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Contents: Volume 2 - Easter 2/Divine Mercy Sunday April 28, 2019


 

Easter 2

-Divine-

-Mercy-

-Sunday-

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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2nd Sunday of Easter

The Resurrection stories in the Gospel passages are familiar ones to us, but I think there is still much to learn from them and the accompanying readings for these weeks in the Easter Season. The chronology of the many events after the Resurrection seems confusing at times , but what is clear is that the Presence of the Risen Lord in physical form happened. When it happened, the disciples who witnesses seeing the Lord were transformed!

In my re-reading of today's Gospel selection, I noted that on BOTH occasions mentioned, the doors were still locked. The first time stated "for fear of the Jews" but the second did not. I believe the second time mentioning the locked doors was included to show the glorious transformed nature of the Risen Christ rather than the fear of the Jews by the disciples. The disciples had received the Holy Spirit the week before and were gradually figuring out what to do next. I think the Holy Spirit is like that, producing in them and in us, a gradual transformation.

We know from the first reading that the apostles boldly preached the Risen Lord and cured the sick after they were sent forth and actually went forth. The first stories with locked doors still showed fear but soon, courage took its place. The balance of needed caution and emboldened enthusiasm became less measured and their new life became more compelling. Because of them, "great numbers of men and women were added to them" including all of us who hear and read and write about these accounts.

So where are we in this transformation? Are we still locked behind closed doors in fear? Let the Holy Spirit in!

Do we need yet another sign? Let the Holy Spirit open our eyes! Jesus is alive and working among us.

Do we know how to preach the message of the Risen Lord? Let the Holy Spirit give us the words! Jesus is alive and working among us and through us.

Do we know who needs to hear such words and know the transforming truth about the saving power of grace? Let the Holy Spirit guide us! Let us take the small steps as we need them to become more aware of how we are to do what we have been called to do.

We have been called by our Baptism to rejoice and spread the Good News of the saving power of the Risen Lord! Alleluia! Jesus is alive!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Second Sunday of Easter Divine Mercy Sunday April 28 2019

Acts 5:12-16; Responsorial Psalm 118; Revelation 1:9-19; Gospel Acclamation John 20:29; John 20:19-31

The three readings for the Liturgy of the Word this Second Sunday of celebration of The Raising of the Lord and the Anointing of the Christ are three threads chosen for one single theme – the abiding presence of God with us. This Sunday’s gospel reading proclaims this appearance of Jesus as an historic event. This happened on the eve of the first day of the week, that momentous day that saw a dead man raised into newness of life. Jesus was truly dead as witnessed by the Jews, the Romans, and the disciples, most notably the women who had cared for and followed Jesus beginning in Galilee. On that first day of the week the women came to the tomb expecting to anoint the body of Jesus according to the Jewish burial customs of that time. To their astonishment and concern they found only an empty tomb. They were asked by two in dazzling tunics "why are you looking for the living among the dead?" What a frightening experience! The male disciples discounted the women’s experience thinking them merely hysterical. Peter and John went to the tomb. John was faster than Peter and got there first and looked in and was amazed to see the burial cloths and the face covering undisturbed – folded is how the gospel speaks of it. This is not to mean that someone had come and put the burial cloth and the face covering in a nice stack as if someone had done the laundry. It meant that the burial cloth and the face covering were exactly in the position when they contained the body of Jesus. It was as though the body went through the linen without disturbing it. John saw this and came to realize what had happened: the gospel says "and he believed."

Later Mary Magdalen returned to the garden not yet believing Jesus had been raised. She encountered a man she thought was the gardener. When Jesus called her by his favorite name for her, she must have experienced a shock that stilled her heart for a moment. Our translation of this gospel says that Jesus tells her not to touch him as he has not yet gone to the Father. This has always struck me as strange. What had going to the Father to do with meeting Mary of Magdalen? William Barclay – a noted scripture scholar – interprets this scene differently. Barclay says that the verb used to express what we translated as "touch" means instead "don’t be afraid!" The statement that he has not yet gone to the Father is Jesus’ way of saying, " I’ll be staying with you yet for a while." This makes a lot of sense in the context of what happens next. Jesus goes to the upper room , the place of his last supper with the disciples. He appears to them even though the doors are locked and barred. His first words are "don’t be afraid!" This is a repeat of his encounter with Mary in the garden. He insists he is not a ghost, that he is truly alive as a human and not merely in the form of a divine person. He is truly the God/Man they knew. He is truly the anointed one, the Christ. This is an historic statement of what happened. This gospel narrative is a backdrop to the other two readings this Sunday.

In the first reading we get the sense that Luke, writing the Acts of the Apostles, is writing about a present time. The disciples go to the temple to Solomon’s particle. There they tell the story of Jesus and his death and resurrection. All is changed! Families bring their physically or mentally ill members out into the street in the hope the shadow of the apostles might land on them and bring them healing. All is made new: those suffering are healed and brought to fullness of living in community. This is the present: this is what is happening because of the ministry and the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. God is present here and now! And all is changed! In the past, in the upper room, Jesus sent the disciples out to the world just as the Father had sent Jesus to the chosen people. The message is very simple – God loves humanity with an unconditional love. Jesus breathed on them. This breathing seems to refer us to Genesis when God is said to give life to the lump of clay fashioned into the shape of a man. Adam came to life because of the breath of God in his nostrils. So also People who receive the Word live now with a newness of life. To emphasize the newness of life, Jesus makes the disciples instruments of his peace. ""Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." The guilt that binds us and keeps us from living the gift of life completely is lifted up just as Jesus was lifted up on the cross. In his lifting up on the cross our guilt was lifted up as well and taken away. Our guilt for sin is removed as was the sin of the Jewish people on the feast of Yom Kippur. On that ceremony, the high priest symbolically placed his hands on the head of a goat, transferring the sin guilt of the people to this animal. That animal was then herded out into the desert to isolation from the people and to die there along with the guilt of the people.

It was not that Jesus’ pain and death somehow pleased God and change God’s mind about us. If we allow ourselves to think in such a way, we forget that God came to live among us so that we might live completely. As John tells us in his prologue, "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." God needed no sacrifice to gift us with his compassion and mercy. He loves and loved us without that. We are the ones in need of Jesus, his ministry, and his ultimate sacrifice. God had no need of it. We needed proof. And the resurrection is proof of God’s approval of Jesus’ work, ministry, and sacrifice.

In the end of this Sunday’s gospel we hear the story of the doubting Thomas. Thomas is a true stand-in for us. We tend to doubt God cares about me. God may love others, but me? When we are touched by God and when we experience God with us – when we touch the wounds accepted because God loves us -- then we are healed of doubt and our faith – like John, like Mary Magdalen, like Thomas. When we achieve consciousness of God present with us in the Writings, in his Church, in his people, and in nature, then we, like Thomas, can mutter with conviction, "My Lord and my God!"

The first reading this Sunday is the final leaf in this trifold painting. This is the future. John the mystic is lifted up in a mystical experience. The whole of the book of Revelation is directed to the future. This is the final part of the story. As a child I was frightened to the point of nightmares about the scenes from this writing. It’s terrifying. But when we read the entire book, there is within it the message, "Be not afraid!" It’s Jesus’ message to Magdalen, to the disciples in the upper room, and to us. Be not afraid about the terrors of power run amuck. Be not afraid of the wealthy who prey upon the poor and working people. Be not afraid of those who place themselves on a high altar to be praised and worshipped." Be not afraid of the terrors of the night or the arrows that fly by day. I am with you through it all!"

Be not afraid! That is the message of this Divine Mercy Sunday. The message is a confirmation of God’s absolute and unconditional love for us. Our sins are forgiven us. When we become conscious of our sinfulness we put behind us the guilt that keeps us from peace, from positive relationships, from living a full and complete life. The message this Sunday of Divine Mercy is not only that God is present with us but that his presence makes it possible for us to live a fullness of life unavailable before this presence of God with us.

This is truly the day the Lord has made! Let us be glad and rejoice in it! Let us make a joyful noise in our assemblies of praise and delight at the Lord’s love and work for us!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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BELIEVING IN JESUS: SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER C

When we come together for Mass every Sunday we come to remember Jesus. Our presence and participation in the Eucharist is an act of faith - an act of personal faith and an act of shared faith. In praying together we also help one another believe, hope and love more strongly. So we become a stronger Christian community. It might be said of us what was said in our First Reading today about the infant Church in Jerusalem: "... the numbers of men and women who came to believe in the Lord increased steadily".

Our shared faith is above all faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that he has risen from the dead, that he is alive in himself and alive in us, and that he is our Teacher, Lord and Leader. But nobody can do our believing for us. This is powerfully illustrated in our gospel story today.

It’s Easter Sunday and the disciples are huddled together in a locked room. After what happened to Jesus just two days before, they dare not venture out because of fear for their lives. But Jesus himself does not hide away. Suddenly he comes among them. His greeting is peace. Their response is joy. For the story-teller John, Easter Sunday is Pentecost, and the gift of the Spirit is the breath of the Risen Christ. The disciples breathe in the Spirit and the Spirit becomes part of their lives. Soon they will leave the Upper Room changed persons - fearless and courageous, energetic and zealous people. In short they will leave as persons animated, fired and propelled outwards by the Holy Spirit.

But one of their group is missing. His name is Thomas. He is one of the apostles, part of the group. But he is also a distinct, independent self, a real individual. He cannot be both loyal to the group and disloyal to his own inner self. That would make his loyalty deceitful and worthless. For Thomas honesty and sincerity are, in fact, more important than loyalty and belonging. So when the others say, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he declares strongly and emphatically that before he is willing to believe that Jesus is really risen and alive he must see and test the evidence for himself. He won’t accept that claim just on their say-so. So it’s his honesty that makes him doubt and leads to him being called ever afterwards ‘Doubting Thomas’.

We learn from the gospel story that Thomas comes to believe in the Risen Jesus in the same way as the other disciples, i.e. when he sees the Lord for himself. But in the way John tells the story Thomas stands for all those who have not yet seen the Lord in the flesh but who are called to believe in him just the same. That’s where we come into the story. We are among those many generations of believers ever afterwards of whom it may be said: ‘Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

It’s understandable that Thomas was so slow to believe. One reason is that he was such a rugged individual, a real self-starter. The other is because he was not present when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into his fellow-disciples.

But Jesus has given the Spirit to you and me, first at Baptism, then at Confirmation, and subsequently at every Eucharist we celebrate. The Spirit which Jesus gives is the Spirit of truth. It’s the same Spirit that empowers us to say to Jesus with Thomas: ‘My Lord and my God!’

Our faith is one of the main gifts the Spirit has given us. But it is not a one-off gift that we lock away in a safe like some precious jewel. As a form of life we must let our faith grow and mature. On the other hand, like other forms of life, our faith can wither and die from neglect and lack of exercise. We need to pray about our faith, think about our faith, and express it in works of love.

This does not mean that we will never have any doubts. After all even the great Mother Teresa had to struggle with doubts her whole life long. But if like Thomas we care about what we believe, surely sooner or later our faith, revived by the Holy Spirit, will bring us into the presence of God in the person of Jesus, whom our Second Reading today calls ‘the Living One’.

Let’s think and pray more about that!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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Volume II Archive

We keep up to six articles in this archive.  The latest is always listed first.

5 EASTER 4 EASTER 3 EASTER 2 Easter/Divine Mercy Easter Triduum Palm Sunday


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