Speak Lord: Of our giftedness

spirit-lindisfarne

I am reminding you to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God.

Keep as your pattern the sound teaching you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. You have been trusted to look after something precious; guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14

It is not every Sunday that there is a direct relationship between the second reading and the other elements of the Liturgy of the Word. The Gospel (generally) is chosen on the principle of each Sunday offering the next part of a semi-continuous reading of the Gospel of the Year, and the first reading and psalm and verse of the Gospel Acclamation chosen to prepare us in some way or other for hearing that reading. The second reading is from a semi continuous reading of one of the Epistles.

But this week, the week of the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, it so happens that the second reading too relates to a principal concern of the other readings: that we should live the faith we have been given.

St Paul urges Timothy and us to recognise the supernatural gifts we have been given, and our natural ones! And he urges us to put them to good use.

  • What gifts do you know you have?
  • Would you see them as natural or supernatural? Or both?
  • How do you use them?
  • For whom do you use them?

Stained glass window in the Anglican parish church of Lindisfarne. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: in your faithfulness, keep us safe.

Gifts

The second reading on the first Sunday of Advent, this year, comes from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

And it is a rather welcome, encouraging reading, especially compared to the more testing and challenging readings of recent days and weeks.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.

I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received through Jesus Christ. I thank him that you have been enriched in so many ways, especially in your teachers and preachers; the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed; and he will keep you steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God by calling you has joined you to his Son, Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

This reading too continues to sound the themes of the last day, the day of Judgement. But Paul is confident that those who have been graced by the Lord will be joined with the Lord here and now, and forever.

Why? Partly because he sees in those he addresses signs of the graces they have received from God, but also (and perhaps most importantly) because God is faithful, and God sustains his call to us, come what may. We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful and he calls us back to what is right and good and life-giving.

  • What are the graces you know yourself to have received through Jesus Christ?
  • What are the graces those closest to you – friends and enemies! – have received?

Give thanks and pray that through the Lord’s pastoring of his people those graces may bear fruit, and help deepen our readiness for kingdom-living.

Photograph is of the reredos and tabernacle of a side altar in the Cathedral, Granada, Spain. The gifts offered to the Lord by the three kings (and by us) are precious, but they are as nothing compared to the gift that the Lord is, and that is given to us in Eucharist. His gift gives us life. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Taste and See: The Lord is good and source of all goodness.

Aix 2006

The Collect of Sunday’s Mass repays a second hearing.

God of might, giver of every good gift,
put into our hearts the love of your name,
so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,
you may nurture in us what is good
and, by your watchful care,
keep safe what you have nurtured.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Most of us probably feel we have to work quite hard for what we have. And yet the prayer puts on the lips of the Church a prayer that says: It all comes from God, the giver of every good gift.

This could just be words we say: a display of liturgical, ecclesial, etiquette.

But in our prayer we surely wish to speak true.

So, how true is it for you? How does God give each good gift? Have you, in truth, given thanks for his gifts?

In the quiet of prayer speak to the Lord and ask for his love and care, to bring you ever closer to him, to sustain you in what is true, and deepen your sense of gratitude and love.

Photograph is of east window of church of Saint-Jean-de-Malte, Aix en Provence.
(c) Allen Morris, 2006