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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

love22-291x116

Today is the Fifth Sunday after Easter we are now closer to Ascension and Pentecost than Easter, but we are still in the Easter Season which goes on until Pentecost Sunday. the scripture readings of the seven Sundays after Easter describe   the reactions of the apostles to the news that Jesus was even more alive after Good Friday than He was before His death on the cross. The readings this Sunday begin to move us along too, as once more we hear the Lord at the Last Supper preparing his disciples for his departure: he does this by giving them a rule to live by, a new commandment. This commandment, “love one another”, is to be the guiding light of the community of believers after Pentecost and the coming of the holy Spirit it is the risen Lord’s parting gift to his Church. Paul tells us that “although his nature was divine, he did not cling to his equality with God, but stripped himself of all privilege to assume the condition of a slave. He became as we are, and appearing in human form humbled himself by being obedient even to the extent of dying, dying on a cross.” And elsewhere Paul writes: “Though he was rich, he became poor.” Do you not see what is new in Christ’s love for us? The law commanded people to love their brothers and sisters as they love themselves, but our Lord Jesus Christ loved us more than himself.

The apostles gradually began to understand how necessary it was for Jesus  to die in order to accomplish His mission from the Father, freeing mankind from the ancient curse. Each of the readings show  us how the apostles became more and more confident about the future as we should be confidentas well. In the Gospel, taken from Jesus’ farewell discourse just hours before His betrayal by Judas, their Master and Lord solemnly reveals to them a new commandment.  Love one another as I have loved you, that is the   self-sacrificing love for one another, is to be the sign by which all will know we are His followers. That love is to flow through OUR faith and works, into the structure and authority of His Church. Love is to form the basis for its   ministry as well. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”Our new Pope Francis, in the short time since his election, has made real efforts to bring the outward face of the Church more in line with the humble, loving, and caring face of Jesus as it carries out the everyday work of its worldwide mission. May the example of Pope Francis give new life to the spirit of love, truth, and service in every local Church so that  it can be said of us in our locality that we have loved on another as Jesus Loved us.

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4th Sunday of Easter Good Shepherd Sunday

 

JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD

JESUS
THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Today we gather on the fourth Sunday of Easter which is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday it is   the day when we pray that the Lord will send inspire people young and not so young to take up the vocation of service as priests or religious. One of the gentle images that we find applied to God in the Old Testament is that the Lord is the shepherd of his people. We Christians apply this title to Christ the Lord. He is the good Shepherd who knows his sheep and lays down his life for them. That is to say that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and he knows us intimately and down his life for us. We may find this language of sheep , flocks and shepherds strange, but beneath the imagery the belief it points to is at the heart of our faith: a gentle God who is concerned about and caring for everyone.  

 In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus says “I am the good shepherd. The Good Shepherd seems to be calling to His sheep to follow Him into the unfamiliar pastures.  Most of us, upon listening to our own recorded voices, wonder if that is really us! What we sound like to others is not the exact way we sound like to ourselves. People who are visually impaired learn quickly who is who by their footsteps, pace, noisiness as well as their voices. Jesus is telling us that He will keep calling in the same voice and when we begin to follow, He will keep leading us on to fresh and green pastures. And what will Jesus be saying to us his followers to you and me he says I am the Good shepherd follow me. There will always be other voices, from within ourselves and from outside. How will we ever learn to recognize His voice as different from our self-cantered voices!

A lot of people just want what they want not thinking about the true implications for themselves and the rest of those around them and this is why the calling of the Good Shepherd is so very different. Jesus the Good Shepherd seems to be calling always to His sheep to follow Him into the unfamiliar, the pastures, yonder, over there. And that is what Jesus is calling us to on this day and every day to follow Him into the unfamiliar territory which will lead us along the roads of faith that will; bring to the fullness of faith and life.  Many in our world are now fascinated by another voice, that of Pope Francis, who urges us to bring the power of our love and concern to the poor, the persecuted, and the powerless of this world to bear on the world. When we hear his voice, we recognize the authentic voice of Jesus Himself. May we heed his voice especially in the months and years ahead he acts in persona Christi our good shepherd.

Finally on this day we remember all those who were affected by the horrendous events of the past week in Boston, we pray for them that Jesus the Good Shepherd will give them the strength to continue their lives in the love god. We also pray in a particular way that those who have died will rest in the peace of the kingdom of God.

“The Good Shepherd is risen!He who laid down his life for his sheep,Jesus The Good Shepherd who died for his flock, he is risen, alleluia.”

THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

Here we are at the 3rd Sunday of Easter and the schools are open again after the Easter holiday. It really seems no time since we got the ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday and yet here we are at the 3rd Sunday of Easter 6 or seven weeks on.

In the Gospel story for today we see Simon Peter and his companions catching nothing after fishing all night. At dawn as they approach shore, someone on the shore whom they do not recognize directs them to cast out their net. When the net is filled with a large catch, the beloved disciple recognizes Jesus, now risen from death, and says to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When they reach shore, they see a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus invites them to eat with him. He takes bread and gives it to them and in like manner the fish. Jesus then asks Peter three times if he loves him, and says to him in turn, “Feed my lambs…Tend my sheep…Feed my sheep.” Jesus then speaks of the kind of death Simon Peter will undergo, and says to him, “Follow me.” His call is exactly the same for you and me when he says to us FOLLOW ME.

In today’s gospel passage, John also links friendship with Jesus with his real presence at our Eucharistic meal. The meal Jesus shares with his disciples together with the feeding of the large crowd (John 6) and the Last Supper Discourse reveal the meaning of the Eucharist for us. Jesus, the Risen Lord, truly is with us at our sacred meal— speaks to us, prays with us, leads us in self-giving to the Father, gives himself to us as the bread of life  and cup of salvation. He calls us his disciples and his friends: the life implications remain the same.  The way we will fulfil his request to follow him as disciples in service of others is unique and particular for each of us. We can count on the Spirit of Jesus to guide us in discerning what that service will be.Jesus is always here with us! This is our joy! This is our everyday Easter! That is our life in the joy of the Spirit! For Jesus said: “I am with you always, to the end of time.” (Mt. 28:20)Remembering this brings us happiness and joy: this memory, this memorial of the Lord who becomes sacramental in the Eucharist – is this not a true apparition of the Lord? For Jesus can appear to his disciples in a manner that is mysterious and real through his grace, through the gifts of his Spirit, just as he appeared  to his Apostles on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias.

Today’s Gospel, which many people consider the most beautiful of the resurrection stories, has many themes: the failed fishing trip, the inability of Peter to recognise the risen Jesus, the miracle of the fish and the simple, powerful reassuring words of Jesus to his confused disciples: “Come and have breakfast.” We can all find ourselves a place in this Gospel story, as we continue to wonder at the resurrection. Let us continue our journey  during this Easter Time as we go forward in faith.

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY

DOUBTING THOMAS

DOUBTING THOMAS

Today is the Second Sunday of the Easter Season and it also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. In the Gospel reading for this day we see Thomas the apostle or as he is often called Doubting Thomas and I think  in many ways we are like doubting Thomas full of DOUBTS about what happens in matters of faith. In the Gospel Reading, the risen Jesus appears to ten of his apostles. Thomas is missing. The ten are convinced; but when Thomas rejoins them after Jesus has vanished, Thomas is highly sceptical as we would be if we were in his shoes. Thomas had trusted Jesus and believed he was the Messiah as we trust in Jesus and know he is the Messiah the Son of God.  The Romans killed Jesus and, with Jesus, the hope in Jesus that Thomas had. How much Thomas trusted before the crucifixion can be understood by the way Thomas hardened his heart against trust in the aftermath. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” we say. And the bigness of Thomas’s heart and the greatness of his trust in Jesus can be seen by how hard Thomas fell when he thought his trust was betrayed.

Thomas presents a contrast. He wants to physically probe Jesus’ body to confirm the miraculous. Yet when confronted with Jesus invitation to touch him (v. 27), Thomas backs off. He rapidly comes to his senses and confesses his faith: “My Lord and My God.” He accepts Jesus’ new invitation: “Do not persist in your disbelief, but become a believer.”Writing for a later generation of followers  who were gradually being deprived of apostolic witnesses by death, John composed the story of Thomas and the “beatitude” that concludes today’s episode: “Truly worthy of esteem are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”It is precisely because  we live by faith and in faith that we believe in the things unseen and we remember the words of Jesus in the Gospel when he said “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Today we also celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy a feast in which we hear about the Merciful love that God has for each of us. The Messages of Divine Mercy were passed down to us through the Polish nun Saint Faustina.   Jesus Mercy is powerfully shown in today’s Gospel as the newly-risen Saviour appears to those who had betrayed Him, those who in weakness had run far away from the soldiers and from the mock trials—and from their Master in His three-hour agony and death. As Jesus showed His Divine Mercy to His apostles on this Sunday, the Church urges us to show our gratitude and belief in His never-failing forgiveness for our sins and betrayals of His love. He urges us to pray often for a world that has abandoned His commandments, ignored His words, shunned His healing, and rejected His love. 

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