Taste and See: Blessed, happy, lucky…

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In Greek the word is ‘makarios‘.

In English it is translated sometimes as ‘blessed’, sometimes as ‘happy’, at other times ‘lucky’.

‘It’ being the state enjoyed by those who do the good things Jesus singles out in the Beatitudes – heard in the Gospel proclaimed at Mass on Sunday, the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

Matthew 5:1-12

And why are these ‘blessed’, ‘happy’, or ‘lucky’? Not because they shall be satisfied with some reward in the future – though they will. But because here, now they sahre in the quality of life that is God’s: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Future reward comes because God is king, and these people know it: and more importantly yet, because these people live according to the reign of God, here, now, like Jesus. On earth, as it is in heaven.

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  • Where do you seek to live heaven on earth ?
  • What helps?
  • What hinders?

Photographs: Liverpool. (c) 2006, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Of love and loving

Eleona

The Gospel reading on Sunday, the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, calls to us a complete trust in God the Father. In the passage Jesus offers us the Lord’s Prayer ( in a more primitive form than the liturgical version with which we are now most familiar) and encourages to consider afresh how we respond to those in need – those we love and those whose need we find inconvenient.

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray: “Father, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come; give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. And do not put us to the test.”’

He also said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

Luke 11:1-13

As our guide and encouragement Jesus offers us the faithfulness of God. It is in his love we trust; his love that we are invited to imitate.

Sanctuary of the Eleona Church, Jerusalem (build over the cave on the Mount of Olives where tradition holds that Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer.) (c) 2013, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Your kingdom come

Nativity VeniceTwo alternative Psalms were offered in the Lectionary for yesterday, Holy Family Sunday – the first Sunday of Christmas.

The psalm offered especially for use in Year C – this year, the Year of Luke, and the Year of Mercy – speaks of communion with God. It speaks of the courts of the Lord: back to backs often had courts, but maybe here the idea is that of a grander set of courtyards, fitting to a king. It speaks, rather  more domestically perhaps, of God’s ‘house’… but in these days we hear a lot of the House of David…. It speaks of Zion, Jerusalem, seat of king and God, and a place of pilgrimage for the people…

The psalm speaks of communion, and of the psalmist’s longing and yearning for this communion.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord, God of hosts.
My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God.

They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer,
give ear, O God of Jacob.
Turn your eyes, O God, our shield,
look on the face of your anointed.

Psalm 83:2-3,5-6,9-10

 

We heard in yesterday’s Gospel how Jesus, Son of David, makes himself at home in the courts of the Temple.

Yet in his discourse he offers a more familial image to consider God – simply as Father. The head of the domestic family – as well as head of people and nation and King of kings.

When we pray, as Jesus teaches, ‘ your kingdom come’, we may have in mind the kingdom of heaven, and God’s dominion here and now over the nations of the world. But it starts – at least for us, existentially, it starts – with our self, our home, our family…

  • How evident is the Father’s leadership, his rule, there?
  • In me?
  • My home?
  • My family?
  • How would anyone know?

As the civic year draws to a close, take stock and speak to God with gratitude for his care and ask for his help where you seem further from him.

Bethlehem in Venice. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: To your family

Nativity SJW

Christmas is here and today’s posting prepares us for Christmas’s first Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family.

The are a number of options for the Second reading on Sunday – the following reading, from the first letter of St John is the option provided for the Feast of the Holy Family in year C, the Year of Luke.

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;
all we know is, that when it is revealed
we shall be like him
because we shall see him as he really is.
My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence,
and whatever we ask him,
we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.

His commandments are these:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we love one another
as he told us to.
Whoever keeps his commandments
lives in God and God lives in him.
We know that he lives in us
by the Spirit that he has given us.

1 John 3:1-2,21-24

The season celebrates God’s Son taking flesh and living as one of us in all things but sin.

The purpose of the Incarnation and the season is to help us remember that we too are called to be children of God. It is this that allows us to ‘dare’ to call God Father.

In our culture the Lord’s Prayer is so familiar, so safe…. yet it invites us to something truly remarkable – to be God’s children.

  • What difference does God make to your life?
  • In what way is God your Father?
  • In what way do you show that you are his child?

Photograph of Performers in Nativity Play, St Johns Wood. (c) 2007, Andre Camara.