Taste and See: Called to holiness

I will bless your name for ever, O God my King. or Alleluia!

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures.

All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign
and declare your might, O God,
to make known to men your mighty deeds
and the glorious splendour of your reign.

Yours is an everlasting kingdom;
your rule lasts from age to age.

Responsorial Psalm for 5th Sunday of Easter
Psalm 144(145):8-13a

How loving is God – love without end, good to all, compassionate to all.

In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us to ask God to put a limit on his love for us – perhaps by way of encouragement for us, in our turn, to love better:

…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…

  • What helps you keep you mindful of the call to love generously?
  • How confident can you be when you ask God to forgive you as you forgive others?

Display of trinkets: Pier cabin, Llandudno, Wales (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

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Taste and See: Together

Jesus said: ‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life;
they will never be lost
and no one will ever steal them from me.
The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone,
and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.’

Gospel for the 4th Sunday of the Year
John 10:27-30

The relationship between Jesus as shepherd, and his sheep, ie those who follow him and benefit from his care and protection is a mutual relationship.

He cares and protects and gifts eternal life: they listen and follow, and remain at one with him.

He never fails to deliver what is proper to him – he is faithful for love of the Father and for love of us.

What helps you to be true to him?

  • What helps you listen? And when and how do you best do this?
  • What helps you follow? How and when, and what helps?

Knowle Parish Church, West Midlands . (c) 2019, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Shepherds’ love

Look upon your flock, kind Shepherd,
and be pleased to settle in eternal pastures
the sheep you have redeemed
by the Precious Blood of your Son.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Prayer after Communion for the 4th Sunday of Easter.

After all of the focus on Good Shepherd Sunday, on Jesus as our Good Shepherd, the Prayer after Communion reminds of the prior and kind Shepherd, the Father of the Son.

The metaphor of shepherd can be applied to each person of the Holy Trinity

  • to the Father, Shepherd of Israel, and Shepherd to the good shepherd
  • to the Son, who takes flesh as Jesus and who, describing his ministry to his disciples, self-identifies as the good shepherd;
  • and to the Holy Spirit, who guides and protects the Church against error in her teaching.

The Holy Trinity in caring for us, models how we, as children of the living God, are to care for others in our turn.

Carving. Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Love and Care

Jesus said: ‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life;
they will never be lost
and no one will ever steal them from me.
The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone,
and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.’

Gospel for the 4th Sunday of the Year
John 10:27-30

We are well cared for – have been and ever will be.

Stained glass. Regent Square United Reformed Church, Holborn. (c) 2019, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Life

In my vision, I, John, heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the animals and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, shouting, ‘The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing.’

Then I heard all the living things in creation – everything that lives in the air, and on the ground, and under the ground, and in the sea, crying, ‘To the One who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever.’ And the four animals said, ‘Amen’; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship.

Second reading for 3rd Sunday of Easter
Apocalypse 5:11-14

God serves creation, bringing it to the fullness of life.

It seems in our present historical age, humanity is bringing creation to its knees, not in the worship of God, but exhausted, debilitated, apparently on the edge of extinction.

Moses said to God’s people as they finally prepared to receive the gift of the Promised Land: ‘I set before you life and death, choose life.’

  • What today do you choose?
  • How might anyone know which you have chosen?

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

Taste and See: Something new, something good

The high priest demanded an explanation of the Apostles. ‘We gave you a formal warning’ he said ‘not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt of this man’s death on us.’

In reply Peter and the apostles said, ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’

They warned the apostles not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. And so they left the presence of the Sanhedrin glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name.

First reading for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:27-32,40-41

The high priest and Sanhedrin seeks to use their religious authority to quash the self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ, and the miraculous working of God’s grace in the rising of Jesus from the dead.

Power and authority can be used for good, to foster faith and encourage virtue. It can also be used for ill, to suppress what is beautiful and true and to draw people into living a lie.

The fault lies not with power and authority in themselves, but with those who wield it. With great power comes great responsibility – as we learn from Marvel comics!

Anyone can make a mistake, get things wrong – high priests, anybody. What becomes especially problematic when someone then digs their heels in, and become resolute that their way is the only way, and not open to seeing things afresh, in learning from others, learning from new experience.

The teaching of Peter and the apostles invites the Sanhedrin to a reconsideration of how things are – and to a reconsideration assisted by assurance of love and mercy regarding past mistakes.

They seem unwilling to budge.

  • Where have you dug your heels in to bad effect?
  • What helps you to reconsider a situation?
  • What helps you engage with the newness and change engendered of the God of Surprises?

Pulpit. Tewkesbury Abbey. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Together in love

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
John 21:1-19

Peter does not ask Jesus whether Jesus loves him. Perhaps for shame at his abandonment and betrayal of his master at the time of his arrest and trial? Perhaps because it’s just not how Peter speaks?

But Jesus does ask. To help purge Peter of his betrayal? Perhaps to help Peter admit what he has not yet spoken?

Peter gets a little tetchy at the interrogation – but how gently Jesus handles the situation, and how it leads Peter on into a new sense of the responsibility that is entrusted to him, and the cost that he will pay in consequence of his generous service of the Lord, his sheep and his lambs…

  • Do you love the Lord more than these others?
  • What do you know of the Lord’s love for you?

Mensa Christi, St Peter’s Primacy, Tabgha, Galilee. (c) 2017, Allen Morris