Speak Lord: Promise us communion with you for ever

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God spoke to Noah and his sons, ‘See, I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; also with every living creature to be found with you, birds, cattle and every wild beast with you: everything that came out of the ark, everything that lives on the earth. I establish my Covenant with you: no thing of flesh shall be swept away again by the waters of the flood. There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.’

God said, ‘Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind. And so the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all things of flesh.’

First reading for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8-15

In Lent we can struggle, even with God’s grace, struggle, to live faithfully and well.

If/when we stumble and fall it is a great reassurance to remember the mercy of the Lord, that he does not renege on his covenant with us, but rather constantly offers the opportunity for us to own our sorrow, repent and find reassurance in his compassion and mercy.

ConfessionOften people have not received good catechesis and formation with regard to the Sacrament of Confession. A new book in the YOUCAT series, (fruit of World Youth Days and related initiatives) has just been published which many may find helpful. Titled Confession, it is available in the UK from the Catholic Truth ServiceAmazon, good bookshops and, ahem, the best parishes.

Confession is written for teenagers , but it is difficult to think who would not find it helpful.

Floor tile. Gloucester Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

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Speak Lord: Lead us forward…

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Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me.
because of your goodness, O Lord.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Responsorial Psalm for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

Our journey through Lent has begun.

Will it lead us to Easter? To a deeper participation in Christ in his service of others? Or will it just have been a ‘thing’?

Without the help of God, it will surely not be capable of leading us to the Kingdom, to Christ, and so we sing our prayer asking for help…

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. Southwark Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: even to the deaf and the dead

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Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison. Now it was long ago, when Noah was still building that ark which saved only a small group of eight people ‘by water’, and when God was still waiting patiently, that these spirits refused to believe.

That water is a type of the baptism which saves you now, and which is not the washing off of physical dirt but a pledge made to God from a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has entered heaven and is at God’s right hand, now that he has made the angels and Dominations and Powers his subjects.

Second reading for the 1st Sunday of Lent
1 Peter 3:18-22

How blessed are we.

The Lord who lives and suffered for us, uses even his death as an opportunity to serve, graciously extending the offer of salvation to those who have died.

St Peter speaks of baptism not of having saved us, but of baptism still saving us, still  working to deepen our communion with God.

Jesus descended to the dead. Church of the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg, Russia. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Who suffered to love us into life

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The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Gospel for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Mark 1:12-15

St Mark tells us much less than do Ss Matthew and Luke about the wilderness/temptations experience of Jesus.

However, for all of his reticence about the detail, St Mark makes it clear that the experience was harrowing. 40 days in the wilderness is no easy matter to grapple with – and then there was Satan, and the wild beasts to contend with. Jesus must have thanked God for the angels who looked after him.

Having overcome temptation and fears Jesus sets to his work and what a positive and hopeful message he sets before the people of Galilee – and us!

‘The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Stained glass, Eglise Saint-Germain-L’Auxerrois, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: of protection and care

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The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘If a swelling or scab or shiny spot appears on a man’s skin, a case of leprosy of the skin is to be suspected. The man must be taken to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests who are his sons.

‘The man is leprous: he is unclean. The priest must declare him unclean; he is suffering from leprosy of the head. A man infected with leprosy must wear his clothing torn and his hair disordered; he must shield his upper lip and cry, “Unclean, unclean.” As long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; and therefore he must live apart: he must live outside the camp.’

First Reading for Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 13:1-2,44-46

In the case of leprosy, the Law protects the many against the few. It probably makes good sense.

But one struggles to find a note of sympathy for the leper; care for his or her well-being…

How often does self-preservation of the many or the haves appear as the bottom line for rules and regulations. How often the excluded are left to fend for themselves….

Cell window, Chateau d’If, Marseille. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Forgiveness

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You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Happy the man whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess
my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Responsorial Psalm for Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Psalm 31:1-2,5,11

The Lord forgives and we prize him for his mercy.

We too are called to be merciful in imitation of him, extending the opportunity for repentance and healing to others. By our patience and our generosity, we have the opportunity to allow other people to grow… and to share with them the kingdom of heaven.

‘Those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven’. Basilica of the Annunication, Nazareth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Free us, guide us

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Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.

Second reading for Sunday of the 6th Week of Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

St Augustine taught:

Once and for all, I give you this one short command: love, and do what you will. If you hold your peace, hold your peace out of love. If you cry out, cry out in love. If you correct someone, correct them out of love. If you spare them, spare them out of love. Let the root of love be in you: nothing can spring from it but good.

Part of his point is that with the best will in the world, and having taken every effort to inform our conscience, we will sometimes do right and sometimes do wrong. It’s not that we intend to do wrong if we intend to do right, and vice versa. But sometimes it ends up that way. So, at least, we should always seek that whatever we do we do for love.

And for us who believe in Jesus, we will also do for him. When we make poor judgement or mistakes, at least that intention will remain in our favour as we strive to live love.

2-4 C tombstone, Cumbria, England. Collection of British Museum. (c) 2017, Allen Morris