fullertont

RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “April, 2015”

4th Sunday of Easter Good Shepherd Sunday

SHEP

This weekend we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Easter which is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The idea of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is a lovely thought because it is a well known fact that the shepherd never leaves his sheep outside the sheepfold. If any are outside the sheepfold the shepherd will seek the lost sheep at all costs until they are found. In the same way for us Jesus will seek us out and help us to find our way back into the sheepfold of the faith. In the Old Testament, the shepherd was a metaphor for the leaders of the  people of God. Most often those leaders failed in their responsibilities and many were corrupt. God excoriates the incompetent and sinful leaders who were appointed to shepherd the people which they did not do. With the failures of the leaders of the people, God decided to take on the shepherding role. “For thus says the Lord: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. (Ezekiel 34:11). In today’s gospel Jesus likens Israel’s corrupt shepherds to the “hired man” who deserts the sheep when danger approaches, leaving them in peril. The hired shepherd may leave the sheep behind but Jesus the Good shepherd the Son of the Father does not leave his sheep.

One of the most comforting of the Psalms which is also a hymn begins with the line: “The Lord is my shepherd.” It ends with this line: “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”Goodness and mercy, in the person of Jesus the good Shepherd are with us even now. The Gospel of the Good Shepherd teaches us how to embrace the gift of redemption by hearing and recognizing the voice of the Good Shepherd. There are numerous voices calling us to believe and to practice things that might seem nice, but those voices are not of or from the Lord. We need to tune our ears and hearts into recognizing the voice of truth that comes from Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We are his people the sheep of his flock and that means that we are people who are able to recognize the voice of the Lord and to faithfully follow him.  This Sunday we also pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We pray for all those young and not so young who have a vocation to the priesthood, Permanent diaconate or the religious life. We pray that in their lives they may be like Christ the Good shepherd who came to give up his life as a ransom for Many bringing his people into the sheepfold of God and faith in him.

SHEP1

Advertisements

3rd SUNDAY OF EASTER

images

This weekend we continue our celebration of the Easter season which continues until Pentecost Sunday when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Our gospel reading for this Sunday tell us about the two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus. They were leaving Jerusalem, their hopes shattered after Jesus’ death or at least that is what they felt. Then they met the risen Lord. They didn’t recognize him at first, but they did after he opened the Scriptures for them and broke bread with them. After their encounter they returned to the community in Jerusalem with the news of what had happened. While they were still speaking to the community, Jesus stood in their midst and said to them peace be with you. He is encouraging them and not to be afraid. It’s still not enough. Then he invites them to touch him. Still more, he asks for food and eats in their presence. The resurrected Christ is very physically present, very much as he was when they traveled and ate together. Still, he’s different; more is needed. He is not just someone who somehow survived what was done to him and escaped. He didn’t experience a near death on the cross – he died and rose again as he said.

Jesus reminds them and us that he is the same, yet there is something very different about him. They knew that he was with them; he has proven that by establishing his physical presence. Yet, the disciples need more in order to accept his new presence with them. What he did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus he does again and again for us in the person of our priests. He expounds what the Scriptures had said about him in the same way our priests do for us today. Do we see that? Can we understand what God can do and has done  for us – bring new life after death? Jesus doesn’t choose just certain Scriptures as proof texts. He tells us as he told the disciples “everything written about me in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”

What would we be like if Jesus came and stood among us in real flesh and blood, I think that our reaction would be exactly the same as the apostles disbelief. But if we stop and think for a moment Jesus does come amongst us each time (for me as a Catholic) we go to Mass, Jesus is there with us on the Altar in the elements of Bread and wine and in the person of the Priest offering these gifts to the Father on our behalf.

We remember the last supper when Jesus gave us himself as an everlasting memorial and we remember that each time we hear the prayers of consecration at Mass that we do this in memory of him.  Let us walk with Jesus in all of those who serve the poor and needy in the name of Christ. Let us walk with those who serve the children or those outsiders who seek Christ. In the mere process of being witness, the context comes alive. For Christ walks with us  the Easter people when we serve others.

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER Divine Mercy Sunday

download (2)

This weekend we celebrate the second Sunday of Easter. This Sunday is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday, we also have the launch of the extraordinary Jubilee of the Holy Year of  Mercy in Rome. The holy year will begin on the 8th December and will last until the feast of Christ the King 2016.

The Easter season has the most exciting Scripture readings of the year. They take us from the empty tomb of Easter Sunday all the way to the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days later at Pentecost. The Apostles are huddled together in fear in the empty room. They weren’t so sure that the women’s report that Jesus had risen was believable. They weren’t singing for joy! Now, a whole week has gone by. They still felt “rocky” about their future.

Thomas wasn’t the only one who had doubts about Jesus, I think so many were doubtful then as so many are doubtful right here and now. The Apostles were pondering the shocking experience of the week before when all seemed to be lost as Jesus hung on the Cross. But here we are over 2000 years later thinking about how they felt after the events of that first Holy Week. Jesus had broken through those doors and came to assure them that he was alive and then his message must have troubled them: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” in the same way we are sent out in the Joy of the Gospel to bring his message to other people wherever we are by what we say and do. We are asked to bring the mercy of God to all those out there who need his healing merciful love.

We remember the joys the hope, the grief and the anxieties of the people in our time these are the joys and hopes, the grief and anxieties of the followers of Christ that means you and me. As Pope Francis directs us, we must courageously reach out in the joy of the Gospel to those who are doubtful among us, and assure them of the great mercy of Jesus. Our world is hurting so much because of the many evil things that are happening within it. May all of us be the witnesses to the joy of the Gospel bringing the caring face of the mercy of God to the people of our time and place as Christians in our own communities.

MERCY YEAR

EASTER VIGIL AND EASTER SUNDAY

images (35)

Having  completed our Lenten observance and after the liturgies of Holy Thursday and  Good Friday we  are now at the stage of celebrating the Easter Vigil on the day of resurrection that is Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday is about emptiness, the cross is empty and Jesus lies in the tomb everything around us is still.  The heavens and the earth cry out with longing for the sinless one who is not to be found, if we stop to think for a moment we remember that Jesus died and rose again on the third day. We wait, as mourners beside a grave, unsettled, ill at ease, not knowing what to do with ourselves. The Church has only one thing to do today: to pray through the emptiness of Holy Saturday.

Holy Saturday is the day when we experience watching and waiting at the tomb as we await the celebration of the Resurrection which we celebrate in the Easter Vigil and the season of Easter. The Psalm for Easter Sunday says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”Above all days, Easter is a day of joy. At Easter, we celebrate the kind each of us longs for, when every tear is wiped away, and there is no sorrow any more no more suffering from weather or hunger or hurtful human beings. As we sing in the much-loved hymn by Fr. John Foley, S. J., at Easter, “the cross and passion past, dark night is done, bright morning come at last!”  When we ourselves rise to meet our risen Lord, in that bright morning we will hear him say, “Come away, beloved. The winter is past; the rain is gone, and the flowers return to the earth” (Song of Songs 2:10-12).

In the loving union of that encounter, all the heart brokenness of our lives will be redeemed. That will be perfect  joy.So in that same vein of perfect joy we say “this is the ‘day which the Lord has made.’ Alleluia!  let us take fresh hope,  with Christ our Passover everything is possible! Christ goes forward with us in our future!” Let us go forward together as Easter people rejoicing in the Resurrection.

 

THE EASTER SEASON

 Art Advent 2C

It can seem that once Easter Sunday has passed Easter is finished, but the’ celebration continues for fifty days. The next Sunday of Easter after Easter  day  is traditionally known as Low Sunday or Dominica in Albis (White Sunday) which refers to the white baptismal garment of the newly baptised. Divine Mercy Sunday is a new feast also celebrated on this day. It comes almost as an opportunity in which anyone who missed out on celebrating the mercy of Christ in Holy Week has another chance. After forty days we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of Christ who returns to the Father to send us the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We spend the novena (nine days) between the Ascension and Pentecost praying for the Spirit like Mary and the apostles in the Upper Room. On the fiftieth day (which is the literal meaning of the word “Pentecost”) Easter ends. On that day “Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 731). Our celebration of Easter resonates throughout the rest of the year: full of gratitude for Christ’s passion, joy in his resurrection and, strengthened by the Spirit, we continue our Christian journey.

 

 

Holy Thursday and Good Friday

Lent has ended and now we begin the Holy Week Triduum. The word Triduum is the Latin for three days that is the three days of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. The Church celebrates one liturgy each day. We should not think of the liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil as three separate events, all three form part of one single extended liturgy. In fact at the end of the Mass on Holy Thursday there is no dismissal and blessing instead we accompany Jesus to the Altar of repose. In the same way there is no formal beginning and end to the Good Friday liturgy.  This three-day liturgy concludes with the solemn blessing at the end of the Easter Vigil or at the morning Mass on Easter Sunday.

 

HOLY THURSDAY

734506_10152104728687991_8069566745559020741_n

Holy Thursday is all about the priesthood and the institution of the Eucharist at the last supper. On the Morning of Holy Thursday, there is only one mass celebrated in a Diocese (Although the Chrism Mass may be celebrated earlier in the week). All the priests gather around the Bishop and the people of God to renew their commitment to priesthood. Also at this Mass the oils of Chrism, Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick are blessed by the bishop, these holy oils will be used in the Baptisms, Confirmations and anointing of the sick in the local parishes over the next 12 months. The theme running throughout this day is one of humble service that is service of God and his people.

The Evening Mass commerates the Last Supper again the theme is service and sacrifice both of these are aspects of the same mystery.  We see Jesus as one who serves, who gives himself. Just as he freely gives himself in washing the feet of his disciples, so too he gives himself  in the bread and wine he takes, blesses and hands to the disciples.  

In the same way we receive Jesus in the form of Bread and wine from the hands of our priests. All these acts of self-giving are the same act – that of the Son of Man who came ‘not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ May we take up the mantle of humble service giving a helping hand to others and not counting the cost to ourselves. Many people over the years have given much at great personal cost and have not failed in their example of humble service and that for me  is what  Holy Thursday is all about  Humble service for others and not being afraid of being the presence of Christ for others no matter what the cost is.

images (33)

 GOOD FRIDAY

On this day in the liturgy we read St. Johns account of the passion, we pray for the needs of the Church and the world, we venerate the Cross and we receive the blessed Eucharist. We think of the death of Jesus on the cross, his death was a result of the courage of his convictions. He lived his life with a message of compassion, of equality and love, Jesus was often critical of those who lorded it over those who were less well off or who had little or even nothing at all. The cross of Good Friday is a sign and a symbol that all of us recognise, it is a sign of the completeness of the love that God has for each one of us faults and failings included. It is not accidental that the Passion according to John is always read on this day.  This account shows Jesus always in charge, in total command of his situation.  John’s Passion is an extended commentary on an earlier statement of Jesus found in John 10:17-18:  “I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”   

 The focus of the liturgy of Good Friday, is not primarily a meditation on Jesus’ pain, nor on our sinfulness, nor on our imitation of Jesus’ humility on their own.  Rather the focus is a reminder to us that we are beneficiaries of this event, and so we call the Friday “Good” by thanking God for what God has done for us in Jesus.  The final words of Jesus from the cross say it all for us, “Is is accomplished!”  Jesus is not overcome.  On the contrary!  He has overcome! When we go up to venerate the cross on Good Friday we should allow the cross to move us to be better people. Consoling, comforting and challenging the people we meet with the values of Jesus and the Cross.

How splendid is the Cross- of Christ!

It brings life, not death;

Light not darkness;

Paradise, not its loss.

It is the wood on which the Lord,

like a great warrior;

was wounded in hands, and feet and side,

but healed thereby our wounds.

A tree had destroyed us,

a tree now brought us life.

 

Theodore of Studios

 

Post Navigation