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: 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.

 

Speak Lord: Speak peace…

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There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise. Keep doing all the things that you learnt from me and have been taught by me and have heard or seen that I do. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Second reading for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Philippians 4:6-9

There are so many things that can provoke worry and stress in us – events external to ourselves, and of course that which is internal to us, our fears, hopes, and dreams. Yet there is NO need to worry, says Paul because in God what ever the provocation, we can be at peace.

Our present situation does not in any absolute or abiding define, limit or constrain us. It does not determine our destony.

Only the God of love will do that who seeks ever to win us to life., and who even now seeks to share with us his peace.

  • Where and for what do you need God’s peace to sustain you today?

Water Lily, Compton Verney (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Lord of the Harvest

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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 in Ordinary Time
Matthew 21:33-43

The good landowner has bad tenants: they lash out at all and sundry, and at the last seek to lock-in their evil and misappropriation by killing the rightful heir of the property.

The metaphor, of course, relates, to God and his people and their (our?) regular attempts to declare independence, even to the point of killing the Son of God.

God’s lordship is rejected and despised; and violence is done also to those who , in God’s plan, are our brothers and sisters.

Jesus tells the parable to those who fail to know their sin and fault, but as David with Nathan much earlier in the history of God’s people, they fail to recognise themselves in the story and so stand convicted of sin, and outraged at their own iniquity! They call down judgement on themselves…

And yet, when they do their worst against Jesus himself, he prays ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’

God’s mercy is never-ending. Sadly we have reason to fear that there are as yet very real limits on our ability to benefit from it.

  • What might hold you back from receiving and living from God’s mercy?

Grape harvest. Wroxeter, Shropshire. (c) 2016, 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

Speak Lord: merciful and patient

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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

The Scriptures are full of stories of those called to be faithful but who fall short and fail.

The stories are told to us who often find our ourselves in the same predicament. They are told to encourage us not to give in but to repent and to turn back to what is best. Since we listen, the story is not yet over, and so we are urged to take fresh heart.

And the Scriptures are also full of hope, born of God’s faithfulness, that through his constancy, even the sometimes inconstant have the opportunity to come to bliss.

  • What ‘no’ in your life might better become a ‘yes’?
  • And is there a ‘yes’ that would better be a ‘no’?

Detail of Terre, mer et ciel, a painting by Anna Eva Bergman. Displayed at Carré d’art, Nimes, France. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.