Speak Lord: Our hope and joy

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Say to all faint hearts,
‘Courage! Do not be afraid.
Look, your God is coming,
vengeance is coming,
the retribution of God;
he is coming to save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy;
for water gushes in the desert,
streams in the wasteland,
the scorched earth becomes a lake,
the parched land springs of water.

Isaiah 35:4-7
First reading for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Imagine being the one missioned to share the message of Isaiah. Imagine being the one charged with sharing such hope and joy with the world.

Now remember that you are indeed missioned, and missioned to just such a work, as a member of the Church, as a missionary disciple.  The Lord is our hope and our joy, and ours is the privilege of bringing that goodness and love to others.

 

Mosaic, Westminster Cathedral. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

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Speak Lord: Suffering Lord

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See, my servant will prosper,
he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights.

As the crowds were appalled on seeing him
– so disfigured did he look
that he seemed no longer human –
so will the crowds be astonished at him,
and kings stand speechless before him;
for they shall see something never told
and witness something never heard before:
‘Who could believe what we have heard,
and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?’

Like a sapling he grew up in front of us,
like a root in arid ground.
Without beauty, without majesty we saw him,
no looks to attract our eyes;
a thing despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering,
a man to make people screen their faces;
he was despised and we took no account of him.

And yet ours were the sufferings he bore,
ours the sorrows he carried.
But we, we thought of him as someone punished,
struck by God, and brought low.
Yet he was pierced through for our faults,
crushed for our sins.
On him lies a punishment that brings us peace,
and through his wounds we are healed.

We had all gone astray like sheep,
each taking his own way,
and the Lord burdened him
with the sins of all of us.
Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly,
he never opened his mouth,
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers
never opening its mouth.

By force and by law he was taken;
would anyone plead his cause?
Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living;
for our faults struck down in death.
They gave him a grave with the wicked,
a tomb with the rich,
though he had done no wrong
and there had been no perjury in his mouth.

The Lord has been pleased to crush him with suffering.
If he offers his life in atonement,
he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life
and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

His soul’s anguish over
he shall see the light and be content.
By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,
taking their faults on himself.

Hence I will grant whole hordes for his tribute,
he shall divide the spoil with the mighty,
for surrendering himself to death
and letting himself be taken for a sinner,
while he was bearing the faults of many
and praying all the time for sinners.

First reading for the Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion
Isaiah 52:13-53:12

The prophecy from Isaiah anticipates the Passion of Jesus, his suffering and his suffering for the nations. It also reveals the love and mercy of God who will reward this courage and this love.

From the love of Father and Son we find hope for our present and future: reconciliation that overcomes the faults of our pass and draws us into the future that is Spirit-filled and leads us heavenwards.

Earthenware plaque, attributed to Josiah and Thomas Wedgwood (c1760).  Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke on Trent. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: who choose us…

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The Lord said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel,
in whom I shall be glorified’;
I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord,
my God was my strength.

And now the Lord has spoken,
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
to gather Israel to him:

‘It is not enough for you to be my servant,
to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel;
I will make you the light of the nations
so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’

Isaiah 49:3,5-6

The first reading at Mass today, the Sunday of the Second week in Ordinary TIme has the prophet wondering at God’s call of him, to serve to the glory of God.

To be singled out, to be called to anything by God, Creator of all that is, the One God, is itself extraordinary, mindboggling.

Yet, as the prophet hears, God has not just called him, but calls him to more and more.

We are drawn from the limits that hem us in, and constrain us, and called ot learn free to serve everywhere, any time, to anyone – to God’s glory and for the salvation of the world.

The work is God’s, and it is entrusted to the prophet and to us all. None of us has responsibility for the whole work – for that belongs to Christ. But each one of us is called to play our part, contributing to the symphony of saving love that is entrusted to the Church and to humankind…

  • What is your present part?
  • What might be next?
  • Pray for the help you need to keep in tune with God’s will for you

Detail of ambo, French Church, Leicester Square, London. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Call us to obedience

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The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’

Then Isaiah said:
‘Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’

Isaiah 7:10-14

Mary’s quiet and faithful response to God provides us with God’s sign — God with us.

In the innocence and vulnerablity of a new born life, the power and glory of God is disclosed. Power and glory which manifests itself in love and service of his people — all people, everywhere and always.

Crowned statue of Our Lady. Michael Clarke. St John’s Wood. (c) 2008, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Give us life

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At Mass today, the third Sunday of Advent, the following is the First reading:

Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult,
let the wasteland rejoice and bloom,
let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil,
let it rejoice and sing for joy.

The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it,
the splendour of Carmel and Sharon;
they shall see the glory of the Lord,
the splendour of our God.

Strengthen all weary hands,
steady all trembling knees
and say to all faint hearts,
‘Courage! Do not be afraid.

‘Look, your God is coming,
vengeance is coming,
the retribution of God;
he is coming to save you.’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy
for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.

They will come to Zion shouting for joy,
everlasting joy on their faces;
joy and gladness will go with them
and sorrow and lament be ended.

Isaiah 35:1-6,10

This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday. In many churches the purple of Advent will be replaced by the Rose traditionally associated with this day, a sign of its joyful character as the Liturgy begins to turn its attention more and more to the forthcoming feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.

  • What in you would you like to see healed, renewed?
  • And in others?
  • How might you offer yourself, even in brokenness, for the service of the Kingdom?

Flowering plant. Lerins, France. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Make us one

Nativity, LiverpoolThe first reading at Mass today offers an inclusive vision of God;’s blessing of Israel – this is a blessing to share with the whole world. Jerusalem may have been asked by its conquerors and its people dispersed. But there will be not restitution but restoration; and the blessing of one people will prove to be blessing for the whole world.

The prophesy made through Isaiah is understood in the Christian tradition as a foretelling of the gift of Christ and the good news of the Kingdom.

The Lord says this: I am coming to gather the nations of every language. They shall come to witness my glory. I will give them a sign and send some of their survivors to the nations: to Tarshish, Put, Lud, Moshech, Rosh, Tubal, and Javan, to the distant islands that have never heard of me or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory to the nations. As an offering to the Lord they will bring all your brothers, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules, on dromedaries, from all the nations to my holy mountain in Jerusalem, says the Lord, like Israelites bringing oblations in clean vessels to the Temple of the Lord. And of some of them I will make priests and Levites, says the Lord.

Isaiah 66:18-21

In part the prophesy is fulfilled in the coming of the Magi to Bethlehem – Jerusalem having been corrupted. In part the prophesy is still to be fulfilled by the faithful Christans and Jews – in each present day witnessing to God and his glory and so allowing them to share in the pure sacrifice of Christ, and be drawn to the heavenly Jerusalem.

Nativity, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris. NB Liverpool rather spoils the link by using a Bactrian camel and not a Dromedary!

Speak Lord: Our Hope

Jerusalem Sunrise IIThe First reading today comes from Isaiah a book that knows the tragedy of Jerusalem conquered and her peoples dispersed, many in exile in Babylon. And yet the prophet calls on this same Jerusalem to rejoice at the healing and restoration that God has for her.

In our day too Jerusalem is a tragic place and a place where constantly people turn to God in hope for restoration and healing. Muslims, Christians, Jews all turn to God and look for his intervention, for his will to triumph over political vicissitudes and human sinfulness. In their prayer (our prayer) we may have very different futures in mind – and so even our prayer can be part of the problem blocking God’s will – and yet at our best we turn to God and ask that God’s will be fulfilled, on earth as in heaven.

Rejoice, Jerusalem,
be glad for her, all you who love her!
Rejoice, rejoice for her,
all you who mourned her!

That you may be suckled, filled,
from her consoling breast,
that you may savour with delight
her glorious breasts.

For thus says the Lord:
Now towards her I send flowing
peace, like a river,
and like a stream in spate
the glory of the nations.

At her breast will her nurslings be carried
and fondled in her lap.
Like a son comforted by his mother
will I comfort you.
And by Jerusalem you will be comforted.

At the sight your heart will rejoice,
and your bones flourish like the grass.
To his servants the Lord will reveal his hand.

Isaiah 66:10-14

Our prayer too, our prayer for the future of all sorts of things may be a way of God’s will being fulfilled and sometimes might be an attempt to frustrate God’s will!

  • Where do you feel your will and God’s are at one?
  • Where do you feel/fear that might not be the case?

Sunrise over Temple Mount, looking to the Mount of Olives. (c) 2013, Allen Morris