Speak Lord: in loud silence

DSC02596 Lerins, 2013

When Elijah reached Horeb, the mountain of the Lord, he went into the cave and spent the night in it. Then he was told, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’

Then the Lord himself went by. There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

1 Kings 19:9,11-13
First reading for 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Hopefully it is not wrong to suggest that maybe, after all, God was in the mighty wind and in the earthquake, just as much as in the gentle breeze. But the Lord did not need Elijah to meet him there and so kept quiet in all that noise and disturbance.

In the quiet of the breeze he speaks, and in that quiet silence he discloses himself to Elijah: he knows just how, just now, Elijah needs to know him and be known by him… and so silence speaks volumes…

  • Where might the Lord wish you to know him afresh?

Lerins. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Balm for our souls

DSC05326 Liverpool Cathedral 2016

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.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land.

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 84:9-14

Responsorial Psalm for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

As we strive to make the most of life in this world, again and again we find ourselves confused and disoriented; our best motives can be so mixed.

But when we look to the Lord, and allow ourselves space to listen and learn, what a difference we find. How much help and clarity we find. Not immediately, not always: but in time a new way opens for us that is a way of mercy and love: his way for us to follow…

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

Speak Lord: Our hearts break…

DSC09806 Tewkesbury Abbey 2016

What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too. What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood.

They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.

Romans 9:1-5
Second reading on 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

How close Paul is to Christ is revealed by his heartbreak over those others who are distanced from Christ.

To be a Christian is to live in Christ, is to be called to endure the demands of the call to love and serve, is to be saddened by those who resist the compassion and care of the Father; and, of course, to be outraged, by those who who seek to deny that compassion and care to others.

  • For whom do you speak out?
  • To whom do you seek to share the good news?

Tewkesbury Avenue. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Saviour

DSC01319 Spilled Blood 2015

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear.

But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’

And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’

Matthew 14:22-33

Gospel for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time 

One more it is Peter who is the fall guy in the story – and this time, one with a sinking feeling. It is Peter who comes forward strong in faith and then finds himself overcome by fear and doubt.

It is comforting to think that it might well have been Peter that told the story against himself, and in honour of the Lord who came here, as always, to his aid.

Inevitably for one reason or another we stumble and fail, and do it again and again. How helpful that the scriptures are full of stories and teachings that our shortcomings are never allowed to be the end of the story for us or for others.

  • What fear or failing might you bring to the Lord, even for this first time, for his counsel and consolation?

Cathedral of Spilled Blood, St Petersburg. (c) Allen Morris, 2015.

Taste and See: Glory

DSC01574 Hermitage St Petersburg 2015

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

The Lord is king, let earth rejoice,
let all the coastlands be glad.
Cloud and darkness are his raiment;
his throne, justice and right.

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

The mountains melt like wax
before the Lord of all the earth.
The skies proclaim his justice;
all peoples see his glory.

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

For you indeed are the Lord
most high above all the earth,
exalted far above all spirits.

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

Psalm 96:1-2,5-6,9

Responsorial Psalm for the Feast of the Transfiguration

The psalmist rejoices in God, the living God. Before God all else is passing, having existence only so far as it is rooted in him and permitted by him. As with all else, so with us: without God we are diminished, and ultimately would cease to have existence. But with him we live, and the sign of life in us is joy and love.

Icon. Hermitage, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: All for us…

DSC09816

It was not any cleverly invented myths that we were repeating when we brought you the knowledge of the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; we had seen his majesty for ourselves. He was honoured and glorified by God the Father, when the Sublime Glory itself spoke to him and said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour.’ We heard this ourselves, spoken from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have confirmation of what was said in prophecies; and you will be right to depend on prophecy and take it as a lamp for lighting a way through the dark until the dawn comes and the morning star rises in your minds.

2 Peter 1:16-19

Second reading for the Feast of the Transfiguration.

God does not reveal himself for no purpose. Always God reveals himself pro nobis – for us. All this is for us, to help us to come closer to himself and to ourselves – from the divine we learn how to be human.

Let us keep trying to learn!

Transfiguration. Tewkesbury Abbey. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: And journey on…

DSC02795 Bethlehem 2017

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’ When they heard this the disciples fell on their faces overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘do not be afraid.’ And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.

As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’

Matthew 17:1-9

The Gospel for the feast of the Transfiguration

Peter longs for a pause, to linger enjoying the moment. But the challenge for Christians is not how best to stay put, but how to move forward in faith, finding the the godly when we come down from the mountain, living the godly and – maybe most importantly of all, bearing witness to others of the presence and love of God to them where they are and where they dwell.

Icon from Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.