Speak Lord: Stir us up and challenge us

DSC02192 Amos.jpg

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, said to Amos, ‘Go away, seer;’ get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel; this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple.’

‘I was no prophet, neither did I belong to any of the brotherhoods of prophets,’ Amos replied to Amaziah ‘I was a shepherd, and looked after sycamores: but it was the Lord who took me from herding the flock, and the Lord who said, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”’

First reading for the 15th Sunday of the Year
Amos 7:12-15

It is not only the self-evidently godless who will not listen to God. As this episode tells us the self-evidently godly find it difficult too. And maybe what seems self-evidently so, actually again and again turns out not to be what seemed so evident to us!

Here, for sure, Amos has been given much to say, but Bethel will not listen. The irony is that Beth-El means ‘House of God’. The House of God will not listen to the Lord!

This was not a flaw only on the part of the court of the Northern Kingdom. The Southern Kingdom will have the same failing. And down the centuries, again and again, Christians have proclaimed themselves to be such, but will not listen to what the Lord has to say…

  • What about you today?
  • What about your Christian community?
  • How open to the prophetic, calling you to deeper faithfulness, are you?

Stained Glass. Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, Paris. © 2018, Allen Morris

Advertisements

Speak Lord: inspire us…

DSC07093aSpirit.jpg

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy,
and give us your saving help.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for his people.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.

The Lord will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps.

Responsorial Psalm for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Psalm 84(85):9-14

To see mercy and hear the voice, the word, of peace, to be reminded of the movement of God’s saving and redemptive love is to receive a fresh encouragement to trust and cooperate in his life and love and action…

  • For what do you need encouragement?

Window in church on site of St Francis of Assisi’s family home (Assisi). © Allen Morris, 2017.

Speak Lord: As you share the Father’s love

Barcelona 3 (March 2003) 101a

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.

Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes, to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved, in whom, through his blood, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

Such is the richness of the grace which he has showered on us in all wisdom and insight. He has let us know the mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he so kindly made in Christ from the beginning to act upon when the times had run their course to the end: that he would bring everything together under Christ, as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth. And it is in him that we were claimed as God’s own, chosen from the beginning, under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things as he decides by his own will; chosen to be, for his greater glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.

Now you too, in him, have heard the message of the truth and the good news of your salvation, and have believed it; and you too have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise, the pledge of our inheritance which brings freedom for those whom God has taken for his own, to make his glory praised.

Second reading for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 1:3-14

Members of the Church are called ‘Christians’, originally a nickname (an intended insult too?) applied to us in Antioch at the time of the Apostles.

The term has stuck, and it serve a purpose distinguishing us from those who believe in the One God, but not in Jesus as Son of God, and not in Jesus and the Holy Spirit together with the Father as a Trinity of persons and One God.

However it should not distract us Christians from the primary focus of our spirituality and our lives, namely that in, through and with Jesus, we seek to live as faithful children of the Father.

As Jesus sought to know and do the will of his Father, so it should be with us.

As he made offering of himself to the Father in the Sacrifice of Calvary, so we too make offering to the Father as we unite ourselves with Jesus in the re-presentation of that Sacrifice in the Mass.

And in our daily individual and private prayer too. In this prayer we speak with Jesus and adore him as very God, but it does not stop there. It takes on the trajectory of Jesus’ own prayer and life, the dynamic of life and love within the most Holy Trinity.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona. © 2003, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Sustain your mission in us

DSC08119a oils.jpg

Jesus made a tour round the villages, teaching. Then he summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’ So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

Gospel for 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 6:7-13

Reading this passage some 2000 years after the event, the contemporary disciple might most easily notice and appreciate the instructions that Jesus gives – how to live humbly, and to embrace a certain poverty, and also how to deal with discouragement.

But what is most wonderful is the reminder of the purpose and the success of their mission – to preach repentance, and to cast out devils and anoint and heal the sick. That saving event continues!

Holy Oils. St Philip’s Church of England Cathedral, Birmingham. © 2018, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Jesus here for us

DSC03395 Nazareth.jpg

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him.

And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Gospel for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 6:1-6

Again and again Jesus met with misunderstanding, rejection, with people who would humiliate him. The way of the Cross began long before his arrest and condemnation in Jerusalem.

What sustained him was faith: his relationship with his Father, his relationship with the children of his Father, especially those suffering for lack of knowledge and faith in his love.

  • How does faith sustain you? And for what?
  • Who challenges you and your faith? Why?

Walkway. Grounds of the Annunciation Basilica, Nazareth. © 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Strength in weakness

DSC08299a Tong.jpgIn view of the extraordinary nature of these revelations, to stop me from getting too proud I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to beat me and stop me from getting too proud! About this thing, I have pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me, but he has said, ‘My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.’

So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.

Second reading for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

 

How easy it would have been for Paul to give up, to call it a day, persuaded by his weaknesses and his disappointments that he could not achieve what needed to be achieved.

But how wonderful that, in his disappointment and challenge, he found the freedom to ‘let go and let God’. And how wonderful that God did and does work through the weakness of Paul.

  • Through weakness of yours has God worked his wonders for you or others?
  • What weakness have you not been ready to let the Lord use?

Stone carving. Tong parish church. © 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Willing to change and be changed?

DSC03657a Luther Worcester.jpg

The spirit came into me and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me.

He said, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’

First reading for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 2:2-5

The prophet, as the scriptures regularly emphasis, is difficult for any community to accommodate. He/she is grit in the eye and the first reaction is to get rid of him/her, so we can stay as we are…

But often enough how we are is not how we should be. We need challenge. The challenger may not always be entirely right, may not be entirely at the service of the Lord: his or her teaching may be as compromised by human sin as is our status quo. Yet if we listen and reflect there may be mutual benefit for us and them, especially if we do both in truth seek after the ways of the Lord.

 

Stained Glass. Worcester Cathedral. © 2017, Allen Morris