Reflection on 3rd of Easter: 18th April 2021

The Christ Mystery

‘In every post-Resurrection story we notice that the people involved do not recognise Jesus. Mary Magdalene thinks he is the gardener. The disciples on the way to Emmaus think he is another traveller. When they are telling their story to the other disciples in today’s gospel, Jesus appears again and they all thought he was a ghost. They are unable to recognise the holiness that stands among them. This is God revealing himself in the oh-so-ordinary, oh-so-daily world. ‘Touch me, my hands and my feet .. and see.’1 ‘He was flesh and blood. He ate. He still wore the wounds of crucifixion. That Christ’s flesh remained broken, even in his resurrection, serves as a powerful reminder that his intimate familiarity and solidarity with our human condition did not end with his death.’2

“He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures.” ‘With Jesus’ resurrection, God shatters human preconceived ideas of who God is, where God’s life and energy are to be found, and how God works in this world. This is not a rejection of the natural order. It is allowing the natural order to open to and reveal something more.’3 ‘The limited presence we called Jesus has become a newly revealed presence, a universal presence available beyond all the limitations of space, time, ethnicity, nationality, class and gender. Jesus has now become a universally available presence whom we call the Christ, in whom “were created all things in heaven and earth; everything visible and invisible.” ( Col.1:16) The Christ Mystery is the indwelling of the Divine Presence in everyone and everything. We live in a Christ-soaked world. All is an apparition of the Divine.’1

Albert Einstein is supposed to have said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ‘We opt for the latter when we learn to offer a foundational, daily ‘Yes’ to the moment right in front of us, when we say ‘Yes’ to the universal Presence that is available everywhere, when we say ‘Yes’ to the forgotten reality that all creation is both the hiding place and the revelation of God.’1 ‘We, like the apostles, can then become witnesses to this, based not on an intellectual understanding, but on our growing awareness of the Christ mystery. This is resurrected life.’

Adapted: [1] Richard Rohr [2] Jan Richardson [3] Michael Marsh

Gospel Luke 24:35-48

The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread. They were still talking about all this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, “Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they could not believe it, and they stood dumbfounded; so he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, “This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled.” He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.”

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.

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.

Reflection on Pentecost Sunday: 31st May 2020

Peace be with you

There are times when our life situation is so overwhelming that we wonder if we will ever experience the peace of Christ which is already within us. Jesus shows us how this is possible when almost immediately after his greeting, “Peace be with you” he speaks about forgiveness.

“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. The Spirit within us creates an unrelenting desire toward forgiveness and reconciliation. True Spirit-led forgiveness always frees and heals at least one of the parties involved, and hopefully both. To live in peace we need to extend forgiveness not only to all people but also to everything. We need to forgive reality for being what it is. Forgiving everything for being what it is becomes the only way we can finally live at peace.” [1]

“I’ve come to see that the deepest source of my misery is not wanting things to be the way they are. Not wanting myself to be the way I am. Not wanting the world to be the way it is. Not wanting others to be the way they are. Whenever I’m suffering, I find this war with reality to be at the heart of the problem. The answer to anxiety lies in focusing my attention upon that which is greater than those things about which I feel anxious. As I learn to rest and trust in the faithfulness of God, the anxious knots of my life begin to untangle. It begins to be possible to meet each day, not with fear and uncertainty, but with openness, acceptance and surrender.” [2]

Eckhart Tolle differentiates between our life situation and our life. “Underneath the various conditions that make up our life situation – which exists in time – there is something deeper, more essential: our Life, our very Being in the timeless Now. Only through surrender do we have access to it. Surrender is to relinquish inner resistance to what is.” This is the only way we can finally live in peace

Adapted: [1] Richard Rohr [2] Stephen Cope

John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Reflection on 7th Sunday of Easter: 24th May 2020

Oneness

“May they be one in us.”

Groups of various sizes can experience different levels of oneness linked with a variety of common interests: religion, sport, creativity, nature. Has there ever been such a global experience of oneness which COVID-19 has thrust on us? Those moments when we sense that we are at one with the joys and sorrows of others are “sacramental glimpses. They touch eternity.” [1] They remind us that “we are already one with everything. All that is absent is awareness. Awareness allows us to know this reality, and our openness to the Spirit within us allows this awareness to become transformational. To be one with everything is to have overcome the fundamental illusion of our separateness.” [2] “I’ve often said that great love and great suffering are the universal, always available paths of transformation because they are the only things strong enough to take away the ego’s protections and pretensions. Great love and great suffering bring us back to God” [3]

All over the world images of the rainbow remind us that there is hope and light to follow these days of chaos. The rainbow also reminds us of our oneness. “Everything is a facet of the one thing. Think in terms of white light shining through a prism to reveal the full spectrum of colour seen by the human eye: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Each of these colours is part of the original whole and cannot be separated from it. Turn off the light source and the colours disappear. Now apply this metaphor to the world around and within you. Everything you see, think, feel, and imagine is part of and never apart from the same Source. We call this Source by such names as God, Reality, Brahman, Allah, One, Krishna, the Absolute and the Nondual. The list of names is long; the reality to which they all point is the same.” [4]

“We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. What we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.” [5] “A heart transformed by this realisation of oneness knows that only love ‘in here,’ in me, can spot and enjoy love ‘out there.’ [3] This is eternal life, experienced here, now.

Adapted : [1] Daniel O’Leary [2] David Benner [3] Richard Rohr [4] Rabbi Rami Shapiro [5] Thomas Merton

Gospel, John 17:1-11

After saying this, Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; so that, just as you have given him power over all humanity, he may give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him. And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.
Now, Father, glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world existed.

I have revealed your name to those whom you took from the world to give me. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Now at last they have recognised that all you have given me comes from you
for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have indeed accepted it and know for certain that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me.

It is for them that I pray. I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us.

Reflection on 6th Sunday of Easter: 17th May 2020

Love is His Meaning

Where are you going? Can we go? Who will stay with us?

Today’s gospel passage is part of a larger text known as the Farewell Discourse, (John Ch14-16), and it is Jesus’ goodbye speech to his disciples. The preacher Fred Craddock captures today’s scene in a memorable image, likening the disciples to children playing on the floor, who happen to look up and see their parents putting on coats. Their questions are three (and they have not changed): Where are you going? Can we go? Then who is going to stay with us? [1] No doubt the disciples found it difficult to understand Jesus’ words. Even with our gift of hindsight we struggle when he talks about leaving and coming, absence and presence, seeing and not seeing. It is only when with love we hold these realities together in tension that we will experience that paradoxically they are not mutually exclusive. [2]

In her song ‘Love Always’ Carrie Newcomer sings:
It takes some starts and stops to hold a paradox.
I keep trying to understand, and to hold it in both hands
How to know what can’t be done and still envision all that can.

That ‘starting and stopping’ involves a willingness to be open to a constant dislodging of our perception of Love. It involves a growing awareness that our actions do not earn us God’s love: they help make us present to the eternal, unconditional loving presence of God within us. It involves being at the correct starting point. We are familiar with the story of the traveller who stopped to ask someone the directions to his destination. “If I were you, I wouldn’t start from here,” was the reply.

Jesus’ starting point was his awareness that ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me.’ (John 14:11 ) The Spirit of Truth abiding in us will help us grow in awareness of our abiding in God who is Love. Love is who we are. When we get the ‘who’ right and realise that who I am is Love, then we will love God and love all that God has created. [3]

Adapted : [1] Kelly Anne Donahue [2] Michael Marsh [3] R.Rohr

John 14: 15- 21

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Reflection on 5th Sunday of Easter: 10th May 2020

Don’t let your hearts be troubled

‘Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.’

Corrie ten Boom | MY HERO

Corrie ten Boom had plenty of cause for worry over the course of her lifetime. During World War II, she, along with her father and sister, provided a refuge in their home for a number of Jewish friends, playing a pivotal role in the Dutch ‘underground’ who sheltered Jews. Their home was eventually raided and the entire family arrested, her father dying in prison and her sister in a concentration camp. Corrie was sent to a series of camps but was released, and afterwards told her story in a book called The Hiding Place. Corrie’s heart must have been troubled, often, but her strong faith sustained her and became the lens through which she viewed her life story: ‘Every experience God gives us, every person he puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see.’ None of us knows how the future is going to turn out, and that is precisely why we tend to worry.

Tríona Doherty

Neuroscience can now demonstrate that the brain has a negative bias; the brain prefers to constellate around fearful, negative, or problematic situations. Our negative and critical thoughts are like Velcro, they stick and hold; whereas our positive and joyful thoughts are like Teflon, they slide away. When a loving, positive, or unproblematic thing comes your way, you have to savour it consciously for at least fifteen seconds before it can imprint itself in your “implicit memory;” otherwise it doesn’t stick. We must indeed savour the good in order to significantly change our regular attitudes and moods. And we need to strictly monitor all the “Velcro” negative thoughts.

Richard Rohr

“Just beyond the storms of personal chaos lies the profound indwelling power of love, the Source and true Centre”

Cynthia Bourgeault

Dwelling in that Love we find a new way of being, a new way of seeing what is real and true, a new way of truly living life to the full.

Reflection on 4th Sunday of Easter: 3rd May 2020

I Am the Gate

When we reflect on Jesus as the Good Shepherd, we have a cornucopia of themes on which to feast: loving; following; listening; being known; pastoring; nourishing; giving life; gentle caring; being lost and found. Each theme is a meal in itself, nourishing us as we reflect on its relevance in our own lives. In today’s second reading Peter speaks about Jesus’ response to suffering, especially undeserved suffering, leaving an example for us so that we can ‘return to our Shepherd’.

“When we suffer, everything in us wants to blame somebody. We may feel that it releases our anger, but it doesn’t really heal. Many studies have shown that most of the pain that we suffer is not from the incident itself, but it’s our resistance to it. It’s that constant voice that shouts, “This isn’t fair. This shouldn’t have happened to me. This is not right.” Although these reactions may be justified, the trouble is that they destroy the soul, because we keep replaying those voices over and over again. Jesus shepherds the soul by walking through the gate first and then he says, “I am the gate.” Life isn’t fair and if we expect it always to be fair, we are going to live every day angry, bitter and disappointed. It’s said that every expectation is a resentment waiting to happen. The way Jesus shepherds our soul is by leading us to a much deeper place where we don’t immediately fight, resist and oppose everything that happens to us. I offer you the following prayer. When we first read it, we will probably think, “This is impossible. I can’t do that.” But when we can, we will find the grace to say ‘Yes’ to life before we start with ‘No’. Most of us start the day with ‘No. I don’t like it; I resist it; I have to fix it, change it or even understand it’ – when most of the time we can’t. I offer this prayer, not because I know how to live it but because Jesus did it first and he will show us the way.

Adapted from Richard Rohr

The Welcoming Prayer

Welcome, welcome, welcome. I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security. I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or even myself.
I simply open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within.

Amen.

Father Thomas Keating

Reflection on 3rd Sunday of Easter: 26th April 2020

The road between the now and the not-yet.

Today’s gospel tells the story of two dazed and distraught disciples travelling along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Although they were probably not aware of it, these disciples were in what is called “liminal space”—a particular spiritual position where we hate to be, but where the biblical God is always leading us. The Latin root ‘limen’ literally means “threshold,” referring to that needed transition when we are moving from one place or one state of being to another. Liminal space usually induces some sort of inner crisis: you have left the tried and true (or it has left you), and you have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is a time of waiting, a time of transformation. “Waiting is the passionate and contemplative crucible in which new life and spiritual wholeness can be birthed.” (Sue Monk Kidd) It is in this crucible that the solid and fixed material of our lives dissolves and returns to its original state, becoming raw material for transformation. Like the disciples, we will be asked at some point to review the ideas which have accompanied us to this moment in our lives. Even our most sacred beliefs can become encrusted over time, worn out symbols of a living reality that is no longer so alive. We will be invited to bring the old ways into the crucible and heat them with the fire of our desire, vision, passion, and longing.

While we might romanticise this process, it comes with a certain devastation. It is not oriented in what we would ordinarily think of as self-development, but is a required “darkening” we must go through so that we can begin our work anew, with fresh vision. The various “crucible” moments of our lives will not be times of peace, joy, and contentment, but of revolution where we might not be sure if we will make it through to the other side. In many ways, we will not, at least the “me” we thought we were at the start of the process will be gone. If we do not engage consciously in the process of dissolution, as many have discovered, life will bring dissolution to us, by way of transition, change, and psychic upheaval of all kinds: the ending of a relationship we thought would last forever, a shift in our health, the loss of a job, an unexpected depression, the inability to find meaning. This disruption is a forerunner of wholeness but by nature the whole will always include the dark, not only transcend it.

Jesus offered the disciples a completely different lens through which to view their recent traumatic experiences, a lens which was to draw their attention to the nature of the spiritual journey—the paschal rhythm of suffering, death, and resurrection, This necessary suffering leads to new life as the authentic self that God created, that God knows so intimately and that God invites us to live free and unencumbered in his presence.

Adapted : Ruth H. Barton; Matt Licata

“Resurrection is when one moment reveals the meaning of all moments.”

Richard Rohr