1. -- Lanie LeBlanc
2. -- Carol & Dennis
3. -- Brian Gleeson
4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ
5. – (Your reflection
can be here!)
2nd Sun. of Easter
Our readings this Second Sunday of Easter give us a glimpse
of how things were around the first Easter, at the time of
Jesus. We read/hear that before they knew that Jesus was alive
that the apostles were behind locked doors in fear of the Jews.
We also find out how things changed when Jesus appeared to them
and then how the fledgling faith community grew. Where are we,
today's believers, in our story of being a follower of Christ?
My grand daughter's week long Easter "break" from school
began on Easter Sunday this past week, but my husband's was the
week before Easter. So the stay at home ladies decided to sleep
in and do some of the fun things that can't go on during school
hours or when we do go away on a vacation. It is a relaxed time
for sure with more fun and fewer time constraints, certainly
different from our normal routine, but not a very different way
of life after the dramatic few days of deepening faith that we
experienced over the Triduum together. It seems to me much too
much like "business as usual".
Our first reading says that for the early community "Awe came
upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the
apostles." Not here! Are we still too "wound up" to have allowed
our faith experience to sink deep into our hearts? I was hoping
for "a new birth to a living hope". In truth, we still have the
majority of the week to go since I do this weekly reflection
early in the week before the preceding Sunday, but still.....
I imagine, however, that many households are experiencing the
"same old, same old" every day tasks and feelings that we are,
without dramatic changes, vacations or not, school or not.
Something is wrong about that, or at least it seems wrong to me.
We are a family of faith... what is going on... or not going on?
Upon reflection, my answer concerns awareness and
intentionality. My thoughts return to an excellent homily this
Easter Sunday by my pastor, Fr. Jack Walmesley. He was retelling
how a woman demonstrated heron-going faith in extraordinary
circumstances after a tragedy occurred in her life. It was
basically a formula for all of us for authentic Christian living
and moving on. The most poignant part was his profound statement
that "God uses the events in our life that could destroy us...
to save us".
What is it in your life that threatens to destroy you? Is it
boredom or over work? Is it your sullen teenager or an
aggressive boss? Is it being too much in demand or feeling
forgotten? Is it an illness or an influx of wealth? Is it
thinking about a nuclear war or not being able to feed your
family? Is it not being listened to because you are too young or
too old? Is it the encroachment of too much noise or too much
silence? Our world is FULL of unrecognized obstacles that could
destroy us as well as reasonable fears and tragedies. The only
way to overcome them is to become aware of their power and to
rely on one's faith to weather them.
To me, relying on one's faith means keeping it in mind,
always. The practice of prayer makes that a possibility;
awareness makes it a reality. This week, it is necessary for me
to point out where God peeks into and joins in our activities.
Otherwise the sameness and my unfulfilled (and often
unrealistic) expectations will destroy a growing part of my
faith and that of my family.
I do believe in "an inheritance that is imperishable,
undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven" for each of us. Jesus
made that possible and Jesus is still alive in today's world!
Reminding myself, young grand daughter and her mom about how God
acts through everyday actions is pretty important. I trust that
God will use that to save me, mostly from myself.
Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP
Second Sunday of Easter, April 23, 2017
Acts of Apostles 2:42-47; Responsorial Psalm 118; 1st Peter
1:3-9; John 20:19-31
The readings this Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter,
continue the excitement of discovery that Jesus is not dead!
From the first rays of light of this first day of the week, we
are told the discovery of the empty tomb did nothing to allay
doubt that Jesus was alive. Every person, from Mary of Magdala,
to the disciple Jesus loved, to Peter, to the two walking home
to Emmaus, to the disciples in the upper room, to Thomas who was
out looking for a job on that first day of the week --- everyone
doubted. Even though Jesus had told them what was going to
happen to him in Jerusalem this Passover, they doubted.
Resurrection was not a part of their experience, not a part of
the history of the Jews. True, the prophets Elijah and Elisha
had each revived a son to a widow. True also, the disciples had
experienced Jesus reviving the son of the Widow of Naim. Jesus
also revived his friend Lazarus even after Lazarus lay three
days in a tomb. It was this last miracle that convinced the
chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees
that Jesus had to be eliminated. But no one had ever witnessed a
revivification of a person whose lungs and heart had been
pierced with a lance. No one!! For this person to live again was
incomprehensible. It meant this person had a new life, one that
had gone to the other side of death. Death could never again
touch this one who conquered it. Jesus’ life was something new,
something never heard of before. The first witnesses to the
resurrection of Jesus were women. They came to the tomb to
anoint the body of their beloved one according to Jewish burial
rituals. There had not been time on Good Friday since sunset was
the beginning of the most holy of days of Jewish faith when no
work was permitted.
In all four gospels, the resurrection story tells us every
one doubts the resurrection -- until Jesus comes to them, until
Jesus is experienced. When Peter lost the foot race with John to
the tomb, it was John who saw the folded burial cloths and
believed and led Peter to understand as well: at that moment
they go beyond doubt. They believed even though the mind does
not comprehend how this can be. The two walking to Emmaus heard
the women’s report, but didn’t believe. When Jesus walked with
them, related the Hebrew Scriptures to the Christ, and broke
bread they experienced Jesus and lost their doubts. The
disciples locked themselves in the upper room, fearful of
discovery by Jews and Romans. The locks kept out more than
enemies. They locked themselves in, closed themselves against
fear of their crucifixion. It’s strange they should cluster
together, making it easier for authorities to capture them.
Their fear demanded company. They forgot Jesus telling them of
his death and his promise of resurrection. Fear gripped them,
brought them to their knees, controlled minds, hearts, and
emotions. When Jesus came to them without benefit of an open
door they believed. But even then Jesus had to prove he was no
ghost, no figment of mass hallucination. He showed them the
marks of the nails in his hands and the lance’s piercing his
heart. They doubted the possibility of resurrection. This Jesus
of their dreams, the one who fulfilled their hopes and the hopes
of the nation for the Messiah, had been killed. There was no
doubt of his death. His body was rendered incapable of being
revived. Who could live with those wounds? Who could be revived
with such devastating rending of flesh, of heart and lungs
pierced through, incapable of breath, unable to pump or retain
Whoever came back to life after wounds so devastating? This
was absolutely new: never before had this happened. Only God
could have caused this miracle. This man standing before them
lived – Magdala shouted, "My Savior lives! His wounds remained
but were not death yielding but signs of death conquered. His
was a different life beyond any experienced or imaginable. This
had to be the result of God’s finger: this is a new creation.
This happens on the first day of the week. In Genesis this is
the first day of creation when chaos and disorder are conquered
and set aside. This new creation begins with Jesus extending
Peace to his disciples. There’s no hint of vengeance in his
voice. There is no accusation of betrayal or cowardice. There is
only a wish of peace to them.
Why peace? Is peace the absence of conflict? The history of
the Christian Community is filled with persecution, martyrdom,
and terror. Distrust of Christian values began immediately and
continues even now. What sort of peace did Jesus offer? Our
world is not at peace. Political scientists tells us we are
closer to nuclear war now than at the time of the Cuban Missile
Crisis. Political power increasingly comes from conflict, from
betrayals, from manipulation of truth, from character
assassinations, from pitting enemies against each other, and
most clearly from creating issues that divide citizens. In two
thousand years, the Christian message has done little to set
aside such behavior. It’s common place throughout the world. Has
Jesus failed? Why is there no peace among us? In the Middle
East, Christians, Jews, and Muslims greet each other with "peace
be with you." The response is always "With you also peace." This
is the peace called Shalom. It means more than the absence of
conflict, contention, or divisiveness. That greeting is a wish,
a hope, for fullness of life to the one greeted. That peace is a
life filled with promise and possibility. The opposite of this
peace is not armed conflict. The opposite is the confinement of
the human spirit by fear and uncertainty. Just as the disciples
were locked away in the upper room by their fear and
uncertainty, so we confine ourselves in choosing smallness of
character: we chain ourselves with the fear of the unknown: we
think we are threatened by the presence of others’ aggression.
Wishing someone peace is to wish that person access to a
fulfilling life, to possibilities of growth of character and
spirit, to access to energy shedding chains that bind and limit
us. This is not about a vital and expanding economy. This is not
about great accumulations of wealth. This is not about a
controlling and conquering power. This is not about wallowing in
exuberant pleasure. This is about our innards: this is about our
character. This strikes and meets us where and how we live. It
is what makes us to be the person we are.
Jesus follows this offer of shalom with the power to forgive
sins. Sin is what binds us to smallness, to what diminishes our
dignity and worth. Forgiving sin means to unbind, to loosen the
chains that confine us, that limit us. Sins are forgiven when
the sinner understands his sin. The sinner craves forgiveness
when he realizes his wrongheaded life choices. Then he knows sin
as chains and locks. This begins only with a desire to be freed.
It is this desire we discover when we are called by God to the
empty tomb, the sign of death defeated, of chains broken. But we
should not allow ourselves to be confused by God’s mercy. Humans
are created free to choose. Anyone who chooses to remain chained
by sin chooses to be bound.
On this Sunday of Doubting Thomas, we are reminded of God’s
coming to us. This Sunday is designated Divine Mercy Sunday.
This is how God deals with us. He is merciful, always looking
for opportunities to reach us, to change us, to make us whole.
This is not God feeling sorry for us. It is God entering into an
exchange with us. His love is given to us and we have only to
return a life lived in belief, in freedom of the children of
The doubting Thomas in the upper room is us. We don’t know if
Thomas actually touched the nail wounds or the open side of the
Raised Jesus. We do know he realized in that encounter that
Jesus is God. He doesn’t know how or even why. He just knows
Jesus is God. This is the end of John’s gospel. When it begins,
it begins with John the Baptist speaking about the Son of God.
As the gospel ends, John identifies through the mouth of Thomas
the Doubter, that Jesus is divine. This makes all the difference
in the world. Though the world is a mess, though nations war and
kill each other, though violence, greed, avarice, unbridled
pleasure seeking, theft, and abuse are rampant – we are still
cling to the resurrection of the Lord and know he is God with
us. He is not only risen: he is with us and for us. We’ve got to
unlock our hearts, our minds, and our emotions to the Lord among
us and accept the peace he extends. What binds us? What chains
us to smallness? What keeps us closed in on ourselves? We recall
Moses’ encounter with the burning bush in the high desert. "Who
are you?" Moses asks. "I am who is with you in everything, in
every way, in all moments," the presence in the bush replies.
God is with us but does not force us: he offers us insight,
hope, and unbounded energy. God gives so we as individuals and
community of faithful believers can grow into the greatest
possibility for each of us. That is the exchange we have with
God: God gives us his energetic love and we apply it to our
hearts, minds, feelings, and to our hands in the works we do.
This has to do with our spirits, our character. God grows us
through our choices and our efforts. God grows us! We become
with his help all we can be in the circumstances in which we
find ourselves. This has so little to do with success in the
world. But even worldly success that is lasting and enduring
comes only from depth of character that reveals the dignity and
worth God gave us as gift when we were conceived. The Christian
doesn’t pursue success, but seeks in his life the God who
created us and continues to create us. We grow from doubt to
faith: from darkness to light: from dying and death to living
and life. This derives from the wonderful mercy of the God who
loves us each and every one. There is no person not loved by God
– not the child whose body washes up on a lonely beach, not the
disfigured person cared for by Mother Teresa, not the tyrant who
wastes his life for his own purposes, not even the most ordinary
of us. God loves each of us with his enduring love. We are each
worth the price of resurrection which comes only through
suffering and death. That is God’s mercy, his gift to us. What
are we to return to the Lord for all he has done for us?
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles indicates
what happens when we come to belief. Our lives change. The ways
of the world -- competition, accumulation, domination, and
pursuit of fame and pleasure -- lose out to living as the
community who knows the Risen Lord. This Sunday of Divine Mercy
is a time to renew our faith: this is the time to reimagine our
lives. In our Holy Week remembering we’ve encountered God in the
person of Jesus now the Christ: this is the time to cut off the
chains that bind us: this is the time to embrace the freedom as
we are set free from death and dishonor. Our Easter Joy, our
rebirth as children of God and brother to the Risen Jesus
Christ, should make us leap like the young lambs of spring.
All are doubters, some frequently, some seldom, some all the
time. When we meet Jesus on the street, at our work station, at
the park, at the cinema, at our meals, then we can meet him with
his wounds a badge of honor. In those meetings we live a
resurrected life with the Lord. May the Light of Christ illumine
our eyes to see him, our ears to hear him, our touch to feel him
present. May it be so.
Carol & Dennis Keller
JESUS’ EASTER GIFT: 2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER A
‘Jesus breathed on them and said: "Receive the Holy Spirit" ‘(Jn
Easter means a great deal more than Easter bunnies, Easter
eggs and Easter parades. As outward signs of joy and hope they
have a place. But they only skim the surface of what Easter
truly means, at least for Christians. The English poet, Gerard
Manley Hopkins, speaks of the meaning of Easter as being what
must happen to us, because of what happened to Jesus. 'Let him
easter in us,' the poet writes, 'be a dayspring [a dawn] to the
dimness of us ...' The poet's message, expressed more simply,
plainly, bluntly, is that the Risen Lord must rise in us - in
our minds, attitudes, hearts and actions - if Easter is to
happen to us. So much so that Sister Joan Chittister suggests
that our celebration of Easter puts before us a 'momentous
question': 'Will we ourselves,’ she asks, ‘touched by Jesus now
rise and do things differently?' She spells out what this might
... we must be prepared to be surprised by God in strange
places, in ways we never thought we'd see and through the words
of those we never thought we'd hear. … It presumes that we will
reach out to the other - to the ... immigrants and the blacks,
to the strangers, the prisoners and the poor - in order to
divine [discover] what visions to see with them, what cries to
cry for them, what stones to move from the front of their
The Word of God today spells out HOW Jesus both can and does
easter in us. Particularly telling are these words of Jesus to
his followers, words which go with his gift. They are the words:
'RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT.' Recalling them today reminds us that
the Risen Lord is with us now and until the end of time, in the
form and person of the Holy Spirit.
This is an important aspect of our Easter Faith, one we
declare every Sunday when we state In the Creed: ‘I believe in
the Holy Spirit.' But if asked to explain what we mean, perhaps
we would become tongue-tied. Part of our difficulty is that we
cannot imagine or picture the Holy Spirit as easily as we can
put a face on the Father and the Son. We all know fathers and
mothers and their children, and this helps us to think of God as
Father and Mother, and to think of Jesus as God's Son. But we
simply cannot put a face on the Holy Spirit.
But the Holy Spirit is just as real, and some images may help
us realize that. The Hebrew word for 'spirit' means 'wind 'or
'breath' and occurs 378 times in the Old Testament alone. So in
sharing his own Spirit with them, Jesus first breathes on his
gathered apostles. Earlier he said that like the wind the Spirit
of God 'blows where it wills' (John 3:8). In fact, all his
teaching on the Spirit suggests that like the wind the Spirit of
God [Love itself] moves things along, warms them into life,
drives them into action, and changes situations for the better.
In a beautiful song Andrew Lloyd Webber puts it this way: ‘Love,
it changes everything.’
We do not experience the Spirit of God directly but in its
effects on us. So much so that we can say that the Holy Spirit
is the power of God and the love of God at work in our lives. To
speak this way is to speak of grace. The grace that is the Holy
Spirit gets things done in God's way - in us personally, in our
Church, and in our world. All through the Acts of the Apostles
(that book of New Testament book we read throughout Easter),
Luke highlights the Holy Spirit as the chief apostle, the divine
apostle behind the human apostles. The Spirit keeps prompting
them, guiding them, energizing them, restraining them,
reassuring them, and comforting them. Again and again they sense
the Spirit saying to them: 'Do this’, 'Do that', 'Go here', 'Go
there', etc., etc.
What a gift, what a wonderful gift! The very same Spirit of
God who formed Jesus in the womb of Mary his mother, the very
same Spirit of God who empowered him at Baptism to go about
doing good and healing all sorts of wounded and troubled people,
the very same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead, has
been shared with you and with me! So that yesterday, today and
tomorrow we can be the comforting and healing presence of Jesus
to all kinds of people!
This Easter gift of Jesus to his followers ought, then, fill
us with that same peace and joy, that same exuberance and
enthusiasm that led St Augustine to shout out loud: 'We are an
Easter people and Alleluia [praise God] is our song!'
Just imagine! Jesus Christ keeps coming to us in the power of
the Holy Spirit, his other self, to change us for the better,
and to send us out to make a better world!
Simply amazing! Absolutely awesome!
"Brian Gleeson CP"
Year A,B,C: 2nd Sunday of Easter.
"Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Thomas’ problem is one we all have – he speaks beyond his
knowledge; he judges before he has considered; he condemns what
he has not understood. Which of us has not done that?
I once lived with a saintly old Jesuit. You’ll be pleased to
know that we still have one or two. In his late eighties, he was
incapable of even the simplest work, so he was sent to the
noviceship to be a good influence on the wild young men that we
He loved it. He said that he was now too old to be anything
except love and to do anything except pray. But what we all
found most remarkable was that he was a man of complete hope and
trustfulness. Whatever occurred, he found the good in it.
Whoever he met, he found the good in them also. In his belief –
though he would never have put it this way – God lives in and
through every little piece of His creation and in every moment
of recorded time. He did not have a negative bone in his body.
But if I am honest, he was also a man whose goodness could
annoy. He seemed – to my mind - just a little bit too full of
himself, too full of how happy he was in life, too full of
enjoyment of the good things in life and (especially for me as a
young man with my own struggles in that area) just a little too
fond of the company of women.
We asked him about it – he said there had been times in his
life when he had been cynical, but he was too old for that now.
He said that people always died from the feet upwards and, since
cynicism is the lowest part of a person, that is always the
first to go. [Sadly, I think he was rather better at sanctity
than anatomy.] But, truth to tell, we also found that odd. Not
just odd in the sense of unusual, though his grace was certainly
unusual, but moreso because we knew that, during the Second
World War, he had spent four terrible years in a Japanese
prisoner-of-war camp – and had been one of the very few who had
survived. He rarely spoke about it – we believed because he
found it hard to speak with charity about those who had tortured
him and killed his friends. But on those occasions when he did,
he always did so to describe some moment of humour, of goodness,
of love. So perhaps it was not, in fact, so odd. He did, after
all, survive. And, having survived, every moment came to him
like the personal blessing of God; and every person came to him
like a new vessel of the Holy Spirit.
Well, one day just a few months ago, in a moment of complete
idleness, I put his name into ‘Google’. A few choices came up, I
picked on one at random and this is what I read: (I thought of
correcting the English for your sensitive eyes, but then I
changed my mind – better you hear the story as it is told by a
man – a man called Len Abbie - who was there at time)….
"When we were captured, Squadron Leader Padre Rorke took his
uniform off and changed for an airman’s, for he seemed pretty
wised up, they did separate senior officers from other ranks.
The Padre said his place was amongst the men and indeed he slept
in our billets. I saw him, when a prisoner, take a rifle off a
Japanese guard who was beating hell out of an English prisoner.
The Padre took the rifle, stood to attention, bowed to the guard
and handed him the rifle back. The guard stood flabbergasted.
Raised his rifle to hit the Padre, stopped. Then said "Muchigo"
(come with me). He took the Padre to the guardhouse. This was at
Yar Mari camp, Surabaya where there were at least 3,000
prisoners mostly Dutch. Rumours spread round the camp like
wildfire. They will shoot him, they will beat him up. About 3
hours later Padre returned to his hut with a packet of Japanese
fags and a bag of fruit. The interpreter said the camp
commandant, a Major in the Emperor of Nippon’s Imperial Forces
was a true Bushido and admired the courage of the Padre. From
that day some of the guards even saluted him. At Malang camp
when we were made to witness the execution of four prisoners I
said to Padre Rorke "Where is your God now? He let that happen".
He replied "What you witnessed this day was not God’s work but
Reading that made me go back and read again his own little
book, Greatness of Heart, Sermons in a Prison Camp.
His text is Romans 9: 31-39 "With God on our side, who can be
"In Camp II at Pakan Baroe in Sumatra, more or less on the
Equator, and unpleasant, I used to preach every Sunday to all
and sundry, all races and faiths. Men in adversity instinctively
seek God, sometimes unknowingly. It was some time in July and
the Collect that day said "Oh God, your Providence rules all
things with unfailing wisdom, take away all that harms us and
give us all that is for our good".
Alongside the spot where I used to preach there were two long
bamboo huts, dignified with the name Hospital, in which lay
dozens of men, mostly young, wasting away with all manner of
tropical diseases and never enough to eat, and scant medicines.
They lay side by side on wooden platform, with no mattresses and
often no blankets. Hygiene was primitive. Down the centre were
about ten camp beds, where lay the men next to die. They were
put there because it was easier to minister to them but they
knew they were not going to live. I buried them nearly every
So, I now think I was wrong about Pat. If I had but known it
at the time, he had his reasons to enjoy life. He had seen the
I thought of him today when I read these readings because old
Pat Rorke is one of the very few people I know who would not
have made Thomas’ mistake. He would have met his fellow
disciples with love and heard their words with trust. He might
have had his doubts, but he would have gone forward
enthusiastically into God’s future.
Let us pray that we may be given the grace to do likewise.
Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and
insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the
preaching you hear. Send them to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is Wednesday Noon.
Include your Name, and Email Address.
-- Fr. John