ASH WEDNESDAY Day of Fast and Abstinence Genesis 2: 18 – 24 Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return. It is an ancient symbol....
It is worth stating, as we have done on previous occasions, that the Church prays what she believes and believes what she prays – the law of prayer is the law of faith. Both these maxims may be proclaimed the other way around. They are worth remembering and should be revisited over and over again. Here it needs to be known that by the prayer of the Church is meant the official prayers laid down for the celebration of Eucharist and the other Sacraments – no more and no less.
So, this Sunday is the Second Sunday of
EASTER, and we are only finished with the first of eight Easter weeks. The Resurrection of Christ is of such major importance that we need two months in order to take it all in. It is our RESURRECTION faith which needs to be cast in stone. It is the resurrected CHRIST, JESUS – LORD and SAVIOUR who has laid his right hand upon us. There is no reason whatsoever for us to be paralysed with fear ever again. We must use these weeks to personalise the Resurrection. Hear the words of Saint John in TODAY’S SECOND READING [REVELATIO9N 1: 9 – 11a. 12 – 13. 17 – 19 ….. “but he laid his right hand upon me, ‘fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one … I am alive for evermore’.”
In a powerful book I recently read we are told:
“Belief in the Resurrection involves more than a unique physical event. It needs a wavelength of the heart, not just an objective enquiry of the data. We love best when we know ourselves loved. And the Resurrection of Jesus is God’s love-pledge to us. It is the ultimate sign that God is always a God of life and always an enemy of death. It offers an explosive new image of who we are and where we are going.” (MICHAEL PAUL GALLAGHER SJ. Into Extra Time: Messenger Publications, Page 32) (emphasis my own)
TODAY’S PSALM [118 or 119] proclaims: “By the Lord has this been done, a marvel in our eyes.” Perhaps I am a little slow but a good few weeks are needed for me to personalise Father Gallagher’s powerful challenge. Christ’s Resurrection is not an end. If, by analogy, we apply a fine ‘churchillian’ phrase we could say that the Resurrection is not even the beginning of the end but – rather – the end of the beginning. A new creation is in the making and it must start with me!
OUR FIRST READING [ACTS 5: 12 – 16]
records that “more than ever believers were added to the Lord.” I must use these Easter weeks in order, more than ever, to add myself to the Lord. I must, as this reading challenges me, bedaring enough to join them, this band of believers who are added to the Lord. I must not be afraid or hesitant. TODAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 20: 19 – 31] tells us that the disciples were paralysed with fear and living behind closed doors but this did not stop “Jesus who came and stood among them and said to them, ‘peace be with you’.”
The Resurrection may well encourage and challenge us to be creative with our lives and faith but we will have no real sense of purpose if we are even slightly paralysed with fear – live behind closed doors and fortify ourselves against getting out and about. The Resurrection empowers us to hold ourselves in high esteem and become confident in our ability to
BE ALIVE AND ACTIVE. It has been said that the Lord does not remove us from the storms of life but, rather, provides us with the courage and skills to navigate ourselves through them. The Resurrection provides us with a true compass which should not be left behind closed doors because we are afraid of what is going on outside.
I am convinced that the record in today’s Gospel of Thomas’ encounter with the Risen Jesus is not a matter of a faith in doubt but, rather, a question of a
FEAR of faith. A doubting Thomas? NO! A frightened one, YES!
“The doubt of Thomas is not a simple matter of ‘give me proof’ but reaches to the heart of what faith means: that it is a profound and bodily commitment of the whole person and is lived out in practice in the community.”
(Dr Anne Thurston: The Furrow: March 2016: Page 172)