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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

Have Mercy on me, O God

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Snow-capped mountains and green fields with sheep and Psalm 51 v12
 
 
 
PSALMS 51 (NIVUK)
 
1  Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
 
2  Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
 
3  For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
 
4  Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
 
5  Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
 
6  Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
 
7  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
 
8  Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
 
9  Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
 
10  Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 
11  Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
 
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
 
13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
 
14  Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Saviour,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
 
15  Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
 
16  You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
 
17  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
 
18  May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
 
19  Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
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Only God can Forgive Sins

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Matthew 9:1–8
 
The teachers of the law got at least one thing right: by claiming to forgive sins, Jesus was claiming to be God.  And of course we know that he is God, and he does forgive sins, repeatedly.
 
Fr Ronald Rolheiser:

“. . .if the Catholicism that I was raised in had a fault, and it did, it was precisely that it did not allow for mistkes. If you made a mistake, you lived with it and, like the rich young man, were doomed to be sad, at least for the rest of your life. A serious mistake was a permanent stigmatization. We need a theolgy of brokenness. We need a theology which teaches us that even though we can’t unscramble an egg, God’s grace lets us live happily and with renewed innocence beyond any egg we may have scrambled. Every time we close a door, He opens another one for us . . .

"We need a theology that teaches us that God does not just give us one chance, but that every time we close a door, God opens another one for us. We need a theology that challenges us not to make mistakes, that takes sin seriously, but which tells us that when we do sin, when we do make mistakes, we are given the chance to take our place among the broken, among those whose lives are not perfect, the loved sinners, those for whom Christ came. We need a theology which tells us that a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance are just as valid as the first one. We need a theology that tells us that mistakes are not forever, that they are not even for a lifetime, that time and grace wash clean, that nothing is irrevocable. Finally, we need a theology which teaches us that God loves us as sinners and that the task of Christianity is not to teach us how to live, but to teach us how to live again, and again, and again."

Chris

from Ron Rolheiser

 

 

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Repentance to Bring Blessing

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Hosea 14: 2-10

 

"The Lord says this: Israel, come back to the Lord your God; your iniquity was the cause of your downfall.  Provide yourself with words and come back to the Lord.  Say to him, ‘Take all iniquity away so that we may have happiness again and offer you our words of praise. 

"Assyria cannot save us, we will not ride horses any more, or say, “Our God!” to what our own hands have made, for you are the one in whom orphans find compassion’ – I will heal their disloyalty, I will love them with all my heart, for my anger has turned from them. 

"I will fall like dew on Israel.  He shall bloom like the lily, and thrust out roots like the poplar, his shoots will spread far; he will have the beauty of the olive and the fragrance of Lebanon. 

"They will come back to live in my shade; they will grow corn that flourishes, they will cultivate vines as renowned as the wine of Helbon.  What has Ephraim to do with idols any more when it is I who hear his prayer and care for him? 

"I am like a cypress ever green; all your fruitfulness comes from me.  Let the wise man understand these words.  Let the intelligent man grasp their meaning. 

"For the ways of the Lord are straight, and virtuous men walk in them, but sinners stumble."

 

When our will is weak, when our thinking is confused, and when our conscience is burdened with a load of guilt, we must remember that God cares for us continually; His compassion never fails.

When our shortcomings and our awareness of our sins overcome us, God’s compassion never fails.

Chris

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The Prodigal Son

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Luke 15:1–3, 11–32
 
The parable of the Prodigal Son is unique to St Luke’s Gospel.  The parable could equally be called the parable of the Father’s Heart, or of The Elder Brother.
 
Most people perhaps identify with the younger son – his destitution, his failure, his sinfulness, his wastrel nature . . .  Perhaps also we fully understand why his father’s heart went out to him.
 
But most likely we are more like the elder brother, indignant, self-righteous, looking down on such a sinner.  Note also that the father does not rebuke him harshly, but rather affirms his love for him as well.
 
Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and there are none so lost as those who do not understand that they are lost and walking in darkness.
 
We are all lost in some way, morally weak and confused; but God is a God of grace, mercy and forgiveness.  Every human being is love by God – no matter who they are, what they have done and how far beyond redemption they may seem.
 
Lord, preserve and protect me from having a heart like the elder brother.  Teach me to recognise profoundly that I am the worst of sinners, that I was once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
 
Chris
 
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God's Love

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1 John 4:11-18 and Mark 6:45-52
 
God is our Father and he loves us perfectly.  
 
His love is unchanging.  It does not depend on external circumstances but is constand and sure.  We can trust completely because God is faithful and his love endures forever.
 
God wants to replace fear with a secure trust in his care for us.  He will set us free from fear as we draw closer to Jesus.  We can trust Jesus with everything: our past, our worries, our pain, our joys and our deepest longings.
 
We can hand over to Jesus every fear and oppression.  When we do this, something wonderful happens.  Through the Holy Spirit we enter into the inheritance that we received at baptism — we are born again.
 
As adults we may have taken the step of making our own the promises given us by our parents at baptism, and may have known the grace flowing from such great commitment. But we are weak and sinful.  How easily we can lose our first love for Jesus!  How quickly our vision of living life in the Spirit can grow dim!
 
From time to time we need to stop and take stock so that we can reaffirm our decision to take seriously the call of Jesus to follow him.  We need to come daily into God’s presence in prayer, repenting of the ways in which we have failed as his disciples.
 
God’s love is so great that he is quicker to grant forgiveness that we are to ask for it, and he will give us the power of the Holy Spirit to live a transformed life.
 
Father God, as your sons and daughters we ask you to release us from every fear.  Draw us deeply into the life of the Trinity each day and reveal how much you love us.
 
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Forgiveness, the Scandal of Mercy

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Luke 19:1-10
 
This encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus the tax collector illustrates perfectly the ‘scandal of grace’.  It brings to the fore this very important biblical teaching that where sin abounds, grace super-abounds.
 
God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.
 
Through his encounter with Jesus Zacchaeus had an experience of God’s mercy and compassion which touched him and led him to repentance and conversion.  No one is beyond God’s grace and mercy.
 
We are to be a living expression, a sign, a sacrament of this same mercy, kindness and forgiveness.  Learning to forgive others, to hold out the hand of friendship and brotherhood/sisterhood to those we find difficult is not easy.
 
In fact, without God’s grace it’s impossible, but with God’s grace all things are possible.
 
Lord, you treated everyone you met with great dignity and compassion; as persons created in your image and likeness.  May I now go and do likewise.
 
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Love – Do good – Give

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Luke 6:39-42
 
Love, do good, give; the moral and ethical teaching of Jesus can be summed up in these four words.
 
The Church draws on thousands of years of teaching and human experience, much of it rooted in the dark alleys of confusion, darkness and sinfulness of its sons and daughters, clergy and lay people alike.  
 
But the wisdom of the Church resides first in the wisdom of Christ.  She is wise because Christ is wise; we are wise because Christ is wise.  True wisdom is learning daily to live life in the Spirit, learning to listen to the Spirit and to give witness to the fruits and gifts of the Spirit.
 
In the midst of this endeavour we must live alongside people and learn to relate to them.  The Christian faith should help us to master living alongside our fellows in fraternal love and affection.  We learn not to judge others but to be quicker to judge ourselves.
 
”If you judge other people you have no time to love them.”  St Mother Teresa of Calcutta
 
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I desire mercy, not sacrifice

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Matthew 9:9-13

What the Pharisess failed to grasp – and we have our moments, too – is that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Despite the grace of baptism we carry the wound of original sin and, rather like soldiers on the front line, we seek healing and repair in the field hospital of Christ.

“I can clearly see that what the Church needs today is the ability to heal wounds and warm the hearts of the faithful, it needs to be by their side.  I see the Church as a field hospital after a battle.  It’s pointless to ask a seriously injured patiend whether his cholesterols or blood sugar levels are hight!  It’s his wounds that need to be healed.  The rest we can talk about later.  Now we must think about treating those wounds.”  Pope Francis

Chris

(from Bible Alive)
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