Speak Lord: Free us

MephistophelesThe First reading at Mass today, the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, tells a story of sin and repentance and mercy that should prepare us for the principal reading in the Liturgy of the Word, today’s Gospel with account of Jesus and the woman with a bad name in the town, and great love in her heart.

The story of King David is very different but with a poignancy and consequences that today’s short passage can only allude to.

The episode we hear today focuses us on the gratuity of God’s mercy. David does so little even to show his repentance- but forgiveness is so suddenly, and so freely, given.

Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord the God of Israel says this, “I anointed you king over Israel; I delivered you from the hands of Saul; I gave your master’s house to you, his wives into your arms; I gave you the House of Israel and of Judah; and if this were not enough, I would add as much again for you. Why have you shown contempt for the Lord, doing what displeases him? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, taken his wife for your own, and killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. So now the sword will never be far from your House, since you have shown contempt for me and taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.”’

David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Then Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord, for his part, forgives your sin; you are not to die.’

2 Samuel 12:7-10,13

  • What makes you sorry for sin?
  • Does anything hold you back from admission of sin?

Mephistopheles. Mark Anatolsky. Russian Museum, St Petersburg, Russia. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: breakout…

Rue de Belleville

The Gospel reading yesterday, Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent, drew us once more into an encounter with one of Jesus’ most complex and moving, challenging parables. It is a living word that, of course also brings us into a real encounter with Jesus himself.

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.
‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’

Luke 15:1-3,11-32

One important issue raised is what presently tempts us to break away from the Father? To take to ourselves what belongs to the common pot? To squander on ourself what could otherwise be used for the Common Good.

As Lent comes to its end, how ready are we to repent, and return to the Father, confessing our failings, ready to work for what is better?

Belleville, Paris. (Other fleshpots are available!) (C) 2015, Allen Morris