April 1st 2018

Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family and Sacred Heart
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection

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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (10:34.37-43)

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.'


Second Reading
A reading from the letter of Saint Paul To the Colossians (3:1-4)

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.


Gospel Reading
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (20:1-9)

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 rolled 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.


Sunday Reflection Easter Sunday (01.04.18)

"'tis only the splendour of light hideth thee"

What events, in the known earthly life of Jesus, shed light on his Resurrection? You might care to pause at this point before reading on. Reflection on the Gospel passages that come to mind is, in a real sense, wordless prayer because it is an expression of your desire to know Jesus more intimately.

St. Jerome, the respected Doctor of the Catholic Church and Biblical scholar born around 342 A.D., promotes the reverse argument. He said that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. For this reason, Jerome urges all Christians to recognize that the regular reading of the Bible, perhaps in a local group, is a necessity not an optional extra.

Easter Day, commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the most important Christian Celebration in the liturgical year. What we know of the actual event is limited. The substantial stone that sealed Jesus' tomb was mysteriously moved. The soldiers on duty at the tomb ran away. Mary of Magdala mistook the Resurrected Jesus for a gardener. Peter and John investigated the empty tomb and found, folded, the burial garments that had bound the body of Jesus.

On the evening of the Day of his Resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disheartened disciples who were escaping to Emmaus. Simultaneously, he appeared, despite barricaded doors, in the hideout of his apostles. Scripture tells, too, that Jesus invited the Apostles to touch him thereby ensuring for themselves that he is real. He asked for food and ate what they gave him. Subsequently, Jesus invited Thomas to trace with his finger the wounds that his crucifixion had left on his resurrected body.

These Scripturally recorded happenings give us a word picture of events coinciding with Jesus' Resurrection but they do not tell us of his own disposition and outlook when he opened his eyes and, presumably, took his first breath. Perhaps, in your reflective, meditative pause, you recalled Jesus' Transfiguration on the mountaintop in the presence of Peter, James and John?

The Evangelists Matthew (17:1-6), Mark (9:1-8), Luke (9:28-36) and John (1:14) each recall the event. In addition, Matthew (17:9) recalls Jesus specific instruction to the three as they descended the mountain: "Tell no one about this vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead."

People sometimes presume that Jesus had chosen Peter, James and John to share his mountaintop experience to help prepare them, and through them others, for his Passion and Death on the Cross which he had begun to speak about. But Jesus, in his instructions to Peter, James and John, did not say ""Tell no one about this vision until the Son of Man has died". He said: "……. until the Son of Man has risen from the dead." So, is Jesus linking his Transfiguration to his Resurrection?

A Christian poet once wrote:

"Jesus did not give us dead words for us to salt away in little tins (or big ones), for us to preserve in rancid oil....
He gave us living words that can only be kept alive in us, weak creatures of flesh. We are to keep these uttered words of the Son of God alive in time, passing them from one generation to the next, feeding them with loving belief and trust that they may be heard through ages of ages".

Because we have no experience of resurrection, of a life that is beyond death, we are trapped into thoughts of an extended version of human life as we know it. But this is not resurrection. It is a resumption of life here on earth. We speak about people 'being brought back to life' through medical intervention and care. 'Being brought back to life' is an accurate description for they resume their human life as it was before they, as it were, 'died'. They are the same age, their eyes are the same colour, their physical condition relates to their previous medical records.

The Evangelists' description of Peter, James and John's experience of the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop demonstrates something entirely different. The three Apostles did not have a vocabulary with which to grasp and express that to which their souls, minds, eyes and hearts were exposed. It was beyond their experience. One of the participants, Peter, makes reference to it in his Second Letter (1:16-18):

"For, we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him (Jesus) on the sacred mountain."

Matthew tells us in the opening lines of chapter 17: "Jesus' face shone like the sun and his clothes became as dazzling as light." Such was the quality of the light that emanated from Jesus that the three Apostles had to shield their eyes. This indescribable light came from within Jesus. It radiated out from his inner-self transforming his clothing. This perfect, Divine luminescence was revealed from within Jesus' human nature as the sinless person of God-made-Man.

The Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop was the precursor to His ultimate and eternal Transfiguration on what we celebrate as Easter Sunday. At his Resurrection, the luminescent beauty of God-made-Man continued to carry the visible wounds of the price he paid for our salvation.

Our hope and our faith, founded on our covenantal Baptism, rests in Jesus' Resurrection transfiguration which is at the heart of Easter Day and commemorated on every other Sunday through the year. Sunday Mass, for Catholics, is a heaven-sent invitation to renew our relationship with Jesus and, simultaneously, with one another. The need for this reconciliation becomes more urgent as our faith and hope in Jesus' resurrection becomes increasingly under siege in today's secular society.

God the Father's words to Jesus, at his baptism by John in the Jordan river, are also the words with which he longs to embrace us: "You are my beloved child with whom I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11) Many will have no first-hand knowledge of their Baptism as infants, but many will have memories of their First Holy Communion, First Reconciliation and Confirmation. How differently our day would begin if our first thought upon waking were to be: 'I am Baptised. I am my heavenly Father's beloved child". It would surely make a difference to the way we live our lives; the way we treat others; the way we treat ourselves. We experience many small, but not insignificant, resurrections on the way to our ultimate Resurrection, please God, into eternity.

Some of the lyrics of Walter Chalmers Smith's well-known hymn, sung to a traditional Welsh melody, underline this unknown light of Transfiguration.

"Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes.
Most blessed, most glorious, the ancient of days. Almighty, victorious, they great name we praise.
Great Father of Glory, pure Father of Light thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight; all laud we would render, O help us to see: 'tis only the splendour of light hideth thee."