Speak Lord: Help us grow

The first man, Adam, as scripture says, became a living soul; but the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit. That is, first the one with the soul, not the spirit, and after that, the one with the spirit. The first man, being from the earth, is earthly by nature; the second man is from heaven.

As this earthly man was, so are we on earth; and as the heavenly man is, so are we in heaven. And we, who have been modelled on the earthly man, will be modelled on the heavenly man.

Second Reading for the 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 15:45-49

We are made and called to be living and life-giving. By nature and by grace (two aspects of the self-expression and self-communication of the one God) we are capable of extending God’s love into our world.

  • Where/how might you live better today? And tomorrow?
  • In what way might the Lord, and the Church, be able to help you in this?
  • How might you offer help to others to live better?

Image: Plaque, Old Coventry Cathedral. (c) 2018 Allen Morris.

Advertisements

Speak Lord: Mercy

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’

Gospel for the 7th Sunday of Orcinary Time
Luke 6:27-38

We are probably all familiar with a visceral urge for revenge on those who have hurt us, with a passion to recover what we have lost, and the desire for victory and saved from and raised above our enemies. This is how humankind often is.

But it is not what humankind was made for, nor is what we are destined for. If we would have victory; if we would triumph then we must become more like God, and live and love like him: merciful, compassionate, healing the hurts of others, not revelling in them or imposing them.

Image. Mercy. St Trophime, Arles. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The Lord gives and he takes away

Jesus teaching. Church of John the Baptist, Cardiff. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Jesus came down with the Twelve and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon. Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he said:

‘How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.

Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied.

Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.

Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.

Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.

Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.

Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.’

Gospel for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 6:17,20-26

Often we read Scripture to consider what it says to us, what God says to us through his living word.

It is also good to consider what it says to others – and especially those whose life is under threat – be that threat from poverty or hunger, or from riches and carelessness.

The Lord speaks, works, for the welfare of all – offering hope, offering caution as needed. He urges us, sometimes startles us, to take heed and gain wisdom regarding our present situation and the future that might lie ahead of us.

  • What startles you in the gospel passage read this Sunday?
  • What encourages you?
  • What gives you heed?

Speak Lord: Be at the heart of us

Beatitudes. Holy Trinity church, Stratford upon Avon. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.


The Lord says this: ‘A curse on the man who puts his trust in man, who relies on things of flesh, whose heart turns from the Lord. He is like dry scrub in the wastelands: if good comes, he has no eyes for it, he settles in the parched places of the wilderness, a salt land, uninhabited.

‘A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.’

First Reading for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 17:5-8

Pope Leo the Great taught that God made us without us, but will not save us without us.

Jeremiah urges us to strive for goodness in the Lord, to seek and find our fulfilment in him.

And what we find have we can share with others, for what we find will not be our ultimate desire. That desire will be the Lord and his goodness not ever, only, the good things of this world only.

  • Where do you put your trust?
  • What have been some of the consequences?
  • What more do you ask for? And why?

Speak Lord: Our security, our trust

Stained glass. Holy Trinity church. Stratford upon Avon. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord.

 Happy indeed is the man
who follows not the counsel of the wicked;
nor lingers in the way of sinners
nor sits in the company of scorners,
but whose delight is the law of the Lord
and who ponders his law day and night.

He is like a tree that is planted
beside the flowing waters,
that yields its fruit in due season
and whose leaves shall never fade;
and all that he does shall prosper.

Not so are the wicked, not so!
For they like winnowed chaff
shall be driven away by the wind.
for the Lord guards the way of the just
but the way of the wicked leads to doom.

Responsorial Psalm for 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 1:1-4,6

Many things can disturb the trust we seek to place in the Lord. Many are the fears and doubts that can distract and confuse us, and the threats to our well being and security are real and sometimes overwhelming.

All this makes it all the more important that the relationship of trust between us and the Lord is a true relationship as between persons, and not just an attachment to the idea of the Lord.

Attachments to ideals can be passionate, perhaps as passionate as attachment to persons. But attachment to an idea, or a fancy – we are unlikely to find stability in that.

So efforts are called for to build up that lived relationship with the one God – Father, Son and Spirit – developing the roots that will allow us, because of him, to withstand whatever comes.

  • What most nourishes your relationship with God?
  • How might you give greater priority to that?

Speak Lord: Pattern for our lives

Stained Glass. Kings Lynn Minster. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.


If Christ raised from the dead is what has been preached, how can some of you be saying that there is no resurrection of the dead? For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, you are still in your sins. And what is more serious, all who have died in Christ have perished. If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people.

But Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep.

Second reading for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 15:12,16-20

The teaching of the Lord is offered in his words and by his life – and central to it all is the teaching we receive in the Paschal Mystery – of his death, resurrection, and ascension. We see him serving to the very point of death, humbly enduring – for love of us – the worst that humankind could do to him, living his dying; we see him raised from the dead – death unable to contain his life and goodness; and his ascension – his return to the Father, while at the same gifting his eternal presence to and in the Church.

These are profound, extreme expressions of the who, how and why of Jesus Christ. And they reveal what might be also the inner moment of our lives – lives freed from fear of death, lives freed for love of God and neighbour…. If we will live in him.

Speak Lord: teacher and brother

Detail from door of Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Jesus came down with the Twelve and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon. Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he said:

‘How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.

Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied.

Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.

Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.

Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.

Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.

Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.’

Gospel for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 6:17,20-26

Jesus sets paradoxes before us – those things we regularly see as undesirable are seen as blessings; those things we might well see as signs of good fortune are seen as fruitless.

He seeks to change our perspective – from the here and now to eternal life; from our own needs to the needs of others, and so on… We are invited to seek God’s approval, and not the world’s.

We are invited to live – as the phrase puts it – sub specie aeternitatis. We are invited to live according to values that are universally and eternally true, not as creatures, but as people who by God’s grace already live united with his divine nature.

The Kingdom of God is very near to us: how near to it are we?