Taste and See: Justice

moon-auribeau-sur-saigne

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

O God, give your judgement to the king,
to a king’s son your justice,
that he may judge your people in justice
and your poor in right judgement.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

In his days justice shall flourish
and peace till the moon fails.
He shall rule from sea to sea,
from the Great River to earth’s bounds.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

For he shall save the poor when they cry
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
and save the lives of the poor.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

May his name be blessed for ever
and endure like the sun.
Every tribe shall be blessed in him,
all nations bless his name.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

Psalm 71:1-2,7-8,12-13,17

The Responsorial Psalm has confidence in the endurance of the moon! This psalm, prayer, song, sung on Sunday the Second Sunday of Advent, comes from a culture whose very calendar was lunar, and not solar, which is the basis of our Western secular calendar. Our Church’s calendar retains a lunar, particularly with regard to the dating of Easter.

These days science has taught us that sun and moon have their limits. The time will come when they come to the end of their natural life. The ‘end’ and ‘reversal’ comes to kings and political regimes more quickly still.

Yet though Israel first sang this psalm to celebrate its earthly king, the Church sings it to celebrate the Christ, her king. In his divinity the Christ participated in the creation of sun and moon and all that is. In his divinity and in his humanity he reigns now and for ever, beyond the end of creation ‘as we know it’ now

In Advent we seek time to contemplate the eternal verities,so that we might be helped to live lives apt for eternity, redolent of the Kingdom.

  • What other images for endurance and  faithfulness inform your life?

Moon, Auribeau sur Saigne, France. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: our Bridegroom

Crowning, Assumption, Warwick St

In England and Wales this year, Sunday 14th August will be kept as the Solemnity of the Assumption, (in other years it is kept on 15th August).

The Psalm for the Feast’s Day Mass is understood by some to have been a song first used on the occasion of a royal wedding, and this section of it addressed to a queen. Others understand it as a prophetic psalm anticipating the coming of the Messiah and addressing Israel his Bride. It could, of course, be both.

Today, in our liturgy, it is surely to be understood to be addressed both to Mary, being greeted as Queen of Heaven, and to the Church called to be bride of Christ.

On your right stands the queen, in garments of gold.

The daughters of kings are among your loved ones.
On your right stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
Listen, O daughter, give ear to my words:
forget your own people and your father’s house.

On your right stands the queen, in garments of gold.

So will the king desire your beauty:
He is your lord, pay homage to him.
They are escorted amid gladness and joy;
they pass within the palace of the king.

On your right stands the queen, in garments of gold.

Psalm 44:10-12,16

  •  What in you might attract the love and care of the Royal bridegroom?
  • What in Mary would you most like to emulate?

Apse Mosaic, Church of the Assumption, Warwick St, London. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Our help and hope

Moulin.jpgThe psalm sung at Mass tomorrow, the 4th Sunday of the Year, confesses the help and protection afforded by the Lord for his children, his people.

My lips will tell of your help.

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, free me:
pay heed to me and save me.

My lips will tell of your help.

Be a rock where I can take refuge,
a mighty stronghold to save me;
for you are my rock, my stronghold.
Free me from the hand of the wicked.

My lips will tell of your help.

It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth,
from my mother’s womb you have been my help.

My lips will tell of your help.

My lips will tell of your justice
and day by day of your help.
O God, you have taught me from my youth
and I proclaim your wonders still.

My lips will tell of your help.

Psalm 70:1-6,15,17

At the end of a week that has seen us remember Auschwitz and Holocaust, provided a fresh reminder of child abuse, and in which news continues to come of fresh barbarity and persecution of people in Syria and beyond, we might be forgiven for wondering what is the help that the Lord gives.

There is no easy answer.

But people of belief continue to find truth in their faith, truth in the scripture, to set beside the evils. Sometimes these truths provide the encouragement to fight and overwhelm wickedness, to drain its power and overcome its perpetrators. Sometimes it is enough to assure that despite the consequences of evil here there is life beyond here where that evil cannot reach and somehow, by grace, all will be well.

Our singing of the psalm must not be an evasion of the hard truth of the existence of evil and suffering. But it should sustain us in our faithful living, confident because of God…

These are two things sometimes hard to hold together.

  • How, in God, might you respond to the needs of those who suffer evil?
  • When has faith helped you deal best with the consequences of evil?
  • Pray for those who suffer.
  • Pray for those who seek to do good.

Self-portrait (1928) by Jean Moulin, resistance fighter in 2nd World War. Musée Des Beaux-Arts – Hotel Fabrégat, Béziers. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: the newness of the song

Gaving Turk apple core

Yesterday, the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we sang a psalm.

The psalm, the word of the Lord we sang, exhorted us to sing a new song…

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, bless his name.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Proclaim his help day by day,
tell among the nations his glory
and his wonders among all the peoples.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Give the Lord, you families of peoples,
give the Lord glory and power;
give the Lord the glory of his name.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Worship the Lord in his temple.
O earth, tremble before him.
Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’
He will judge the peoples in fairness.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Psalm 95:1-3,7-10

What does that ‘sing a new song’ mean?

It is, at least on the face of it, a somewhat odd sentiment for us to vocalise and not least in the words of a song some 3000 years old! Of course Davidic copyright is long expired, but so is the author so there is no benefit to him in promoting a fresh repertoire.

Perhaps what is meant is that we the singers need to imbue the old song with new meaning. That we need to sing not merely mindful of what has been, but especially are to sing of the current wonders of the Lord.

Our song needs to be informed, even validated, by the personal encounter with the living Lord, an encounter that is the touchstone of the authentic Christian and Jewish life.

It is much easier for our religious life to be demonstrated by a relationship to a religious institution: Temple, synagogue, Church or church, Order or congregation, state of life, prayer group or whatever. These things can help, but heaven help us when they become a replacement for that lived relationship with God.

  •  How do you best sustain your relationship with God?
  • What challenges it?
  • Where does it support you?
  • Where does it challenge you?
  • What is the new song you sing?

Ergo sum (2008). Gavin Turk. Bronze cast painted in oil paint. Collection of Manchester Art Gallery. Photograph (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Help us sing a new song

Music angels

Tomorrow, the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we sing a song repeating the ancient encouragement to God’s gathered people to know the wonders of the Lord and to proclaim them to those who without our witness of  (might) lack eyes to see and ears to hear

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, bless his name.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Proclaim his help day by day,
tell among the nations his glory
and his wonders among all the peoples.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Give the Lord, you families of peoples,
give the Lord glory and power;
give the Lord the glory of his name.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Worship the Lord in his temple.
O earth, tremble before him.
Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’
He will judge the peoples in fairness.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Psalm 95:1-3,7-10

Our faith, our insight into the workings of God is (at least in part, and arguably in largest measure) given us not for our own benefit but for the benefit of all. A silent Israel, a silent Church, is barely tolerable: we have a work to do.

  • What are the wonders of the Lord?
  • Where is his help evident to you?
  • To whom did you last share the good news?
  • To whom will you next share the good news?

Music making Angels. Church of the Holy Name, Manchester. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: to your family

Bethlehem in Boldmere

Two alternative Psalms are offered in the Lectionary for Holy Family Sunday – the first Sunday of Christmas.

The psalm below is that offered especially for use in Year C, this year, the Year of Luke, and the Year of Mercy.

They are happy who dwell in your house, O Lord.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord, God of hosts.
My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God.

They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer,
give ear, O God of Jacob.
Turn your eyes, O God, our shield,
look on the face of your anointed.

Psalm 83:2-3,5-6,9-10

As with the life we live, so too the Church’s Liturgical Year can sometimes seem overloaded – Christmas, Holy Family, Luke, Mercy…

It can seem like an overloaded pudding, too many good things, and too soon leading to indigestion!

So, especially if Christmas feasting was extended, maybe a little quiet family time is called for… a time for digesting of bringing together self, others, life, faith, past, future… a time in the present for quiet refelcting and pondering…

It all begins with family in some sense… Harm done in the family often can never be fully repaired, and a good start in the family can never be taken away from us. Family matters, very much.

We often identify ourselves almost exclusively with our human family. Yet Jesus comes to remind us of something prior. Before we were born, perhaps before we were conceived, the idea we were known and loved in the heart of God. Our most fundamental identity comes from being the children of God: he is Father of us before there was an us and in his love and faithfulness is the bed-rock of our lives as individuals, families, communities, civilisation.

Often we do not acknowledge this, sometimes our actions put it in jeopardy (or seem to). But in these days it is good to ponder on the Fatherhood of God –  and our responsibility, under God, and with Jesus, in the Spirit – to sustain and develop the family connections, starting at home and extending to all our brothers and sisters in God.

  • Pray to be a faithful child of God.
  • Pray to be a good sister or brother.

Bethlehem in Boldmere. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Your glory, our praise

ND du Roc-Amadour, BeziersThe Psalm for Mass tomorrow, the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, in many ways anticipates the song of thanksgiving of Mary, known as the Magnificat.

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

As we recognise the goodness of God we are prompted again and again to give thanks. As is said in one of the Prefaces to the Eucharistic Prayers, this adds nothing to the glory of God, but makes us grow in God’s grace.

Our Lady of Roc Amadour. Beziers. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.