Speak Lord: Even to warn us

Judean Desert nr St George's Monastery

The Second reading at Mass tomorrow comes from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians. Paul reflects back on Israel’s experience of journeying through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land, during the Exodus, and what Christians might learn from this.

I want to remind you, brothers, how our fathers were all guided by a cloud above them and how they all passed through the sea. They were all baptised into Moses in this cloud and in this sea; all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, since they all drank from the spiritual rock that followed them as they went, and that rock was Christ. In spite of this, most of them failed to please God and their corpses littered the desert.

These things all happened as warnings for us, not to have the wicked lusts for forbidden things that they had. You must never complain: some of them did, and they were killed by the Destroyer.

All this happened to them as a warning, and it was written down to be a lesson for us who are living at the end of the age. The man who thinks he is safe must be careful that he does not fall.

1 Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12

The Destroyer is the destroying angel who carries out God’s punishment in Exodus, the slaying of the first-born of Egypt.

However we understand that, and however we understand the warning here, it is presented as a matter of life and death. We are offered life and urged not, instead, to choose death.

We presently make our journey through Lent, a season given us to help us consider how we make our journey through life.

  • Let us notice the choices we make and the choices we refuse.
  • Where are they leading us?
  • What would be the best choices we could make? Why might we not make them?
  • Ask the Lord to send his Spirit to help you in your following of Christ.

The Judean desert, near St George’s Monastery. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.

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Taste and See:Travelling with the Lord

Font, Coventry

The first reading at Mass on Sunday, the Epiphany, was taken from the prophet Isaiah.

The glorious God shares his glory with his people and all people.

Arise, shine out, Jerusalem, for your light has come,
the glory of the Lord is rising on you,
though night still covers the earth
and darkness the peoples.

Above you the Lord now rises
and above you his glory appears.
The nations come to your light
and kings to your dawning brightness.

Lift up your eyes and look round:
all are assembling and coming towards you,
your sons from far away
and your daughters being tenderly carried.

At this sight you will grow radiant,
your heart throbbing and full;
since the riches of the sea will flow to you,
the wealth of the nations come to you;

camels in throngs will cover you,
and dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
everyone in Sheba will come,
bringing gold and incense
and singing the praise of the Lord.

Isaiah 60:1-6

How striking is the attraction of God’s glory – the nations flow to Jerusalem to give him honour and glory. Pilgrimage and regular formal worship have their place in all our lives.

But the test of our religion is how we transfer its good and glorious values into our daily living – away from gold, incense, and the like (at least for most of us!)

How does the glory of God register with us there?

  • What might you do today to manifest that glory, and to share it with others.

 Font, marked with the shape of the pilgrim’s shell. Coventry Cathedral. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Call us to your love

Sacred Heart Maryvale

The second reading on Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, reminds of the call to all disciples to be strong in love, ministers in love.

May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.

Finally, brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2

Advent prepares us for the celebration of humble mercy that begins on December 24th – God taking flesh to save sinners, might be a pithy summary of the Mystery of Christmas.

It’s a celebration that lasts until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. How will we sustain that celebration this year, when the world on December 26th gives up Xmas for New Year Sales and then groans back into work after the bank holidays?

And how will we carry the exploration of God’s mercy and the manifestation of that mercy even in our lives in the Year that Pope Francis invites us to, a Year of Jubilee to celebrate Mercy?

  • What are your parish or diocesan plans? How will you share in them?
  • What are your family plans? Which of those parish and diocesan events have you got in the diary? Are you going to make a family/friends pilgrimage this year?
  • What about you yourself? What might you begin in Advent to carry you fruitfully through the Year of Mercy?

Image of the Sacred Heart at Maryvale, one of diocesan centres for pilgrimage in the Archdiocese of Birmingham during the Year of Mercy. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.