Taste and See: Alive for God’s sake…

Chartres LentThe first reading at Mass on Sunday, the 5th in Ordinary Time, is worth our returning to today, Ash Wednesday.

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord of Hosts seated on a high throne; his train filled the sanctuary; above him stood seraphs, each one with six wings.
And they cried out to one another in this way,

‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.
His glory fills the whole earth.’

The foundations of the threshold shook with the voice of the one who cried out, and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said:

‘What a wretched state I am in! I am lost,
for I am a man of unclean lips
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts.’

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding in his hand a live coal which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. With this he touched my mouth and said:

‘See now, this has touched your lips,
your sin is taken away,
your iniquity is purged.’

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’

I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’

Isaiah 6:1-2,3-8

 

As we begin Lent we are called to admit our fault, our sin, our mess. We are also called once more to know, live and share the love that God has for us.

We are reconciled because of our need and because of God’s grace. Or is it because of God’s grace and our need. Start at either point and the conclusion is the same – we are love and God is the lover.

Amazing! And Isaiah experiences this in his vision of the heavenly court. The God who loves us is no creature, no thing like us, but entirely beyond, other. The points of connection are that God is creature and we his creatures; and God is love and we are object of his love.

The two key truths of our faith – that God is creator and God is love. As we fractured beings get ready to make the most of Lent let us hold those two truths close in our minds and hearts and learn to live by them more faithfully, more generously.

Photograph, Chartres. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

Taste and see: Good news from him.  And from me?

Poster, Marseilles tinyThe second of the alternative Gospel acclamations in the Lectionary for Sunday reminded us of Christ’s mission, our vocation also:

Alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives.

Alleluia!

The vocation is our privilege and yet it is a costly one. This week’s Gospel had Jesus manhandled by a crowd wanting to throw him down a cliff. The description of his (our) calling  week in last week’s Gospel – for all the admiration it provokes in Nazareth – also calls for active, pro-active, living.

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

cf Luke 4.14ff

  • Who are the poor to whom you are called? In what form do you offer them good news?
  • Who the captives? And what the liberty?
  • And the blind, and new sight?
  • And freedom to the downtrodden?

Poster, Marseilles. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Of love and care

Images of mercy, Nowa Huta, CracowTomorrow, during the Mass of the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we sing a psalm that rehearses the active love of God. God does not ‘just’ love, he serves.

Philosophers may struggle to comprehend how this can be and how we can make sense of this, alongside all the other things we say of God. In faith, though, we know it to be true, and a truth that will not go away. Thank God.

And in the psalm we do.

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,
the Lord, who protects the stranger
and upholds the widow and orphan.

My soul, give praise to the Lord or Alleluia! 

It is the Lord who loves the just
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 145:6-10

How God is, is how we are called to be.

And our response to that call is enabled by God through countless graces. God chooses to extend his love and care to others, by his love and care of us. If we will let him – let him love and care for us, let him help us reach out to others.

  • How today is God present to you?
  • How would you describe God to another person, from your experience in life?
  • Give thanks to God for his service to you.

‘Images of mercy’, from the Church of Nowa Huta, Cracow. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: All for us, us for all

St Mary's Twickenham

The Prayer after Communion on Sunday, the 15th Sunday of the Year said it all.

Having consumed these gifts, we pray, O Lord,
that, by our participation in this mystery,
its saving effects upon us may grow.
Through Christ our Lord.

We had been fed by the word of God, and by the Eucharistic food and drink. These had been the means by which, once more we shared in the Sacrifice, the love of God made visible in Jesus – a love which is the life of God, and which is poured out for us, and for all.

The prayer succinctly, and in a rather matter of fact way, acknowledges that. But then it asks that the seed planted in us might grow, that the nourishing that God gives and God is will not be in vain for us, but lead us to deeper life, fuller service.

  • How will you live today?
  • For whose benefit?
  • To whose glory?

Photograph of rererdos in college chapel at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: nothing but God

Detail of reredos, St Mary's Twickenham

Sunday is over, but the challenge and the joy of responding to the grace and hopefulness of Sunday remains ours.

The Liturgy, with the Eucharist at its heart, is the source and summit of the Christian life. We have been at the source, now we seek to live that life as we return to our daily tasks, our ‘everyday’ life.

Over these first days of the week which began with Sunday, the Lord’s Day, this blog resources our faithful living by reminding of elements of the Sunday Mass, beginning today with the Gospel.

The title of blog posts here on Living Eucharist is usually ‘Speak Lord…‘; over these next days (and on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of  every week) the title is ‘Taste and See…‘, indicating the opportunity to savour the food and drink gifted us in word and sacrament at yesterday’s Mass. Mystagogy is the technical name for that pondering on what we have received, digesting what we have been given to eat and drink…

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no ha.versack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’

So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

Mark 6:7-13

This weekend Proclaim 15 got a big launch in Birmingham. An initiative for a new evangelisation of England and Wales, to revive the nation (and the principality!) through a fresh sharing of the Gospel.

Cardinal Vincent was one of those speaking. His full speech is well worth reading, but a key part was he asked all to be missionary disciples attentive to the needs of the three Cs.

Our COLLEAGUES who have lost their way
These can be fellow Catholics who are resting: all those who cross the threshold of the church just every now and then. They have heard of Jesus; they have some of the words; they have a familiarity, of sorts, with the Church. Can we lead them, step by step, to know Jesus more clearly?

The CURIOUS
Curiosity, even if tinged with hostility, can be a marvellous opportunity if we are open ourselves and remember that within that curiosity may well lie the prompting of the Holy Spirit. If we forget that, then we are quickly on the defensive and the moment has gone!

The CRY of the human heart
A cry of confusion, pain, hunger, loneliness, need, anger.
Whatever action we take in response to the cry of the world around us must bring together the cry of prayer and the cry of pain. Only then can it be the mission of Jesus.
Our action should be effective. But even more so it should be prayerful, otherwise its effectiveness will not touch the deepest well of pain from which the cry is rising.

Often when reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel the focus is on the 12 and their success.

Give a thought too, to those they with whom they shared the Gospel, and the healing they received and the difference it made.

One of those healed by the 12 at that time may have in days and weeks that followed, shared the faith with someone, who shared the faith with someone else, who shared….. And eventually the someone faith was shared with may have been the person who brought faith to birth in you…

The Church is built on the faith of Peter, and of the 12. But lots of others have vital parts too.

  • How do you see your role in the mission of the Church?
  • What helps you fulfil it?
  • What might help you overcome any challenges?

Photograph of detail of rererdos in college chapel at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of new beginnings.

Samaria II

The gospel today, the 15th Sunday of the Year, focusses on the mission of the 12. Mission did not begin with them and the first reading at Mass today reminds us of the prophet Amos.

Bearer of a profound critique of Israel, Amos was no willing prophet, nor welcome in Israel. But he served the Lord, faithfully and well.

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, said to Amos, ‘Go away, seer;’ get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel; this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple.’

‘I was no prophet, neither did I belong to any of the brotherhoods of prophets,’ Amos replied to Amaziah ‘I was a shepherd, and looked after sycamores: but it was the Lord who took me from herding the flock, and the Lord who said, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”’

Amos 7:12-15

Amos had two jobs, sheep and trees. Now he had a third – reminding Israel of its true nature, of being a communion of people with God. It had no independent existence. Did not need its national king, it’s national Temple. God alone sufficed and more than sufficed. And without God all else was petty and transient. And so it proved. Israel fell and was lost.

Today’s Gospel has the 12 – noble in their vocation and trust, but scarcely in their economic state or social position, sent out to recover a people for God: by God to help his people heal and be reconciled. They are more succesful in their mission than Amos was!

  • In whom do we trust?
  • How do we know?
  • Would others agree?

The image above is not of remnants of Bethel but of Samaria, another Israelite Royal cultic centre against which Amos prophesied. Here is a 19th Century image of the believed site of the city of Bethel.

Bethel 1894 DanielBShepp

 

Speak Lord: Of mercy, oh, speak of mercy

Holy Oils, OsterleyThe responsorial Psalm picks up the theme of mission and salvation that is heard in the Gospel for Sunday.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for his people.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

The Lord will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps.

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and give us your saving help.

Psalm 84:9-14

How much we need this mercy. And how much people need this from us.

Photograph of the aumbry displaying the Holy Oils, Catholic Church, Osterley, London. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: of healing and mission

Door Detail Mary Major

Today’s post begins our reading through the Liturgy of the Word, and praying with it, by way of preparation for next Sunday’s Mass.

For a reminder of the methodology followed here please go to the About page.

We start with the key element – the gospel reading.

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no ha.versack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’

So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

Mark 6:7-13

The ministry of Jesus may be rejected by many (cf last week’s gospel), but it remains powerful to many others. And the ministry is being shared by others now. For all their fallibility and blundering – much in evidence throughout Mark’s Gospel – the 12 rise to the call to share the Good News and minister the reconciliation and healing of God’s mercy.

  • What ministry does God call you to?
  • With whom do you share it?
  • Where and how does it show that it is of God?

Image is a detail of one of the principal doors to the Basilica of St Mary Major, Rome. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Different but united

Peter and Paul roundelThe Preface for Sunday last, the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, nicely describes the distinct and complementary ministries of the two Martyrs of Rome, Apostles to the whole Church.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
For by your providence
the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul bring us joy:
Peter, foremost in confessing the faith,
Paul, its outstanding preacher,
Peter, who established the early Church from the remnant of Israel,
Paul, master and teacher of the Gentiles that you call.

And so, each in a different way
gathered together the one family of Christ;
and revered together throughout the world,
they share one Martyr’s crown.

And therefore, with all the Angels and Saints,
we praise you, as without end we acclaim:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts…

Rather nicely, in the image above of a glass disk from the collection of the Vatican museum the two saints do indeed share a single crown!

So often in life we notice and then focus on what distinguishes us from one another. Too often we neglect what we have in common.

Jesus, by contrast,  seems to have specialised in finding common ground with those who others have excluded and set apart.

  • In a time of prayer and reflection consider where you might do the same.

Image from the Vatican Museum. 

Taste and See: Identity and Mission

Peter St Ps, Wolverhampton

The Gospels regularly present us with the fallibility of Peter.

The gospel chosen for the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul, kept yesterday in England and Wales, presents Peter in a better light.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’

‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’

Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

Matthew 16:13-19

Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God. Quick as a flash Jesus makes a profession of faith and purpose regarding Peter.

Which of them was the most surprised at what they heard?

Both find in this exchange a description of their mission to the world – Jesus sent by the Father to be saviour of the world. Peter the one entrusted with ensuring that the message of salvation is made known to the world.

Master and servant are united in common purpose.

  • Pray for Pope Francis, successor of St Peter, for his faithfulness in continuing the ministry entrusted to him.
  • Pray for the whole Church for its steadfastness and humility in its service of teh world.

Jesus saving Peter from sinking. St Peter’s Church, Wolverhampton.
(c) 2015, Allen Morris
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