Taste and See: Ministry of care

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The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Gospel for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Mark 1:12-15

The angels gathered to care for Jesus and Jesus came and comes to us to care for us.

Does it end there? Hopefully not – for the gathering of the faithful as Church, in Christ, fits us in our turn to continue the mission of love and care. We do this individually and collectively, in the public works of the Church and also in the many more and hidden acts which are entrusted to us as individuals and which no-one but God (and the angels!) may ever know of…

  • For whom have you cared today?
  • Who and how will you seek to serve tomorrow?

Detail of sculpture at West Door, St Trophime, Arles. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

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Taste and See: Hope and Promise

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God spoke to Noah and his sons, ‘See, I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; also with every living creature to be found with you, birds, cattle and every wild beast with you: everything that came out of the ark, everything that lives on the earth. I establish my Covenant with you: no thing of flesh shall be swept away again by the waters of the flood. There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.’

God said, ‘Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind. And so the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all things of flesh.’

First reading for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8-15

The Scriptures open with an account of Creation and its goodness, with the privileging of humankind, made in the image and likeness of God and invited to an intimate sharing of life with the Creator.

They continue with stories of human fault and failing, and of human (sometime) striving to respond to God’s offer of reconciliation and restoration.

In Lent we face our own particular history of sin and sorrow, and look for fresh encouragement in the stories of God’s repeated gift of mercy, not least in the formal covenants offered in the Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, culminating in the covenant in Jesus Christ. He is our hope.

And if we will stir ourselves we can help others know that he is their hope also – and by helping them to come to know him, and his love, to understand something of how he is their hope.

Lent is not about turning us in on ourselves, but opening us to the more, the all, that God is and offers

Mosaic. Rosary Basilica, Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: Journey to Christ

DSC09145Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me.
because of your goodness, O Lord.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Responsorial Psalm for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

Yesterday at Cathedrals around the world men and women who know themselves called to Christ came forward before their bishop seeking ‘election’, approval for their proceeding to their Baptism, their incorporation into the full communion of the Church and into full communion with Christ.

As they prepare for the Sacrament the faithful, the already baptised, prepare to renew our Baptism Promises at the Easter Vigil, to turn more firmly from sin, and turn to Christ; to affirm our belief in Father, Son and Spirit, and in the Church and in forgiveness for sin. We look for freedom in Christ, to live fully as ourselves, fully in love of God, and love of neighbour.

Ceramic plate in series of articles of the Creed. Musée Dobrée, Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Promise us communion with you for ever

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God spoke to Noah and his sons, ‘See, I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; also with every living creature to be found with you, birds, cattle and every wild beast with you: everything that came out of the ark, everything that lives on the earth. I establish my Covenant with you: no thing of flesh shall be swept away again by the waters of the flood. There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.’

God said, ‘Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind. And so the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all things of flesh.’

First reading for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8-15

In Lent we can struggle, even with God’s grace, struggle, to live faithfully and well.

If/when we stumble and fall it is a great reassurance to remember the mercy of the Lord, that he does not renege on his covenant with us, but rather constantly offers the opportunity for us to own our sorrow, repent and find reassurance in his compassion and mercy.

ConfessionOften people have not received good catechesis and formation with regard to the Sacrament of Confession. A new book in the YOUCAT series, (fruit of World Youth Days and related initiatives) has just been published which many may find helpful. Titled Confession, it is available in the UK from the Catholic Truth ServiceAmazon, good bookshops and, ahem, the best parishes.

Confession is written for teenagers , but it is difficult to think who would not find it helpful.

Floor tile. Gloucester Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Lead us forward…

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Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me.
because of your goodness, O Lord.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Responsorial Psalm for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

Our journey through Lent has begun.

Will it lead us to Easter? To a deeper participation in Christ in his service of others? Or will it just have been a ‘thing’?

Without the help of God, it will surely not be capable of leading us to the Kingdom, to Christ, and so we sing our prayer asking for help…

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. Southwark Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: even to the deaf and the dead

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Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison. Now it was long ago, when Noah was still building that ark which saved only a small group of eight people ‘by water’, and when God was still waiting patiently, that these spirits refused to believe.

That water is a type of the baptism which saves you now, and which is not the washing off of physical dirt but a pledge made to God from a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has entered heaven and is at God’s right hand, now that he has made the angels and Dominations and Powers his subjects.

Second reading for the 1st Sunday of Lent
1 Peter 3:18-22

How blessed are we.

The Lord who lives and suffered for us, uses even his death as an opportunity to serve, graciously extending the offer of salvation to those who have died.

St Peter speaks of baptism not of having saved us, but of baptism still saving us, still  working to deepen our communion with God.

Jesus descended to the dead. Church of the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg, Russia. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Who suffered to love us into life

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The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Gospel for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Mark 1:12-15

St Mark tells us much less than do Ss Matthew and Luke about the wilderness/temptations experience of Jesus.

However, for all of his reticence about the detail, St Mark makes it clear that the experience was harrowing. 40 days in the wilderness is no easy matter to grapple with – and then there was Satan, and the wild beasts to contend with. Jesus must have thanked God for the angels who looked after him.

Having overcome temptation and fears Jesus sets to his work and what a positive and hopeful message he sets before the people of Galilee – and us!

‘The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Stained glass, Eglise Saint-Germain-L’Auxerrois, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris