Speak Lord: Servant King

Sacred Heart Maryvale 2.jpg

I am a great king, says the Lord of Hosts, and my name is feared throughout the nations. And now, priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, if you do not find it in your heart to glorify my name, says the Lord of Hosts, I will send the curse on you and curse your very blessing. But you, you have strayed from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your teaching. You have destroyed the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of Hosts. And so I in my turn have made you contemptible and vile in the eyes of the whole people in repayment for the way you have not kept to my paths but have shown partiality in your administration.

Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why, then, do we break faith with one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors?

First reading for 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malachi 1:14-2:2,8-10

The warning to priests here, is a warning to all those with power and authority. It is a reminder of how power is entrusted by God to men and women to be used for the betterment of others, to promote their dignity and to promote their independence and development.

The abuse of power to exploit, plunder and for self-gratification is abhorent to God.

The revelation of God to Israel, that flounders in the people’s sad experience of kingship and kings, comes to it fulfilment in the Incarnation, and  in the ministry of Jesus, Jesus was anointed Prophet, Priest and King, and served in this ministries for the salvation of the world.

Sacred Heart Maryvale Institute. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Draw us to service

Peter's Primacy

The Gospel for the third Sunday of Easter, in Year C tells of Jesus’ manifesting himself in Galilee, at the lakeside.

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

John 21:1-19

The episode is full of incident: the initial accedie, the miraculous catch; the moment of recognition; the sharing of food; the conversation with Peter about love and service; the prophecy about martyrdom and discipleship. 

In such a passage it is easy to see how through the living word, Christ speaks differently to each one of us, stirring us in one but perhaps not in another incident, and engaging us in different ways in what does strike us. The same Lord speaks to all, but in a different way to each.

What, in particular, attracts your attention? Does it attract or disturb? Why?

Attend to your feelings and reaction. After quietly considering them, bring your thoughts to God in prayer.

Peter’s Primacy (the traditional site of the meal on the lakeshore, Tabgha, Israel). (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: of the glory of your children

Raphael CrucifixionThe Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, begins a sequence of readings from the Letter to the Hebrews, which will take us through to the end of this Liturgical Year.

The Letter explores the meaning of Jesus for the Christian, and how our faith in Jesus relates to the faith in YHWH, God, and the Jewish cult.

We see in Jesus one who was for a short while made lower than the angels and is now crowned with glory and splendour because he submitted to death; by God’s grace he had to experience death for all mankind.

As it was his purpose to bring a great many of his sons into glory, it was appropriate that God, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists, should make perfect, through suffering, the leader who would take them to their salvation. For the one who sanctifies, and the ones who are sanctified, are of the same stock; that is why he openly calls them brothers.

Hebrews 2:9-11

Jesus brings to fulfilment, perfectly achieving, all that was looked for in Judaism. He is Son of God, and he is, in his humanity, the perfect respondent to the law of God.

And the maybe more startling thing is that this is for us, to share with us what God longs to share.

  • How do you live communion with God today?
  • How might you share it with others?

The Crucifixion by Raphael, in the collection of the National Gallery, London.

Taste and See: Fruitful living

Market CarcowThe Collect at Mass on Sunday, the 22nd in Ordinary time, carefully expresses the mutuality between God and the faithful that fosters the best of life.

God of might, giver of every good gift,
put into our hearts the love of your name,
so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,
you may nurture in us what is good
and, by your watchful care,
keep safe what you have nurtured.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Every good gift comes from God, but it is given to be fruitful in us.

  • What good gifts have you received?
  • How might you use them today?
  • How might you use them for the good of others?

Market stall, Cracow. (c) Allen Morris, 2013.

Speak Lord: So we might better know your care.

Rosary 4

The psalm for Mass tomorrow, the 16th Sunday of the Year, anticipates the Gospel.

There, in Mark’s account of the disciples returning from mission and Jesus’ care for them, we hear also of how Jesus is unexpectedly met with a great crowd of other people needing his pastoral ministry. They are like sheep without a shepherd.

The psalm celebrates God’s shepherding of his people: his loving care and our safety.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Psalm 22:1-6

At a time of the year when many are approaching holidays and are finding themselves frazzled by the business of life and work, the psalm invites us to know we are not in this alone.

What ever our trials and tribulations, the Lord is with us and sustaining us. We are being led and guided, and if the path is through hard places, the path leads on beyond those. So even in the ‘valley of darkness’  we need not fear, but can find the inner space and inner care to respond to the needs of others.

The shepherded are not lost. Found, cherished and accompanied, they can be shepherds in their turn.

  • Where have you found yourself cared for recently?
  • Where have you shown care for others?

Photograph of window at Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Marylebone.  (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of newness and hope

Cuthman's mist

The first reading for the Mass of Guadete Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Advent comes from the prophet Isaiah. It is full of hope and promise.

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,
to bind up hearts that are broken;
to proclaim liberty to captives,
freedom to those in prison;
to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.

‘I exult for joy in the Lord,
my soul rejoices in my God,
for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation,
he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity,
like a bridegroom wearing his wreath,
like a bride adorned in her jewels.

‘For as the earth makes fresh things grow,
as a garden makes seeds spring up,
so will the Lord make both integrity and praise
spring up in the sight of the nations.’

Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11

In Luke’s Gospel we find these words on the lips of Jesus himself. He finds them expressive of his mission and ministry to us.

When we know ourselves poor; when our hearts are broken; when we are captive to sin or other circumstances, our liberty and freedom compromised – we need to know that he is sent to us, and that he is faithful. He is with us and for us.

In our turn we are sent to continue his ministry of salvation and love.

  • Where this day might you share love in his name?

Photograph of morning frost and mist at St Cuthman’s, Sussex. (c) 2002, Allen Morris.