Thursday, 31 March 2016

Easter 2016 - The Face of Jesus

The Shroud of Turin

It is quite interesting to take note of these details in John's account of the disciples at the empty tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 
The Shroud of Turin is believed by many to be these cloths that John is describing. The Church directs that the Shroud may be venerated as an object of devotion, but does not declare, for certain, that it is the burial cloth of Jesus. (Faith knows now, science will catch up later.)

When the disciple John saw the shroud and the head-cloth (known as the Sudarium) neatly set aside, in an empty tomb, it says he "believed". Something about the way all these elements of the empty tomb triggered in John's mind. (... but of course, the grave was not robed ... the scriptures, "... he (the Messiah) must rise from the dead" ... but of course, he has risen!)

We too must be clear about our faith. Throughout history, many great figures have impressed us by their lives and inspired us by their teaching about God. Yet all of them now lay in tombs. Jesus is not merely one of them. It's not the he was, it's that he is, here and now. This disciple knew Jesus before he died, but now he was to get to "know" him in an entirely new way. What is most profound about this is that we too, can get to "know" Jesus, the risen One, just as John, here and now. It begins when we enter the empty tomb/room/space of our contemplative prayer to meet him.

The study of the Shroud of Turin can be most edifying to our prayer. Here is a link to the official website. [... LINK ...]


Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Four Resurrection Gospels

Each of the four gospels tells the story of Jesus resurrection and his encounter with his disciples but with different elements remembered. Reading them in parallel gives us incite into the fuller picture. This in turn lets us find and focus on those elements that stand out to us for our meditation.

28.1 Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Mag'dalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre
Bribing the Soldiers
28.11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place
The Command to Baptize
28.16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them
28.17 And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted

The Longer Ending to Mark
Only Late MSS
24.1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. 24.2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 24.3 but when they went in they did not find the body. 24.4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel 24.5 and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? 24.6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 24.7 that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise." 24.8 And they remembered his words, 24.9 and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 24.10 Now it was Mary Mag'dalene and Jo-an'na and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; 24.11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 24.12
The Road to Emmaus
24.13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 24.14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 24.15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 24.16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 24.17 And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. 24.18 Then one of them, named Cle'opas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 24.19 And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 24.20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 24.21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. 24.22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning 24.23 and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24.24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see." 24.25 And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 24.26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 24.27 And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 24.28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, 24.29 but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. 24.30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. 24.31 And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. 24.32 They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" 24.33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, 24.34 who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 24.35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Jesus Redivivus in Jerusalem
 The Ascension
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
Jesus Appears to the Disciples again
 The Appendix to John's Gospel
21.1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tibe'ri-as; and he revealed himself in this way. 21.2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathan'a-el of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zeb'edee, and two others of his disciples were together. 21.3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing. 21.4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 21.5 Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any fish?" They answered him, "No." 21.6 He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. 21.7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. 21.8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. 21.9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. 21.10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." 21.11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. 21.12 Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. 21.13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 21.14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Easter 2016

"He is not here; he has risen, just as he said."

An Easter Homily

During this Holy Week that we have just celebrated together, two words stood out for me - NIGHT and TRUTH.

In John’s gospel account of the Supper of the Lord, he presents that chilling picture of Judas, sitting at table with Jesus, all the while conspiring to betray Jesus to those seeking to kill Jesus. Finally, Judas gets up from the table, and leaves. Here John adds these words; “… and it was NIGHT.”

John is not talking about the time of day only, but of something of much greater magnitude. He is talking about darkness - the black of night - the absence of light – all meant to describe the condition of a human soul – stripped of the LIGHT of truth. Inside Judas’s heart it is NIGHT. He no longer believes in Jesus and his teaching. He is selling out for thirty pieces of silver.

Now, Jesus stands before the judgement seat of Pilate, the spokesman for the secular world, to pass judgement on Jesus. The HOUR has begun – the HOUR of judgement, judgement on Jesus and his purpose for coming into the world – to bring the LIGHT of TRUTH to a world in darkness; that is in ignorance of the truth. Pilate, the spokesman for the secular world, and all the secular worlds to come, speaks. “Truth he says, what is truth?”

Now it is our turn. We of this generation now stand in judgement about Jesus, whether or not his word, his gospel is truth. How many have left this table, this table of the Word, this table of the Eucharist, and no longer walk with Jesus; no longer accept that his gospel is truth. What is truth, once again echoes all around us. Increasingly, our society is dominated by a secular world view, where people are the authors of truth.

In the liturgy of Easter Sunday, reciting the creed is replaced with the renewal of the baptismal profession of faith. Here and now, we will proclaim, in a visible, audible and public way where we stand on the question of truth. It is now our hour.

Our world is now asking us, where do you stand on Jesus and the gospel? If we say I do believe, then everything we say and do must be shaped by this truth we embrace. For if we fail to live up to our profession of faith, will not the world rightly judge us as hypocrites. 


The Renewal of Baptismal Promises 

Dear brothers and sisters, through the Paschal Mystery
we have been buried with Christ in Baptism,
so that we may walk with him in newness of life.
And so, now that our Lenten observance is concluded,
let us renew the promises of Holy Baptism,
by which we once renounced Satan and his works
and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church.

And so I ask you:

Priest: Do you renounce Satan? All: I do.
Priest: And all his works? All: I do.
Priest: And all his empty show? All: I do.

Priest: Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth? All: I do.

Priest: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
All: I do.

Priest: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? All: I do.

And the Priest concludes:
And may almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit
and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins,
keep us by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord,
for eternal life.

All: Amen.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Good Friday

"It is Finished."

As we saw in the Holy Week Post, this is the "Hour", Jesus' destiny, the reason for his coming into the world, now fulfilled. Satan is defeated, his weapons of lies are rendered mute by the Truth revealed in Jesus - God is love. By mercy, God's plan is to bring all who will accept, into his presence, sharing his very life with them eternally.

Satan has lied about God's plan for people, calling it eternal death. He has tried to convince everyone to live as they will, and to join him in his exile, which he calls freedom from the demands of truth.

With the blackest of all darkness, he shrouded Jesus' heart, crying aloud, "your God has forsaken and abandoned you." "You are no son of his, only I, Satan, can help you now." Jesus denounced this lie of lies with these words: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

At that very moment, Jesus' spirit ascended, while Satan was thrown into the abyss of his emptiness. 

Here are some scriptures that speak of the hidden mystery following Jesus death on the cross.

Ephesians 4:8-10
Therefore, it says: “He ascended on high and took prisoners captive; he gave gifts to men.”
What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended into the lower [regions] of the earth?
The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.

Acts 2:23-24
"This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it."

1 Peter 3:18-20
"For Christ also suffered* for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water."

The prophet Hosea foretold the descent of Christ into Hell in Hosea 13:14 by placing these words into the mouth of the Messiah: “O death, I will be our death; O hell, I will be your bite.”

Zechariah foretells the redemption of those in the Limbo of the Fathers in Zech 9:11: “You also by the blood of your Testament have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit.” What could this mean except that the Messiah would free people from the underworld?

Colossians 2:15: “Despoiling the principalities and powers, He has exposed them confidently.” This refers to Christ’s victory over the condemned angels who are the demons of Hell.

Psalm 23:7: “Lift up your gates, O you princes,” which the medieval Gloss interprets: “that is–You princes of hell, take away your power, whereby hitherto you held men fast in hell”.
In Ecclesiasticus 24:45, Siracides prophecied: “I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the earth.”

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