April 2021: The Deep End
The Deep End
Easter Day of the Lord’s Resurrection
4 April 2021
Early on the first day of the week
Today we celebrate the highpoint of the Christian calendar, Easter. The Gospel tells us that Mary Magdalen is the first witness to the Resurrection, she is the first to bring this Good News to others, the first preacher of the Resurrection. ‘It was still dark …’ when Mary went to the tomb but it was also the ‘first day of the week’, a new beginning, like the first warm day of Spring. We can all recall situations in our lives which seemed so dark, where we felt that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. But the Easter story shows us that transformation is always possible. There comes a point during dark times that we realise something has changed, the stone has rolled away.
Let the linen wrappings in this text today represent all that keeps us from being free; all that keeps us captive, emotionally, physically, spiritually, in our broken relationships and struggling communities. As we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, many people are longing for this situation to ease, to lift. The Easter Gospel shows us that even the most difficult of situations can bring transformation. A question we can ask today, is where have we seen the Risen Christ during this crisis? In the frontline workers, in good neighbours and friends. Where are we being called to share Easter joy with others?
‘Jesus you are with us. Keep us ever mindful of how you are a part of our lives in a deep and profound way. Surprise us with a touch of your love in places where we never thought that we would find you.’ (Joyce Rupp)
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Second Sunday of Easter
11 April 2021 • Divine Mercy Sunday
We do not come through suffering and difficult times unscarred. We are changed by them. Often it brings some sort of growth into our lives and usually it is not a pleasant experience. We only have to think of the past year of lockdowns and isolation and fear. In Pope Francis’ new book, Let us Dream, he says ‘To enter into crisis is to be sifted. Your categories and ways of thinking get shaken up; your priorities and lifestyles are challenged. You cross a threshold, either by your own choice or by necessity, because there are crises, like the one we are going through, that you can’t avoid.’
Today’s Gospel shows us that even the most difficult situations can be transformed. The Risen Christ stands amongst the disciples even though the doors were firmly closed. The peace that he gives them (Shalom) is a peace of body, of mind and of spirit and it moves the disciples from despair and being ‘locked away’ to ‘rejoicing’. Jesus then asks the disciples to be an unending witness to God’s love. They, and we, are invited to be for others what Jesus has been for them. The Risen Jesus is active in all our lives and in the world around us, but we must be careful not to close ourselves off or let fear take over. John tells us that he writes these things so that we may come to believe and have life. Our call is to bring this peace and joy to others, ‘so I send you’. Who can you reach out to today?
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Third Sunday of Easter
18 April 2021
‘You are Witnesses of these things’
Today’s Gospel is one of the resurrection accounts from St Luke’s Gospel. It begins with the disciples recalling their experience on the road to Emmaus and how they recognised Jesus in the breaking of the bread. The Gospel continues into another account of the Risen Jesus with his disciples. Jesus interrupts the disciple’s story and greets them with ‘Peace’ (Shalom) yet, in this account, they are terrified by this. Jesus shows them his wounds and Luke tells us that they are full of joy, but they still can’t believe it and think it is a ghost. Jesus shows them that he is no ghost as he asks for food and eats fish with them. Jesus then journeys with them back through the scriptures in order to open their minds. He speaks to them compassionately, trying to relieve their anxiety and fear.
Jesus tells the disciples that ‘you are witnesses of these things’. Luke wants to establish an important point, that these disciples are witnesses to the Resurrection, they ate with Jesus after his death and he opened their minds. The Resurrection accounts in the Gospels are not fantasy, they are the actual experiences of Jesus’ disciples. So often in Luke’s Gospel Jesus conveys his message through food and banquets, moments of celebration. The Risen Christ brings compassion and joy into difficult spaces. Today let us share with Jesus the situations in our lives which need an injection of compassion and Easter joy.
‘Every year the dull and dead in us meets our Easter challenge: to be open to the unexpected, to believe beyond our security, to welcome God in every form, and trust in our own greening.’
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Fourth Sunday of Easter
25 April 2021 • Day of Prayer for Vocations
The Good Shepherd
In Jesus’ time, being a shepherd was not a pleasant job. Sheep became easily lost and the shepherd’s job was to guide them back to safety. There were many dangers and the sheep were totally dependent on the shepherd. Shepherds would round up their sheep in the evening and guide them into their pen. But it had no gate, so the shepherd would have to lie across the space in case the sheep were attacked in the night. The shepherds literally lay down their lives for their flock. John compares the sacrifice of the shepherd to the ‘hired hand’ who is not really committed to the flock. He does what he has to but flees at the first sign of trouble.
This Good Shepherd Sunday the Gospel describes Jesus as the ‘genuine’ Shepherd who wants a personal relationship with each one of us and who would lay down his life for us. The Gospel emphasises the importance of relationship as the shepherd knows his flock and cares for them. They ‘Follow Him’ and it is not a Facebook or Twitter type of following, rather it is a genuine relationship. Everyone matters to the Good Shepherd, regardless of their situations. We are told ‘I know my own and my own know me’. We are called today to follow Jesus in a more personal more intimate way. Even when we stray off the path and get lost, it is then especially that the Good Shepherd comes looking for us.
‘We think we are feeling from God, but in fact we are running into his arms’. (Meister Eckhart)
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