Taste and See: Trust

Burden bearing

Burden bearing

The purpose of this blog is to help us without participation in Sunday Mass, and to help enrich our lives outside of worship with the riches shared at Sunday Mass. Making the connection, and making the connection fruitful, is not always easy.

How things sound at Mass, and how we hear them, or otherwise engage with them outside of Mass can sometimes be very different indeed.

Take the responsorial psalm of last Sunday, the 25th in Ordinary Time. At Mass that psalm and its response can sound so persuasive, so much who and how we are.

How does it sound later on that same week, when we are back at work, and back in the thick of life?

The Lord upholds my life.

O God, save me by your name;
by your power, uphold my cause.
O God, hear my prayer;
listen to the words of my mouth.

The Lord upholds my life.

For proud men have risen against me,
ruthless men seek my life.
They have no regard for God.

The Lord upholds my life.

But I have God for my help.
The Lord upholds my life.
I will sacrifice to you with willing heart
and praise your name for it is good.

The Lord upholds my life.

Psalm 53:3-6,8

  • Where have you been aware of putting your trust in God?
  • Where else have you looked for more sure support?
  • Speak to the Lord about this, and about any gap about how things were on Sunday and how things are today.

Figure from the Winter Palace, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Of rest and work

Marylebone, Rosary

Sunday is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary time and the Church continues her reading on into Mark’s Gospel and into, over these weeks, the letter to the Ephesians.

On this Blog a pattern of reading in preparation and in continuation of the Sunday celebration is proposed. For more information go to our About page

The Gospel of Sunday has the apostles returning from the mission they were sent on in last Sunday’s reading, and now they need time to reflect and rest.

The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.

Mark 6:30-34

Many of us are probably also now looking forward to a break and time for R&R. rest and recreation. Re-creation, re-collection . Some of the  words used for this activity suggest how dissipated, drained we may have become.

‘Re-creation’ might remind that we had no active part in the first Creation, and so re-creation might largely be something God has to do – will our rest time allow him space and opportunity?

‘Re-collection’ might remind us of Jesus’ saying that we did not choose him, gather to him, not he called us, and gathers us. In our rest apart from the usual routine (if we’re lucky enough to have it), will we allow ourselves space to hear again his call.

In the Gospel the disciples rest and the Lord continues to work. That might remind us of those many many who continue to serve, and serve us, when we rest, and also remind of the Lord who continues to work for us, and especially when we let him!

Photograph of window at Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Marylebone.  (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: when less is more

St DOminic, Matisse sketch

The second reading at yesterday’s Mass speaks of God’s creation moving towards the fulfilment of its purpose, fruitfulness, harvest.

I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us. The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons. It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose, it was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.

Romans 8:18-23

We can envisage that achievement, that fulfilment, in many ways – when all are good; when all are obedient to the loving will of God; and so on.

The other metaphors around in yesterday’s readings speak of harvest, about plenty, and production.

But maybe the harvest of God is best achieved when we let go of our desires to have and to possess: a harvest achieved in surrender rather than accomplishment.

Something of this thought inspires the following poem by Tagore.

Time and time I came to your gate
with raised hands, asking for more and yet more.
You gave and gave, now in slow
measure, now in sudden excess.
I took some, and some things I let
drop; some lay heavy on my hands;
Some I made into playthings and broke
them when tired; till all the wrecks and
the hoards of your gifts grew immense,
hiding you, and the ceaseless expectation
wore my heart out.

Take, oh take – has now become my cry.
Shatter all from this beggar’s bowl:
put out this lamp of the importunate
watcher, hold my hands, raise me from
the still gathering heap of your gifts
into the bare infinity of your uncrowded presence.

Rabindranath Tagore

 Image: Cartoon of St Dominic. Matisse for the chapel at Vence. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2013.

Speak Lord: acts of love leading to a harvest of life

the-sower-sower-with-setting-sun-1888 van gogh

There is a longer and shorter form of the Gospel passage in the Lectionary today. The longer one features here.You may have heard the shorter one, which comprises only of the parable and its introductory paragraph.

Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.

He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

Then the disciples went up to him and asked, ‘Why do you talk to them in parables?’ ‘Because’ he replied, ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they are not revealed to them. For anyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. So in their case this prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled:

You will listen and listen again, but not understand,
see and see again, but not perceive.
For the heart of this nation has grown coarse,
their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes,
for fear they should see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their heart,
and be converted
and be healed by me.

‘But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! I tell you solemnly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.

‘You, therefore, are to hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path. The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once. The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing. And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’

Matthew 13:1-23

The withering of new shoots of hope is common.

Jesus speaks to the ‘people about such withering, and his parable offers a cautionary tale to us.

BUt to his disciples he says ‘Happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! I tell you solemnly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’

  • What have you see and heard that is blessing for you?
  • How has it been blessing for you? How does it hold at bay that withering of the new shoots of hope and love?

The painting by Vincent Van Gogh, dates from 1888, was painted in Arles, and presently resides in the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands

Taste and see: Bible and newspaper – guides for life and faith

695f9-barth

The Gospel heard on Sunday continues to challenge us regarding faith and faithful living.

Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

Matthew 11:25-30

  • What is revealed?
  • What cries out for the ease and rest that the Lord wins for us and shares with us?

Karl Barth famously suggested that Christians need to use their newspaper and their bible to know these things.

“The Pastor and the Faithful should not deceive themselves into thinking that they are a religious society, which has to do with certain themes; they live in the world. We still need – according to my old formulation – the Bible and the Newspaper.”

“One broods alternately over the newspaper and the New Testament and actually sees fearfully little of the organic connection between the two worlds concerning which one should now be able to give a clear and powerful witness”

“Newspapers, he says, are so important that ‘I always pray for the sick, the poor, journalists, authorities of the state and the church – in that order. Journalists form public opinion. They hold terribly important positions. Nevertheless, a theologian should never be formed by the world around him – either East or West. He should make his vocation to show both East and West that they can live without a clash. Where the peace of God is proclaimed, there is peace on earth is implicit. Have we forgotten the Christmas message?'”

Needless to say this is not my research (!) you can find more details here.

For prayer and reflection today, maybe

  • consider again what is revealed about Jesus Christ and his ministry in the passage from the Gospel
  • look to your newspaper with eyes of faith to see why the message of hope and love is so needed. In your prayer intercede for those in need – who knows maybe some of them are also interceding for you.

Image was found here.

Speak Lord: Learn from me…

 

Therese 5

The words of Jesus that we hear in the Gospel today are spoken after the death of John the Baptist, after the rejection of the gospel in Chorazin, in Bethsaida, and even his ‘own town’ of Capernaum. These reject but others, perhaps surprising others, accept the Gospel. And for this Jesus blesses his Father.

As you read the passage, what word, phrase, or sentence stands out for you?

You might hold on to that word, phrase, or sentence, and let it remain present to you over the coming hours, pondering it in your heart. Then bring the fruits of your pondering to God in prayer.

Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’

Matthew 11:25-30

This gospel passage is so often heard at Funerals, offering comfort and hope to those who mourn, and who have often enough seem family of friends struggle for months or years under the burden of chronic sickness or terminal illness.

It is a passage, of course, originally spoken to those in the prime of life.

It challenges we who struggle on, trying to save the world by our own efforts, to wise-up, and learn other ways.

It invites us to learn the ways of faith, and by them to come close to Christ who helps shoulder our load and shares with us his burden of love and service – a burden borne in his ministry of gentleness and respect.

Image of St Therese of Lisieux taken from https://www.facebook.com/SaintThereseofLisieux/photos_stream

Taste and See: The Lord our protector

Image

The first reading from the Mass of the Day on Sunday, the feast of Sts Peter and Paul follows.

Read it quietly and carefully.

Notice what emotions it evokes in you and bring them to God in prayer.

King Herod started persecuting certain members of the Church. He beheaded James the brother of John, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews he decided to arrest Peter as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread, and he put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turns. Herod meant to try Peter in public after the end of Passover week. All the time Peter was under guard the Church prayed to God for him unremittingly.

On the night before Herod was to try him, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch at the main entrance to the prison. Then suddenly the angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was filled with light. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. ‘Get up!’ he said ‘Hurry!’ – and the chains fell from his hands. The angel then said, ‘Put on your belt and sandals.’ After he had done this, the angel next said, ‘Wrap your cloak round you and follow me.’ Peter followed him, but had no idea that what the angel did was all happening in reality; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed through two guard posts one after the other, and reached the iron gate leading to the city. This opened of its own accord; they went through it and had walked the whole length of one street when suddenly the angel left him. It was only then that Peter came to himself. ‘Now I know it is all true’ he said. ‘The Lord really did send his angel and has saved me from Herod and from all that the Jewish people were so certain would happen to me.’

Acts 12:1-11

In this world terrible things happen, and for often petty reasons (…seeing that it pleased the Jews he had beheaded James, Herod arrested Peter…).

Sometimes they happen to us and can shock us to the core.

Yet always God is there for us – and though the care of God may not always be experienced in so practical and immediate form as Peter experiences in this his care is there, and can give us remarkable poise, beyond our own achieving, in times of trial.

  • Where and when have you experienced the love and protection of God?
  • What effect did that have on your life.
  • How do you show love and care for those in difficulty?

Image is of a glass disk, probably the base of a bowl or cup, depicting the Apostles of Rome, Peter and Paul.