Taste and See: Hurt and Healing

IMG_5454 Satan Oxford.jpg

 

Resentment and anger, these are foul things, and both are found with the sinner.

He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin.

Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.

If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord?
Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins?

Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins?
Remember the last things, and stop hating, remember dissolution and death, and live by the commandments.

Remember the commandments, and do not bear your neighbour ill-will; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook the offence.

First reading for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiasticus 27:33-28:9

Corruption comes from within, not from without. External influences have their influence, but the mess for us is what happens within us: our disordered desires and actions.

Sometimes we can exercise some control over these things. Sometimes we find ourselves powerless. However in every case it is good for us to ask for the Lord’s help. If we can control our anger, resentment and all, we have good reason for turning to the Lord and asking for help.

Our ability to forgive and to heal so often relies on our having the humility to ask for help.

Detail of Satan/Mephistopheles, a bronze artwork by Jean-Jacques Feuchère in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

 

 

Taste and See: The Lord who sets us free

Epstein, CoventryYesterday, the third Sunday of Lent,  the first Scrutiny was celebrated with those adults, the Elect, who are preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil.

The concluding part of the Scrutiny rite is the prayer to free the Elect from the power of sin and evil.

It comes in two parts: the first addressed to the Father, the second to the Son, following the laying on of hands.

The prayer is a prayer of the Church, and an invitation to Jesus for his personal intervention and his care for those entrusted to him.

 

Presider:
God of power, you sent your Son to be our Saviour.
Grant that these catechumens,
who, like the woman of Samaria, thirst for living water,
may turn to the Lord as they hear his word
and acknowledge the sins and weaknesses that weigh them down.

Protect them from vain reliance on self
and defend them from the power of Satan.

Free them from the spirit of deceit,
so that, admitting the wrong they have done,
they may attain purity of heart
and advance on the way to salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

If it is convenient, the celebrant lays his hands on each of the elect.

Then, with hands outstretched over all the elect, he continues:

Lord Jesus,
you are the fountain for which they thirst,
you are the Master whom they seek.
In your presence
they dare not claim to be without sin,
for you alone are the Holy One of God.

They open their hearts to you in faith,
they confess their faults
and lay bare their hidden wounds.
In your love free them from their infirmities,
heal their sickness,
quench their thirst, and give them peace.

In the power of your name,
which we call upon in faith,
stand by them now and heal them.
Rule over that spirit of evil,
conquered by your rising from the dead.

Show your elect the way of salvation in the Holy Spirit,
that they may come to worship the Father in truth,
for you live and reign for ever and ever.

All: Amen.

Sometimes the Church’s ministers can be hesitant about the use of these prayers, so strong in their admission of the power of evil and sin in our lives. However the prayers are even more trenchant in their confession of the power of the Lord.

Who would be without the intercession and care of the Church? Without the power and protection of Christ?

  • Pray the prayer, making it your own, asking God’s protection of those preparing to live as Christians through baptism at Easter.
  • Pray the prayer knowing your own need for God’s protection and care.

 Photograph is of St Michael the Archangel triumphant over Satan, by Epstein. Coventry Cathedral. (C) 2014, Allen Morris.