As many of you may well remember, this Sunday’s celebration of the Holy Family at Nazareth is my nemesis? I have long found it difficult to be comfortable in preaching...
A long time ago I recall seeing what is called ‘a legend card’ with the picture of a small flower under which was written bloom where you are planted. The sheer grandeur, drama and power of the resurrection event can overwhelm us. We end up making ourselves think that we are really unable to produce what we consider is beyond our abilities. Well I suggest we forget about the creation of those magnificent arrangements which spellbind us at flower festivals. Any small flower can bloom where it is planted.
The Gospel records are filled with the stories of individuals who came, with dramatic results, into personal interaction with Jesus. What happened to these men and women, where did they go, how did their lives develop and end? Did they become great witnesses to the Resurrection, preaching, performing miracles, inspiring scores of people to become ‘followers of the Way’? What happened to the woman cured of a haemorrhage, Jairus’ daughter raised from her deathbed, Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry his Cross, the Samaritan woman at the Well, the man born blind, Martha, Mary and Lazarus? The list is legion!
Yes indeed, what happened even to Mary, the Mother of the Lord? After Jesus’s resurrection what, in the public marketplace, did she actually do and achieve? I have no doubt that she simply continued to bloom in whatever place she was planted.
Our celebration of Easter must not overwhelm us and neither should it give us illusions and delusions
of unrealistic self-expectations that we must become a Peter, Paul or John. BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED. This is what the Resurrection calls and challenges us to do. This is what the Resurrection empowers us to do.
If we take the alternative
NEW TESTAMENT [1 CORINTHIANS 5: 6b – 8]reading for the Mass of the Day Saint Paul tells us “that a little leaven leavens all the dough … that you may be new dough. … the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” We have not got to do mighty deeds. The Lord by his resurrection has done that for us. TODAY’S PSALM [118 or 119] makes this clear. “The Lord’s right had has done mighty deeds. I shall not die, I shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord.” I recount his deeds not in any sort of exaggerated or extravagant way but simply by blooming where I am planted. But I must bloom in sincerity and truth. It is worth noting the connection between sincerity and truth! Truth without sincerity very easily weakens into the falsehood of hypocrisy.
Where and how did Jesus bloom? Where he was planted. However, is there any Gospel evidence or indication that his blooming was not characterised by sincerity and truth? Of course this was accompanied by great honesty, the invitations and challenges he gave, together with the patient and personalised manner in which he interacted with those who were sincerely in search of the truth.
Over and over again those that followed him were slow learners. So, very often, we also are. If, in the Mass of the Day, we read the
GOSPEL EXTRACT [JOHN 20: 1 – 5] we will see that in the days immediately following the Lord’s death and resurrection none of the disciples actually even remembered Jesus’ repeated promise and assurance that he would rise from the dead. …. “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” They were far from blooming anywhere! In fact they were not even artificial flowers (YUK!)!
Our Gospel reading tells us that John “saw and believed” but he was not expecting it. Yet he still did not
KNOW the Scripture. A great deal remained for him to learn – what Jesus’ resurrection meant for him and for the world. Do I fully know and appreciate what the Resurrection means and implies for me and my world? The Scriptures are much, much more than the recording of facts, figures and miracles. There is a message hidden inside every single Gospel incident and encounter – a message of truth which I have to discover for myself, and then apply it to myself and my living. I should not rely on what others tell me. I need to know for myself. Remember the Samaritan villagers, at the end of it all, telling the woman – “it is not because of your words …. for we have heard for ourselves …”
Mary Magdalene had also forgotten what she had been told – even by the Lord himself. As far as she was concerned he was still dead. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Also, there is no mention of Peter, at that stage, believing.
Recall Jesus’ instruction when Lazarus emerges alive from his tomb: “Untie him and set him free.” Each one of us must personally
KNOW THE SCRIPTURE. Then, and then only, do we untie and set ourselves free to bloom and live in the places we are – bloom and live in the freedom of sincerity and truth.