O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose mercies never come to an end:
grant us the grace to trust you
and to receive the gifts of your love
new every morning,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Out of the depths have I cried to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice;
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
If you, Lord, were to mark what is done amiss,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you shall be feared.
I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him;
in his word is my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord,
more than the night watch for the morning,
more than the night watch for the morning.
O Israel, wait for the Lord,
for with the Lord there is mercy;
With him is plenteous redemption
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said, ‘Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute”, so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.’
When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile towards him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
The life of Christian discipleship is not always an easy path to follow. Since the dawn of time human beings have sought to establish relationships of power. Those relationships of power distance us from God, and yet humanity persists in pursuing that path.
As time has unfolded the human need to find a meaning for its own existence has caused us to delve deeper and deeper into our past. As we have uncovered details of the lives lived by our ancestors, we have come to celebrate their actions, whether they were worthy of celebration or not.
There is no doubt that those things that have shaped modern humanity are both interesting and informative, but they should not be seen as the targets we should be setting for ourselves. We live in a different time. A blind re-enactment of the past can only end in disaster because the life we live is so different from that of earlier generations. We have a greater awareness of our global identity and the many responsibilities that accompany that knowledge.
In today’s reading Jesus is warning us about the need to live in the moment. He is challenging those who are so firmly rooted in the past that they honour those who killed the prophets sent by God in earlier times. He is also warning us not to be diverted away from God by those whose priorities and ‘power’ create barriers between us and our loving Father in heaven.
There are certainly lessons to be learnt from the past. We do need to look back and seek to understand, because that will help us not to make the same mistakes as our forebears. But, when we wrap up the actions of our ancestors in the word ‘tradition’ and seek to blindly repeat their mistakes, we will soon find ourselves following a path that will lead us away from God and into the waiting arms of the devil.
Let us pray for the wisdom that will keep us rooted in the lives we are called to live in Christ’s name. Let us pray for the strength to see the past as a foundation upon which we can build a better present. Let us pray that, by living as Christ calls us to live, we might lay the foundations for a world which will indeed see God’s kingdom on earth become one with his kingdom in heaven.
Prayers of intercession
United in the company of all the faithful and looking for the coming of the kingdom, let us offer our prayers to God, the source of all life and holiness.
Merciful Lord, strengthen all Christian people by your Holy Spirit, that we may live as a royal priesthood and a holy nation to the praise of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Bless all ministers of your Church, that by faithful proclamation of your word we may be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets into a holy temple in the Lord. Lord,
Empower us by the gift of your holy and life-giving Spirit, that we may be transformed into the likeness of Christ from glory to glory.
Give to the world and its peoples the peace that comes from above, that they may find Christ’s way of freedom and life.
Hold in your embrace all who witness to your love in the service of the poor and needy; all those who minister to the sick and dying; and all who bring light to those in darkness.
Touch and heal all those whose lives are scarred by sin or disfigured by pain, that, raised from death to life in Christ, their sorrow may be turned to eternal joy.
Remember in your mercy all those gone before us, who have been well-pleasing to you from eternity; preserve in your faith your servants on earth, guide us to your kingdom, and grant us your peace at all times.
Hasten the day when many will come from east and west, from north and south, and sit at table in your kingdom.
We give you thanks for the whole company of your saints in glory, with whom in fellowship we join our prayers and praises; by your grace may we, like them, be made perfect in your love.
Prayer for the week
Give peace in our time, O Lord:
peace and reconciliation among the nations;
peace and unity within the churches;
peace and harmony in our communities and homes;
peace and love in all our hearts;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.