Speak Lord: Source of new growth

 

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‘Doom for the shepherds who allow the flock of my pasture to be destroyed and scattered – it is the Lord who speaks! This, therefore, is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the shepherds in charge of my people: You have let my flock be scattered and go wandering and have not taken care of them.

Right, I will take care of you for your misdeeds – it is the Lord who speaks! But the remnant of my flock I myself will gather from all the countries where I have dispersed them, and will bring them back to their pastures: they shall be fruitful and increase in numbers. I will raise up shepherds to look after them and pasture them; no fear, no terror for them any more; not one shall be lost – it is the Lord who speaks!

‘See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David,
who will reign as true king and be wise,
practising honesty and integrity in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel dwell in confidence.
And this is the name he will be called:
The-Lord-our-integrity.’

First reading for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 23:1-6

Woe to the faux-shepherds. But the Lord will not allow his love and care to be curtailed and constrained by them, by us. He finds new ways to share what he longs to share. And he will continue to do this with the help of humankind, witting or unwitting.

Base of Jesus Tree. Pre-reformation carving in St Mary’s Priory, Abergavenney.  © 2017, Allen Morris

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Speak Lord: our shepherd…

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The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

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

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Responsorial Psalm for the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm 22(23)

The psalmist, mindful and grateful of the care that he receives from the shepherd is free to admit his weariness and need. In the Lord he finds restoration and new direction and purpose and future for his life.

And in his song he thanks God, and bears witness to us of the who and how of God, inviting us to share in his love and peace.

  • With whom might you share this good news, and how?

Detail from 4C sarcophagus cover. Musée départemental Arles antique. © 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Reconciliation

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In Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far apart from us have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ. For he is the peace between us, and has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in his own person the hostility caused by the rules and decrees of the Law.

This was to create one single New Man in himself out of the two of them and by restoring peace through the cross, to unite them both in a single Body and reconcile them with God: in his own person he killed the hostility. Later he came to bring the good news of peace, peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near at hand. Through him, both of us have in the one Spirit our way to come to the Father.

Second reading for the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ephesians 2:13-18

God has no favourites, and unity is offered to us all in Jesus Christ.

In his birth, his adult ministry, in his Passion, Death and Resurrection, in his Ascension and now in word and Sacrament, grace and peace is shared with us to make us one.

  • How might you respond to the gift today for the benefit of others?

Stained glass. Chester Cathedral. © 2017, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: with your usual care…

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The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves.

But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.

Gospel for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 6:30-34

Love knows no boundaries. It is likely that Jesus was tired and in need of rest himself, not only the apostles. And yet he gave of himself for the care of others.

  • What helps you to do the same?
  • What holds you back?
  • Why did people seek Jesus with such eagerness? What do you learn from that?

Detail from fresco by Duncan Grant. Lincoln Cathedral. © 2011, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Gifts for living

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Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, 
and give us your saving help.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for his people.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.

The Lord will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps.

Responsorial Psalm for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Psalm 84(85):9-14

In the Psalms, when we pray them, the Lord puts his words in our mouth.

In this psalm, we ask to see the mercy of the Lord, and to hear his words. The Lord might well say – ‘Great. See and see again; hear and hear again. Now what will you do…?’

  • How do you live from and how do you share mercy and faithfulness?
  • And justice and peace?

Shop, Nowa Huta, Poland. © Allen Morris, 2013.

Taste and See: Change

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Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, said to Amos, ‘Go away, seer;’ get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel; this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple.’

‘I was no prophet, neither did I belong to any of the brotherhoods of prophets,’ Amos replied to Amaziah ‘I was a shepherd, and looked after sycamores: but it was the Lord who took me from herding the flock, and the Lord who said, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”’

First reading for the 15th Sunday of the Year
Amos 7:12-15

One of the most thankless vocations in the Church is that of the prophet. Down the centuries women and men with this charism have suffered because of it, even as they have faithfully served the Church calling it to new faithfulness.

The irony is that the vocation of the prophet, at heart, is to call the Church to bliss, to deeper union with God and neighbour. But often the way to that newness and joy is by penance and repentance and change, and so is very often resisted and resented.

  • What helps you to hear and respond positively to challenge?
  • What makes you respond negatively?

Ivory carving of prophet. Louvre, Paris. © 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Mercy

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Jesus made a tour round the villages, teaching. Then he summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’

So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

Gospel for 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 6:7-13

The disciples set off to preach repentance. One might think: ‘What fun, going round telling other people off and telling them to get their lives in order.’

But that is not how it is intended!. The disciples set out on a mission not to indulge in schadenfreude and big themselves up but to heal. Not to put down but to build up; not to criticise but to draw forward and restore to dignity and purpose, to make new disciples.

They have been prepared by Love himself to minister love to the Lord’s people. The Lord’s people is to minister the Lord to the Lord’s people, to those who need it.

God has no favourites, the opportunity for repentance and healing is for all people. All of us, always, remain in need of it. For life and health.

Window to express the Sacrament of Penance. St Severin, Paris, Allen Morris.