Speak Lord: faithful one, speak

visitation-lourdes

My soul, give praise to the Lord. or Alleluia!

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.

My soul, give praise to the Lord. or Alleluia!

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.

My soul, give praise to the Lord. or Alleluia!

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.

My soul, give praise to the Lord. or Alleluia!

Psalm 145:7-10

The Responsorial Psalm on Sunday,  the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, reminds that the Just One, the Reconciling One, and the Healing One is God. It is his love and care for us that is our inspiration, and our enabling for ministry. His is the love that shames us when we do not care to try… and that offers encouragement and hope when we try and fail.

It is not our job to earn that love or impress the Lover. The only challenge is to allow the Lover to win our love.

  • What do you love about God?
  • What might God love about you?
  • What might  God hope you can love in others?

Bring your thoughts to the Lord in prayer.

The Visitation (panels decorating the Breton Cross in Lourdes, for the Year of Mercy). (c) 2016, Allen Morris

 

 

 

 

Speak Lord: Our Lord in all…

Tabernacle Blessing LourdesThe second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, continues the theme of previous Sunday’s readings from this letter, of the new life in Christ.

This new life – gift of God – requires and enables our dying to all that keeps us from the fullness of life in Christ.

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; and never tell each other lies. You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised or the uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.

Colossians 3:1-5,9-11

The best quality of our life is hidden in Christ. Sadly what is often all too evident of our present lives are those features who are of our earthly life and which must be let go of, ‘killed’.

The current Year of Mercy provides the sort of reminder we regularly need that though God surely hates sin, he loves the sinner. We are assured of all the help we need as we seek to progress to the perfection and holiness that characterises the lives of the saints of God.

Detail of tabernacle. Rosary Basilica, Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

‘Speak Lord.’ ‘Ouch!’

Jesus takes up his cross

The Gospel for Sunday, the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, follows immediately from last week’s Gospel, of Jesus’ reading from Isaiah and winning approval from all.

That latter point is repeated this week in the reading’s opening words. It needs to be for what follows next is surprising and shocking.

Jesus began to speak in the synagogue: ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’

But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”’ And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.

Luke 4:21-30

 

Jesus has spoken of God’s promises, and of his part in fulfilling them. And that pleases.

He next speaks of Israel’s resistance to the prophecies and healings that the Lord offers. And that produces a very different response.

The reaction of the crowd is extraordinary, and shocking. What price ‘thou shalt not kill?’?

  • How do you respond to criticism? Implied or direct?
  • What priority do you give to your response to the continued call of God to conversion and renewal?
  • What helps you respond positively?
  • What provokes other reactions?

Detail from one of the Stations of the Cross, Lourdes. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Make us one…

Pilgrim WayThe second reading at Mass on Sunday, the Second Sunday of Ordinsry Time, begins a reading of the 1st Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians which will continue on Sundays until we begin Lent.

The sequence  calls us to faithfulness, in our living communion together in the Church, and as individual disciples.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. One may have the gift of preaching with wisdom given him by the Spirit; another may have the gift of preaching instruction given him by the same Spirit; and another the gift of faith given by the same Spirit; another again the gift of healing, through this one Spirit; one, the power of miracles; another, prophecy; another the gift of recognising spirits; another the gift of tongues and another the ability to interpret them. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, who distributes different gifts to different people just as he chooses.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

More than most, Paul is familiar with the trials and challenges and joys and privilege of being a disciple.

To be a disciple is the greatest privilege, the way to the fulfilment of God’s gift of life and his calling of us to union with Him. It also draws us into conflict, burdens, struggles, even as we seek to serve, cooperate, enjoy the godly life.

Paul who knew the difficulties, and in many ways embodies them for us, calls us to unity.

  • How/where are you called to serve?
  • With whom?
  • How does their service help you serve?
  • How might yours better help them?

Worn Pilgrimage Way marker, Lourdes. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Make us new

Cana Lourdes

Next Sunday is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, – the first Sunday having being supplanted by the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

All that is ordinary about the Sunday is that it is a Sunday of ordinal – counted – time.

And the Gospel of the Day reminds of how, in the Lord, how readily the ordinary, the expected is reversed, renewed, completed.

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’

They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said; ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.

John 2:1-11

What is lacking from your life?

Is it something that would bring joy, wholeness?

Ask the Lord for his help…

Wedding feast at Cana. Lourdes. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Love and care

Bernadette Shepherdess

The first reading for the 16th Sunday of the year introduced the theme of the Shepherd and his sheep, which was there again in the Psalm and the Gospel of the day.

It surely puts the fear of God into shepherds.

Doom for the shepherds who allow the flock of my pasture to be destroyed and scattered – it is the Lord who speaks! This, therefore, is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the shepherds in charge of my people: You have let my flock be scattered and go wandering and have not taken care of them.

Right, I will take care of you for your misdeeds – it is the Lord who speaks! But the remnant of my flock I myself will gather from all the countries where I have dispersed them, and will bring them back to their pastures: they shall be fruitful and increase in numbers. I will raise up shepherds to look after them and pasture them; no fear, no terror for them any more; not one shall be lost – it is the Lord who speaks!

‘See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David,
who will reign as true king and be wise,
practising honesty and integrity in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel dwell in confidence.
And this is the name he will be called:
The-Lord-our-integrity.’

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Each of us in our different ways has a leadership role, has a responsibility for the health of our community. We make a difference, for good or ill, to its health and cohesion, its sense of direction and righteousness.

Western society tends to emphasise the virtues of the individual, lonely (before God, or himself, depending on their faith or lack of it). The scriptures always urge us to see ourselves as part of a whole.

Failing or triumphant, we have the Lord as our shepherd. Today is a new day in which to renew our trust in him, and recommit ourselves to his work.

  • For whom can you be a good shepherd?
  • Where do you need the shepherding love of God today?

St Bernadette as shepherd, Lourdes. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Made new, made better.

BernadetteThe Psalm for the 4th Sunday of Easter had us sing of the goodness of the Lord, and of the way in which the rejected one becomes in fact the cornerstone of what is new and good and right.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in men;
it is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

I will thank you for you have answered
and you are my saviour.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

Blessed in the name of the Lord
is he who comes.
We bless you from the house of the Lord;
You are my God, I thank you.
My God, I praise you.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good;
for his love has no end.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.
or
Alleluia!

Psalm 117:1,8-9,21-23,26,28-29

Often the point of growth for an individual or for a community is what seems the weaker part, or even the damaged part. From that different perspective can be found the way forward for all sorts of change and growth.

Where has this been true in your experience?

What ‘weakness’ or ‘disability’ might have potential for your future development, or that of your community?

Painting of Bernadette Soubirous, Bolly Mill, Lourdes. Photograph (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: the wonder of the Lord

 

Blessed Sacrament chapel, St Gervais

The Prayer over the Offerings at Mass on the 5th Sunday of the Year, and the default prayer for use on the ferial days of this week following, evokes a fresh sense of awe at what we do at Eucharist.

O Lord, our God,
who once established these created things
to sustain us in our frailty,
grant, we pray,
that they may become for us now
the Sacrament of eternal life.
Through Christ our Lord.

The simple elements of food and drink, a little bread and a little wine, become Christ for us, and open afresh for us the way of eternal life.

The contrast between the very ordinary and the completely extraordinary is compelling.

  • What is your frailty?
  • How does the Lord in his goodness strengthen you?
  • How might you strengthen others?

 

Photograph of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, St Gervais, Paris. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Raise the lowly

Mercy cross Lourdes

The responsorial psalm sung on the 5th Sunday of the Year, this coming Sunday offers comfort and, unusually, two alternative responses are proposed for our use.

Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted.
or
Alleluia!

 

Praise the Lord for he is good;
sing to our God for he is loving:
to him our praise is due.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem
and brings back Israel’s exiles,
he heals the broken-hearted,
he binds up all their wounds.
He fixes the number of the stars;
he calls each one by its name.

Our Lord is great and almighty;
his wisdom can never be measured.
The Lord raises the lowly;
he humbles the wicked to the dust.

Psalm 146:1-6

One regular source of wonder is that the Creator cares for his creatures! We are countless, seeming passing, and so regularly treated so poorly by our own kind. Yet God loves and cares and tends us in our brokenness.

  • What hurts hamper you?

Bring them to the Lord for his healing and care.

Photograph of cross in the Domaine of Lourdes. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.