Speak Lord: love inspiring love

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My soul, give praise to the Lord.

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free.

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down.
It is the Lord who loves the just,
the Lord, who protects the stranger.

The Lord upholds the widow and orphan
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age.

Psalm 145(146):7-10
Psalm for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Lord is love and does good. The above painting reminds of how his love inspires love in the saints.

  • How do we see others treat the oppressed, the hungry, the blind, the stranger, and all?
  • Who do we find we treat well? And who not? Why?

 

Painting attributed to Mariotto Di Nardo, 1420s. St Lawrence distributing food to the needy. Gallery of the Petit Palais, Avignon. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Pray and….

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The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the sons of Israel this:

‘“You must not molest the stranger or oppress him, for you lived as strangers in the land of Egypt. You must not be harsh with the widow, or with the orphan; if you are harsh with them, they will surely cry out to me, and be sure I shall hear their cry; my anger will flare and I shall kill you with the sword, your own wives will be widows, your own children orphans.

‘“If you lend money to any of my people, to any poor man among you, you must not play the usurer with him: you must not demand interest from him.

‘“If you take another’s cloak as a pledge, you must give it back to him before sunset. It is all the covering he has; it is the cloak he wraps his body in; what else would he sleep in? If he cries to me, I will listen, for I am full of pity.”’

First reading for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 22:20-26

Perhaps hearing this passage at Mass yesterday we were moved to pray for forgiveness for our failings in the area of justice and love.

It might be more appropriate yet for us to pray for those who are victim of our failings and the failings of others.

And more appropriate still for us to consider what we might do to rebalance things between us and and others.

Intercession, Wawel Castle, Cracow, Poland. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

 

 

Speak Lord: cleansing fire

fireThe day is coming now, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and the evil-doers will be like stubble. The day that is coming is going to burn them up, says the Lord of Hosts, leaving them neither root nor stalk. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays.

Malachi 3:19-20

The First reading at Mass today threatens radical cleansing. Those who are arrogant and do evil will be burnt up and consumed. Those who fear the name of the Lord – those who honour and cherish it – will be cleansed by the love of the Lord, cleansed and healed.

The scripture surely makes us hope that we are amongst the latter group!

  • If we think we are, what makes us think so?
  • And what might the Lord think?
  • And if we fear we might not be, what help might we ask of the Lord before his judgement comes our way?

Window. Our Lady of the Rosary, Marylebone. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Rule us

musical-angels

The Lord comes to rule the peoples with fairness.

Sing psalms to the Lord with the harp
with the sound of music.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
acclaim the King, the Lord.

The Lord comes to rule the peoples with fairness.

Let the sea and all within it, thunder;
the world, and all its peoples.
Let the rivers clap their hands
and the hills ring out their joy
at the presence of the Lord.

The Lord comes to rule the peoples with fairness.

For the Lord comes,
he comes to rule the earth.
He will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with fairness.

The Lord comes to rule the peoples with fairness.

Psalm 97:5-9

The Responsorial Psalm at Mass tomorrow, the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, invites us to rejoice, and gives us our motivation – the fairness of the rule of the Lord.

In recent days we may have been concerned about the justice and fairness of our earthly rulers – governments, presidents-elect and the like. But the psalm has us remember that ultimately we belong not to earthly kingdoms or republics but to the Kingdom of God.Now that is surely good for us for the Lord is good.

But what sort of citizens of his Kingdom are you and I? How will we fit in?

  • Where do you practice justice and fairness?

Not a harp in sight – but plenty of praise! Stained glass. St Tysilio’s Church, Menai Bridge. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Justice, Love.

justice-shrews

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

Luke 18:1-8

The Gospel for Sunday coming, the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, reminds how persistence in this life can achieve much, can even persuade to act people against their (in this case, worst!) nature and do good.

We have no such difficulty in urging God to do good. God, alone, is good, Jesus teaches us. And he is love for us.

But often we need to be patient, for the goodness of God is not always what we -at any particular time – might hope for. Our nature, our discernment, is not always at its best. We are invited to trust, to have faith in God. We need not stop crying our, but our sense of urgency ought not to blind us or deafen us to the persistent goodness of God .

  • What helps you to have faith?
  • What hinders faith or hobbles it?

Carving of Justice. Riverside gardens. Shrewsbury. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Justice

cup-of-justice

The first reading at Mass on Sunday, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, offered challenging words from the prophet Amos.

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy
and try to suppress the poor people of the country,
you who say, ‘When will New Moon be over
so that we can sell our corn,
and sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?
Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel,
by swindling and tampering with the scales,
we can buy up the poor for money,
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.’
The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob,
‘Never will I forget a single thing you have done.’

Amos 8:4-7

Having heard the words again, and perhaps, again, been chastened by them, what might we do?

It is possible that we may be guilty of these injustices ourselves, personally and directly. If so, the way ahead may seem clear.

More complex is it, if we feel free from such deliberate, personal injustice, but complicit in systems that unjustly, cruelly, exploit the vulnerable for the profit of multinationals whose products we consume (at best price!) or the more ‘advanced’ economies which abuse their economic and political stability disadvantaging emerging economies and ‘newer’, less well resourced communities and nations. What then?

The motto ‘Live Simple’ points one way forward. Deliberately supporting charities and other organisations that seek to resource and reinforce more fragile communities is another.

  • How do you respond to injustice?

The cup of justice. Iona Abbey. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: of decency and care

ivory-lyre

The first reading at Mass today, the 25th in Ordinary Time, comes from the prophet Amos.

He pulls no punches.

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy
and try to suppress the poor people of the country,
you who say, ‘When will New Moon be over
so that we can sell our corn,
and sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?
Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel,
by swindling and tampering with the scales,
we can buy up the poor for money,
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.’
The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob,
‘Never will I forget a single thing you have done.’

Amos 8:4-7

The passage can be shrugged off – perhaps a well deserved critique of people back then, but what is it too us, really?

Pope Francis regularly makes similar points:

Time, my brothers and sisters, seems to be running out; we are not yet tearing one another apart, but we are tearing apart our common home. Today, the scientific community realizes what the poor have long told us: harm, perhaps irreversible harm, is being done to the ecosystem. The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea – one of the first theologians of the Church – called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. This is the “dung of the devil”. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home, sister and mother earth…

…The economy should not be a mechanism for accumulating goods, but rather the proper administration of our common home. This entails a commitment to care for that home and to the fitting distribution of its goods among all. It is not only about ensuring a supply of food or “decent sustenance”. Nor, although this is already a great step forward, is it to guarantee the three “L’s” of land, lodging and labor for which you are working. A truly communitarian economy, one might say an economy of Christian inspiration, must ensure peoples’ dignity and their “general, temporal welfare and prosperity”. (Pope John XXIII spoke this last phrase fifty years ago, and Jesus says in the Gospel that whoever freely offers a glass of water to one who is thirsty will be remembered in the Kingdom of Heaven.) All of this includes the three “L’s”, but also access to education, health care, new technologies, artistic and cultural manifestations, communications, sports and recreation. A just economy must create the conditions for everyone to be able to enjoy a childhood without want, to develop their talents when young, to work with full rights during their active years and to enjoy a dignified retirement as they grow older. It is an economy where human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life. You, and other peoples as well, sum up this desire in a simple and beautiful expression: “to live well”, which is not the same as “to have a good time”.

Pope Francis, 9th July 2015.

  • What is your response to Amos’ words, to Pope Francis?
  • How might you live differently in consequence?

Ivory Lyre. Greek National Museum, Athens. (c) 2006, Allen Morris