Speak Lord: Our strength, our hope.

Strength, St IsaacThe first reading for Mass today, the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, comes from the prophet Jeremiah.

In the days of Josiah, the word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying:

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.

‘So now brace yourself for action.
Stand up and tell them
all I command you.
Do not be dismayed at their presence,
or in their presence I will make you dismayed.

‘I, for my part, today will make you
into a fortified city,
a pillar of iron,
and a wall of bronze
to confront all this land:
the kings of Judah, its princes,
its priests and the country people.
They will fight against you
but shall not overcome you,
for I am with you to deliver you –
it is the Lord who speaks.’

Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19

The prophet receives the word of the Lord that reminds of Israel’s and thus the prophet’s vocation and calling, to be the chosen people, faithful to God, a witness to the nations.

The first reading prepares us for the Gospel in which Israel in Nazareth refuses its calling and rebels against its calling, and its God.

The first reading also prepares us to contemplate the vocation of God in the flesh, strong in his witness, and even in death triumphant in his faithful love.

  • When/how do you rely on the strength of the Lord?
  • For what do you hope in him?

Detail of Door of St Isaac’s Cathedral, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Love of God and neighbour

Cathedral, Granada

The Gospel  reading tomorrow, the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time,  offers a potent summary of the Gospel by which God gives life to us and the world.

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’

Matthew 22:34-40

  • Which comes more naturally to you? Love of God or love of neighbour? Which ever it is, why might that be? And what effect does it have on your life?
  • How does love of God manifest itself in your life? What encourages it? What makes it weaker? What form does it take?
  • How does love of neighbour manifest itself in your life? What encourages it? What makes it weaker? What form does it take?

The photograph of the interior of the Cathedral of Granada, Spain shows the beauty achieved  with the interplay of stone and light, geometry and artistry, light and shade, law and love. (c) Allen Morris, 2014.

Speak Lord: Bearing witness to the Lord of Love

 

 

Corporal Mercy

The second reading on Sunday, the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time,  has Paul name the good deeds of those who have begun to believe in the Gospel he preached and witnessed to.

You observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, and you were led to become imitators of us, and of the Lord; and it was with the joy of the Holy Spirit that you took to the gospel, in spite of the great opposition all round you. This has made you the great example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.

1 Thessalonians 1:5-10

We all need encouragement and affirmation, if we are to give of our best. Sometimes – as here – it can come from our leaders. At other times it can be offered by our peers. But if the encouragement is to be truly affirmation, an acknowledgement of what is good and true in us, then this doing what is right needs to be what we are doing and trying to do.

If we have been ‘servants of God’ for a long time it may be difficult to think what difference our faith makes to us. How do we know what do we do because it is ‘natural’ to us, and what do we do because of the more direct action of grace. Where does nature end and grace begin? The distinction may seem uncertain, and grace does build on nature, but it would be a little odd if one could not point to this or that and say ‘I do this because of my faith’, because of the urgings of grace.

  • What decisions have you made recently that have been influenced by your faith?
  • What decisions have you made, and actions taken, that you now regret were not influenced by your faith?
  • Bring your thoughts and feelings to the living God, the God of mercy.

 

Speak Lord: Of strong and compassionate love

 

Et unum sint

The responsorial psalm on Sunday, the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time,  professes love for the Lord, and especially for the strength he makes available to us.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

I love you, Lord, my strength,
my rock, my fortress, my saviour.
My God is the rock where I take refuge;
my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold.
The Lord is worthy of all praise,
when I call I am saved from my foes.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

Long life to the Lord, my rock!
Praised be the God who saves me,
He has given great victories to his king
and shown his love for his anointed.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

Psalm 17:2-4,47,51

Wherein lies our strength? In our wisdom, wealth or skills? The psalmist says, no, our strength is in the Lord.

  • Do we believe him?
  • What difference does the strength of the Lord make to your living and loving?

Again, this post was first posted last week due to a mix up in dates. Reflecting on it in the wake of the Synod and the tensions makes it apparent how often it is difficult to distinguish strength and weakness, especially when strength takes on the form of compassion and service, seeking to minister to the needs of the weak and the lost.

Maybe I’m particularly challenged about that by an article read this morning in the National Catholic Reporter. I am in no position to judge the critique of +Chaput, but I can take it to myself (we can take it to ourselves) and use it to consider our judgements and actions and the relationship between them. And that seems worth doing.

The image is of a model in the Gesù church in Rome showing the unity of the Church comprised of local churches – unity found and expressed in diversity. Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

 

Speak Lord: Love of God and neighbour

Logo-with-dove-and-caps

The Gospel  reading today, the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time,  offers a potent summary of the Gospel by which God gives life to us and the world.

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’

Matthew 22:34-40

  • How does love of God manifest itself in your life? What encourages it? What makes it weaker? What form does it take?
  • How does love of neighbour manifest itself in your life? What encourages it? What makes it weaker? What form does it take?

The image was found here.

Speak Lord: Bearing witness

Sinaiticus - Thessalonians

The second reading on Sunday, the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time,  sees Paul naming the good deeds of those who have begun to believe in the Gospel he preached and witnessed to.

You observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, and you were led to become imitators of us, and of the Lord; and it was with the joy of the Holy Spirit that you took to the gospel, in spite of the great opposition all round you. This has made you the great example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.

1 Thessalonians 1:5-10

We all need encouragement and affirmation, if we are to give of our best. Sometimes – as here – it can come from our leaders. At other times it can be offered by our peers. But if the encouragement is to be truly affirmation, an acknowledgement of what is good and true in us, we – of course – first need to be doing what is right.

If we have been ‘servants of God’ for a long time it may be difficult to think what difference our faith makes to us. Where does nature end and grace begin? The distinction may seem uncertain, and grace builds on nature, but it would be a little odd if one could not point to this or that and say ‘I do this because of my faith’.

What decisions have you made recently that have been influenced by your faith?

Or what decisions have you made that you now regret were not influenced by your faith?

The image is of a portion of the Codex Sinaiticus, showing the first verses of  Paul’s letter.

Speak Lord: Live love

 

Martyr of the Resistance, Aix

The responsorial psalm on Sunday, the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time,  professes love for the Lord, and especially for the strength he makes available to us.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

I love you, Lord, my strength,
my rock, my fortress, my saviour.
My God is the rock where I take refuge;
my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold.
The Lord is worthy of all praise,
when I call I am saved from my foes.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

Long life to the Lord, my rock!
Praised be the God who saves me,
He has given great victories to his king
and shown his love for his anointed.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

Psalm 17:2-4,47,51

 

Wherein lies our strength? In our wisdom, wealth or skills? The psalmist says, no, our strength is in the Lord.

  • Do we believe him?
  • What difference does the strength of the Lord make to your living and loving?

The carving is of a martyr of the Resistance, from a memorial in the town cemetery of Aix en Provence. Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris.