Taste and See: Commitment

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I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength. All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships. In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can. Glory to God, our Father, for ever and ever. Amen.

Second reading for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Philippians 4:12-14,19-20

It is not just that Paul himself proves adaptable to circumstances as they present them to himself. He adapts himself to circumstance in order to fulfil his mission.

There would be other, perhaps easier options: fleeing comes to mind!

But his mission is to bear witness to the Risen Lord, and to sustain the infant Church. He is ready to bear everything for sake of these.

  • To what do you give priority?

Stained glass. St Editha church, Tamworth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

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Taste and See: Rest and nourishment

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On this mountain,
the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples
a banquet of rich food.
On this mountain he will remove
the mourning veil covering all peoples,
and the shroud enwrapping all nations,
he will destroy Death for ever.
The Lord will wipe away
the tears from every cheek;
he will take away his people’s shame
everywhere on earth,
for the Lord has said so.
That day, it will be said: See, this is our God
in whom we hoped for salvation;
the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.
We exult and we rejoice
that he has saved us.

First reading for 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 25:6-10

We might be so attracted by the glory of the meal that we might miss for whom the Lord prepares it. It is for those in sorrow; those captive of sin or despairing. From the valley of the shadow of death the Lord leads them up and out from captivity and shadow and fear, up and onto sun-kissed slopes. And their in the warmth of the sun, he restores his people to the fullness of life.

What maybe we’ve never even been able to hope for, through his love is and will be ours.

Gavarnie. France. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: The offer of friendship

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Alleluia, alleluia!
I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
Alleluia!

Gospel Acclamation for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jn15:15

Jesus does the honour of calling us friends, of entrusting us with everything he has learnt from the Father. He holds nothing back.

The first reading and Gospel reading at Mass on Sunday spoke of well tended vineyards, which for one reason of another failed to give the expected return.

  • What return do we make for the offer of friendship that the Lord extends to us.
  • Do we take it for what we can get out of it?
  • Or does love meet with love, trust with matching trust?

Detail of Rose Window. St Vincent de Paul, Marseille. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Fault and failing

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Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:

It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?

‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’

Gospel for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Matthew 21:33-43

It is extraordinary that the chief priests and leaders of the people do not seem to see themselves in the parable. The episode reminds of just how hard it is for us to see our own faults, even when they are laid in front of our very noses!

The parable is surely retold in Matthew’s version to, as it were, foreshadow the role of the Church in the wake of the death and Resurrection of Jesus in sharing the Good News of God’s mercy and love. A task entrusted to Israel is, as it were, passed on to others.

Yet how often Christians too fail to live up to their vocation, fail to bring the promise to harvest. We surely miss the point of the continued sharing of the parable and of the tragedy of so many failing to honour Jesus as Son of God, if we use it to bad mouth others. As we see their failings, the parable surely is intended to help us also know and repent of our own.

  • Where in your life does selfishness and greed cause you to turn from God and His will.

Discord. Church of St Vincent de Paul. Marseille. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: living, loving word

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Alleluia, alleluia!
If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.
Alleluia!

Gospel Acclamation for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

People sometimes keep ‘commonplace books’ to make note of interesting experiences, and jot down passages from books and newspapers that catch their eye. They make record of them for their future reflection and use.

The practice could be a helpful one for the faithful, to note down particular passages of Scripture that connect with us, and to which we suspect we will want to return to.

The verse of the Gospel acclamation (John 14.23) could be just such a verse. It invites us to fresh faithfulness and offers the encouragement of God’s intimate love and care for us.

Ambo. St Mary’s Priory, Abergavenny. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: to know and imitate Him

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If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make me completely happy. There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, So that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus:

His state was divine,
yet he did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave,
and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings in the heavens,
on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Second reading for the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Philippians 2:1-11

The example of Jesus is the example to which we need to return again and again to receive what faith offers.

The one who is Son of God, fully God, fully Divine, reveals to us not only his Divinity and something of how God is, but also how humanity is called to be…

  • Where/how are you most human?
  • Where/how less so?

Architectural detail: Mailbox, Birmingham. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: How true do we see? How true do we live?

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Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people, ‘What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, “My boy, you go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not go,” but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, “Certainly, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did the father’s will?’ ‘The first’ they said. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.’

Gospel for the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Matthew 21:28-32

Sometimes, if our hearts have gone astray, the surprise of God might come as a nasty surprise! But, in truth, God is his great love, and that love will always triumph.

Jesus’ teaching here informs the short story Revelation by Flannery O’Connor in her collection Everything That Rises Must Converge. The story and the collection are well worth reading!

The otherness of God will always take us by surprise, as God  continues to work, continues to win even the most resistant for life.

Street art work by Banksy. Camden Town. (c) 2010, Allen Morris.