Speak Lord: Help us, even more!

St Vasily, MoscowThe Gospel at Mass on Sunday, the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, has the Lord calling us to fresh confidence in him, and in the Father.

He also calls us to righteousness, living according to the values of the kingdom. Peter seems to consider this call might be too onerous for him and the apostles. One might consider that he would think it maybe too challenging for ‘the rest’, the ‘everyone’ (else). But, no, self-interest seems to predominate in Peter’s thinking and Peter’s concern!

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.

‘Sell your possessions and give alms. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

‘See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready. You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Peter said, ‘Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’ The Lord replied, ‘What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time coming,” and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.

The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.’

Luke 12:32-48

  • What have you been given?
  • What is demanded/expected of you?
  • What do you struggle with? Bring this to the Lord for his consolation and his help.

Pall for the Reliquary of St Vasily the Blessed. St Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow. (c) 2015, ALlen Morris.

Speak Lord: One by the Cross

Cross Beit Shean

A radical re-visoning of the world – seeing it not from the perspective of human partiality but that of divine love and purpose – is strongly presented in the second reading on Sunday.

On this 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we are reminded – the only thing of which to boast is the Cross (ie what Jesus is and has done). It is in that only that other things find their true value and that we find our true selves.

The only thing I can boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. It does not matter if a person is circumcised or not; what matters is for him to become an altogether new creature. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, who form the Israel of God.

I want no more trouble from anybody after this; the marks on my body are those of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, my brothers. Amen.

Galatians 6:14-18

Plenty more trouble would come Paul’s way. But it too did ‘not matter’, except that it was in facing and challenging all that came his way that Paul proved the authenticity of his discipleship and of the Gospel.

  • How do you live your discipleship?
  • How do you demonstrate the truth of the Gospel?
  • Bring your thoughts and feelings to God in prayer today.

Byzantine cross in the now-ruined Roman baths of Beit She’an, presumed to have been used as a Christian baptistery in 4-7th Centuries. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: to us…

Mary Magdalene, SalisburyThere are three optional Gospel passages provided for Mass on Easter Day, one – the story of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus – reserved for the evening of Easter Day.

The first of them focuses on the disciples agitated and struggling to comprehend what has happened and why…

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

John 20:1-9

The details of this spare, taut, narrative are engaging. Mary’s early rising and running to Peter and John. The contrasting of Peter and John in their speed in running and their beginning to believe and understand. But note the use of the first person plural. There are differences and particularities amongst the first disciples but they are united,

They are united first in confusion; but then in understanding and then belief. They journey together, however much they also journey apart.

Mary Magdalene, Elisabeth Frink. (c) 2010, Allen Morris

Taste and See: And be other Christs

 

Sutton Christmas

The Gospel Acclamation on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, this week’s Sunday, put it very clearly:

Alleluia, alleluia!
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.
Alleluia!

Is61:1(Lk4:18)

The Lord speaks through the prophet Isaiah. And the Lord speaks through (as) Jesus of Nazareth. And the Lord speaks to (and hopes to speak through) the Church. And the message is the same: there is good news for the poor.

This is not the good news that is peddled by the stores and on-line outlets –  bargains, best ‘this’, most neat ‘that’.

It is not the romanticism that is ladled at civic (and some other!) Christmas Carol Services.

It is truth about real lives being refashioned and healed. It is good news for the blind, the lame, the morally corrupt and others, who receive the opportunity to begin a new style of life. Knowing themselves as in some sense excluded and marginalised, they hear the welcome home and are offered the embrace that is theirs as children of the Father. They are given, again, the opportunity of living as such.

‘We’ are given again… For there is none of us who see as clearly as we might; who make our way through life with purpose and direction as we might; none of us whose actions and decisions and thoughts and feelings aren’t messed up by pride or greed or fear, by a self-ism that puts us and ours first and discriminates against ‘them’.

Some sin more gravely than others, but God’s family as a whole is mighty dysfunctional!

And God’s family is loved with a mighty love. There is good news for even the rich…

  • How, today, will you share the good news shared with you?

Logo for Holy Year of Mercy 

Many parishes will be having services of reconciliation at this time. They give opportunity to receive the personal ministry of the Church through word, prayer, song and Sacrament, and to confess our sins and failings.

Why not make a special effort in this year of Mercy to seek one out and to take part.

 

Photograph of Sutton Coldfield shopping centre. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: nothing but God

Detail of reredos, St Mary's Twickenham

Sunday is over, but the challenge and the joy of responding to the grace and hopefulness of Sunday remains ours.

The Liturgy, with the Eucharist at its heart, is the source and summit of the Christian life. We have been at the source, now we seek to live that life as we return to our daily tasks, our ‘everyday’ life.

Over these first days of the week which began with Sunday, the Lord’s Day, this blog resources our faithful living by reminding of elements of the Sunday Mass, beginning today with the Gospel.

The title of blog posts here on Living Eucharist is usually ‘Speak Lord…‘; over these next days (and on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of  every week) the title is ‘Taste and See…‘, indicating the opportunity to savour the food and drink gifted us in word and sacrament at yesterday’s Mass. Mystagogy is the technical name for that pondering on what we have received, digesting what we have been given to eat and drink…

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no ha.versack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’

So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

Mark 6:7-13

This weekend Proclaim 15 got a big launch in Birmingham. An initiative for a new evangelisation of England and Wales, to revive the nation (and the principality!) through a fresh sharing of the Gospel.

Cardinal Vincent was one of those speaking. His full speech is well worth reading, but a key part was he asked all to be missionary disciples attentive to the needs of the three Cs.

Our COLLEAGUES who have lost their way
These can be fellow Catholics who are resting: all those who cross the threshold of the church just every now and then. They have heard of Jesus; they have some of the words; they have a familiarity, of sorts, with the Church. Can we lead them, step by step, to know Jesus more clearly?

The CURIOUS
Curiosity, even if tinged with hostility, can be a marvellous opportunity if we are open ourselves and remember that within that curiosity may well lie the prompting of the Holy Spirit. If we forget that, then we are quickly on the defensive and the moment has gone!

The CRY of the human heart
A cry of confusion, pain, hunger, loneliness, need, anger.
Whatever action we take in response to the cry of the world around us must bring together the cry of prayer and the cry of pain. Only then can it be the mission of Jesus.
Our action should be effective. But even more so it should be prayerful, otherwise its effectiveness will not touch the deepest well of pain from which the cry is rising.

Often when reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel the focus is on the 12 and their success.

Give a thought too, to those they with whom they shared the Gospel, and the healing they received and the difference it made.

One of those healed by the 12 at that time may have in days and weeks that followed, shared the faith with someone, who shared the faith with someone else, who shared….. And eventually the someone faith was shared with may have been the person who brought faith to birth in you…

The Church is built on the faith of Peter, and of the 12. But lots of others have vital parts too.

  • How do you see your role in the mission of the Church?
  • What helps you fulfil it?
  • What might help you overcome any challenges?

Photograph of detail of rererdos in college chapel at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: of healing and mission

Door Detail Mary Major

Today’s post begins our reading through the Liturgy of the Word, and praying with it, by way of preparation for next Sunday’s Mass.

For a reminder of the methodology followed here please go to the About page.

We start with the key element – the gospel reading.

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no ha.versack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’

So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

Mark 6:7-13

The ministry of Jesus may be rejected by many (cf last week’s gospel), but it remains powerful to many others. And the ministry is being shared by others now. For all their fallibility and blundering – much in evidence throughout Mark’s Gospel – the 12 rise to the call to share the Good News and minister the reconciliation and healing of God’s mercy.

  • What ministry does God call you to?
  • With whom do you share it?
  • Where and how does it show that it is of God?

Image is a detail of one of the principal doors to the Basilica of St Mary Major, Rome. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Closed to life?

NazarethThe Gospel reading for Mass on Sunday, the 14th Sunday of the Year, came from the Gospel of Mark. In it Mark spoke of Jesus’ return to his home town of Nazareth.

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Mark 6:1-6

St Luke tells the same story, but tells us in some detail what Jesus spoke of – reading from the prophet Isaiah – ‘The Lord has sent me to bring good news to the poor…’, and then saying that ‘Today this text is fulfilled…’

Mark is rather more reticent. It is as though he wants us to work out for ourselves what it was that Jesus said. In the absence of anything more definite we might imagine that Jesus preached what he first preached immediately following his baptism in the Jordan. ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel.’

What can there be in that to cause such offence as Nazareth took? For what Jesus said was pretty much what all rabbis would teach, not only prophets. Now the difference seems to have been that Jesus spoke it so you knew he meant it, and wanted you to mean it and live it. Jesus preached the Kingdom, not himself, but he preached the Kingdom so that it was personal, real and now. And could not be ignored. It can’t be ignored, but can be rejected – as Nazareth rejects Jesus.

What about you? Where you are?

  • What do you accept of Jesus’ message?
  • What do you hesitate over? How do you act out the hesitation?.

Photograph of Nazareth – closed for business. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Son of God.

Peter and Paul, extra muraThe Gospel reading of the Mass during the Day for the feast of Ss Peter and Paul (kept on Sunday this year, in England and Wales) comes from Gospel of Matthew.

It draws us into the profession of faith of the Apostles that forms the bedrock of Tradition.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’

‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’

Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

Matthew 16:13-19

Peter and Paul lived and died for the Christ confessed as Son of God and known as Saviour.

They received the gift of life and love from him, and faithfully passed on to us the invitation to that same intimacy.

  • Why does the relationship of faith matter to you?
  • What would be the main aspects of faith that you would like to be known by others who do not have faith?

View of apse mosaic at St Paul outside the Walls. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Sharing the meal

Evry 2

The second reading  at Mass, on the Sunday of week 5 in Ordinary time, came from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

I do not boast of preaching the gospel, since it is a duty which has been laid on me; I should be punished if I did not preach it! If I had chosen this work myself, I might have been paid for it, but as I have not, it is a responsibility which has been put into my hands. Do you know what my reward is? It is this: in my preaching, to be able to offer the Good News free, and not insist on the rights which the gospel gives me.

So though I am not a slave of any man I have made myself the slave of everyone so as to win as many as I could. For the weak I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men in order to save some at any cost; and I still do this, for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:16-19,22-23

Paul’s life has been changed by the Gospel. Now he makes of himself servant to invite others to come to find nourishment and newness in the gift of the Risen Lord.

Once an obstacle for believers, now he strives to be the opposite.

In our words, in our actions, the same calling is ours: the same privilege. Putting self second, or third, or fourth, to assist others to the glorious love and compassion of God

Photograph is of the Blessed Sacrament chapel, Cathedral of Evry, France. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of healing and love

Peter's House 2

 

The Gospel reading for today, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, tells stories of healings and teaches about discipleship.

 

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’

He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

Mark 1:29-39

Jesus is less concerned for those who are looking for him. He is more concerned for those who do not know of the love and care of God for all people everywhere, always.

The Gospel restores a certain independence to those who receive it – not independence from God but freedom from those things that otherwise distract and bind us.

Peter is preoccupied with managing Jesus. His mother in law is happy to receive new life, to love and serve.

 

Peter's house 1

Peter's House 4

Peter's house 3

Images of the 20th C church built over the remains of the 1st century house of St Peter, contained within the octagonal walls of churches of the 4th and 5th centuries. Capernaum, Galilee. Photographs (c) 2007, 2012, 2013, Allen Morris.