Speak Lord: Giver of gifts

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Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage.” So they went.

At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same.

Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” “Because no one has hired us” they answered. He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too.”

In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first.” So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. “The men who came last” they said “have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day’s work in all the heat.” He answered one of them and said, “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?”

Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.’

Gospel for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 20:1-16

God has only love to give – and God does not stint in sharing his love with all who have need of it.

We do well when we work with him, in helping that love to penetrate deeper and more effectively into our living.

But our work, our collaboration, never earns his love or merits a greater portion of it. The same love with all its potential is offered by God our Master, to all equally, everywhere.

Should we notice in ourselves resentment to others who receive his love – the ‘undeserving poor’ or the ‘deathbed conversion’, we notice that which we need to bring to God for healing and help. As yet, love has not wholly won us for himself.

Mosaic. Collection of the Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

 

Laudato Si’, mi’ Signore – Praise be to you, my Lord

Canticle, SD

The Holy Father’s latest encyclical, Laudato Si, takes as its theme care for the earth and its communities of our brothers and sisters, our common home.

“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.

This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Read the rest of the Encyclical here.

Image of St Francis writer of the Canticle of Creation. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of your life and love

Sarcophagus, Cathedral, Aix 2014

The First reading at Mass on 4th Sunday of Easter continues our reading of Acts of the Apostles.

The story is about them: their focus is him.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said: ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple, and asking us how he was healed, then I am glad to tell you all, and would indeed be glad to tell the whole people of Israel, that it was by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the one you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man is able to stand up perfectly healthy, here in your presence, today. This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’

Acts 4:8-12

At the end of this day, your day – the day given you by the Lord – spend some time reviewing how it has gone. How have you received and lived the day? Where have you found yourself enjoying the salvation of the Lord? Where – in kindness, love, healing and reconciliation – have you been able to share it with others?

Detail of carved Sarcophagus, Arles. Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: Being at One

Pere Lachaise, Paris

The first reading on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Easter, came from the Easter book, the Acts of the Apostles.

 Peter said to the people: ‘You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.

‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.’

Acts 3:13-15,17-19

Down the ages Christians have often forgotten their Jewish heritage, that we are grafted onto an ancient stock, there finding life.

Times have been when Christians have deliberately rejected that heritage – though difficult to see how that can be done when that heritage so informs our celebration of Mass, our patterns of daily prayer, organisation of the week and the year, our scriptures…

How often we define ourselves over and against others, alienating them and ourselves from them.

  • What group might you usefully learn more about?
  • Look for their good values and consider how you might benefit from them?

Photograph of graveyard carving. Pere Lachaise, Paris. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The living Lord

Musée de l'Arles antique Orantes

The Gospel Acclamation on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Easter was the following:

Alleluia, alleluia!
Lord Jesus, explain the Scriptures to us.
Make our hearts burn within us as you talk to us.
Alleluia!

cf.Lk24:32

The raison d’etre for this Living Eucharist blog is that it might help its readers to a regular reading of the Sunday scriptures, reading the readings in advance of the Sunday Mass to prepare for them, returning to some of the readings (or sometimes other elements of the Mass) to allow them to speak more deeply in the wake of the celebration.

The gift of the burning of the heart is a precious one, but perhaps not, by the grace of God, that rare a gift. Attentiveness to the living word brings us to an extraordinary intimacy with the living God.

  • What benefits do you find come from the reading of Scripture?
  • What helps you remain faithful to the practice?
  • What are the challenges?

Photograph of Orantes figure from Museum of Antiquities, Arles. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

What to do for the rest of the week?

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Holy Week

The greatest mysteries of the redemption are celebrated yearly by the Church beginning with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and ending with Vespers of Easter Sunday. This time is called ‘the triduum of the crucified, buried and risen’; it is also called the ‘Easter Triduum’ because during it is celebrated the paschal mystery, that is, the passing of the Lord from this world to his Father. The Church, by the celebration of this mystery through liturgical signs and sacramentals, is united to Christ, her spouse, in intimate communion.

The Easter fast is sacred on the first two days of the Triduum, in which, according to ancient tradition, the Church fasts ‘because the Spouse has been taken away’. Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence; it is also recommended that Holy Saturday be so observed, so that the Church, with uplifted and welcoming heart…

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Speak Lord: of how to listen and serve

Crucifix and Holy Pictures in abandoned dwelling, Victoria, Gozo.This Sunday is Palm Sunday or, as it is denoted in the current English translation of the Roman Missal: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.

The first reading of Mass comes from the prophet Isaiah. The passage comes from the so-called Third Song of the servant.  In it we hear the suffering servant speak grateful for the faithfulness of the Lord, and his gifts, even as he suffers for his own faithfulness to the Lord.

The Lord has given me a disciple’s tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.
For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.
The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.

Isaiah 50:4-7

  • What has discipleship cost you?
  • What help have you received from the Lord to serve him and be faithful?
  • Where have you fallen short? How might you bring that falling short to the Lord for healing and mercy?
  • What have you learnt from your experience of being a disciple? About the Lord? About yourself?

Crucifix and holy pictures in abandoned dwelling, Victoria, Gozo. (c) 2009, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Light of the world

Canticle, SDThe concluding prayers of yesterday’s Mass, the 4th Sunday in Lent, repay our dwelling on them a little more.

They pick up themes from the readings of the Mass, perhaps especially from the Gospel of the day.

The Prayer over the People, has been given a new prominence in the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal. It is a welcome addition, an extra reminder that we leave Mass not now relying on our own strength only, or even especially. We leave nourished by Christ in the sacrament of the Sacrifice, and assisted by the unfailing love and light of God.

 

 

Prayer after Communion

O God, who enlighten everyone who comes into this world,
illuminate our hearts, we pray,
with the splendour of your grace,
that we may always ponder
what is worthy and pleasing to your majesty
and love you in all sincerity.
Through Christ our Lord.

________

Prayer over the People

Look upon those who call to you, O Lord,
and sustain the weak;
give life by your unfailing light
to those who walk in the shadow of death,
and bring those rescued by your mercy from every evil
to reach the highest good.
Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

At the Easter Vigil we light the Easter Fire and Paschal Candle, and our own individual candles, celebrating the Resurrection and our share in the Rising of Christ through baptism.

Today consider where in your life you need that light to shine:

  • where to give guidance
  • where to comfort and warm
  • where to be a sign of hope and love.

Bring your needs and thanks to God in prayer.

Photograph of stained glass window in convent of San Damiano, Assisi, commemorating St Francis and the Canticle of Creation. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of your love for us

Creación_de_Adán_(Miguel_Ángel) 1

The second reading for the 4th Sunday of Lent in Year B comes from St Paul’s letter to the Church at Ephesus.

It is supremely encouraging, assuring of God’s treasuring of us.

God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.

This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.

Ephesians 2:4-10

The image from the Sistine Chapel, of the creation of Adam, reminds of the beauty of creation. It also reminds of the marring of creation by sin, and its recovery and restoration by grace,  God’s gift.

As we make our way through Lent, perhaps struggling, let us know afresh that we do not journey alone.

The Lord is with us, or maybe more accurately yet, we are with him as he works for us. Our striving after good is an attempt to keep company with the God who – strange to say – loves us and works for us!

Rejoice and give thanks!

Sistine chapel

 

– – –

The second reading for the sequence of readings in Year A – an option for this year, and a required set of readings for when the second scrutiny is celebrated – is also from the letter to the Ephesians.

You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth. Try to discover what the Lord wants of you, having nothing to do with the futile works of darkness but exposing them by contrast. The things which are done in secret are things that people are ashamed even to speak of; but anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light. That is why it is said:

Wake up from your sleep,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.

Ephesians 5:8-14

Frescoes by Michelangelo from the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City. Found here and here

Speak Lord: Of eternal life

Studying the Law, Cracow

There are two psalms that may be sung as the Responsorial Psalm on Sunday.

The first is for when the Lectionary for Year B is used, and that appears directly below. The second, which appears later in this blog, is used when the first Scrutiny is celebrated, by those communities who have the privilege of accompanying and supporting catechumens, now the Elect, who are preparing for Baptism at Easter.

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
it revives the soul.
The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,
it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear,
it gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is holy,
abiding for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth
and all of them just.

They are more to be desired than gold,
than the purest of gold
and sweeter are they than honey,
than honey from the comb.

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

Psalm 18:8-11

In the rush of modern life – how many things, in how many places, and with what groups of people do you have to deal today? – being still and pondering the love and acts of God is ever more important.

This pondering of Law and Gospel, Prophets and Writings can take place in liturgy, in prayer, in meditation: in each, according to their different modes, set ourselves to listen, admire, wonder, taste. hope, and re-commit ourselves to faithfulness…

Without this pondering and listening we are adrift, subject to our own fancies. With it we are held safe – still with much to do ourselves, but with divine assistance in everything.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;
hail the rock who saves us.
Let us come before him, giving thanks,
with songs let us hail the Lord.

Come in; let us bow and bend low;
let us kneel before the God who made us:
for he is our God and we
the people who belong to his pasture,
the flock that is led by his hand.

‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as on that day at Massah in the desert
when your fathers put me to the test;
when they tried me, though they saw my work.’

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Psalm 94:1-2,6-9

Photograph of art work in Jewish Museum in Cracow, Poland. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.