough.

Scripture suggests it need not be so. That God is up for a good debate, and quite able to cope with whatever passion (good, ill or mistaken) presently motivates us.

Sometimes, like Abraham, we win; sometimes, like Job, we lose. In each case there is something we might learn (that God, indeed, might teach us).

Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris. Carving. St Trophime, Arles, France.

Speak Lord: in whom we trust…

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart:
you have heard the words of my mouth.
In the presence of the angels I will bless you.
I will adore before your holy temple.

I thank you for your faithfulness and love,
which excel all we ever knew of you.
On the day I called, you answered;
you increased the strength of my soul.

The Lord is high yet he looks on the lowly
and the haughty he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of affliction
you give me life and frustrate my foes.

You stretch out your hand and save me,
your hand will do all things for me.
Your love, O Lord, is eternal,
discard not the work of your hands.

Responsorial Psalm for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 137(138):1-3,6-8

Again and again the Lord shows his favour for the lowly and the simple.

Again and again we are likely to find ourselves seeking to win favour through our achievements, authority, power.

There is something apt for holiness in human vulnerability and trust…

Photograph (c) 2018, Allen Morris. Figure at prayer, L’Abbaye St Pierre, Moissac, France.

Speak Lord: Keep us safe

You have been buried with Christ, when you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead. You were dead, because you were sinners and had not been circumcised: he has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.

He has overridden the Law, and cancelled every record of the debt that we had to pay; he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross.

Second reading for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Colossians 2:12-14

The Lord has freed us from sin, but temptations continue.

Our salvation is not past event, completed, achieved. It is work in progress. The Lord continues to save us, as we need him to, and if we let him!

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