Speak Lord: Our abiding hope

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Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory.

And this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men.

It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:1-2,5-8

On the third Sunday of Lent we remember again the gift we receive from Christ: from his Incarnation, his ministry, his Passion, his Death and his Resurrection, his rising again to life and continuing in his living with and for us.

This gift gives us hope, purpose, and dreiction for our Lenten journey, and for our greater life. We live not alone, but in communion, and we live by Christ.

A pilgrim pauses at the Holy Door at St John Lateran, Rome, during the Year of Mercy 20115-16. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

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Taste and See: With Christ, a new beginning

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We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light.
Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

He is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers –
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.

As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross.

Colossians 1:12-20

Sunday was the feast of Christ the King. It was the last day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. It was also the beginning of the last week of the Church’s year.

A last day that was  a day of new beginnings. Pope Francis has urged the Church now to be still more confident in her proclamation of mercy, day by day, and in her extending the mercy of God, from which we have already benefited, to others who may not, or dare to know, know the good news.

The reading above helps us to that confidence and to a ministry of mercy. It helps us see our lives in the broader context of God’s work of Creation and Redemption.

Our own of work of witness may require a certain courage on our part, but we are not alone in our attempting of it. God is with us, and before us preparing the way, and following after us – and not only if things go wrong.

We are a team, together. Or as Colossians puts it, in good Pauline fashion: we are of one body with Christ as our head. And all will be well.

  • Give thanks

Stained Glass. Lichfield Cathedral (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The Kingdom

mystery-of-the-light-kingdomIt is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

For you anointed your Only Begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, with the oil of gladness
as eternal Priest and King of all creation,
so that, by offering himself on the altar of the Cross
as a spotless sacrifice to bring us peace,
he might accomplish the mysteries of  human redemption
and, making all created things subject to his rule,
he might present to the immensity of your majesty
an eternal and universal kingdom,
a kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.

And so, with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominions,
and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven,
we sing the hymn of your glory,
as without end we acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts . . .

Sunday was the feast of Christ the King, and the beginning of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. It was also the beginning of the last week of the Church’s year.

The Preface of the Day, above, is a song of thanksgiving to the Father for Jesus and the Kingdom

Jesus’ ministry began with a proclamation of the nearness of the Kingdom of God and at the Year’s end, and the Year of Mercy we recall the nature of that kingdom. It is so different to at least some current tendencies with regard to the kingdoms of this world.

And yet, as Jesus said, this kingdom,

a kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.

is close at hand, and we have but to want it and keep trying to live it, and then – by God’s grace – we are there, blessed citizens of his kingdom.

  • What kingdom value seems most under threat?
  • How might you support and witness to its worth?

Jesus preaches the kingdom. Medjugorje. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Son of Mercy

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We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light.

Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

He is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers –
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.

As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross.

Colossians 1:12-20

Sunday is the feast of Christ the King, and the last Sunday of the Church’s Year. It is also the last day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The passage from Colossians is often mined as a potent witness to the Christology of the early Church – ie how they understood the nature of Jesus.

However at the end of the Year of Mercy it should be noted what a remarkable witness the passage is to the early Church’s faith in the love and mercy of God. The hymn is a hymn to the mercy of God: everything – Creation; the Incarnation, and the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ; Church and ‘now’ are occasions for God to exercise love and mercy and for us and all things.

  • Give thanks.

4th C. mosiac portrait of Christ, from Hinton St Mary, Dorset. The earliest image of Jesus found in the UK, now in the collection of the British Museum. (c) 2012.

Speak Lord: Lord of Mercy

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The people stayed there before the cross watching Jesus. As for the leaders, they jeered at him. ‘He saved others,’ they said ‘let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers mocked him too, and when they approached to offer vinegar they said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

One of the criminals hanging there abused him. ‘Are you not the Christ?’ he said. ‘Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus,’ he said ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’

Luke 23:35-43

Sunday is the feast of Christ the King, and the last Sunday of the Church’s Year. It is also the last day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The Gospel of the day presents us with Jesus in his agony on the Cross, but gracious and ministering still to one who is in need.

Jesus maintains his dignity in face of every attempt to humiliate and belittle him. And is alert to the movement of grace on the part of the ‘good’ thief. That thief may have been good or not, but what is most important is that he exhibits sign of love, and in God’s rule, love is always to be met with love.

  • How alert are you to gestures of love?
  • How generously are you able to respond?

Calvary by Luis Cranach. Pushkin Museum, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Love

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Prayer after Communion

We have partaken of the gifts of this sacred mystery,
humbly imploring, O Lord,
that what your Son commanded us to do
in memory of him
may bring us growth in charity.
Through Christ our Lord.

The Prayer after Communion at Mass on Sunday reminded of the final end, the purpose, of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It makes present Christ’s love and life, his very person, in order that we might be changed, drawn into lived communion with him.

We are invited to learn to love as he loves. And for benefit of our learning he gives himself to us.

  • What does it feel like to be so loved?
  • Where might you next share the Lord’s love?

Charity. Shrewsbury Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Faith

faith-2May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who has given us his love and, through his grace, such inexhaustible comfort and such sure hope, comfort you and strengthen you in everything good that you do or say.

Finally, brothers, pray for us; pray that the Lord’s message may spread quickly, and be received with honour as it was among you; and pray that we may be preserved from the interference of bigoted and evil people, for faith is not given to everyone. But the Lord is faithful, and he will give you strength and guard you from the evil one, and we, in the Lord, have every confidence that you are doing and will go on doing all that we tell you. May the Lord turn your hearts towards the love of God and the fortitude of Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5

The second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 32nd in Ordinary Time reminds us that faith is gift. It is God’s gift to us, and seemingly it is not a gift given to everyone.

Even those who know themselves given the gift of faith may find it difficult to hold on to and live from. We can be tempted from it. We may find its challenge too demanding. We may simply take it for granted and allow faith, in consequence, to just drain away becoming in  time only and merely a dessicated religiosity.

Faith is a gift, but a gift that we are invited to live to. Faith is the quality of life that keeps us healthily related to God and turned in love to our neighbour.

  • What about your faith consoles you and what challenges you?

Faith. St Peter and St Paul, Wisbech. (c) 2016, Allen Morris