Speak Lord: Master of the feast

 

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On this mountain,
the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples
a banquet of rich food.
On this mountain he will remove
the mourning veil covering all peoples,
and the shroud enwrapping all nations,
he will destroy Death for ever.
The Lord will wipe away
the tears from every cheek;
he will take away his people’s shame
everywhere on earth,
for the Lord has said so.
That day, it will be said: See, this is our God
in whom we hoped for salvation;
the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.
We exult and we rejoice
that he has saved us.

First reading for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Isaiah 25:6-10

Those who like a good meal will find hope and encouragement in this prophesy!

But let us note that this is not just a meal for you or me and ours – but for us, for all: all peoples, all nations, every person. Our friends, our enemies too, please God.

The Lord’s love has no limits such as ours might.But it seeks to win for itself everyone, everywhere, however unlikely that might seem on the track record to date of we ourselves and our enemies.

Whoever and however we are, the prophesy of Isaiah, and the Gospel of today, suggests that we will find ourselves invited to this feast on God’s holy mountain. But unless we are tuned into and ready to be responsive to the graciousness of God we might not find ourselves there for very long!

Direction sign. Cinematheque, Paris. (c) 2006, Allen Morris.

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Speak Lord: Shepherd

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In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.

In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

Responsorial Psalm for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 22:1-6

As sheep to the shepherd, so we are to the Lord.

Except that the shepherd cares for his flock to take from it his living – wool, milk, meat, each in their proper time.

What does the Lord receive from his care of us? Only the pleasure of caring for us.

How precious we are to the Lord!

Detail from Altar. Sacred Heart, Aston. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Mature, and choose service…

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I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength. All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships. In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can. Glory to God, our Father, for ever and ever. Amen.

Second reading for the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Philippians 4:12-14,19-20

One of the challenges faced by many adult Catholic Britons is that we have received the Sacraments of Initiation but have not (yet!) been well initiated into the Christian life. The lack of formation for maturity in our individual and collective lives in the Church leads to a certain immaturity in us, and likewise in the way the Church itself is in its hierarchical life and its institutions.

Our grasp on the Tradition and our ability to live to it manifests itself in many ways. But one is in a certain tendency to imitate the way that power is held and exercised in the world – by what I/we have and what you/they lack. It leads to ‘authority over’, rather than ‘authority for’.

Paul, mature in faith, chooses service as his way of exercising power, a service which is costly and challenging – it leads him to indifference about the things of the world, But it allows him to bring life and freedom to others.

Church of the Beatitudes, Galilee. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: live from the good!

 

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There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise. Keep doing all the things that you learnt from me and have been taught by me and have heard or seen that I do. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Second reading for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Philippians 4:6-9

People regularly think of God and God’s love as he and his love were like us, but just  somewhat better.

Yet God is of an entirely different order to us. We are creatures, he is creator. We are contingent beings; he is the source of all that is, all that has been and all that ever will be.

God reaches out to us, and communicates with us, through sacrament and word, on the slant, as it were. And we can have some grasp of who and how God is through our striving to comprehend the created world; and our engagement with Revelation. But our understanding  is never very great!

However we can know enough to know that every good thing in some way points us to God, and helps us to embrace, enflesh that goodness in our lives.

 

Grounds of Harvington Hall. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: The offer of friendship

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Alleluia, alleluia!
I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
Alleluia!

Gospel Acclamation for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jn15:15

Jesus does the honour of calling us friends, of entrusting us with everything he has learnt from the Father. He holds nothing back.

The first reading and Gospel reading at Mass on Sunday spoke of well tended vineyards, which for one reason of another failed to give the expected return.

  • What return do we make for the offer of friendship that the Lord extends to us.
  • Do we take it for what we can get out of it?
  • Or does love meet with love, trust with matching trust?

Detail of Rose Window. St Vincent de Paul, Marseille. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Fault and failing

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Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:

It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?

‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’

Gospel for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Matthew 21:33-43

It is extraordinary that the chief priests and leaders of the people do not seem to see themselves in the parable. The episode reminds of just how hard it is for us to see our own faults, even when they are laid in front of our very noses!

The parable is surely retold in Matthew’s version to, as it were, foreshadow the role of the Church in the wake of the death and Resurrection of Jesus in sharing the Good News of God’s mercy and love. A task entrusted to Israel is, as it were, passed on to others.

Yet how often Christians too fail to live up to their vocation, fail to bring the promise to harvest. We surely miss the point of the continued sharing of the parable and of the tragedy of so many failing to honour Jesus as Son of God, if we use it to bad mouth others. As we see their failings, the parable surely is intended to help us also know and repent of our own.

  • Where in your life does selfishness and greed cause you to turn from God and His will.

Discord. Church of St Vincent de Paul. Marseille. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: tend to us…

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Let me sing to my friend
the song of his love for his vineyard.

My friend had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
He dug the soil, cleared it of stones
and planted choice vines in it.
In the middle he built a tower,
he dug a press there too.
He expected it to yield grapes,
but sour grapes were all that it gave.

And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
and men of Judah,
I ask you to judge
between my vineyard and me.
What could I have done for my vineyard
that I have not done?
I expected it to yield grapes.
Why did it yield sour grapes instead?

Very well, I will tell you
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge for it to be grazed on,
and knock down its wall for it to be trampled on.
I will lay it waste, unpruned, undug;
overgrown by the briar and the thorn.
I will command the clouds
to rain no rain on it.
Yes, the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts
is the House of Israel,
and the men of Judah
that chosen plant.
He expected justice, but found bloodshed,
integrity, but only a cry of distress.

First reading for the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Isaiah 5:1-7

Few reading this will have vineyards. More will have gardens of some sort, or at least a single plant that they tend and care for, and which sometimes prove entirely resistant to our best efforts to get them to flourish!

God reacts with a passion against the vineyard, frustrated at its resistance.

However it is sobering to reflect that this parable is told against God’s people, where we prove fruitless or sour. And it is a reminder, should we heed it, of the help that is there for us if we will know it and receive it.

The Scriptures witness: the gardener is ever ready to try once more.

  • Where do you need the Lord’s care and help?

Hampton Court. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.