Taste and See: Unity

p1030132a-galilee

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light;
on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him. Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.
He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people.

Matthew 4:12-23

The Gospel at Mass on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, presents the dawn of the public ministry of Jesus, and in the faithful following of James and John, Peter and Andrew presents the dawn of the Church.

That following of Jesus – who helps us recognise the closeness of the Kingdom of Heaven, and offers us personal encounter with God – continues to this day.

And the most unexpected people are followers. Not always very good followers, but who find some inspiration and some guidance in Jesus. Together we are part of his Church, some more central, some more focussed, but all together of the one Church.

  • On Sunday look and notice the people who gather with you in Church. Remember those who are not gathering with you but who identify as Catholics. Remember the others who are members of other Christian communities.
  • Pray for them.
  • And know afresh that you pray with them, and pray for the unity and faithfulness of the Church.

Sea of Galilee. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

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Speak Lord: That we may be at peace…

Galilee Polenov

The Gospel reading for the 5th Sunday of the Year, and this year, the last Sunday before Lent begins, takes us from Nazareth and Jesus’ troubles, to Galilee and the disciples and their troubles there…

Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:1-11

Jesus, Light of the World, has helped Peter to see his own fallibility and weakness. Peter declares himself a sinful man. But then Peter is rather prone to excitement and perhaps to exaggeration. Maybe he is a sinful man, even more sinful than others; and maybe not. What is clear is that Jesus has presented a challenge and brought a different clarity to Peter, revealed a different horizon for his life than he has known heretofore.

Peter is overwhelmed by the newness, the goodness, the beauty and the truth. And collapses before it all.

Jesus reaches out to him – certainly in his words, but surely in gesture too, raising Peter to his feet: ‘Do not be afraid…’

  • What afears you?What makes you daunted?
  • Spend time with the Lord in quiet prayer asking for the confidence you need to find all things new…

Painting ‘On the Sea of Tiberias’ by Polenov. Tretvakov State Gallery, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Tretyakov State Gallery

Taste and See: light in the darkness

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The Gospel heard at Mass yesterday is rather atypical for a passage from Mark’s Gospel.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

Mark 1:14-20

Mark’s Gospel is full of short passages, which are full of incident and wonder. But almost always they will end with an acknowledgement that people did not understand; or Jesus says do ‘x’ and they do ‘y’; or ‘they’ begin to plot how to kill him.

Mark is told to reintroduce to faith those who are struggling with their frailty as disciples, and who are familiar with the darkness of the world. So mostly he frames his stories in this way, and the Gospel as a whole gives such prominence to the Passion of Christ, to his experience of abandonment and weakness, of being object of the actions of others rather free subject, wholly in control of one’s own actions.

This passage is atypical, because of its place in the narrative. Here Mark is evoking first enthusiasm, and the two incidents related are first in a sequence of impressive events which tell of the powerful impact of Jesus, and people’s wholesome response to him. So no ‘dying fall’ at the end.

But note how it begins: ‘After John had been arrested….’ Storm clouds are gathering, John – we know – is to die, but Jesus proclaims Good News. But will we hear it? How enthusiastic in this darkening world will our response be? And for how long?

Photograph of boats on the banks of the Rhone at Avignon. (C) Allen Morris, 2014.

Speak Lord: Call us to life

Galilee

The Gospel heard at Mass today relates the enthusiasm of the first response to Jesus of four men: Simon, Andrew, James and John.

Place your name beside theirs as you begin to read, disciple of the Lord.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

Mark 1:14-20

  • What form did your call to follow take?
  • How did you first answer and how do you answer now?
  • How is the call made through your parish today? What helps and what hinders it’s being heard?

Photograph of the shore and Sea of Galilee. (C) Allen Morris, 2013

Speak Lord: Of your blessings and our hope

Beatitudes

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints, transferred from Saturday 1st November because of a decision of the Bishops of England and Wales that Holy Days of Obligation (other than Christmas!) that fall on a Saturday or Monday are transferred to the Sunday. (The  Solemnity of All Souls, which normally falls on 2nd November is, this year, transferred to Monday 3rd November.)

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them: ‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage. Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted. Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied. Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God. Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’ Matthew 5:1-12

The words of the Beatitudes offer great reassurance and peace. But it is a reassurance that comes from acknowledging, confronting, the things that in this life often disturb our peace: striving for justice; mourning; working for peace; experiencing persecution; being gentle even if the cost of one’s gentleness is being taken advantage of.

Jesus says that blessed, happy, are those  who seek to live the values of the Kingdom, of heaven, even on earth. They are this not because of their own efforts only – though living this way is often quite some effort. Living this way, one needs the help of the grace and the love of God. This is the way of faithfulness, and faith – among other things – is always something to do with our response to what God has already done.

On this day that we remember our call to sanctity and rejoice that that call has been answered so fully and so generously by so many, it is also worth while taking time to think how does Jesus himself exemplify these virtues.

  • What parables show us the way into the different beatitudes?
  • What stories from Jesus’ life exemplify the beatitudes?
  • Where/when have we experienced these virtues in the Lord’s speaking to and caring for us?

Photograph is a view across the hill of Beatitudes, Galilee, down to the sea of Galilee. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.