Speak Lord: Speak freedom

Moses was looking after the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law priest of Midian. He led his flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the shape of a flame of fire, coming from the middle of a bush. Moses looked; there was the bush blazing but it was not being burnt up. ‘I must go and look at this strange sight,’ Moses said, ‘and see why the bush is not burnt.’ Now the Lord saw him go forward to look, and God called to him from the middle of the bush. ‘Moses, Moses!’ he said. ‘Here I am,’ Moses answered. ‘Come no nearer,’ he said. ‘Take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your fathers,’ he said, ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this Moses covered his face, afraid to look at God.

And the Lord said, ‘I have seen the miserable state of my people in Egypt. I have heard their appeal to be free of their slave-drivers. Yes, I am well aware of their sufferings. I mean to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and bring them up out of that land to a land rich and broad, a land where milk and honey flow, the home of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites.’

Then Moses said to God, ‘I am to go, then, to the sons of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” But if they ask me what his name is, what am I to tell them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I Am who I Am. This’ he added ‘is what you must say to the sons of Israel: “I Am has sent me to you.”’ And God also said to Moses, ‘You are to say to the sons of Israel: “The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come.’

First Reading for the 3rd Sunday of Lent
Exodus 3:1-8,13-15

The Lord manifests himself to Moses in a bush transfigured by divine presence. The reality of the manifestation is confirmed by the fruit born of the encounter at the bush – by the Lord’s faithful service of his people, and by the one who is to be leader to the people.

What is promised is liberation from slavery, from exile. The same liberation is needed by so many in our day too – people whose lives are exploited and constrained by so many economic and political, even religious, forces and powers in this world. The Lord seeks for us to be free from these malign and destructive forces that are exterior to ourselves.

He also seeks to free us from the malign and destructive forces that make their home within us. They may have their ultimate source elsewhere, or be the result of our own free choices. But the Lord, in his love for us, sets himself again this sin, this evil, also so that we might be free to be more fully ourselves, and more fully his people.

Fig tree, Medjugorje. (c) 2014, Allen Morris


Speak Lord: Fruit to refresh us

The Lord is compassion and love.

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

The Lord is compassion and love.

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

The Lord is compassion and love.

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

The Lord is compassion and love.

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

The Lord is compassion and love.

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

There is every reason for us to give thanks. Not least for God’s patient love.

We may fail and slip and slide and mess up in so many ways. But never, ever, does his love for us waver…

The fruit of his love is always there for us to take for our health, healing and well-being.

Image: Mosaic at Underground Basilica, Lourdes. (c) 2016.

Speak Lord: When the worst threatens…

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

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

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

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

The One God, the God of Israel, offers guidance and protection to his people. In Christ we learn how that same guidance and protection is also extended to all.

But we remain free to shrug off the love and care…

  • When do you do that? Why?
  • What helps you to receive and benefit from that love and care?

Fig. All Saints, London Colney. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: enliven us

Some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell and killed them? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’

He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”’

Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Lent
Luke 13:1-9

Around this time of Lent we might be starting to weary of our penances and all. Around this time of Lent we might be casting around for excuses for ourselves – ‘I might have my problems, but I’m not as bad as this one or that.

The Gospel sayings offer a check to laxity and to judgementalism.

To judgementalism. To the Lord maybe no-one seems a very much greater sinner than anyone else. Sins are sins, and looked at not in themselves – in terms of the positive harm they do – but from the perspective of the failure of a potential to love maybe they can seem much of a muchness. In any case, let us leave judgement to the Lord… If we do judge, and see fault, let our response be to love and to help, and to show mercy…

And to laxity. Well back to the failure to live love. Seeking to die to sin is all very well, but if it does not cause us also to rise to life and love then our efforts simply bring us to a state of nothingness, of aridity and sterility.

Let Lent bring us to life…

  • Who, today, might I ask to pray for me to continue to try to keep Lent well?
  • Who today might I offer to pray for?

Stained glass, Hereford Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Listen and Live

O God, who have commanded us
to listen to your beloved Son,
be pleased, we pray,
to nourish us inwardly by your word,
that, with spiritual sight made pure,
we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect for 2nd Sunday of Lent

Our listening to the Lord frees us from the bonds and limitations of the past, and helps us to a clarity for the living of life here and now, as we journey to God and the Kingdom.

  • What have you become more free from as a result of listening to the Lord helped you become more free from?
  • What do you next intend to do in consequence of listening to the Lord?

Image: Stained glass, Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, Paris . (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: ‘All’ for us…

The Lord is my light and my help.

The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink?

O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
Of you my heart has spoken:
‘Seek his face.’

It is your face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not your face.
Dismiss not your servant in anger;
you have been my help.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord!

Responsorial Psalm for 2nd Sunday of Lent
Psalm 26(27):1,7-9,13-14

The Lord is pro nobis, ‘for us’.

There cannot really be any more important thing for us to know.

Of course we do well to grapple also with the who and what of God, with concepts of creation and covenant, or incarnation and much more. But all this is for us. As our minds and hearts enlarge to consider the Mysteries of God, we are astounded to know not only whatever we can know of these things, but also that they are for us, God is for us, on our side, loving, compassionate merciful.

We are blessed indeed.

And enlivened by that blessing, we have blessing to share with others, that we might be for them…

Image: Stained glass, St Germans, Cornwall. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: As it was, is now, and ever shall be…

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning.

Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him.

As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid.

And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’

And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen.

Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Lent
Luke 9:28-36

In the event of the Transfiguration, the divinity of Jesus is announced, and in the meeting of Jesus, Moses and Elijah, the mutuality of Jewish tradition and the mission of Jesus is confirmed.

In this the authenticity of all that has happened is underlined and the significance of all that will follow.

God is faithful to us throughout of salvation history, we are urged to have confidence in him, to be faithful to him and by him.

Stained glass. St Peter in Vincula, Hampton Lacey. (c) 2016, Allen Morris