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O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God for whom we watch and wait,
you sent John the Baptist
to prepare the way of your Son:
give us courage to speak the truth,
to hunger for justice,
and to suffer for the cause of right,
with Jesus Christ our Lord.
Show us your mercy, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
I will listen to what the Lord God will say,
for he shall speak peace to his people and to the faithful,
that they turn not again to folly.
Truly, his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth are met together,
righteousness and peace have kissed each other;
Truth shall spring up from the earth
and righteousness look down from heaven.
The Lord will indeed give all that is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness shall go before him
and direct his steps in the way.
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.
John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ When the men had come to him, they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” ‘ Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’
How easily are you offended, and what is it that offends you the most? How strong is your sense of forbearance? Are you one of those whose intolerance leads to repeated outbursts of anger and resentment? Or, are you someone whom everyone knows to be kind and understanding, even in the most trying of circumstances?
As the world has emerged from the restrictions imposed by governments in response to the Covid pandemic, it has been noted by many commentators that people have become angrier and less tolerant. This can be seen in the way some ignore the various rules that are in place to protect ourselves … and others. I have heard it said on many occasions that someone ‘doesn’t care what the rules are, they have a right to behave as they wish’. The notion of caring for others, and being grateful that we are also being cared for, seems to have evaporated in a cloud of selfishness. We have become like those who struggle with faith, those who will only believe when shown empirical evidence.
In today’s reading Jesus is questioned by two disciples of John the Baptist. Even John is found to be in that place where he needs reassurance. John sends his disciples to ask Jesus: Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?
Like John, we live in the midst of God’s wonderful creation. Time and time again we witness God answering our prayers. God may not respond to our pleas in the ways we might expect, or hope, but prayers are answered. Just as John and his disciples saw Jesus give sight to the blind, heal the lame and the lepers, restore hearing to the deaf and raise the dead, so we, if we look with the open eyes of true faith, see God’s power working in this world.
So … if we see the love and grace of God at work on a daily basis, why do we struggle with patience and tolerance? Why do we find it so difficult to help others find the path that will lead them into a closer relationship with God?
Jesus says: blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me. In these few words we should find instruction and inspiration. We should hear Jesus telling us to set aside our feelings of intolerance, anger and resentment. We should also hear Jesus inspiring us to be ever-grateful for all that he has given us through the sacrifice he made on the cross. Let us pray that we might heed the words of Jesus, and help others to find the way that leads to true blessedness.
Prayers of intercession
As the grace of God has opened our way to come before him, let us pray in the assurance that he is present among us.
As the Son of God was made known by his mighty works, strengthen his Church in true faith and good deeds. Make through her witness a highway to your holiness, a garden in the wilderness.
May the desert places of sin and sorrow blossom as the rose, filled with the joy of your presence. Bring light to those who are in darkness, love to the hearts that are barren.
Bless us with your presence in our families and friendships. Give us patience in all our dealing with others. Where relationships are hurt or broken, give healing and renewal.
As our Lord Jesus performed great wonders of healing, bring relief and renewed health to the sick and injured. Have mercy on those who after long illness are despairing of health. Give them hope and trust in your unfailing love.
Grant rest to those who have seen the promises fulfilled, all troubles ended, all distresses healed. Make them perfect in the peace of Christ.
Seeking to follow the way which the Lord has shown to us, we make our prayers in his name.
Prayer for the week
Father in heaven, the days draws near
when the glory of your Son will make radiant
the night of the waiting world.
May the lure of greed not impede us from the joy
which moves the hearts of those who seek him.
May the darkness not blind us to the vision of wisdom
which fills the minds of those who find him.
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. Amen.
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.