Speak Lord: Love awakens love

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In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him: ‘You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.

Gospel for 2nd Sunday of Easter
John 20:19-31

Belief founded on faith and belief founded on proof are similar but not the same. Belief founded on proof is as firm as the proof.

Belief founded on faith is as firm as is the lived relationship with the other. It is often sustained in the absence of proof, but not of evidence.

Thomas refuses to believe until he has some evidence that the Lord is risen, but his relationship fed by Jesus coming to him. But his faith in Jesus exceeds that which is ‘proven’ about Jesus: Thomas confesses Jesus not only as risen, but confesses him as Lord and God.

Is it not so also in our case. We surely can point to evidence for our belief in God and in Jesus and in the Church, but (for the most part!) our faith exceeds the proof: it is most firmly founded on the quality of our lived relationship with God and neighbour. The more firmly we commit to God – Father, Son and Spirit – and to neighbour, and live the covenant of love the more firm our faith.

Relief Carving. Notre Dame, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: once more, and with conviction…

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This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Responsorial Psalm for Easter Sunday
Psalm 117(118):1-2,16-17,22-23

A new day, a new start…

And starting afresh with the living Lord, the risen Lord to accompany and encourage and guide…  Rejoice and be glad. Alleluia!

Sunrise, Auribeau sur Saigne. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Easter in us…

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In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

John 20:19-23

At the end of Easter – the last of the season’s 50 days is this coming Sunday, the feast of Pentecost – we return to the beginning. Again we are with Jesus and the disciples in the Upper Room on the first Easter Day.

We remember the fear of the disciples, shocked by the death of Jesus, shocked by their betrayal and abandonment of him. We remember their joy and wonder at his return to them, and his gifting of Peace and the Holy Spirit.

And we do well to take stock of our own position – how are we as the season of Easter closes? Have we integrated its goodness and promise into our lives and our work? Do we stand at a distance from the truth about the Lord and his salvation?

  • Bring your thoughts and feelings to God in prayer.

Carving. Notre Dame, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Gift of the Spirit

DSC04380.jpgIn the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’

Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Jesus said to him: ‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.

John 20:19-31

The Gospel heard on Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, speaks of disciples coming to faith, and of disciples being missioned to serve the Gospel.

What responsibility is given to them!

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

The power to bind and loose is accompanied by the gift of the Spirit, the Spirit of  wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and piety (as it is put in the Rite of Confirmation).

The power to bind and loose is not given subject to the disciples’ personal whim, but to further the building up amongst us of the Kingdom.

As Jesus himself ‘transgressed’ human understanding of the will of God, in order to free from sin and death, so too the disciples had (and have!) to rely on the guidance of the Spirit to know what is God’s will and what is not. Surely sometimes they got it wrong – as we do – but even from ‘failure’, as the world sees it, God can help us to rise and journey on to deeper unity with him and each other.

Stained glass window. Parish church, Colombiers, Beziers. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: For by your help we are almost there!

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This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Psalm 117:1-2,16-17,22-23

The Responsorial Psalm at Mass tomorrow celebrates the reversal achieved by God who is love, and enjoyed by those he saves.

We celebrate God’s achievement in the particular that is the Resurrection of Jesus.

However that achievement of God is available to us, by grace, in our every moment – our every stumble, our every success. The love that is God is there for us in every moment, and the invitation to us is to enter into his will, his life.

This day was made by the Lord – who is for us and with us, world without end: we rejoice and are glad.

Flowers. Lichfield Cathedral. 2016. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Dispel our fears

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After the sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre. And all at once there was a violent earthquake, for the angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His face was like lightning, his robe white as snow. The guards were so shaken, so frightened of him, that they were like dead men. But the angel spoke; and he said to the women, ‘There is no need for you to be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him.” Now I have told you.’ Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’

Matthew 28:1-10

The above gospel passage is one of the two alternatives for Easter Sunday morning – and a third is provided for Mass on Easter Sunday evening.

We have not yet begun the Triduum, so it can seem odd to be considering stories of the Resurrection. Yet, note the repeated urging in the gospel reading: ‘Do not be afraid’.

The Lord lived and died and rose again to save us from shadows, darkness, sin and fear.

Jesus faced his fears in his Passion, and renewed his obedience to the Father’s will, finding there his ultimate security – a safety that conquered death and restored him to life.

  • What fears diminish and restrict you?
  • Bring them to the Lord in prayer in these coming days, asking for his help, that you be not afraid…

Ivory carving of the two Mary’s: collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: send your Spirit…

Holy Spirit, Dresden

The gospel reading on Sunday comes from the Gospel of John. It tells of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, but not the Pentecost event that Luke/Acts relates: it tells of a quieter more intimate sharing on the first day of the week, the first day of the Resurrection, the first day of the new Creation.

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

John 20:19-23

The Holy Spirit is gifted to the disciples and so is the responsibility for living authentic to the Spirit, to Jesus and the Father.

  • Whose sins do you forgive?
  • Whose do you retain?

Holy Spirit, Dresden. (c) 2006, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: who call us to glory

Ascension Hampton LucyThe Second reading on Sunday, the feast of the Ascension, comes from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. The reading adverts to the Mystery, of Jesus’ being now seated at the right hand of the Father in glory, but also to our continued relationship with him: a privileged relationship, grounded on faith and sustained in love.

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him.

May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers.

This you can tell from the strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come. He has put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.

Ephesians 1:17-23

  • What does God call you to?
  • To what do you aspire?
  • Are these things the same?

Bring your responses to God in prayer.

The Ascension. St Peter ad Vincula, Hampton Lucy, Warwickshire. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Send us out

Ascension Vatican

The Gospel on Sunday –  in England and Wales, Ascension Sunday – comes from the Gospel of Luke

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.

‘And now I am sending down to you what the Father has promised. Stay in the city then, until you are clothed with the power from on high.’

Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God.

Luke 24:46-53

The Gospel of Luke ends almost as it began, in the Temple of Jerusalem. In Chapter One of the Gospel Israel represented by the barren priestly family of Zechariah and Elizabeth. In Chapter 24 it is fishermen and tax-collectors who inhabit the Temple of God. A new fulfilment has come to Israel, and Israel will not be the same again…

And in the days that follow, when the fulness of the Spirit comes, the disciples  will venture out of the city into the rest of the world, and the world will never be the same again…

Joyful Mysteries. Vatican. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Light, Life, Joy

Light catchers, Avignon

Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Easter and the Responsorial psalm is again a psalm that is full of praise and longing to praise.

That sometime gap between the longing to praise and the reality of praise is maybe especially pertinent for us to note at this stage in Easter. If indeed we still remember that it is Easter: after all, look around, most people won’t, or just don’t, care that it is Easter. The day came and went, we had our Easter Eggs, let’s get on with life…

Yet is is Easter, and without it we would not have life. It is Easter, the season of thanksgiving for the Lord’s rising from the dead and, maybe still more wonderful, our sharing in that rising from the death of sin and fault and weariness and all. His rising is once and for all: our rising will find its fulfilment in eternal life, but for now it makes its presence known in the daily risings following the daily falls. For these too we praise.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
or
Alleluia!

O God, be gracious and bless us
and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your saving help.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
or
Alleluia!

Let the nations be glad and exult
for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
or
Alleluia!

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
or
Alleluia!

Psalm 66:2-3,5-6,8

  • Where do you find the light of God’s face?
  • Where do you find his saving help comes to your assistance?

Light catchers, Prison Sainte Anne, Avignon. (c) 2014, Allen Morris