Speak Lord: Call us to faith…

St Thomas

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter comes from the Gospel of John. It reminds of the challenge of coming to belief in the Resurrection

In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.

John 20:19-31

We may feel superior to Thomas, having inherited a sense for the rightness of the Resurrection as part of how the world is. Yet it evidently is not how the world is, except when God wills it!

Belief in the Resurrection is in the fact of the Resurrection, not in an idea or a (false) myth. But it is surely no easy thing to hold to in face of the evidence.

  • Pray for those who struggle with the witness of the Church.
  • Pray in gratitude for the faith you have.

Statue of St Thomas, St John Lateran,, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: newness

Sarcophagus of Resurrection

Three Gospel readings are provided for use on Easter Day – one reserved for the evening of that day, the story of the journey to Emmaus.

On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn, they went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but on entering discovered that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there. As they stood there not knowing what to think, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side. Terrified, the women lowered their eyes. But the two men said to them, ‘Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here; he has risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee: that the Son of Man had to be handed over into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day?’ And they remembered his words.

When the women returned from the tomb they told all this to the Eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them also told the apostles, but this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense, and they did not believe them.

Peter, however, went running to the tomb. He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else; he then went back home, amazed at what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12

The story is filled with detail – the names of the women, their experience, their astonishment and confusioni, the doubt their story met with, and the impetuous running of Peter, (alone, here), to the tomb.

This is no ordinary tale, no ordinary experience. The Resurrection moves the boundaries so far as human living is understood: we are no long as constrained as we thought.

Live love.

Sarcophagus of the Resurrection – sadly not showing the women! Vatican Museum. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Easter is more flavoursome than chocolate!

Resurrection St Petersburg II

The second reading at Mass on Sunday, Easter Sunday, came from the letter to the Colossians. (Or did unless you heard the alternative second reading provided in the Lectionary, which came from the letter to the Corinthians)

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

Colossians 3:1-4

The passage reminds that Easter is not only about the new life of the Resurrection for Jesus.

However in a culture which seems increasingly to see Easter as a shopping/selling opportunity we might be grateful for the reminder that Easter has to do with Jesus! The adoption of the term ‘Easter‘ in place of the more ancient Pascha is maybe something to regret, and maybe something to be reconsidered.

St Paul however reminds us that the Resurrection is not something for Christ only but also for all those who have life in him. In Christ we are restored to life – even if something of that life has still to be revealed.

To what do you aim in your discipleship?

What form does the newness of Easter take in you this year?

The Resurrection. St Isaac Cathedral, St Petersburg, Russia. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See

Paschal CandleThe Sequence for Easter Day is one of the few extra-biblical texts retained in the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite.

The poetic treatment of the Easter story reminds, should we need reminding – that we do not listen to the scriptures to get new information about what ‘happened’. If it did the Sequence gives away the ending!

Rather we listen to recover the meaning of what happened, its present significance to us. And to that end the Sequence offers its support and help. Our present response becomes rejoicing and trust and hope.

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
offer sacrifice and praise.
The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb;
and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners to his Father reconciled.

Death with life contended:
combat strangely ended!

Life’s own Champion, slain,
yet lives to reign.

Tell us, Mary:
say what thou didst see
upon the way.

The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ’s glory as he rose!

The angels there attesting;
shroud with grave-clothes resting.

Christ, my hope, has risen:
he goes before you into Galilee.

That Christ is truly risen
from the dead we know.
Victorious king, thy mercy show!

Paschal Candle – last year’s now, but splendid! St Catherine’s Catholic Church in St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: that we may witness to you

St Peter baptised gentiles

The first reading at Mass today comes from the ‘Easter book’ – the account of the first days and years following the Resurrection, of the early church and its development – the Acts of the Apostles.

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.

Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and also to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand.

Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’

Acts 10:34,37-43

The Acts of the Apostles tells of the Church, but of course as the passage today shows, it tells of the continuing work of Jesus in his Church.

It tells of men and women who respond to Jesus, risen from the dead, and the impact that has on their lives, of the impact that he has on the lives of those who respond to him.

  • What draws you to faith?
  • How/when do you see Jesus active in your life?

 

 

Speak Lord: with, for, as, us.

Resurrection St Petersburg

The Responsorial Psalm tomorrow, Easter Day, is sung as the song of Christ: his song celebrating the Resurrection.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.

or
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! 

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

Psalm 117:1-2,16-17,22-23

It is also the song of the Church. It is the song Jesus urges us to sing as we share in his new life – through our Baptism, which achieves for us what faith promises to us; through our communion in word and Eucharist; through our continuing in the ministry of love of neighbour.

He sings, and it is our privilege to share in the song.

  • What might need healing in you that you might share more fully in his song?
  • What might you do more lovingly this Easter?

Image of the Resurrection. Cathedral of the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: our life

Prison Sainte Anne

The second reading at Mass on Sunday, Easter Sunday, comes from the letter to the Colossians. (Or so it does unless you hear the alternative second reading from the letter to the Corinthians)

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

Colossians 3:1-4

On this day (Good Friday) that we commemorate the death of the Lord, we look forward also to our being brought to new life by that death…

The reading for Sunday assures us of our lasting salvation in Christ – saved by what was, what is and what will be, in Christ.

Open doors in the Prison Sainte Anne, Avignon. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: to us…

Mary Magdalene, SalisburyThere are three optional Gospel passages provided for Mass on Easter Day, one – the story of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus – reserved for the evening of Easter Day.

The first of them focuses on the disciples agitated and struggling to comprehend what has happened and why…

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

John 20:1-9

The details of this spare, taut, narrative are engaging. Mary’s early rising and running to Peter and John. The contrasting of Peter and John in their speed in running and their beginning to believe and understand. But note the use of the first person plural. There are differences and particularities amongst the first disciples but they are united,

They are united first in confusion; but then in understanding and then belief. They journey together, however much they also journey apart.

Mary Magdalene, Elisabeth Frink. (c) 2010, Allen Morris

Taste and See: God with us and for us

Crucifix, Lisieux 2

The second reading on Sunday, the hymn from the Letter to the Philippians reminds us of the holiness of the one we have at the centre of our gaze this week: Jesus, fully human, fully divine.

In his humanity achieving all we have not: in his divinity manifesting to us divine love and our ultimate goal.

His state was divine,
yet Christ Jesus did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave
and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings
in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:6-11

We have busy lives and the business will impinge on our keeping of these coming Holy Days unless we are determined to keep it at bay.

What liturgies will you be able to attend in these days? And what time can you keep free and quiet before and after for preparation and reflection.

Good luck! Let’s pray for one another…

Detail of crucifix. Lisieux Cathedral. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Taste and See: welcome the Lord

Jerusalem Palms

Maybe it was replaced in many parishes and communities by a hymn but here is something lovely about the entrance antiphon provided for Palm Sunday.

Entrance Antiphon
Six days before the Passover,
when the Lord came into the city of Jerusalem,
the children ran to meet him;
in their hands they carried palm branches
and with a loud voice cried out:

Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed are you, who have come in your abundant mercy!

O gates, lift high your heads;
grow higher, ancient doors.
Let him enter, the king of glory!
Who is this king of glory?
He, the Lord of hosts, he is the king of glory.

Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed are you, who have come in your abundant mercy!

Cf. Jn 12: 1, 12-13; Ps 23: 9-10

It simply reminds of the historic event of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, and the enthusiastic welcome he there received.

And then, quoting Psalm 23, it challenges us to how/whether we welcome the Lord. Are we of the crowd warmly welcoming, or do we find ourselves more ambivalent, more indifferent or maybe even hostile. Not in the liturgy, especially, but to the Lord in our lives and his challenge to how we live as community, as to whether we do live as community…

  • Where does the gospel challenge you?
  • Where does the Lord excite you?

Palms prepared for procession. Jerusalem. (c) 2013, Allen Morris