Taste and See: For real?

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.
My sacrifice is a contrite spirit.
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 50(51):3-4,12-13,17,19 (Sung by all)

How sincere are our confessions of sin and guilt, fault and failing?

I can never make my mind up about the words of the Prodigal Son. Well rehearsed does he mean what he says about his offences, or is he really motivated by the need of a good meal.

Our motives generally get revealed in the fullness of time: sometimes by the consistency of our actions; sometimes by other means – secrets are hard to keep forever!

But if our motives are often mixed and sometimes downright dishonest, the love of the Father never is. He takes what he gets and does the best with it he can: sometimes simply by loving and sharing, sometimes – though still in love – by challenging.

  • Where are your motives most mixed? And why?
  • Where do you give others the benefit of ‘the doubt’?

Photograph (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Gloucester Cathedral.

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Taste and See: Out of this world

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.

‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” she would say “I have found the drachma I lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’

He also said, ‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’

Gospel for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 15:1-32

Set the father and his boys to one side for a moment.

Isn’t there something a little excessive about the shpherd who goes out at night risking life and limb to find one lost sheep when he still has ninety-nine?

And obsessive about the woman who searches for a lost coin and then when she find it blows it on a party with her friends.

Jesus makes the point to those who resent the love of God for all his children, and his desire for all to be saved, that yes, there really is something here that is, presently beyond their ken.

  • What are the limits of your love of God, self and neighbour for you?

Photograph (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Stained glass, St Mary Abbott’s Kensington.

Taste and See: Love

Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’

Gospel for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 
Luke 14:25-33

Countless men and women have sat down and considered and been ready to pay the cost of following Jesus, faithfully: people of every type, in every circumstance and in every generation.

Mostly they would not consider themselves to be especially courageous. Not even necessarily especially good. Only that they love the Lord who loves them: love empowers and them and love motivates them.

Sometimes we take love for granted. But when we know its power and engage with it, all things become possible – even for us!

Photograph: (c) 2007, Allen Morris. Crucifix and the English Martyrs, Our Lady’s church, St John’s Wood.

Taste and See: What we do…

What man indeed can know the intentions of God? Who can divine the will of the Lord? The reasonings of mortals are unsure and our intentions unstable; for a perishable body presses down the soul, and this tent of clay weighs down the teeming mind.

It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth, laborious to know what lies within our reach; who, then, can discover what is in the heavens? As for your intention, who could have learnt it, had you not granted Wisdom and sent your holy spirit from above? Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened and men been taught what pleases you, and saved, by Wisdom.

First Reading for 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 9:13-18

The consequences of our decisions are often hard for us to deal with.

All the more important that we try and make responsible decisions, keeping our passions and emotions under control, as we try to determine what is right for us, what is right for others, and also , of course, what is God’s will!

One of the ‘tools’ we have to help us in this is prayer – helping us to better know God’s will, and better know ourselves.

The parish Blog for the parish of St Nicholas Boldmere will this week contain daily reminders of some of the basic building blocks for our personal prayer. Check it out!

Photograph. (c) 2015, Allen Morris. Stations of the Cross, Medjugorje.

Taste and See: Striving

Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’

Gospel for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 14:25-33

Jesus’ taking up of his cross has a particular drama to it – a drama that manifests something of its cosmic and salvific significance. There is also, as the 4th Gospel especially makes clear, glory in the Lord’s taking up of his cross.

Our lives are usually much less dramatic and our struggles often less public. But that does not make the cross we bear less costly or difficult. In our eyes there may not be much glory either, but …

But how pleasing to God is our very striving to be faithful. And as we seek to walk in the Lord’s steps, how clearly he accompanies and supports us…

Photograph: (c) 2008, Allen Morris. Lower Stations, Lourdes.

Taste and See: And grow

God of might, giver of every good gift,
put into our hearts the love of your name,
so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,
you may nurture in us what is good
and, by your watchful care,
keep safe what you have nurtured.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • How has the Lord nurtured you?
  • How does he nurture you?
  • And for what does he nurture you?

Photograph (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Arch to apse. St Aloysius, Glasgow.

Taste and See: Listen and learn

My son, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be better loved than a lavish giver.
The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favour with the Lord; for great though the power of the Lord is, he accepts the homage of the humble.
There is no cure for the proud man’s malady, since an evil growth has taken root in him.
The heart of a sensible man will reflect on parables,
an attentive ear is the sage’s dream.

1st Reading for 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiasticus 3:19-21,30-31

‘An attentive ear is the sage’s dream.’

We see, hear, do so many things. But often they remain at the level of experience and are not digested. We often lack time, space, stillness to ponder their meaning and learn from them.

  • When do you think and ponder best?
  • What draws you from that work? And with what consequences?

Photograph (c) 2005, Allen Morris. Refectory, Abbey of Lerins, France.