Speak Lord: Our sure hope

Figure at prayer. Cathedral, Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.

There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.


Second Reading for the 3rd Sunday of Advent
Philippians 4:4-7

On Gaudete Sunday we hear this reading from Paul that urges us to rejoice, to be happy in the Lord.

The Lord and his love are the ultimate reason for our confidence.

His prayer, our prayer, and the prayer of the whole Church, offers us reason for comfort and trust.

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Speak Lord: Help us speak and listen…

IMG_3560a Pier Francesco Sacchi, Saint Paul Writing..jpg

As we have the same spirit of faith that is mentioned in scripture – I believed, and therefore I spoke – we too believe and therefore we too speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by his side and you with us. You see, all this is for your benefit, so that the more grace is multiplied among people, the more thanksgiving there will be, to the glory of God.

That is why there is no weakening on our part, and instead, though this outer man of ours may be falling into decay, the inner man is renewed day by day. Yes, the troubles which are soon over, though they weigh little, train us for the carrying of a weight of eternal glory which is out of all proportion to them. And so we have no eyes for things that are visible, but only for things that are invisible; for visible things last only for a time, and the invisible things are eternal.

For we know that when the tent that we live in on earth is folded up, there is a house built by God for us, an everlasting home not made by human hands, in the heavens.

Second reading for 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

 

Paul spoke and regularly found himself in a good deal of trouble because of what he said and how he said it. Today too, he provokes hurt and upset, and for many of the same reasons.

Any yet his desire is to speak the Gospel of Love, to save people from falsehood and whatever will not lead them to God.

In the Scriptures, because we hear so much from him directly, we know that Paul spoke. What is not so evident, but surely equally true, is that Paul was ready to listen – to the Lord, to toeher apostles, to the people who lived and worked among. He could be acerbic and abrupt, but he was also committed and caring and sought to be at their service.

  • Who do we talk to?
  • Who do we talk at?
  • Who do we listen to?

Pier Francesco Sacchi, Saint Paul Writing. National Gallery, London. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Making the effort

DSC00776 Paul.jpg

Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.

Second reading for Sunday of the 6th week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Our every action is laden with the implications and consequences of the choices we made in taking it.

Often we will not even be conscious of these. But Paul invites us to try to make sure that the implication of our every action is that we love and honour God and every intended consequence is about love of neighbour.

Today is the last day before the season of Lent begins – a season given us to help us recover the fullness of our Christian identity by attending to our behaviour.

St Paul, pray for us.

Sign for Christian Coffee Shop, Antalya, Turkey. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Our Good News

DSC05665 St Peters W Door, 2016.jpg

I do not boast of preaching the gospel, since it is a duty which has been laid on me; I should be punished if I did not preach it! If I had chosen this work myself, I might have been paid for it, but as I have not, it is a responsibility which has been put into my hands. Do you know what my reward is? It is this: in my preaching, to be able to offer the Good News free, and not insist on the rights which the gospel gives me.

So though I am not a slave of any man I have made myself the slave of everyone so as to win as many as I could. For the weak I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men in order to save some at any cost; and I still do this, for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessings.

Second reading for Sunday of 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 9:16-19,22-23

St Paul’s gifts himself, freely, for the sake and love of others. He accepts the invitation from God to make himself servant of all, that they might have life and have it to the full.

It is in this self-giving that St Paul becomes himself.

  • What makes you you?

Image of St Paul from West Door of St Peter’s Basilica, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Broken for us

144cross-and-flowersWhen I came to you, brothers, it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you what God had guaranteed. During my stay with you, the only knowledge I claimed to have was about Jesus, and only about him as the crucified Christ.

Far from relying on any power of my own, I came among you in great ‘fear and trembling’ and in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy; only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

The Second reading on Sunday next, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, focuses us on the central teaching of Paul, the Cross and the Crucified Christ.

The glory of God is revealed in this ‘tragedy’, this ‘failure’. It is in turning from all other glories that we enter into the wondrous love and life of the Resurrected One, and the fulfilment of all God’s promises.

Photograph. York 2007. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: a humble way…

entrance-to-a-cave-church-goreme

Take yourselves for instance, brothers, at the time when you were called: how many of you were wise in the ordinary sense of the word, how many were influential people, or came from noble families? No, it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning; those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything.

The human race has nothing to boast about to God, but you, God has made members of Christ Jesus and by God’s doing he has become our wisdom, and our virtue, and our holiness, and our freedom. As scripture says: if anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

St Paul calls us a realistic sense of ourselves. Humility about who were are/were in ourselves; proper pride about who in Christ we have become.

On the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the sequence of readings invite us to a fresh humility about ourselves, and a fresh dedication to the Lord and his way of living.

In God’s purview so many of the things we have considered strengths are revealed as weaknesses, sapping us of our purpose and drawing us from what makes life most worth living.

To take to ourselves God’s vision and God’s life is not necessarily easy! But we seek to do it, not alone, but as very members of Christ. From him will come the strength we need, and from him the love and patience we need as we struggle as we learn to live by his strength.

  • In what do you take false pride?
  • In what can you take real pride?

Rock church, Goreme, Turkey. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Listen up

 

Opinions in Brum Lib.jpg

I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice. From what Chloe’s people have been telling me, my dear brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you. What I mean are all these slogans that you have, like: ‘I am for Paul’, ‘I am for Apollos’, ‘I am for Cephas’, ‘I am for Christ.’ Has Christ been parcelled out? Was it Paul that was crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul?

For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed.

1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17

The Second reading at Mass yesterday, the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, calls for a restoration of unity.

Our original unity comes from our shared humanity, gift of the Creator of all. That unity has been fractured so many times in so many ways. Wealth/religion/culture/political opinion are but some of the forces that drive us away from others and into self-interest groups. Can anything be more inimical to God’s will for us – the God who in Jesus Christ went to the Cross not for the (self-) righteous but for sinnes, for those outside our caste.

St Paul calls on all who call on Christ to find common ground again through Christ, to work for ways that help them to love and serve each other and together.

  • Who offends you?
  • How might you offend them?

Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris. Installation at Birmingham Library. (c) 2014, Allen Morris