Speak Lord: Mercy

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’

Gospel for the 7th Sunday of Orcinary Time
Luke 6:27-38

We are probably all familiar with a visceral urge for revenge on those who have hurt us, with a passion to recover what we have lost, and the desire for victory and saved from and raised above our enemies. This is how humankind often is.

But it is not what humankind was made for, nor is what we are destined for. If we would have victory; if we would triumph then we must become more like God, and live and love like him: merciful, compassionate, healing the hurts of others, not revelling in them or imposing them.

Image. Mercy. St Trophime, Arles. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Gracious one…

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Our eyes are on the Lord till he shows us his mercy.

To you have I lifted up my eyes,
you who dwell in the heavens;
my eyes, like the eyes of slaves
on the hand of their lords.

Like the eyes of a servant
on the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes are on the Lord our God
till he show us his mercy.

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
We are filled with contempt.
Indeed all too full is our soul
with the scorn of the rich,
with the proud man’s disdain.

Psalm for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Psalm 122(123)

The great and the lowly, all of us, rely on the mercy of God. Each one of us has reason to repent and regret aspects of how we have lived and relate to others. We rely on the graciousness of God to make good our lack, and to offer healing and hope.

Saviour of the world, have mercy on us… Stained glass, St Peter and Paul, Aston. © 2018, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Acceptable to God!

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As Peter reached the house Cornelius went out to meet him, knelt at his feet and prostrated himself. But Peter helped him up. ‘Stand up,’ he said ‘I am only a man after all!’

Then Peter addressed them: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.’

While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners. Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. Peter himself then said, ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?’ He then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterwards they begged him to stay on for some days.

First reading for the 6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48

We all have our likes and our dislikes, our prejudices and fears, our pride and our selfishnesses. Yet as Christians, especially, we should know that the love and mercy of God is for all people – those who were always faithful to Christ; those who abandoned him; even those who killed him.

Often though we Christians need to catch up. The story of Cornelius both demonstrates God’s love for the outsider and, in Peter, the Church catching up on the fact!

We’re still catching up…

  • Where are you lacking in the generosity of God in your attitude to others?
  • Where do you close doors rather than open them?

Cornelius and the Angel. Chester Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: God for us

DSC07794aI am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin,
we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,
and not only ours,
but the whole world’s.

We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,
and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.

Second reading for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
1 John 2:1-5

“I am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but…”

For most of us just how important is that ‘but’. For despite the best efforts of the authors of scripture (humans and divine inspirer and all) we remain sinners. And it is not just that we have been sinners, but retain the title. We still commit sin. Maybe it is not grave sin – hopefully it is not: but we still sin. So that ‘but’ is mighty important.

The continuing answer to our sin is Jesus, God’s eternal yes and his eternal love.

In our sin we show our imperfection, we show that our knowledge and our love is indeed imperfect. We humbly admit that, please God, but…

Or is it ‘and’? We admit our sin, and the Lord Jesus comes close for our healing and for our help.

Statue in St Nicholas, Blakeney, Norfolk. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Mercy

DSC04106a.jpgPeter said to the people: ‘You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.

‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.’

First reading for the 3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15,17-19

Peter’s offer of mercy is astonishing.

Of course principally, he is extending to others the mercy of God, a mercy and love that is without end, and has no favourites. But he is also investing himself in this action – turning to those who he considered his enemies too, and whom he was in fear of. And now he associates himself with this audacious, generous, always surprising but never changing, love and mercy  of God.

 

Carving: St Peter. Arles, France. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: grace…

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God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.

This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.

Second reading for the 4th Sunday of Lent
Ephesians 2:4-10

St Paul uses language which echoes that of the parable of the two brothers (aka the Prodigal Son). He says the we, like the younger son, were dead, but have now been brought to life. – not by our merit, but entirely by his grace.

We, the younger brother meet with welcome not only from the Father, but also from our older brother who has sought us out and brought us home.

Image derived from mosaic at the Sacred Heart, Aston, Birmingham. (c)  2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Forgiveness

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You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Happy the man whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess
my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Responsorial Psalm for Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Psalm 31:1-2,5,11

The Lord forgives and we prize him for his mercy.

We too are called to be merciful in imitation of him, extending the opportunity for repentance and healing to others. By our patience and our generosity, we have the opportunity to allow other people to grow… and to share with them the kingdom of heaven.

‘Those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven’. Basilica of the Annunication, Nazareth. (c) 2017, Allen Morris