Preparing for Mass on 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The way of faith is the way of love. The love of God bears fruit in the love of neighbour…

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 102(103):1-4,8,10,12-13

(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 103 (102)

1     Of David.

      Bless the Lord, O my soul,
      and all within me, his holy name.
2     Bless the Lord, O my soul,
      and never forget all his benefits.

3     It is the Lord who forgives all your sins,
      who heals every one of your ills,
4     who redeems your life from the grave,
      who crowns you with mercy and compassion,

5     who fills your life with good things,
      renewing your youth like an eagle’s.

6     The Lord does just deeds,
      gives full justice to all who are oppressed.
7     He made known his ways to Moses,
      and his deeds to the children of Israel.

8     The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
      slow to anger and rich in mercy.

9     He will not always find fault;
      nor persist in his anger forever.

10   He does not treat us according to our sins,
      nor repay us according to our faults.

11   For as the heavens are high above the earth,
      so strong his mercy for those who fear him.

12 As far as the east is from the west,
       so far from us does he remove our transgressions.

13   As a father has compassion on his children,
      the Lord’s compassion is on those who fear him.

14   For he knows of what we are made;
      he remembers that we are dust.

15   Man, his days are like grass;
      he flowers like the flower of the field.
16   The wind blows, and it is no more,
      and its place never sees it again.

17   But the mercy of the Lord is everlasting
      upon those who hold him in fear,
      upon children’s children his justice,
18   for those who keep his covenant,
      and remember to fulfil his commands.

19   The Lord has fixed his throne in heaven,
      and his kingdom is ruling over all.
20   Bless the Lord, all you his angels,
      mighty in power, fulfilling his word,
      who heed the voice of his word.

21          Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
            his servants, who do his will.
22          Bless the Lord, all his works,
            in every place where he rules.
            Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Acknowledgements
Translation of Psalms: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.
Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris

Photo (c) 201, Allen Morris. Acts of COrporal Mercy. St Martin’s Bullring, Birmingham.

Preparing for Mass on 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Christians, more used to churches than to middle eastern temples, may not be sensitive to the importance of what Paul says when he says we are God’s temple.

Such temples were the house of the God. Worshippers, except the priests, sometime, would stay outside – in temple courts and precincts – and offer the sacrifice and other worship outside.

Paul says the Church – the community of Christians, the Body of Christ – is where God lives now. This is one astonishing claim – one of many that are made by Paul but are so familiar now we might not notice their radicalness.

Paul writes before the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple (and before, for example, Mark’s account of the tearing of the Temple’s curtain, which seems to imply God’s abandoning of that temple). He does not argue that Jerusalem’s temple is redundant because the Body of Christ is the temple of God. God’s living and real presence in Temple and Church seems not to be problematic for Paul.

But division in the Church is problematic.Paul does not say that we, each of us as individuals, are each temples for God. No: we together, we plural, are the one Temple for the one God – thus Paul’s stress on the importance of the Church maintaining unity in and with Christ.

Second reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23

(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)

2.14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Divisions in the Church
3.1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labour. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

The Ministry of Apostles
4 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

You belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God
Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.

Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are; or again: God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise. So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to 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 (c) 2018, Allen Morris. Symbolic representation of entrance to Temple of Jerusalem. Mosaic in Israel Museum, Jersualem.

Preparing for Mass of Sunday in week 7 of ordinary time

The celebration of the feast of the Presentation of the Lord meant that we lost the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. So we get rather hammered by the obligations without benefit of being reminded of the benefits of being the blessed of God!

Two weeks ago we heard, in verses 13f, about our call to be salt for the earth; last week of the abiding significance of the Law and Prophets and resisting sin and evil.

This week the focus is our call – first heard in the Law and Prophets – to love. Our ultimate calling and mission is to love God and our neighbour.

Love is life in its irreducible perfection: and it is our calling.

Gospel: Matthew 5:17-37

(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 Ministers to Great Crowds
4.23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

The Sermon on the Mount
5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

The Beatitudes
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christ Came to Fulfil the Law
1
7 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Anger
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Lust
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Divorce
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Retaliation
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Love Your Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Giving to the Needy
6.1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Lord’s Prayer
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10  Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11  Give us this day our daily bread,
12  and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13  And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Acknowledgements
Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
Photo (c) 2018, Allen Morris. Graffiti: Marseille, France

Responding to the Mass of the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus calls us to live lives which fulfill the Law and Prophets, and to rise to the challenge of faithful living. He speaks forcefully.

Pope Francis’ letter Amoris Laetitia urges the same thing, and focuses on how this might be done in marriage and family life – and addresses the challenges that we face when we try.

Chapter 4 of the Letter explores the call to faithfulness under the invitation to live lovingly. It is a beautiful and sustained consideration of how we might live patient, kind; not jealous or boastful; not arrogant or rude; not insisting on its own way; not irritable or resentful; not rejoicing at wrong, but rejoicing in the right. It guides in a life which is strong in love so as to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

The chapter explores all this in the context of marriage, but it contains wisdom that is helpful to all people in every circumstance, in any relationship. It can be read here.

Christ Came to Fulfil the Law
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Anger
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Lust
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Divorce
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Acknowledgements
Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Photo (c) 2006, Pigalle, Paris.

Responding to the Mass of the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Lord urges us to observance of the commandments?
Where do you allow yourself a little slack? Why? For whose benefit?

From Taylor’s Arithmetic  From One to Twelve.

The 10 Commandments, are the Law Divine,
(To keep those laws, Good Lord our hearts incline;)
But from those  10, should 10 men each pluck one,
‘Tis to be feared that left we should have none.
The atheist (which the Psalmist fool doth call)
As he believes will have no God at all.
Th’idolator will stock, block, idols have
To save him, though themselves they cannot save.
The roarer that delights to damn and swear,
for the Commandments he the third would tear,
the Sabbath-breaker would pluck out the fourth,
the fifth (with rebels) is of little worth,
The sixth the murderer would stab and wound,
The seventh the hot adult’rer would confound,
The thief would steal the eighth away, and then
False witness spoil the ninth: and for the ten,
The wretch that’s covetous would rend and bite
And pluck the rest in pieces if he might.
Thus would there 10 (this cursed catalogue)
Each ’rase out one, and spoil the Decalogue.

John Taylor (1642-1729)

Preparing for Mass on 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ecclesiasticus is one of the books which was familiar to Jews and Christians in the decades following the resurrection of Jesus.

It is part of the canon of Scripture recognised by Catholic and Orthodox Christians, and included in the ‘Old Testament’. However it is not included in the Jewish canon of Scripture.

In the passage heard this Sunday the value of human goodness is affirmed, as is human ability to choose the good – almost, it can seem, without reference to God.

Except of course, that God is the very ground of all that is. ‘Natural’ law, and indeed ‘nature’ itself, are not realities independent of God and grace – nothing ‘is’ that does not have its source and meaning in God. God is the very ground of Being.

God made us for the good. When we seek that good, even if we do not know God, then we seek that which helps fulfil our being and our purpose. And when we do this then, even unknowing, we cooperate with God’s purpose and will..

First reading: Ecclesiasticus 15:16-21

If you wish, you can keep the commandments,
to behave faithfully is within your power.
He has set fire and water before you;
put out your hand to whichever you prefer.
Man has life and death before him;
whichever a man likes better will be given him.
For vast is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is almighty and all-seeing.
His eyes are on those who fear him,
he notes every action of man.
He never commanded anyone to be godless,
he has given no one permission to sin.

Acknowledgements
Translation of Scriptures: From The Jerusalem Bible © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd
Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
Photo (c) 2014, Allen Morris. Old Synagogue Museum, Cracow, Poland.


Preparing for Mass on Sunday of the 6th week in Ordinary Time

Psalm 118 (119) is long! There are 22 stanzas, each of 8 verses.

This psalm is also one of the Bible’s Acrostic psalms. Each stanza takes the ‘title’ of a letter of the (Hebrew) alphabet, successively – aleph, beth, etc – and each verse of that stanza begins with its given letter.

The acrostic device is ornamental and is not preserved in the translation given here or that sung from the Lectionary on Sunday. It was preserved in the Ronald Knox translation which can be accessed here.

The psalm is much longer than the sections quoted below but this selection give a good indication of the tone of the psalm as a whole – sober, moralistic, mindful of how a good life is consequent on living pliant to God’s law.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 118(119):1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34

(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 119 (118):1–8

Aleph
1          Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
            who walk in the law of the Lord!
2           Blessed are those who keep his decrees!
            With all their hearts they seek him.

3           They never do anything evil,
            but walk in his ways.

4          You have laid down your precepts
            to be carefully kept.

5           May my ways be firm
            in keeping your statutes.


6           Then I shall not be put to shame
            as I observe all your commands.

7           I will thank you with an upright heart,
            as I learn your just judgments.
8           I will keep your statutes;
            do not ever forsake me.

Psalm 119 (118):9–16
Beth

9           How shall a youth remain pure on his way?
            By obeying your word.
10          I have sought you with all my heart;
            let me not stray from your commands.

11          I treasure your word in my heart,
            lest I sin against you.
12          Blest are you, O Lord;
            teach me your statutes.

13          With my lips have I recounted
            all the decrees of your mouth.
14          I rejoice in the way of your precepts,
            as though all riches were mine.

15          I will ponder your precepts,
            and consider your paths.
16          I take delight in your statutes;
            I will not forget your word.

Psalm 119 (118):17–24
Gimel

17          Deal bountifully with your servant,
            that I may live and keep your word.
18          Open my eyes, that I may see
            the wonders of your law.

19          I am a pilgrim in the land;
            hide not your commands from me.
20          My soul is consumed with longing
            at all times for your decrees.

21          You threaten the proud, the accursed,
            who stray from your commands.
22          Free me from scorn and contempt,
            for I observe your decrees.

23          Though princes sit plotting against me,
            your servant ponders your statutes.
24          See, your decrees are my delight;
            your statutes are my counsellors.

Psalm 119 (118):25–32
Daleth

25          My soul holds fast to the dust;
            revive me by your word.
26          I declared my ways and you answered me;
            teach me your statutes.

27          Make me grasp the way of your precepts,
            and I will ponder your wonders.
28          My soul pines away with grief;
            by your word raise me up.

29          Keep me from the way of falsehood;
            grant me mercy by your law.
30          I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
            your decrees I have upheld.

31          I cling to your decrees, O Lord;
            let me not be put to shame.
32          I will run the way of your commands;
            you open wide my heart.

Psalm 119 (118):33–40

He
33          Lord, teach me the way of your statutes,
            and I will keep them to the end.
34          Grant me insight that I may keep your law,
            and observe it wholeheartedly.

35          Guide me in the path of your commands,
            for in them is my delight.
36          Bend my heart to your decrees,
            and not to wrongful gain.

37          Turn my eyes from gazing on vanities;
            in your way, give me life.
38          Fulfil your promise to your servant,
            that you may be revered.

39          Turn away the taunts I dread,
            for your decrees are good.
40          See, I long for your precepts;
            give me life by your justice.

Acknowledgements
Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
Photo (c) 2010, Allen Morris. David, Church of St Peter and St Paul, Cork, Ireland.