Reflection on 2nd of Easter: 11th April 2021

Opening locked doors

“The doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews.” ‘We all know about locked doors. The locked doors of our lives are not so much about what is going on around us, but what is happening within us: fear, anger, guilt, hurt, grief, the refusal to change. There are a thousand different locks on the doors of our life and they are always locked from the inside. Some days it seems easier and safer to lock the doors of our house and avoid the circumstances and people in our lives. However, every time we shut the doors of our life, our mind or our heart we imprison ourselves. For every person, event, or idea we lock out, regardless of the reason, we lock ourselves in. Like the disciples in today’s gospel, we lock the doors and live in the past.’1

‘Forgiveness is the only way to free ourselves from the entrapment of the past. That is why forgiveness is so central to the Easter mystery. Old hurts linger long in our memories and are hard to let go. When we forgive someone, when we forgive ourselves, we experience a healing within ourselves; we unlock a door. When we refuse to forgive, when we hold onto the ‘sin’, when we retain that ‘sin’, we add another bolt to that locked door. Forgiveness reveals three goodnesses simultaneously. When we forgive, we choose the goodness of the other over their faults, we experience God’s goodness flowing through ourselves, and we also experience our own capacity for goodness in a way that almost surprises us. We are finally in touch with a much Higher Power, and we slowly learn how to draw upon this Infinite Source. Can we also forgive reality? To receive reality is always to bear with reality for not meeting all of our needs and our conditions. To accept reality is to forgive reality for being what it is, almost day by day and sometimes even hour by hour. Only then will we finally experience Christ’s life-giving peace. We will then be free to unlock our doors, step outside and fully live. ‘2

Adapted: [1] Michael Marsh [2] Richard Rohr

Gospel: John 20:19-31

In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord,’ he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer, but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him: ‘You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to you all. I decided that rather than a written reflection, I would send a link to a video.

It is by an artist Si Smith and it portrays the resurrection if it had taken place in Leeds!

Paddy

Reflection on Easter Sunday: 4th April 2021

“They saw the linen cloths lying on the ground.”

In her poem, ‘A Remnant of Resurrection’   Joyce Rupp reflects on that part of the daffodil, the spathe, which protects the fragile bud but is discarded when the daffodil is in full bloom. On her kitchen table she had placed a bunch of daffodils with tightly wrapped buds.

behold, in the early hour of dawn,
I see resurrection on my kitchen table,

what captures my attention
is one small, thin remnant,
voluntarily discarded,
beneath the smiling daffodils.

this dry, transparent cover,
a cast-off tube of protection
once concealing a fragile bud,
conveys the price of blooming.

I pick up this remnant of resurrection
and hold it for a long, silent time,
wondering what soul-shroud of mine
needs to be unwrapped,
before I, too, am blooming.

We may have many  soul-shrouds:  dreams of how we wanted our lives to be; busyness – to avoid being fully present to our life situation. Perhaps we may be holding onto something even though we know it isn’t helping us to grow. It’s almost like a security blanket, a survival strategy, because we feel we have nothing else to hold onto.

  • God of discarded remnants, your wisdom enables us to know what needs to be left and what needs to be carried into the future. We yearn for insight and wisdom.
  • God of the empty tomb, untomb and uncover all that needs to live in us.
  • God of the wonder of Resurrection, remove our resistance to the surprising ways you choose to enter our lives.
  • God, source of all life, breathe life into all that is unlived within us.

Gospel: 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 moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom 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, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying 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 still not understood the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.

Lectio Divina: News

Our Lectio Group wish all the Blessings and the Peace of the Risen Lord be with you all this Easter Season.

Our Lectio Divina for this Friday considered the Gospel for Easter Sunday Year B.

Jn 20:1-9  He must rise from the dead.

The group have shared their thoughts with us all here.

Poetry and Book Club: News

Here are some of the Poems from Lancashire that we read at last weeks meeting on Wednesday 24th March. They were varied and interesting.

We meet next by Zoom on the 28th April to discuss “A time of Gifts” by Patrick Leigh Fermor.

A Time of Gifts (1977) is a travel book by British author Patrick Leigh Fermor. Published by John Murray when the author was 62, it is a memoir of the first part of Fermor’s journey on foot across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933/34.

The book has been hailed as a classic of travel writing; William Dalrymple called it a “sublime masterpiece”.

A great book to read when travel is so restricted.


With best wishes for Easter and Passover.
Mike

Reflection on Palm Sunday & Holy Week: 28th March 2021

Betwixt and Between

During Holy Week, the liturgy invites us to surrender to the mystery of the cross ‘…which teaches us that the price we pay for holding together the contradictions within ourselves, others and the world is always some form of crucifixion.’1 We begin Palm Sunday by joining the jubilant crowds as they welcome Jesus as their Messiah with joyful cries of ‘Hosanna’. In contrast, in the same liturgical ceremony, we are reminded that the way of the palms will lead to the way of the passion. The liturgy of Holy Thursday and Good Friday leave us in no doubt that ‘Love is His meaning’2 When we kneel at the foot of the cross ‘Jesus teaches us how to stand against hate without becoming hate, how to oppose evil without becoming evil.’1

And Holy Saturday? In the days when Midnight Mass was celebrated at midnight, there was no liturgical ceremony on Holy Saturday. However, this is the day when our experience of the cross is ‘holding the tension between one space and another. This is called liminal space. (The Latin root limen literally means threshold.) It is in these transitional moments of our lives that authentic transformation can happen.’1 ‘Holy Saturday is the ultimate liminal space’.3 ‘What are we to do at such a threshold moment? The ancient Celtic tradition provides a simple response: in moments of transition, we are simply to be. We are to pause and acknowledge that a transition is taking place.’4 ‘In liminal space we sometimes need to not-do and not-perform according to our usual successful patterns.’1

‘A threshold is the moment of liminal space between that which once was and what is to come. When we cling tightly to our past experiences, we fail to recognise what is. Once we have outgrown our version of reality, we see a world that is vastly bigger than we imagined. Nostalgia can be a gift when we cultivate gratitude for the path we have walked. However, memories can deceive us if we believe that revisiting what once nourished us will sustain us moving forward.’4

‘Liminal space is a place in between what we were and what we are becoming. It is like a chrysalis for humans.’5 ‘How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.’6

[1] Richard Rohr [2] Julian of Norwich [3] Alison Barr [4] Brandan J. Robertson
[5] Byron McMillan [6] Trina Paulus: ‘Hope for the Flowers’

Readings

  • Palm Sunday: Mark 14: 1—15: 47 (Shorter: Mark 15: 1-39)
  • Holy Thursday: John 13: 1-15
  • Good Friday: John 18:1—19:42

Lectio Divina: News

Our Lectio Divina group considered the Gospel for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.

You can read their reflections here.

One of the group wrote “On Friday we celebrated our ‘First Birthday’, if we can call it that; a full year of Lectio Divina online. It seems that it has passed very quickly. I must say, that for me, this is the work of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know if this has benefited many people outside the group but it certainly has benefited all of us. The support from everybody in the group has helped us all to get through these lockdowns and keep our spirits high.”

Thoughts for Holy Week

A year like no other!

It has been just about a year since I closed the car park gates on 169 Sharoe Green Lane. They have been opened, but most often they are closed. I did not think that the gates would remain closed for so long! However, on a positive note: it is the first birthday of many groups moving on-line. Who would have thought that you could do Lectio Divina on a computer screen? It is amazing how many things have moved to the on-line world: you can be at mass in almost any country from the comfort of your favourite chair!

However, not everyone has access to these modern miracles, leaving many feeling isolated or left behind. Many families have struggled throughout the various lockdowns for a huge variety of reasons. Loved ones have passed from this world and we have not been able to grieve them as we would like. The issues and problems and divisions of our modern way of life have been highlighted and have challenged us to seek new ways of living as the lockdown is eased.

I have been amazed at how we have adapted to these challenges and have found ways to make things better for all people. The Pandemic of 2020-21 has been a re-set for our world. The heroes of the pandemic have worked quietly caring for those in the ICUs, delivering essential items to the shops, teachings kids via screens, emptying bins, keeping the power flowing and countless other jobs that are not regarded as glamorous, well paid or even respected!

As we enter Jerusalem, prepare for the Last Supper, walk the way of the Cross, stand at Calvary, see the blood and water flow from his side, take him to the tomb and hear the gentle call of our name outside an empty tomb, we can take with us the journey of the past year as well. The celebrations and birthdays that have been missed, the meals not shared, the visits that have not taken place and many other routines missed, changed, cancelled for part of our Holy Week this year. Last year Holy Week was on-line, this year we can gather in limited numbers. We have all made sacrifices this past year and this can help us understand the mysteries of Holy Week better.

I hope and pray, that this time next year our celebrations will be more joyful, full of life and people! As we prepare to leave lockdown, again, let us reflect on the world we are re-entering and be prepared to work for justice for all, for economies that care for the poorest, for an ecology that seeks to nurture no exploit our world.

May we all have a reflective and inspiring Holy Week as we journey with Jesus from the gates of Jerusalem to the garden of the Resurrection!