Speak Lord: Loving obedience

DSC00987 disciples.jpgHere I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.
He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings,
but an open ear.
You do not ask for holocaust and victim.
Instead, here am I.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

In the scroll of the book it stands written
that I should do your will.
My God, I delight in your law
in the depth of my heart.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

Your justice I have proclaimed
in the great assembly.
My lips I have not sealed;
you know it, O Lord.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

Psalm 39:2,4,7-10

The Responsorial Psalm on Sunday, the second Sunday in Ordinary Time, draws us into a fresh commitment to the Lord.  It puts on our lips fresh words acknowledging his call, and an answer from us – I come to do your will.

There are so many ways in which we can fulfil the will of the Lord, and many in which we may hold back and hesitate.

  • Where do you most see yousrself as hearing and responding to God?
  • Where do you hear him and hesitate or refuse?
  • Where do you not hear?

Bring your responses to God in prayer.

Stained glass. St Mary’s Warwick. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: working together

disciples

You know how you are supposed to imitate us: now we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we ever have our meals at anyone’s table without paying for them; no, we worked night and day, slaving and straining, so as not to be a burden on any of you. This was not because we had no right to be, but in order to make ourselves an example for you to follow.

We gave you a rule when we were with you: do not let anyone have any food if he refuses to do any work. Now we hear that there are some of you who are living in idleness, doing no work themselves but interfering with everyone else’s. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we order and call on people of this kind to go on quietly working and earning the food that they eat.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-12

The life of the disciple is a life committed to the work of the Lord.

It is a life which invites to, even requires, our active sharing in his continuing work.

How we participate will vary according to our circumstances and to the need of others. Sometimes it can only be a remembering of people’s needs in prayer. At other times we are called to a more active commitment – giving of our time, energy, strength and other resources for love of God and love of neighbour.

And mostly what is asked of us is not something especially churchy – but as with St Paul -something practical, lived out in daily life.

  • What today in your daily dealings with others marks you out as a disciple?
  • Who would know and how?

Disciples – detail of sarcophagus in the Musée de l’Arles antique. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Care for each other, in the Spirit

St Paul Ambrosi

The first reading on Sunday, the 6th of Easter, came from The Acts of the Apostles. It exemplifies the seeking after peace, the living in mutual love, that Jesus invites his friends to in the Gospel of Sunday.

The life of the Gospel is not without its tensions. Acts testifies to that. Disciples face all sorts of challenge as they seek to be faithful to Jesus as the Way, Truth and Life, and respond to the circumstances in which they live, and the differences and awkwardnesses they face within and without the Christian community. But Acts demonstrates that authentic Christianity is a work in progress that prevails, because it is a work that is sustained by God, secure in the Spirit of God.

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.
Then the apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:

‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’

Acts 15:1-2,22-29

  • What non-essential burdens hobble progress to Christian unity in your community?
  • What positive actions to show love to others has your community taken recently?
  • What more might be done?

St Paul, da Forli, Vatican Museum. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Live in us that we may live in you.

St Peter, Fowey

The Second reading at Mass on 5th Sunday of Easter, tomorrow, reminds us of the challenge to be real and authentic, and of the love and care that God has for us.

My children,
our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active;
only by this can we be certain
that we are children of the truth
and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,
whatever accusations it may raise against us,
because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.
My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence,
and whatever we ask him,
we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.
His commandments are these:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we love one another
as he told us to.
Whoever keeps his commandments
lives in God and God lives in him.
We know that he lives in us
by the Spirit that he has given us.

1 John 3:18-24

Jesus shows us what it is to be fully human, fully alive. In him we see perfection.

In ourselves we see foibles and fallibility. We stumble and stagger.

We are in good company, in this. Look at the disciples in the Gospels, if nowhere else. Failing is sad, sometimes humiliating. But it does not silence the message, and it really ought not to make us lose hope. The love and the compassion, and the assistance, of the Lord Jesus is there for us, even as it was there for the disciples.

In their passing on of the Gospel the first disciples  included their stories, their absurdities, to remind us we’re not alone with ours.

The passage from John we read today, and hear tomorrow, urges us to take courage and, finally, to hope not in our own abilities only but in what is achieved when we strive to live in communion with the Lord and allow him to live in communion with us.

Photograph of the stained glass window showing the rescue of St Peter comes from the church of St Finn Bar, Fowey, Cornwall. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.