Taste and See: Direction, please…

St Isaac's, St Petersburg

The Collect at Mass on the 3rd Sunday of the Year (and used through this week, saints days permitting!) highlighted the importance of good works.

Why? Surely because the good works will witness to the glory of the one responsible for them. As our prayer manifests the One who above all is responsible for them is God. We have our part to play, but God’s direction is necessary!

Almighty ever-living God,
direct our actions according to your good pleasure,
that in the name of your beloved Son
we may abound in good works.
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.

  • From what do you want God to guide you?
  • To what do you need his direction?

St Isaac’s Cathedral, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: encouragement to strive for the best

Workers inspired, Dresden

The English text of the Collect for Sunday, the 28th of the Year was unusually curt. (Not a regular feature of the recent English re-translation of the Missal!). It reminded that Christians have work to do, a work of justice and love, a work that does not always come easy to us.

Collect

May your grace, O Lord, we pray,
at all times go before us and follow after
and make us always determined
to carry out good works.
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.

In Birmingham Archdiocese Sunday’s Mass included a Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop reminding of Pope Francis’ call for Catholics to respond generously to the needs of refugees, reminding of the Lord’s call to the rich young man, and considering how these invitations might be most faithfully and fruitfully responded to in our lives.

  • What do I have that I consider mine only?
  • What do I consider that others have a right to a share in?
  • What do I have that I choose to share with others?
  • How do I distinguish these things and why?
  • Bring your reflections to God in prayer.

Mural from State Building, Dresden. (c) 2005, Allen Morris. There were many evident deficiencies in Communism as theorised and lived out in Eastern Europe and Russia in the 20th Century. But there was also – often – a passion for justice for all. Where is that passion in us and our State? How do we foster it and respond to its demands? 

Speak Lord: Source of all that is good

Pilgrim martyrs

The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time begins a number of weeks of reading the Letter of James – termed ‘an epistle of straw’ by Martin Luther (in other words he didn’t like it!).

You might like to (re-) read the Letter as a whole. It is short. And having that overview will surely enrich your hearing and praying with the extracts over the coming Sundays.

It is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change. By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all that he had created. So do away with all the impurities and bad habits that are still left in you – accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.

Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.

James 1:17-18,21-22,27

The translation of the Scriptures used in our Lectionary is from the Jerusalem Bible. In this case, the translation of the first line of this passage introduces an idiomatic English structure which, particularly when read without the previous verse, may make the sentence less clear, and some readers to stumble.

It could however simply read: ‘All that is good, everything that is perfect, is given us from above…’

This is a staggering profession of faith, a confession of thanksgiving. One of the reasons Luther was less than keen on the Letter was because of its emphasis (elsewhere) on our good works. But here, right at the beginning, James sets out his stall. All that is good begins with God. All we can do, and should do, and must do, is by way of response to the God who is Good, and who shares with us his love and goodness in an infinite number of ways.

  • Count the blessings of today.
  • Give thanks to God for them.
  • Think how you can best make use of them.
  • Do your best.

Carving of St James and pilgrim martyrs, Musee Calvet, Avignon. (c) 2014, Allen Morris