Taste and See: Grace needed, grace offered

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O God, who teach us that you abide
in hearts that are just and true,
grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace
as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect for the Sunday of the 6th week in Ordinary Time 

The Collect of Sunday of this week serves well as a focus for the meaning and work of the season of Lent which begins today, Ash Wednesday.

We look for purification and freedom, and we look for a new closeness with God, abiding in him and he abiding in us.

Slave by Michelangelo. Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

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Taste and See: Making the effort

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Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.

Second reading for Sunday of the 6th week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Our every action is laden with the implications and consequences of the choices we made in taking it.

Often we will not even be conscious of these. But Paul invites us to try to make sure that the implication of our every action is that we love and honour God and every intended consequence is about love of neighbour.

Today is the last day before the season of Lent begins – a season given us to help us recover the fullness of our Christian identity by attending to our behaviour.

St Paul, pray for us.

Sign for Christian Coffee Shop, Antalya, Turkey. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Hope and joy

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You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Happy the man whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess
my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Responsorial Psalm for Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Psalm 31:1-2,5,11

Punishment can last long after repentance, after forgiveness even.

And in that shadowed time, joy at being loved, joy at being offered forgiveness and reconciliation can be the predominant emotion, even as suffering continues.

We live, so we say in the Salve Regina, in a vale of tears, but hope is ours here, because of the mercy and love of God.

  • Who forgives you?
  • Who might you forgive?

Bloomsbury, London.  (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: of protection and care

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The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘If a swelling or scab or shiny spot appears on a man’s skin, a case of leprosy of the skin is to be suspected. The man must be taken to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests who are his sons.

‘The man is leprous: he is unclean. The priest must declare him unclean; he is suffering from leprosy of the head. A man infected with leprosy must wear his clothing torn and his hair disordered; he must shield his upper lip and cry, “Unclean, unclean.” As long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; and therefore he must live apart: he must live outside the camp.’

First Reading for Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Leviticus 13:1-2,44-46

In the case of leprosy, the Law protects the many against the few. It probably makes good sense.

But one struggles to find a note of sympathy for the leper; care for his or her well-being…

How often does self-preservation of the many or the haves appear as the bottom line for rules and regulations. How often the excluded are left to fend for themselves….

Cell window, Chateau d’If, Marseille. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Forgiveness

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You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Happy the man whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess
my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Responsorial Psalm for Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Psalm 31:1-2,5,11

The Lord forgives and we prize him for his mercy.

We too are called to be merciful in imitation of him, extending the opportunity for repentance and healing to others. By our patience and our generosity, we have the opportunity to allow other people to grow… and to share with them the kingdom of heaven.

‘Those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven’. Basilica of the Annunication, Nazareth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Free us, guide us

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Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.

Second reading for Sunday of the 6th Week of Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

St Augustine taught:

Once and for all, I give you this one short command: love, and do what you will. If you hold your peace, hold your peace out of love. If you cry out, cry out in love. If you correct someone, correct them out of love. If you spare them, spare them out of love. Let the root of love be in you: nothing can spring from it but good.

Part of his point is that with the best will in the world, and having taken every effort to inform our conscience, we will sometimes do right and sometimes do wrong. It’s not that we intend to do wrong if we intend to do right, and vice versa. But sometimes it ends up that way. So, at least, we should always seek that whatever we do we do for love.

And for us who believe in Jesus, we will also do for him. When we make poor judgement or mistakes, at least that intention will remain in our favour as we strive to live love.

2-4 C tombstone, Cumbria, England. Collection of British Museum. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Help us answer your call

DSC00865.jpgA leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

Gospel for the Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 1:40-45

Of course Jesus wants us to be cured, healed, free to live to the fullness of life.

But do we want to? Sometimes, at moments of crisis, we do? And we make the firmest of resolutions to embrace the gifts that come our way by the grace of God. And then?

Sometimes we forget. Sometimes other weaknesses prevail. Too often we find ourselves back where we were, and it can seem unchanged by God’s grace or by our own resolution.

But those experiences of failing can play their part in our being recovered by God. Can make us realise that the change that is needed is not cosmetic, not just something of the surface and of our public lives. The change is needed deeper down inside, of us ourselves. And God longs for us to seek that…

  • How are you beginning to prepare for Lent?
  • What acts of fasting, prayer and charity are you planning to help you, and to help God to help you,  live more faithfully?

‘Come to me’. Street Art, Cracow, Poland. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.