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.

Taste and See: A gift to share

Madrid December 2003 269

The second reading at Sunday’s Mass of the Epiphany came from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. It spoke of God’s entrusting to him a grace for us.

You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the grace he meant for you, and that it was by a revelation that I was given the knowledge of the mystery. This mystery that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in past generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel.

Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6

The same grace is entrusted to us for the sake of others.

It will have been entrusted to us by God through many mysteries – probably. Through the love and faith of family or friends; the communities we belong to and have belonged to; through the sacraments; through the scriptures; through our communion with God in prayer. But entrusted to us it has been – and for the sake of others.

  • Where in particular have you received the grace of the knowledge of the love of God for all people?
  • With whom have you last shared it?
  • With whom might you next share it?

Photograph of crib in Madrid. c) 2003, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: That we may be one

 

Crib 2

The second reading at Sunday’s Mass of the Epiphany comes from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the grace he meant for you, and that it was by a revelation that I was given the knowledge of the mystery. This mystery that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in past generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel.

Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6

Paul reflects on how through his mission to the nations the separation between Israel and the nations has been broken down. All are called to share in the same faith. Where there was disunity and differentiation now there is the possibility of new unity, gifted in Christ, through the gospel.

The possibility still exists – despite current national, ethnic, gender, religious, politicial, wealth and class divides.

How will you work for it today?

  • Photograph of crib at Eglise Saint Louis en L’Ile, Paris (c) 2006, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: prepare us…

St Marks 13th C

With the first Sunday of Advent began a new liturgical year, characterised on Sunday’s by the reading of the Gospel of Mark. This Sunday, the 2nd of Advent, we are taken to the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, and the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.

The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:

Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.

and so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

Mark 1.1

Tradition suggests that Mark’s Gospel was written in Rome, for a community whose security was shaken by persecution and apostasy. Mark relates Gospel, apparently basing his account on the personal memories of St. Peter, to restore the community to faith and faithful living.

The beginning of the beginning is a tale of the forgiveness of sins, of restoration and healing. There is comfort here for Israel, for that broken community in Rome, and for us.

Photograph is of mosaic at West Front of St Mark’s, Venice – traditional burial place of St Mark – showing the basilica as it was in the 13th Century. (c) 2008, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Alive by God’s word

hagia sophia

Yesterday’s blog concerned the first of the two alternative Gospel Acclamation in the Lectionary for Mass on the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The other alternative Acclamation is the subject of today’s blog.

Alleluia, alleluia!
Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.
Alleluia!
cf.Acts 16:14

The reflection is simply this. How hard is it to have our hearts open and so to hear, and then accept, the words of God’s Son. How hard to hear the words that are already rather familiar?

How many times, for example, had you already heard yesterday’s parable of the kindly landowner? And so did you feel the need to listen carefully, or was there a feeling of ‘I know this one…’ And a drifting off to think of other things? Distractions come so easily.
And even if they don’t, it requires a certain readiness to let the words we hear raise questions about us: to let the reading be about ‘me’ and not just about ‘them’. About me and my relationship with God and neighbour, and not some more or less abstract moral teaching that is proffered for the good of the community, but may well not have anything much to do with me.
The wonder of the scriptures proclaimed is that this is a sacramental encounter offered to us. Jesus really speaks through the form of story and teaching; speaks personally and individually to each one present.
Hearing him, and not just the words, is not easy, and so yesterday we had the opportunity, even as we stood and sang to greet the gospel, to pray for help for openness and attentiveness of heart and mind and person to hear and accept Jesus’ speaking to us collectively, and to each one individually.
What did you hear yesterday?
What are you doing with what you heard, to take it deeper?
And if you did not hear, why might that be? Maybe go back to the gospel today, in a time of personal prayer. Seeking again, to be open to the Lord who welcomes you with love.