The psalm for this coming Sunday

This week the editing of the Psalm for its use in the Sunday Liturgy of the Word retains its praise of God, but rather excludes the particular relationship of the psalmist to the Lord.

One reason for regretting that, is that the psalmist rather stands in for us. Lacking the personal and particular we are left with general praise, and a hymning of the Lord’s generosity (key to psalm’s resonating with the preceding reading from Isaiah and coming to new fulfilment in the gospel of the feeding of the 5000 which follows.)

There is though much more to the psalm.

  • What stands out for you?
  • What word or phrase might you take from it today to carry in to your day.

Psalm 144(145):8-9,15-18

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

Psalm 145 (144)

1     Praise. Of David.

      I will extol you, my God and king,
      and bless your name forever and ever.

2     I will bless you day after day,
      and praise your name forever and ever.
3     The Lord is great and highly to be praised;
      his greatness cannot be measured.

4     Age to age shall proclaim your works,
      shall declare your mighty deeds.
5     They will tell of your great glory and splendor,
      and recount your wonderful works.

6     They will speak of your awesome deeds,
      recount your greatness and might.
7     They will recall your abundant goodness,
      and sing of your just deeds with joy.

8     The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
      slow to anger, abounding in mercy.
9     How good is the Lord to all,
      compassionate to all his creatures.

10   All your works shall thank you, O Lord,
      and all your faithful ones bless you.
11   They shall speak of the glory of your reign,
      and declare your mighty deeds,

12   To make known your might to the children of men,
      and the glorious splendor of your reign.
13   Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;
      your rule endures for all generations.

      The Lord is faithful in all his words,
      and holy in all his deeds.
14   The Lord supports all who fall,
      and raises up all who are bowed down.

15   The eyes of all look to you,
      and you give them their food in due season.
16   You open your hand and satisfy
      the desire of every living thing.

17   The Lord is just in all his ways,
      and holy in all his deeds.
18   The Lord is close to all who call him,
      who call on him in truth.

19   He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
      he hears their cry and he saves them.
20   The Lord keeps watch over all who love him;
      the wicked he will utterly destroy.

21   Let my mouth speak the praise of the Lord;
      let all flesh bless his holy name
      forever, for ages unending.


Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Psalm: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Kitch of Harvington Hall, Birmingham (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

The first reading for this coming Sunday

There is some – on the face of it – strange wording in the reading from Isisah that is the first reading at Sunday’s Mass.

Come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

Why come buy?

Why not just ‘Come, take – here you are – have what you want’?

The passage goes on to speak of spending our money, exerting our labour.

And it seems clear that despite the generosity of the Lord, what we are invited to is not a free for all.

Think of the annual news pictures of crowds tussling over bargains on Black Friday or Christmas Sales. The Lord does invite us to something so chaotic and appealing to our selfishness and greed.

If we are to eat of this food, drink of this drink, we need to listen diligently and then, only, then eat what is good.

We hear this reading on Sunday in preparation for hearing the Gospel of the feeding of the 5000. Those people had listened diligently, they had been prepared for a meal, and they partook of it, surely, hopefully gratefully.

Sometimes people take divine food in a way calculated to lead to indigestion and dyspepsia – instead of helping them to satisfaction the divine food leads to discomfort and pain.

  • Have you experienced the consequences of listening without diligence?
  • What helps you to listen better?
  • Where can you point to the fruits being well-prepared for divine eating and drinking? Give thanks to the Lord for those times.

First reading for 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 55:1-3

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

The Compassion of the Lord

55.1 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3  Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4  Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5  Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Isaiah. French Church, Leicester Square, London (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

The Collect for this coming Sunday

The love others feel for us, and the love we feel for others can wax and wane. Our emotions often depend on our circumstances, and others’ behaviour. God, however loves constantly and faithfully, simply, solely, wanting our good, good for everyone.

In the Collect this Sunday we can seem to claim special privilege by virtue of our being servants, and because (on a good day?!) we glory in the who and what of God. And yet God is Creator and guide, saviour for all.

This truth is something which is entrusted to us so that we might share it with others.

There is a difference between those who respond to the Lord, including those who share in the Lord’s life through faith and participation in the Sacraments, and those who do not. But this is a difference in us and not in the Lord.

This good news of the Lord’s grace and generosity is entrusted to us to share with all others.

Collect

Draw near to your servants, O Lord,
and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness,
that, for those who glory in you as their Creator and guide,
you may restore what you have created
and keep safe what you have restored.

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.

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of the Collect: English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved..
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph: From St John the Evangelist, Bath. (c) 2019, Allen Morris

The Gospel for this Sunday…

Continuing the series of parables of Jesus proclaimed as the Sunday Gospel, and following on from two weeks of parables about planting and harvesting, this week -as the Gospel reading we hear a series of shorter parables.

Scholars suggest that one of the ways in which the teaching of Jesus was circulated following his death and resurrection was in a collection of sayings. This hypothetical text is known ‘Q’ – an abbreviation of the German Quelle meaning ‘source’ – and included sayings, parables, and controversies, gathered into a series of discourses, such as we find in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. What it did not include were stories of Jesus life – of his birth, even of his death and resurrection.

No surviving example of Q has been found. It remains a scholarly hypothesis – but the (non-Canonical) ‘Gospel’ of Thomas discovered in 1945 at Nag Haamadi in Egypt shows that a document comprised of sayings was known to the early church.

Scholars see Mark’s Gospel as the earliest known account of Jesus’ life and its meaning – including miracle stories, and some parables. They suggest that Matthew and Luke knew Mark’s Gospel and in preparing their own books incorporated the sayings tradition into Mark’s narrative acount, adding to it also additional traditions known to them from other sources.

Be that as it may, this week our Gospel reading is redolent of this early sayings tradition, as preserved in Matthew’s Gospel.

Gospel of the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 13:44-52

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

The Parable of the Net
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

New and Old Treasures
51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: St Matthew. Carving of 1500s. Collection of the Courtauld Gallery, London (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

The second reading for this coming Sunday

The Church’s belief in the Communion of the Saints, explicitly affirmed in the Apostles’ Creed and implied in the Nicene Creed, is a source of comfort and encouragement.

We are part of a community, a communion, of countless others who have been won by the Lord for a share in his glory.

  • Whose holiness has assisted you?
  • Who have you sought to help with your love?

Second reading for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Romans 8:28-30

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

8.26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Stained Glass. Christ and the saints in glory. Lichfield Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

The psalm for this coming Sunday

The text of our responsorial Pslam this coming Snuday is taken from the Bible’s longest psalm, psalm 118 (119).

Previously we have noted how certain psalms are acrostics – alphabetical psalms with each fresh line beginning the next of the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet.

Psalm 118 (119) takes this to a new level. Here each letter gets 8 lines. Consequently it is a long psalm!

And as you will recognise even from the extracts below – the sections of the psalms from the Lectionary verses have been taken.

Seeing these verses in their context fleshes out the broader emotional journey of the psalm but also, maybe, helps us to marvel at the Lectionary compiler’s ability to precis scripture!

Perhaps we should let neither of these things distract us from the principal thrust of the verses used in the Lectionary – the quality of our relationship with God and his words to us…

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 118(119):57,72,76-77,127-130

Heth
57          I have said, “O Lord, my portion
            is to obey your words.”

58          With all my heart I implore your favor;
            as with your promise, have mercy.
 
59          I have pondered my ways,
            and turned my steps to your decrees.
60          I made haste; I did not delay
            to obey your commands.
 
61          Though the nets of the wicked ensnare me,
            your law I did not forget.
62          At midnight I will rise and thank you
            for your just decrees.
 
63          I am a friend of all who revere you,
            who keep your precepts.
64          O Lord, your merciful love fills the earth.
            Teach me your statutes.

Teth

65 O Lord, you have been good to your servant,
            according to your word.
66          Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
            for I trust in your commands.
 
67          Before I was humbled, I strayed,
            but now I keep your word.
68          You are good, and you do what is good;
            teach me your statutes.
 
69          The arrogant smear me with lies;
            with all my heart I keep your precepts.
70                   Their heart is dense like fat,
            but your law is my delight.
 
71          It was good for me to be humbled,
            that I might learn your statutes.

72          The law from your mouth means more to me
            than large quantities of silver and gold.

Yod
73          It was your hands that made me and shaped me;
            grant me insight to learn your commands.
74          Those who revere you see me and rejoice,
            for I trust in your word.
 
75          O Lord, I know that your decrees are right;
            though I am humbled, you are just.

76          Let your merciful love console me
            by your promise to your servant.

77          Show me compassion, that I may live,
            for your law is my delight.

78         Let the arrogant be shamed who deflect me with lies;
            as for me, I will ponder your precepts.
 
79          Let those who fear you turn to me,
            that they may know your decrees.
80          Let my heart be blameless in your statutes,
            that I may not be put to shame.

 
Ayin

121        I have done what is just and right;
            do not leave me to my foes.
122        Guarantee the well-being of your servant;
            let not the proud oppress me.
 
123        My eyes grow weary as I watch for your salvation,
            and for your promise of justice.
124        Treat your servant with merciful love,
            and teach me your statutes.
 
125        I am your servant; give me understanding:
            then I shall know your decrees.
126        It is time for the Lord to act,
            for your law has been broken.

127        That is why I love your commands
            more than finest gold,
128        why I rule my life by your precepts,
            and hate false ways.

Pe
129        Your decrees are wonderful indeed;
            therefore my soul obeys them.
130        The unfolding of your word gives light,
            and understanding to the simple.


131 I have opened my mouth and I sigh,
            for I yearn for your commands.
132        Turn and have mercy on me,  
            as is your rule for those who love your name.
 
133        Let my steps be guided by your promise;
            may evil never rule me.
134        Redeem me from man’s oppression,
            and I will keep your precepts.
 
135        Let your face shine forth on your servant,
            and teach me your decrees.
136        My eyes shed streams of tears,
            because of those who have not kept your law.
 
 
Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Psalm: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Stained glass. Holy Trinity church, Bradford on Avon (c) 2019, Allen Morris.

First reading for the coming Sunday

Israel has trouble with her kings.

Some are clearly displeasing to the Lord, unfaithful to the covenant, and in consequence, and according to the books of Samuel and the Kings, bring disaster on Israel.

The tradition has a soft spot for David and Solomon, kings at the time of Israel greatest temporal spread and power.

However Israel also at least half recognises that her true king is the Lord. Earthly kings are granted only after Israel demanded to be a nation among nations, (1 Samuel 8) with a king – and thus entering into a way of life that is at best in tension with her original covenantal call.

God makes covenant with David (a covenant precious to Christians, for Jesus is recognised as Son of David and by virtue of that, king of Israel.)

But David and his son Solomon are not faithful to the covenant. Their unfaithfulness proves to be the seed of Israel’s further decline, the weeds that choke and frustrate the hoped for harvest, leading to the exile in Babylon, are sown there.

The reading that follows encourages to reflect on great promise, and God’s ability to bring a great harvest even from great disaster.

First reading for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

1 Kings 3:5,7-12

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

3.5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.”

6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day.

7 And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.

13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. 14 And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Solomon. Masonic Temple, Bath. (c) 2019, Allen Morris.

Collect for next Sunday…

Collect for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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.

The Collect is firm and clear. God protects, and without him there is nothing holy, nothing secure.

The Collect also says that the good things that God can offer are not ours willy-nilly. God is these things for those who hope in him. God is these things who will accept him as rule and guide (kingship and kingdom are major themes of this Sunday’s readings.

The Collect is a prayer that we will not put off for some tomorrow what we can embrace and seek to live by today – the life of the Kingdom here on earth.

Too often distractions come all to easily, as the following story of St Bernard of Clairvaux tells.

Bernard was riding his horse up into the Alps to give a retreat, and as he passed a farmer along the road he heard a loud grunt. He stopped to look down at the him, and the farmer remarked, “I envy you, with nothing to do but pray while I have to kill myself working in this rocky soil.”

Bernard said, “Well, praying can be even harder work that digging around those stones.”

“I doubt that very much,” the man said, “With that beautiful horse and the gorgeous saddle, what do you know of hardship?”

Up till then Bernard hadn’t given any attention to his mount. He said, ”It is a beautiful horse, isn’t it? I’ll tell you what, if you can say the Lord’s Prayer from beginning to end without taking your mind off it, I’ll give you this horse.”

“That’s so generous of you,” the man said; and he began praying, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be…do I get the saddle too?”

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of the Collect: English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved..
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph: St Peter’s, Rome. (c) 2014, Allen Morris
~ Story found here

The Gospel for Mass today..

Gospel: Matthew 13:24-43

The Parable of the Weeds
24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven
31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

Prophecy and Parables
34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

The Parable of the Weeds Explained
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Parish Church, Stiffkey, Norfolk.(c) 2018, Allen Morris.

The Second Reading for this coming Sunday

The Church’s semi-continuous reading of St Paul’s Letter to the Romans continues this week with words which laud the Spirit for the help that we are given.

St Paul’s words should fill us with great confidence in knowing our weakness and knowing that it is this very weakness that draws the Spirit close to us.

Our very incapacity becomes the catalyst for the Spirit’s working for our salvation – beyond all expectation and beyond our comprehension or expression.

  • Where have you had a sense for the transcendent power and work of the Spirit?

Second reading: Romans 8:26-27

The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words, and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Stained glass, Anglican parish church, Lindisfarne (c) 2008, Allen Morris.