Speak Lord: Servant King

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I am a great king, says the Lord of Hosts, and my name is feared throughout the nations. And now, priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, if you do not find it in your heart to glorify my name, says the Lord of Hosts, I will send the curse on you and curse your very blessing. But you, you have strayed from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your teaching. You have destroyed the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of Hosts. And so I in my turn have made you contemptible and vile in the eyes of the whole people in repayment for the way you have not kept to my paths but have shown partiality in your administration.

Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why, then, do we break faith with one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors?

First reading for 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malachi 1:14-2:2,8-10

The warning to priests here, is a warning to all those with power and authority. It is a reminder of how power is entrusted by God to men and women to be used for the betterment of others, to promote their dignity and to promote their independence and development.

The abuse of power to exploit, plunder and for self-gratification is abhorent to God.

The revelation of God to Israel, that flounders in the people’s sad experience of kingship and kings, comes to it fulfilment in the Incarnation, and  in the ministry of Jesus, Jesus was anointed Prophet, Priest and King, and served in this ministries for the salvation of the world.

Sacred Heart Maryvale Institute. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Loving heart

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Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience, so that those who slander you when you are living a good life in Christ may be proved wrong in the accusations that they bring. And if it is the will of God that you should suffer, it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong.

Why, Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life.

1 Peter 3:15-18

The Sacred Heart is one of most treasured images of Jesus in the Western tradition. The second reading on Sunday, the 6th Sunday of Easter, reminds that we are ourselves called to have hearts that, in sacred exactly  are certainly holy.

Our hearts become holy in Christ when we have there love for him and love for our neighbour.

That love is deepened when imperfect we humbly draw on Christ’s love for us and on the love of others so we may continue to attempt what is good and best. And it is deepened to when, as Peter notes, we sometimes are called to share in Christ’s suffering even for the good we do.

Kensal Green Cemetery. (c) 2008, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Cherished and cherishing

Sacred Heart, Kensal GreenThe Responsorial psalm on Sunday, the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, was a rejoicing in being chosen by God as his own.

 

Happy are the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.
They are happy, whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen as his own.

Happy are the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.

Happy are the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
The Lord is our help and our shield.
May your love be upon us, O Lord,
as we place all our hope in you.

Happy are the people the Lord has chosen as his own.

Psalm 32:1,12,18-20,22

Thanksgiving is at the heart of Christian worship. For everything begins with God, and everything that is of God is good and praiseworthy.

Challenges to our sense of being blessed by God are not few and far between. The psalmist mentions death and famine: we can doubtless think of many more.

And yet the psalmist also finds the way out of those challenges, of being raised above and beyond them, in the love of God – and in our hope, trust, faith in that love.

The psalmist is no fool. He knows that even the among the people the Lord has chosen as his own, the faithful too sometimes die in famine. But even in death theirs souls, they themselves are saved,, kept alive. In Christian revelation we understand this work of the Lord for us as being his raising us to share in the glory of Christ’s resurrection.

In this life, and beyond our experience here of this life, the Lord chooses us as his own.

  • When, how do you find you are best encouraged to give thanks to the Lord?
  • When, how, do you find it best to bring your challenges and concerns before the Lord?

Sacred Heart, Kensal Green cemetery. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: love, live.

Sacred Heart, Piarist Church, CracowThe Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Lent, drew on images of Exodus to help make sense of the newness of life won for us in Christ, but still ours to receive and live.

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

There is nothing automatic about salvation. There are no restrictions on it. God does not run out of love, but sometimes, it seems, we run out of opportunity to respond to that love.

It is of that St Paul warns us, as did Jesus in the parable we heard Sunday, and the warning about our possible perishing if we do not repent and embrace the goodness of God.

God is not capricious: how we might please and delight God is very straightforward. The two commandments are love of God, and love of neighbour (love of God in neighbour?). And in fulfilling these we live to the potential of our human self, living in healthy love for ourselves.

Sacred Heart, Piarist Church, Cracow. (c) 2013, 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.

Speak Lord: that we may echo your Word.

Sacred Heart church, Marseille

The second reading at tomorrow’s Mass – the Exaltation of the Holy Cross – turns our attention to the one raised on the Cross, for our sake.

His state was divine,
yet Christ Jesus did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave
and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings
in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:6-11

The simplicity of the language used by Paul is striking. Actually this passage is possibly the text of an early hymn, and so maybe the credit for the words in fact belongs to someone else.

This passage describe in basic language and simple sentences, with the slightest of rhetorical flourishes, an event that touches the heart and impacts on the whole of creation.

  • How would you describe Jesus, and the consequences of his life and death?
  • When did you last share the the Good News of Jesus, entrusted to us for the life of the world?
  • What did you learn from the experience? And how have you tried to apply the learning?

The love of Jesus crucified extends to the whole world. Apse mosaic at the  Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Marseille. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2014