Gospel for Mass of 1st Sunday of Advent

The words of caution and guidance that we hear at Mass today, come from Mark’s Gospel, shortly before the beginning of the Passion Narrative.

The clouds are gathering, and again and again Mark reminds of people’s failure to grasp the who, what and why of Jesus – a failure shared in by even his closest disciples.

They need to look not for immediate glory and triumph, cheap grace, but for something deeper and more costly (though ultimately still glorious and still gift). They need to find the inner resources to be resilient in face of suffering and persecution, waiting, learning to see the glory of God in the darkness of life, in the unexpected…

Mark 13:33-37
Gospel reading for the 1st Sunday of Advent

(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)

Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple
13 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Signs of the End of the Age
3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

The Abomination of Desolation
14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

The Coming of the Son of Man
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree
28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

No One Knows That Day or Hour
32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”


 
 
Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2015, Allen Morris. Morpheus, by Ivan Prokofiev, Russia Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.

2nd reading for tomorrow’s Mass

As we begin our Advent preparation for Christmas, St Paul – writing to the Church at Corinth – reminds us that we are already rich in the gifts of the Lord.

For us, as for the Christians of Corinth, the challenge is likely to be to learn to receive the gifts graciously, and use them humbly and effectively for our growth and for the good of others.

It is easy to become greedy for gifts and when we have much to think that we ourselves, of ourselves, amount to a very great deal.

Yet again and again, as we give consideration to how we truly are we see the poverty we have, in ourselves, and how entirely dependent we are on the graciousness of our compassionate God.

1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Second reading for the 1st Sunday of Advent

(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)

Greeting
1.1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Divisions in the Church
10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2019, Allen Morris. Grace and witness; Baptism and Martyrdom. Stained glass, St Alphonsus church, Glasgow.

Psalm for Mass of the 1st Sunday of Advent

The psalmist remembers God’s love and mercy. And pleads for God’s continuing care for his people.

The excerpts from the Biblical psalm that are presented in this Sunday’s Liturgy highlight not the liberation of the Hebrews from Egypt, but God’s arguably more personal and intimate engagement with the family of Jacob, the origin of the ten tribes of Israel.

The text in the Liturgy focuses on the cry for help: the full text gives more sense of our vulnerability, and why we need help.

  • What help now do you need?
  • What have been your struggles in the past days, past year?
  • What struggle lie ahead?
  • Have you, do you, ask God for help?

Psalm 79(80):2-3,15-16,18-19
Responsorial Psalm for the 1st Sunday of Advent

(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 80 (79)
 
1           For the Choirmaster. Intoned likeLilies of Testimony.” Of Asaph. A Psalm.

2           O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
            you who lead Joseph like a flock:
            enthroned on the cherubim, shine forth
3           upon Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh.
            Rouse up your might and come to save us.

4           O God, bring us back;
            let your face shine on us, and we shall be saved.
 
5           How long, O Lord, God of hosts,
            will you be angry at the prayer of your people?
6           You have fed them with tears for their bread,
            an abundance of tears for their drink.
7           You have made us the taunt of our neighbors;
            our foes mock us among themselves.
 
8
          O God of hosts, bring us back;
            let your face shine forth, and we shall be saved.
 
9           You brought a vine out of Egypt;
            you drove out the nations and planted it.
10         Before it you cleared the ground;
            it took root and filled the land.
 
11         The mountains were covered with its shadow,
            the cedars of God with its boughs.
12         It stretched out its branches to the sea;
            to the River it stretched out its shoots.
 
13         Then why have you broken down its walls?
            It is plucked by all who pass by the way.
14         It is ravaged by the boar of the forest,
            devoured by the beasts of the field.

15         God of hosts, turn again, we implore;
            look down from heaven and see.
 
            Visit this vine and protect it,
16         the vine your right hand has planted,
            the son of man you have claimed for yourself.

17         They have burnt it with fire and cut it down.
            May they perish at the frown of your face.

 18         May your hand be on the man at your right hand,
            the son of man you have confirmed as your own.
19         And we shall never forsake you again;
            give us life that we may call upon your name.

20         O Lord God of hosts, bring us back;
            let your face shine forth, and we shall be saved.

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Psalm: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2018, Allen Morris. Detail of Sanctuary wall from the Susiya synagogue, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
 

First reading for the first Sunday of Advent

The prophet helps Israel and the Church know its place before the Lord.  
 
We are clay and he is the potter. He is one fine potter, but in us he does not seem to have the most promising material to work with.
 
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
 
And yet God is the potter and in his hands there is hope for the raw clay. We can become, – and when we look around, we see how of us some do become – something beautiful through God’s handiwork.

Advent is a season of hope, a season when once more the promises of the Lord warm our hearts and lives back to life….

Isaiah 63:16-17,64:1,3-8
First reading for the 1st Sunday of Advent  

(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) 

Prayer for Mercy
63.15  Look down from heaven and see,
from your holy and beautiful habitation.
Where are your zeal and your might?
The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion
are held back from me.

16  For you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us,
and Israel does not acknowledge us;
you, O LORD, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
17  O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways
and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.

18  Your holy people held possession for a little while;
our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary.
19  We have become like those over whom you have never ruled,
like those who are not called by your name.

64.1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—

2  as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!

3  When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
 
4  From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
5  You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
6  We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7  There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
 
8
 But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

9  Be not so terribly angry, O LORD,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
10  Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
11  Our holy and beautiful house,
where our fathers praised you,
has been burned by fire,
and all our pleasant places have become ruins.
12  Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD?
Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2017, Allen Morris. Gladstone Pottery Museum

Collect for this coming Sunday, the 1st Sunday of Advent

St Nicholas, Boldmere

In the season of Advent the Church calls us to be attentive to time – time past and time future, better to live in time present.

At the beginning of Advent we look forward to the 2nd Coming of Christ – a day of Judgement, to be sure, but when judgment will be given by a merciful judge who in these in-between times does everything to help us to live well, and prepare for what is to come. The hope is for salvation

Then, from the mid point of Advent, we especially look back to the events of the conception and birth of Jesus – Jesus who came to save us.

Typically Catholics considering eschatology – considering the last things, and especially our salvation – hold onto the idea that, yes, already salvation has been won for us, by Christ, but also that we are not yet living the fulness…

View original post 200 more words

Gospel for Mass today

Over the past two weeks we have been making our way through chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel – and now we come to maybe the most directly challenging of Jesus’ parables. Jesus is on the verge of his Passion and he offers in this chapter three parables about testing, about care and dear, and judgement.

We stand on the verge of a new Church year – next Sunday Advent begins. Advent is a time especially of examining our life in the light of God’s revelation in Christ, and in Christ’s triumph over sin and death.

  • Where do we choose life, and where do we choose to share life in love with those who live in the shadow of death.

Gospel reading for the Solemnity of Christ the King
Matthew 25:14-30

(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)

The Parable of the Ten Virgins
25.1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The Parable of the Talents
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The Final Judgment
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus
26.1 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”


 
 
Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph: © 2018, Allen Morris. ‘Judgement’ St Philip’s Cathedral, Birmingham.

Second reading for tomorrow’s Mass

Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Our second reading at that Mass reminds us of the Kingship that is not of this world only, but finds its fulness in Christ’s Resurrection where death is overcome and, as St Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians, Christ “delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

This week, we come to the end of this Church year, where do you see yourself as sharing in the kingdom of God; where, maybe, do you feel separated from it.

  • Invite the Lord to exercise his kingship more fully in your life – healing and guiding.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26,28
Second reading for the solemnity of Christ the King

(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 Resurrection of Christ
15.1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.

28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Mystery and Victory
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55  “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2004, Allen Morris. San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy.

The Responsorial Psalm for Mass next Sunday

The Psalmist gives voice to his gratitude for the security that he finds in the Lord: even – in a verse omitted in this Sunday’s selection – should he walk in the valley of the shadow of death he would fear no evil.

  • What confidence do you find in the Lord? And how do you use the security and freedom it gives you?
  • What hidden fears might you entrust to him? What slumps in confidence? – to still better benefit from his love and care.

Psalm 22(23):1-3a,5-6
Responsorial Psalm for Solemnity of Christ the King

(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 23 (22)
 
1     A Psalm of David.
 
      The Lord is my shepherd;
      there is nothing I shall want.
2     Fresh and green are the pastures
      where he gives me repose

Near restful waters he leads me;
3     he revives my soul.
    He guides me along the right path,
      for the sake of his name.

4     Though I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death,
      no evil would I fear, for you are with me.
      Your crook and your staff will give me comfort.

5     You have prepared a table before me
      in the sight of my foes.
      My head you have anointed with oil;
      my cup is overflowing.  

6    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
       all the days of my life.
      In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
         for length of days unending.  


 
 
Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Psalm: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2017, Allen Morris. Pottery figure: The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent.

The first reading for this coming Sunday

The prophesy of Ezekiel anticipates something of the parable of Jesus of a final judgement which we hear as the Gospel this Sunday, the last Sunday of the Church’s year.

However Ezekiel’s prophesy also includes a stark rebuke to the shepherds of the flock. It is difficult to hear that these days without thinking of the scandals of recent years where shepherds of the Church have been exposed as abusers of children and the vulnerable, and other shepherds negligent (at least) in their supervision of those for whom they have responsibility.

Ezekiel’s prophesy warns us all that we will be judged by God, and that this judgment is no small thing.

But above all Ezekiel’s prophesy tells us of the Lord’s love for his flock, and his desire for our safety and well-being.

  • If we know fault and failing in ourselves let us present ourselves humbly before our shepherd, and to ask for forgiveness.
  • If we know fault and failing in others, let us seek to help them to know repentence, and support them through the time of penance.

Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-17
First reading for the solemnity of Christ the King

(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)

Prophecy Against the Shepherds of Israel
34.1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; 6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

The Lord God Will Seek Them Out
11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.

15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

17 “As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats.

18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? 19 And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

20 “Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22 I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.

The Lord’s Covenant of Peace
25 “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. 27 And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. 29 And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. 30 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord GOD. 31 And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.”


Acknowledgements
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2002, Allen Morris. Tomb marker, Museum of Rome.

Collect for next Sunday’s Mass

The Kingship of Christ is exercised in service – in the words of the Collect – a service which is about restoring all things to that state to which they were intended.

This service is tendered to us as gift, but as we are restored by Christ to the fullness of our humanity, we render service in our turn – and most especially to the praise and glory of God. Worship is a dimension of that service, but what underpins that , and authenticates our worship, is our service of our brothers and sisters.

Collect for the Solemnity of Christ the King

Almighty ever-living God,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of the universe,
grant, we pray,
that the whole creation, set free from slavery,
may render your majesty service
and ceaselessly proclaim your praise.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
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: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph:© 2018, Allen Morris. Stained glass, Holy Trinity, Coventry