Speak Lord: Faithful son of the Covenant

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Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.

Second reading for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 4:14-16

In Jesus God joins man in living the covenant as man. He fulfils it as a Jew in the ‘ordinary way’ of his people, and in his perfect fulfilment of the covenant, symbolically he assumes all of its agency – he is worshipper, priest, and sacrifice.

And joined with every person as their brother, their friend, their servant, he seeks to draw us into this same work of love and service.

Synagogue, Bordeaux: Tabernacle and Menorah. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

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Speak Lord: Model for our lives

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James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. ‘Master,’ they said to him ‘we want you to do us a favour.’ He said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’

When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

Gospel for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 10:35-45

Mark lets the mother of James and John off the hook. In his Gospel it is her sons alone who approach Jesus looking for preferment…

Jesus offers a different sort of ambition to strive for – not position, not fame, or power, but service…

And sets before us inarguable example…

 

Stained glass. St Leonard’s, Bridgnorth. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Our love always…

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Fill us with your love so that we may rejoice.

Make us know the shortness of our life
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Lord, relent! Is your anger for ever?
Show pity to your servants.

In the morning, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Give us joy to balance our affliction
for the years when we knew misfortune.

Show forth your work to your servants;
let your glory shine on their children.
Let the favour of the Lord be upon us:
give success to the work of our hands.

Responsorial Psalm for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 89(90):12-17

The love of God brought us to this life, meets us in this life and guides us to eternal life. In him, in this we place our trust, and it is indeed good reason to rejoice.

  • How in joy and sorrow have I known the love of God?

Grounds of Shrewsbury Abbey. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Giver of gifts, lover of humankind.

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The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed: ‘This at last is bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh! This is to be called woman, for this was taken from man.’

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.

First reading for 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Genesis 2:18-24

The story of the first ‘marriage’, like the story of the first ‘covenant’, is a story of great hope and promise, and enormous disappointment.

Human history tells us how many marriages and many covenants are successful in promoting harmony and wholeness. It also tells us of how many ‘fail’.

The whole of Scripture tells us of the love of God for all his children, willing us to journey on, often through trouble and disappointment, to deeper love and deeper life in him.

  • What have you learnt through God’s love?
  • What have you  learnt and gained through experience of ‘failure’?
  • What have you  learnt and gained through experience of ‘success’?

 

Stained glass. Southwark Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Our hope

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May the Lord bless us all the days of our life.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper.

Your wife like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table.

Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
in a happy Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
May you see your children’s children.
On Israel, peace!

Psalm for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 127(128)

The Lord is the source of all blessing.

We might expect that most commonly to express itself in the sort of blissful harmony between us and our nearest and dearest, as expressed in the psalm above.

But when we meet with tragedy and heartbreak too, when love here disappoints and even breaks us, the blessing of the Lord is with us. His compassion, his mercy is ours always.

He calls us on, he calls us close…

 

The flight to Egypt. Medieval carving. L’Abbaye St-Pierre, Moissac, France. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: God of Glory

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We see in Jesus one who was for a short while made lower than the angels and is now crowned with glory and splendour because he submitted to death; by God’s grace he had to experience death for all mankind.

As it was his purpose to bring a great many of his sons into glory, it was appropriate that God, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists, should make perfect, through suffering, the leader who would take them to their salvation. For the one who sanctifies, and the ones who are sanctified, are of the same stock; that is why he openly calls them brothers.

2nd Reading for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 2:9-11

The glory that from all time the Lord is made its lodging first with Israel in a tent during the wilderness journey, and later in the Temple of Jerusalem. That glory is incarnate in Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, and to that glory we are all invited, all of humankind.

  • What in my life resonates with God’s glory?
  • What dims God’s glory in me?

Mosaic, St Paul outside, the walls, Rome. (c) 2014., Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: lead us on…

DSC00858.jpgSome Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’

Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’

People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.

Gospel for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 10:2-16

The Scriptures remind us again and again of the complexity – and sometimes the sheer mess – of human relationships. They remind of the love of God, and the call of all humankind to live in perfect love – despite everything!

The dispute above about the rights and wrongs of divorce is a dispute within Judaism. Does Jesus take one side or another within that dispute? Or does he point to something above and beyond the laws and rules adopted by any particular community, or how they might best be applied to any particular relationship.

In his private words to the disciples he admits and applies the description of failure and guilt – to do this or that is to be guilty of adultery. We are called to something better, higher: we are asked to be more generous, more forgiving, more tolerant.

But if, when, we fail, that failure is not the end. When, if we do, we break the law of God, we are not finished. We still are called by the Lord to himself. Still we are called by him to seek to heal and repair what is broken, not just in our own lives, but beyond us… Every present moment is the opportunity to receive grace to begin, once more to begin.

Life continues, and likewise the call for us to become like God in our loving and in our living.

  • Where have you found grace to move beyond failure and mass?
  • When have you helped others to do the same?

Sarah leading Hagar to Abraham. Adriaen van der Werff. Hermitage, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.