Speak Lord: Give us courage

Jesus, DissThe Second Reading on Sunday, the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, is from the letter to the Hebrews.

It affirms the supremecy of Jesus, and encourages us to the fullness of faith in him.

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.

Hebrews 4:14-16

It also affirms the closeness of relationship between Jesus and us. He is supreme High Priest, but one who has shared in our human experience, even in our experience of fear, vulnerability and mortality. He avoided sin, and we surely have not. Yet he is love for us, and we can be confident, even in our humble approach to his majesty.

  • What might you be shamed to bring to the Lord?
  • Why will he be compassionate to you?
  • How can you embrace his goodness?

Photograph of stained glass image of Jesus, Parish Church of Diss. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: from your compassion, speak mercy.

Quarry carving, Aix 2014

Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm, that for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, has us ask the Lord to remember his mercy.

  • In what spirit do we do this?
  • Why do we ask? What do we expect?

Remember your mercy, Lord.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Remember your mercy, Lord.

In you I hope all day long
because of your goodness, O Lord.
Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth.
In your love remember me.

Remember your mercy, Lord.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Remember your mercy, Lord.

Psalm 24:4-9

An impoverished understanding of mercy might be ‘not to punish’. But the blblical concept is much richer. It is a positive virtue, expressed in a typical way in the third verse of the psalm above. Mercy is an active work, restoring what has been lost – the path to those who stray; realism and truth to the proud; community and trust, hope, to the poor.

Mercy is the action that flows from compassion.

Our God is not over and above us as Judge, ready and wanting to send us to the cells. He is with us – in our loss, our confusion, and our hurt (as well as in the joys and good things that may come our way!). He loves us, is with us, and acts for us. He longs for our cooperation, and ‘mercy’ is one way he seeks to win our hearts and minds to such cooperation.

Carving by David Campbell at Carrières de Bibémus, Aix en Provence. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2014.

 

Speak Lord: lenient, mild in judgement

Mother Teresa

The first reading at Mass on Sunday, the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, speaks of a gentleness in the God who cares for everything, every one.

There is no god, other than you, who cares for every thing,
to whom you might have to prove that you never judged unjustly;
Your justice has its source in strength,
your sovereignty over all makes you lenient to all.
You show your strength when your sovereign power is questioned
and you expose the insolence of those who know it;
but, disposing of such strength, you are mild in judgement,
you govern us with great lenience,
for you have only to will, and your power is there.

By acting thus you have taught a lesson to your people
how the virtuous man must be kindly to his fellow men,
and you have given your sons the good hope
that after sin you will grant repentance.
Wisdom 12:13,16-19

  •  Why is God lenient and mild in judgement?
  • What can you take from that as a guide for your own life?

A powerful story is told of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa:

One day Mother Teresa went to a local bakery to ask for bread for the starving children in the orphanage. The baker, outraged at people begging for bread from him, spat in her face and refused. Mother Teresa calmly took out her handkerchief, wiped the spit from her face and said to the baker, “Okay, that was for me. Now what about the bread for the orphans?”
The baker, shamed by her response, gave her the bread she wanted.

  •  What helped her to behave in such a moderate way?
  • What can you take from that as a guide for your own life?