Taste and See: Fame

Pope and Dylan

Sunday’s Gospel spoke of Jesus’ identity.

He is identified under the role and names of prophets past and present; he is named as the Messiah, the Christ.

Jesus hears these identifications, and takes them on board. He then speaks of himself, and identifies himself, simply, simply as the Son of Man, destined to suffer, to be rejected and killed, and then to be taised -declares to the disciples that this ‘great man’ is to be robbed of his life and that he will then receive it back as gift.

He continues that those who wish to be associated with him, to follow him, must accept the same ‘fate’

One day when Jesus was praying alone in the presence of his disciples he put this question to them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ And they answered, ‘John the Baptist; others Elijah; and others say one of the ancient prophets come back to life.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ It was Peter who spoke up. ‘The Christ of God’ he said. But he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this.

‘The Son of Man’ he said ‘is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’

Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it.’

Luke 9:18-24

Greatness cannot feature in the Christian world. Not greatness in terms of rank and position or fame; the only claim to greatness that can mean anything lasting is the claim that is based solely on faithfulness, solely on service. Talent, gifts can be used to sustain faithfulness and love, or they can draw us from that.

  • What do you use your gifts for?
  • For what do you seek life?
  • What matters most to you? Why?

Posters in Rome. (c) 2003, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: send us

Prophet (Isaiah)

The First reading at Mass today, Sunday, the 14th Sunday of the Year, comes from the prophetic book of Ezekiel.

The spirit came into me and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me.

He said, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’

Ezekiel 2:2-5

That the prophet speaks and is heard is what matters to the Lord.

Whether the people choose to listen or not is a matter for them.

In the Old Testament sometimes the prophet is eager that the people listen, sometimes – notably with Jonah – he is anxious that he is not listened to!

The Gospel reading this reading tells of people unwilling to listen to Jesus, who is more than a prophet, but who here likens himself to a prophet. The experience of rejection will become Jesus’ lot, most keenly expressed in Mark’s Gospel. Yet in that rejection, and the agony of its consequences, he remains faithful to the Father.

Some sons may be defiant and obstinate, but for the Son of the Father nothing matters more than that the Father’s will be done.

Photograph of Prophet from Portal of Abbey of Souillac. (Plaster cast  in Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris). (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Change and resistance

Good Shepherd NazThe start of an alternative approach:

Normally Living Eucharist posts the scripture passages used at Sunday Mass in the order they are heard on a Sunday. It makes immediate sense to observe that same pattern – the order of the scriptures (for it will be usually Old Testament followed by New Testament), and the order of the Liturgy.

However the selection of readings is determined by the Gospel, and most clearly so in Ordinary time when (except for any influence exerted by the particular passage and coincidence) there is no overall theme for the Sunday readings. It is fairly said that unless you know , in advance, what the Gospel reading is you may find yourself struggling a little with the import of the first reading, which will have no direct connection with the first reading or Gospel of the week before. The disadvantage of knowing the Gospel and hearing the first reading only as a precusor to the Gospel reading is that it reduces it to ‘an illustration’ or ‘context’ and robs it of its own integrity as scripture.

Swings and roundabouts come to mind. But by way of an experiment for the next while the order of postings leading up to Sunday will be reversed. The Thursday posting will be of the Gospel, and the Sunday posting of the First reading, usually an Old Testament reading.

Comments are welcome!

The Gospel reading for Mass on Sunday, the 14th Sunday of the Year, comes from the Gospel of Mark.

Jesus returns to his home town. He has caused something of a stir over recent days, as he has travelled the land. Now he’s back home…

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him.

They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him.

And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Mark 6:1-6

Change is often hard to take. Especially change which challenges the status quo.

Nazareth cannot accept what Jesus offers, because it cannot accept it from Jesus.

And yet under the surface rejection, some turn to him. The goodness of God and the ministry of Jesus has its effect, even if it begins in a hidden way, beneath the surface.

  • What of the gospel do you resist and why?
  • What signs might there be of the gospel winning out, even our your reticence?

Mosaic from the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.