April 2019: The Deep End

Fifth Sunday of Lent
7 April 2019

The Deep End • Don’t look back

‘No need to recall the past, No need to think about what was done before. See, I am doing a new deed…’ (Isaiah 43: 18-19)

‘All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead…’ (Phil 3:13)

These poignant words taken from today’s first and second readings provide the perfect preamble to our dramatic Gospel reading. Perhaps the line that is most often quoted from the story of the woman caught in adultery is Jesus’ challenge to the crowd who bring her before them: ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ It is a challenge to all of us to look inward before we ‘cast stones’ to judge others.

But there is another equally powerful statement here by Jesus, this time to the woman herself. It is delivered quietly, when she is left alone with Jesus after all her accusers have drifted away: ‘Neither
do I condemn you. Go away, and don’t sin any more.’ We notice that Jesus doesn’t rake over the woman’s past. He doesn’t ask her about the claims of her accusers. He does not condemn or criticise her. Instead he accepts her, loves her, treats her with the respect and dignity that was so lacking in the mob, and gently nudges her forward into a new way of living.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon
Email trionad@gmail.com

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
14 April 2019

The Deep End • Towards the cross

We know where Jesus is going to end up, and Jesus knows it too. At the beginning of today’s Mass, we hear of Jesus’ spectacular entry into Jerusalem. The crowds who greet him cry out and praise God – the King has come! It is similar to how victorious army generals were welcomed home. These people have set their hopes on Jesus. They are waiting for
a Messiah and King, and have heard so much about this preacher – is he the one they’ve been waiting for?

But Jesus is not the hero they’ve been expecting. He has not come to raise up an army or become a great political leader. Quite the opposite: Jesus has come to Jerusalem to die. The story takes a dark and dramatic turn, and we are plunged into a tale of arrest, trial, torture and death. Before long, the crowds are shouting ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ and taunting him on the cross to ‘save himself if he is the Christ of God’. Jesus’ triumphant entrance into the city is also his entry into his betrayal, suffering, and death.

We play our part in the unfolding drama today, as we first hold up our palm branches and later join the crowds condemning Jesus. In his Palm Sunday homily to young people last year, Pope Francis said the changing reactions of the crowds ‘expresses the contradictory feelings that we too, the men and women of today, experience: the capacity for great love, but also for great hatred; the capacity for courageous self-sacrifice, but also the ability to ‘wash our hands’.’ Today we place ourselves in the Passion of Jesus, and we look to the Cross as our consolation and our challenge.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon
Email trionad@gmail.com

Easter Day of the Lord’s Resurrection
21 April 2019

The Deep End • For all eternity

‘It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark…’ So begins today’s Gospel reading, the Gospel we listen to every Easter Sunday. This opening line sets the scene for the events of that first Easter, when first Mary of Magdala, and then Simon Peter and the other disciple, discover the empty tomb and come to the realisation that Jesus has risen from
the dead. It is only at this moment that they understand what Jesus had been trying to teach them. Their eyes are opened. They see and they believe. And what about us, this Easter? What do we believe? Easter is about more than simply recalling or commemorating the resurrection of Jesus. By raising Jesus from the dead, God also opened up for us the way to eternal life. This feast is the reason for our faith and the reason for our hope. Our celebration today raises us up and renews us in faith, hope and love.

Let us love one another and pray,
Let us love one another and be
Let us love one another and be
Let us love one another and be filled
with the charity of God.
Let us love one another with God, in
God, and for God,
And we shall thus be one with God for
all eternity.

Cornelia Connelly,
foundress, Society of the Holy Child Jesus

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon
Email trionad@gmail.com

Second Sunday of Easter
24 April 2019 • Divine Mercy Sunday

The Deep End • A saint for dark times

It’s perfectly understandable: Thomas is having trouble believing that Jesus has returned to be with his friends again. The disciples, who witnessed Jesus’ arrest, torture, death and burial, are now talking about having seen Jesus in the flesh again. It sounds impossible. Thomas was not there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples, so of course he is doubtful.

Thomas’ moment of doubt earned him the nickname ‘Doubting Thomas’, and I sometimes think this is a little unfair. Or rather, I feel that Thomas’ wobble of faith does not necessarily cast him in a negative light – it makes him easier to relate to. He is grieving after the death of his master and friend. He is not ready to hear the words of comfort and consolation offered by the others, when they tell him ‘We have seen the Lord.’ His pain is too deep. He can’t believe it, or won’t believe it, until he experiences it
for himself. And when he does finally encounter Jesus, an agonising eight days later, his declaration of faith is swift: ‘My Lord and my God!’ We can almost hear the relief and joy in this exclamation.

We all know that life can be painful and messy at times. It can be hard to hang onto our faith when we are in pain, or grieving, or anxious. It might be difficult to accept the assurances of others that God is with us and will help us through it. We might also struggle to pray. In dark times, sometimes we just can’t see the light. Thomas is a saint for those times of darkness and doubt. In our darkest days, may we, like Thomas, encounter the healing presence of the Risen Christ.

Tríona Doherty
Athlone, Co Roscommon
Email trionad@gmail.com