Speak Lord: Lead us to your cross and ours…

DSC06826 Lerins.jpg

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows:

‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.

‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.

‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.

‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’

Matthew 10:37-42

The Gospel on Sunday, the 13th Sunday of the Year, reminds of the call to follow Christ and the challenges it contains.

At one level all is easy: welcome a prophet, give a cup of cold water to ‘one of these little ones’. At another level all is difficult even counter-intuitive: called to communion with Jesus and the family of the Church? Well, have no preference for your own family. Choosing life? Well, take up your cross and follow…

This is a choice that has to have real consequences in our lives and our other choices. Otherwise we have not chosen.

It is also a choice that cannot be made once and for all, never to be revisited. Rather it is a choice we have to make and affirm each day, indeed each moment that we face any choice: do we respond as disciple of Jesus, or not. Holy habits can make some of these choices, well, habitual, and help us form certain dispositions… but there will still be those moments, those choices we have not prepared for. Closeness to Jesus will help us make the better choice: closeness to Jesus, and recourse to him will be our consolation and our aid as we struggle and even as we fail.

Abbey Interior. Lerins, France. (c) 2005, Allen Morris.

 

 

Taste and See: Faith

Refugee Crib.jpg

Jeremiah said:

I hear so many disparaging me,
‘“Terror from every side!”
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’
All those who used to be my friends
watched for my downfall,
‘Perhaps he will be seduced into error.
Then we will master him
and take our revenge!’
But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero;
my opponents will stumble, mastered,
confounded by their failure;
everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs.
But you, O Lord of Hosts, you who probe with justice,
who scrutinise the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.
Sing to the Lord,
praise the Lord,
for he has delivered the soul of the needy
from the hands of evil men.

Jeremiah 20:10-13

Many of us hearing the above reading, the first for Mass, yesterday, the 12th Sunday of the Year, will have wanted to transpose it to a spiritual/abstract pitch. For though we may know disparagement and insult, many (most?) of us will not experience to the intense level that Jeremiah did.

Yet to drain the reading of its particularity, and the violence and threat of violence of its direct and bruising quality, can neuter the text and remove its force and potency.

There are many in our world who do face such threats, such persecution, whose lives are indeed at risk – and who remain steadfast in faith, powerful witnesses to the reality of God and his gift and promise of life.

As we learn from them, and give thanks to God for them, let us also pray with them, and seek to come to their aid in what ways we can…

Refugee City, Lebanon (?), 2015

Speak Lord: Bread of Life

DSC07667manna Lourdes 2016.jpg

Moses said to the people: ‘Remember how the Lord your God led you for forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart – whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

‘Do not become proud of heart. Do not forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery: who guided you through this vast and dreadful wilderness, a land of fiery serpents, scorpions, thirst; who in this waterless place brought you water from the hardest rock; who in this wilderness fed you with manna that your fathers had not known.’

Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14-16

The First reading at Mass today, the feast of Corpus Christi, refers us to God’s feeding of Israel with manna, during their long journey from enslavement to the Promised Land. The food and the journey are viewed by Christians as types for, anticipations that will be fulfilled by,  the Eucharist and our salvation in Christ.

The gift we receive is greater than that offered to Israel. And yet the fruitfulness of our reception of it lies equally in doubt.

The feast of Corpus Christi provides us with further reason to pause and take stock on how carefully we receive the gifts of God and how we try to live them for our good and the good of all.

Detail from altar and sanctuary in chapel of St Bernadette, Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

 

 

 

Speak Lord: Loving food

IMG_9139a
The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ. The fact that there is only one loaf means that, though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

The second reading  at Mass on Sunday, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, speaks to some of the core truths about the Eucharist. It reminds us that the Eucharist is about communion with Christ and communion with each other, through Christ.

Controversy about the Eucharist and subsequent development of doctrine has led the Western Church, at least, to a certain preoccupation with the ‘what’ of the Eucharist and a neglect of the ‘why’.

The Eucharist surely is, as Christ said, his Body and his Blood. It is he himself, present for us as food and drink. But there lies the clue to the why of the Eucharist: this is Christ present as food and drink for us, to nourish us for life.

That life is found in communion with him and fulfilled when we live our life lovingly and for the lives of others. It is a life nourished by the gift of the life of God in flesh, of the divine Son begotten before the ages, and united with our humanity in Jesus of Nazareth. It is a life we begin to live now and that finds its completion in eternal life.

  • How do you live from the holy food that Christ is?

Grave marker of a priest in the graveyard of St Giles, Cheadle. (c) 2009, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Bread of Life

eglise saint laurent.jpg
Jesus said to the Jews:

‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’

Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’

John 6:51-58

Sunday is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). The Gospel we hear is drawn from the Bread of Life discourse in the Gospel of John.

We hear the words of Jesus, familiar with the Sacrament of the Eucharist. So we are not likely to mistake Jesus words for an advocacy of cannibalism. But pity those who first heard them – how else could they have understood them?

But, perhaps those who knew him best would be able to understand the metaphor Jesus applies to himself – that he is the living bread. Perhaps they could know from their experience of his love and care for them and others, his self-sacrifice for their sake; his radical obedience to the will of the Father that he has been and is bread for their eating; wisdom for their guidance, the living word of God for their salvation.

Jesus is this for them and us, but not in words only, not in inspiration only, but in the very fact and physicality of his humanity, in its particularity and in its service of his Father and his neighbour.

The Last Supper. Eglise St Lauren, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: faithful praise

DSC09841

You are blest, Lord God of our fathers.
To you glory and praise for evermore.
Blest your glorious holy name.
To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest in the temple of your glory.
To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest on the throne of your kingdom.
To you glory and praise for evermore.

You are blest who gaze into the depths.
To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest in the firmament of heaven.
To you glory and praise for evermore.

Daniel 3:52-55

The Responsorial Psalm on Trinity Sunday, Sunday of this week, came from the prophet Daniel. As reminded last week it is a song sung in dire circumstances, but trusting in the God of Glory.

We face dire situations again and again, in our personal lives, in our lives in community. The response of faith is always to give praise to God – not for the dire situation (!), but that in all we remain God’s beloved children, cared for and cherished by him. We often have much to endure, but that will never be the end. The end is his love and his safeguarding – of us and all, we pray. And from that comes hope and a certain ability to endure – and a capacity to share hope and faith. It is often far from easy – but it is our call and, sometimes, we realise it is our privilege.

  • When and how have your struggles helped you to lived faith?
  • Where and why have they hindered faith?

Throne of Mercy – medieval wall painting. Tewkesbury Abbey. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Called to unity

DSC09329

May receiving this Sacrament, O Lord our God,
bring us health of body and soul,
as we confess your eternal holy Trinity and undivided Unity.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion

One of the briefest prayers at Mass on Sunday, Trinity Sunday, the Prayer after Communion beautifully summarises the mystery of God and the challenge for us.

God is three and God is one: a mystery which defies logic and mathematics. Each of us is one person but, gosh, we are so often divided within and from our self.

For God the diversity achieves perfect expression in unity. So too for us, but we have not got there yet – our heart and our mind are in different places; our body and soul too. God works to unite us, each of us, so we become ourselves, entire, whole, and holy. And then God seeks to draw us together in community with each other and with him.

It is through our perception of God in his glory and humility; and in our reception of his grace in its manifold forms that we are helped to health, and made fit for eternal life.

  • What best moves you to contemplation of God, and how do you try to make the most of this?
  • What helps you to know yourself better, and how do you make the most of this?

Icon,  featured in exhibition in Château des ducs de Bretagne Nantes, 2016. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.