Speak Lord: Calling us to glory

DSC09650.jpg

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth or Alleluia!

Cry out with joy to God all the earth,
O sing to the glory of his name.
O render him glorious praise.
Say to God: ‘How tremendous your deeds!

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth or Alleluia!

‘Before you all the earth shall bow;
shall sing to you, sing to your name!’
Come and see the works of God,
tremendous his deeds among men.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth or Alleluia!

He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the river dry-shod.
Let our joy then be in him;
he rules for ever by his might.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth or Alleluia!

Come and hear, all who fear God.
I will tell what he did for my soul:
Blessed be God who did not reject my prayer
nor withhold his love from me.

Cry out with joy to God, all the earth or Alleluia!

Psalm 65(66):1-7,16,20

The psalm sung at Mass tomorrow rejoices in the glory of God.

Sometimes the beauty and the glory of the natural world seems not only to be ‘there’ but to be there active in response to the wonder of its making!

The psalmist calls us to join with all of Creation in the glorification of God.

How wonderful of God to reveal something of himself in the glory of His creation.

And, as described in the last two verses, how wonderful of God to reveal himself again and again in the thriving of human kind.

  • To what good does God call or draw you today?

Valley North of Llyn Ogwen, Snowdonia. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: With Christ, a new beginning

dsc06965-christ-blessing

We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light.
Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

He is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers –
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.

As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross.

Colossians 1:12-20

Sunday was the feast of Christ the King. It was the last day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. It was also the beginning of the last week of the Church’s year.

A last day that was  a day of new beginnings. Pope Francis has urged the Church now to be still more confident in her proclamation of mercy, day by day, and in her extending the mercy of God, from which we have already benefited, to others who may not, or dare to know, know the good news.

The reading above helps us to that confidence and to a ministry of mercy. It helps us see our lives in the broader context of God’s work of Creation and Redemption.

Our own of work of witness may require a certain courage on our part, but we are not alone in our attempting of it. God is with us, and before us preparing the way, and following after us – and not only if things go wrong.

We are a team, together. Or as Colossians puts it, in good Pauline fashion: we are of one body with Christ as our head. And all will be well.

  • Give thanks

Stained Glass. Lichfield Cathedral (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Our God and good neighbour

Good Samaritan GF Watts.jpg

It is such a short story – the parable of the Good Samaritan which is heard in the Gospel on the 15th Sunday In Ordinary Time, this coming Sunday.

And yet it is a powerful sotry, resonant with the the human need to love and be loved, to care and to be cared for. It highlights the dehumanising and diminishing effects of prejudice. It is especially important for the UK to re-hear it in these days following the post-Brexit vote as race crimes multiply.

There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What do you read there?’ He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ ‘You have answered right,’ said Jesus ‘do this and life is yours.’

But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said “and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands‘ hands?’ ‘The one who took pity on him’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’

Luke 10:25-37

Passing by on the otherside the wounded man remains a thing. And those who do so lose something of their humanity and obscure their likeness to God.

Coming close, holidng, tending, looking into the eyes of the other a human bond is acknoweldged and deepened – and the bond with God is deepened to. God’s mercy and faithfulness is made manifest, and not only the wounded man, but creation too. Its purpose and virtue frustrated and compromised by sin, in the love of neighbour for neighbour, receives balm and refreshment.

  • To whom might you reach out with love and friendship today?
  • From whom do you withhold what God makes available to them in you?

Good Samaritan. GF Watts. Manchester Art Gallery. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Has something happened? Has it?

St Paul Rome

The second reading at Mass on Sunday was taken from St Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.

For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here.

It is all God’s work.

It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled.

So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Sometimes the words of scripture are so familiar that we miss just how radical they are. Paul says ‘we are a new creation‘!

We may well not look it!!

But either Paul is mis-speaking, or we are not seeing something.

As Lent comes to an end, and as we approach the annual renewal of our baptismal promises, marking that moment, in baptism, when we became a new creation, we do well to pause and take stock.

  • Where do I resist newness and growth – even good newness and healthy growth?
  • Why?
  • What ‘earthly’ features linger?
  • Why?
  • Where are there signs of newness and growth?
  • What has encouraged and enabled them?

Pray to God for his continuing work on us, in us, and – even – through us: that his Kingdom may come and we may indeed be his new creation, truly faithful, fruitful, beloved children in Christ.

Detail from Principal Door to Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: of your goodness for us

Picasso Study of hands

The Psalm at Mass tomorrow, the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, reminds us of the riches of God’s love, gifted to us. A love made know in his works of creation and salvation.

Fill us with your love so that we may rejoice.

Make us know the shortness of our life
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Lord, relent! Is your anger for ever?
Show pity to your servants.

Fill us with your love so that we may rejoice.

In the morning, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Give us joy to balance our affliction
for the years when we knew misfortune.

Fill us with your love so that we may rejoice.

Show forth your work to your servants;
let your glory shine on their children.
Let the favour of the Lord be upon us:
give success to the work of our hands.

Fill us with your love so that we may rejoice.

Psalm 89:12-17

To us, for us: Pro nobis. God’s gifts of creation and salvation are for us to enrich us and draw us to the fulness of life.

We often lose sight of that and doubt and fear. But all is pro nobis. In God’s goodness is our treasure.

  • Give thanks

Study of hands by Picasso. Picasso Museum, Paris. Photograph (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Of the sharing of good news and grace

Detail font, French Church

The Liturgy of the Word in Ordinary Time is constructed around the Gospel reading. That establishes the themes explored and commented on in the first reading and psalm. The second reading stands rather apart, being chosen as the next significant passage in a semi-continuous reading of one of the New Testament letters.

At present, our Sunday second readings lead us through the letter of Paul to the Ephesians. And what a notable passage we hear this coming Sunday.

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.

Ephesians 1:3-14

There are some long sentences there – challenging for those who will proclaim the word at Mass on Sunday. Challenging too for those who have to listen and heard and take to heart. But what wonderful truths are expressed in those sentences. Well worth the effort of still more careful proclaiming and still more careful listening.

The passage is a beautiful expression of God’s purpose in creation and salvation. It may at first sight seem only to consider as recipients of God’s grace, and not also co-workers, cooperating with God’s grace for the benefit of our brothers and sisters. But even that as Paul knows very well and St Augustine would later underline, can happen only because we are, first and most fundamentally, recipients of grace. Our goodness and love – such as it is – has its ultimate origin in the goodness and love, and truth, of God.

There is so much of beauty in the passage we will hear on Sunday.

  • Perhaps for prayer you could choose just one phrase that particularly speaks to you, and let it accompany you throughout this day, not only in any particular time of prayer, but as mood music for the day, there in your mind any time you can can pause and raise your mind and heart to God, returning to the phrase and its significance to you.
  • Give thanks: for God is good, and he longs for you to be the same.

Images are of the font at the French Church, Leicester Square, London. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.Font, French Church

Speak Lord: who alone are God

Gower Peninsula

On Sunday, the 12th Sunday of the year, the First reading
comes from the book of Job.

From the heart of the tempest the Lord gave Job his answer. He said:

Who pent up the sea behind closed doors
when it leapt tumultuous out of the womb,
when I wrapped it in a robe of mist
and made black clouds its swaddling bands;
when I marked the bounds it was not to cross
and made it fast with a bolted gate?
Come thus far, I said, and no farther:
here your proud waves shall break.

Job 38:1,8-11

Humankind has so often come to see itself as Master over creation, Master over itself, ourselves. And in its pride humankind has stumbled, again and again, hurting itself, hurting our world.

Something else is called for: something more humble, more caring, and more respectful of our nature, our privileged nature as creature, but called to share in a unique way in the love and care of God.

As we wait for Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato sii, (published today, Sunday’s reading itself calls us to quiet recollection and reconsideration of who and how we are.

  • Where do you cooperate with God in the continuing life of a healthy world and human community?
  • Where do your actions militate against such cooperation?

Photograph of coast of Gower Peninsula, Wales. (c) 2002, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Love to love…

Detail of Ghery model for parc des ateliers arles

The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, came from the first letter of John.

It speaks of the love that sets us free from all that is not love.

It speaks of the love that we are able to live and share with others.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
has been begotten by God;
and whoever loves the Father that begot him
loves the child whom he begets.
We can be sure that we love God’s children
if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us;
this is what loving God is –
keeping his commandments;
and his commandments are not difficult,
because anyone who has been begotten by God
has already overcome the world;
this is the victory over the world –
our faith.

Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only,
but with water and blood;
with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth.

John 5:1-6

One of the ways in which we can show love is using the wealth, the property we own – if we are so lucky! – for the good of others.

If it is ours we have a right to it, but as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us ‘the ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.’ (CCC 2404) First of all the family, but also to our neighbour…

There is something to ponder on as we Brits consider how best to vote on May 7th. How can we vote in a Government that will allow the goods of our society to be most fruitfully used for the common good.

Photograph is of a detail of model for Gehry’s proposed Parc des Ateliers, Arles. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

 

 

Speak Lord: Of our being made to love

Creation 2The Second reading at Mass tomorrow, the second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, comes from the first letter of John.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
has been begotten by God;
and whoever loves the Father that begot him
loves the child whom he begets.
We can be sure that we love God’s children
if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us;
this is what loving God is –
keeping his commandments;
and his commandments are not difficult,
because anyone who has been begotten by God
has already overcome the world;
this is the victory over the world –
our faith.

Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only,
but with water and blood;
with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth.

John 5:1-6

John offers a distinctive Christian anthropology. To believe in Jesus is to be a child of God. To be a child of God is to love God and to be loved by God: and is to share, as it were, in the DNA of God – is to love all of God’s children.

Sometimes in John this love can sound like it is for the Christian only, but the vision is also broader than that. God is love and all creation, including all humanity, has life only through him. The world may seek to constrain, discriminate and exclude. In the mercy of God there is love for all. We are invited to overcome the world so we can love the world.

Photograph of Carving from York Minister, depicting creation. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

 

 

 

Speak Lord: First Birth or Rebirth

resurrection1

The second reading at tomorrow’s Mass speaks of the renewal or completion of Creation.

I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us. The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons. It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose, it was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.
Romans 8:18-23

  • What does Paul mean by ‘slavery to decadence’?
  • Where might that slavery feature in your life?
  • How might you find freedom from it so as ‘to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God’?
  • For whose being brought to birth, being brought to the fullness of life, do you presently commit yourself to, and work?

Painting: The Resurrection, Cookham by Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959).
A more detailed, and copyrighted, version of the painting can be seen here.

For an introduction to this great painting, click here.