Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A, 28th May 2017

The Lord is my Light and my Help

As the season of Easter is drawing to a close, our readings this week remind us of the centrality of prayer to our life in Christ.

In the First Reading, we see how the Early Church gathered together to pray continuously as they celebrated the reality of resurrection.

Today’s Psalm is a song of faith, trust and longing. Its refrain reminds us to see God’s presence in all that is around us. It is through prayer that we can respond to the call of our heart to “Seek his face”.

In Peter’s Letter (Second Reading) we are reminded that if we face sufferings because of our faith in Christ, this will become a blessing for us, since it is a sign that the Spirit of God rests upon us.

In St John’s Gospel, Jesus gives us a model for prayer as he speaks with passion directly to the Father. He shares his concerns for his followers, confident that they will be kept secure in the flow of love between Father and Son. It is knowing the truth of this love that will bring us eternal life.

As Christians, we are called to a shared communal life in Christ that will transform our world. As we pray this week, let us remember and celebrate with joy that we do not pray alone; we are part of a universal community of prayer. Let us pray for each other and for the needs of our world, confident that Christ is praying with us and through us.

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Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A, 21st May 2017

“I will not leave you orphans”

As we near the end of Eastertide and the feast of Pentecost approaches, the Church chooses readings this week which help us prepare for this momentous event.

The First Reading reminds us of the first days of the Early Church spreading through Asia Minor, living through very human tensions and led by Spirit-filled men.

How then can we not rejoice and, as the psalmist invites us, ‘cry out with joy’ before the ‘tremendous deeds’ of God?

In the Second Reading, the author of the First Letter of Peter continues to encourage the early Christians. Their life was not always an easy one: they often suffered slander and accusations, yet they have great hope and can answer their critics with a clear conscience. Christ too died, though innocent, but ‘in the spirit he was raised to life’.

Our sadness at seeing the risen Christ return to his Father is tempered by his promise to ask him to send us a helper, an Advocate, the Spirit of truth. He will not leave us orphans. (Gospel)

This week, then, we may want to spend some of our prayer time asking the Lord what we can do, in practical terms and with the help of the Spirit, to continue building his Church and telling others about him with greater confidence.

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Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A, 14th May 2017

“Trust in God still, and trust in me”

As this grace-filled season of Eastertide continues, we are invited to place our whole trust in the risen Lord. Even when we are troubled or anxious, Jesus, ’the Way, the Truth and the Life’, is there to comfort and encourage us, showing us the way to live our lives as Easter people.

In the First Reading, animosity between two factions within the Early Church leads to neglect of those in need. The Apostles resolve this by appointing seven wise, Spirit-filled people to a ministry of service.

The Psalm conveys the utmost trust in God, whose words are always reliable, and whose kindness is granted to all who hope in him.

The Second Reading reassures us that we are part of a spiritual house, built with living stones. We are urged to ‘rest our trust’ in Christ and set ourselves close to him, the one chosen by God as the precious cornerstone. God has chosen us, too, to be his holy people, and called us into the light to proclaim his praise.

In the Gospel, the disciples are worried and confused as Jesus speaks of leaving them. But he encourages them to trust completely as he reassures them that he will continue to show them the Way. If they know him, they will know the Father too, who lives and works in him.

This week I might pray for even greater trust in the Lord who has such special love and care for me, and to walk his Way more closely.

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Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A, 7th May 2017

Good Shepherd Sunday

The image of Christ the Shepherd caring for his followers has been used since the earliest years of Christianity. In the biblical way of shepherding, the shepherd leads the flock, calling each sheep by name. The sheep know and trust the voice of their shepherd, following him wherever he leads: a fine model for the love of Jesus for his disciples – and for each of us.

The First Reading anticipates Pentecost: Peter preaches the Lordship of Jesus Christ to the crowds in Jerusalem, inviting them to faith because the promises of God are for everyone.

In the Second Reading Peter writes to remind the followers of Jesus that Our Lord left us an example to follow, particularly in the difficulties with which we struggle, so that we might live in holiness: through Jesus our wounds are healed.

The Psalm is a hymn of trust in the Lord who is my shepherd.
I shall want for nothing, because the Lord will give me rest, comfort and guidance.

In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of himself as the shepherd who has become the gateway to fullness of life for his followers, a source of unity among divided Christians – an issue for John’s followers, and also for us today.

This week in my prayer, I may want to take time to speak with Jesus as my Shepherd and Lord.

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3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A, 30th April 2017

Show us, Lord, the path of life

The readings for this Sunday speak of our faith and hope in God, as we continue to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus in this season of Easter.

Peter speaks to the crowds gathered at Pentecost (First Reading). He tells them that Jesus, whose death they had sought, is no longer dead but has been raised to life by the power of God. The apostles are witnesses to this, and to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The first letter of Peter (Second Reading) explains that the death and resurrection of Jesus have freed us to live as people with faith and hope in God.

The Psalm is a hymn of joy and trust in God who preserves, directs and saves us, showing us the path of life that leads to happiness.

When the way forward seems unclear, or if it seems as though we have experienced the ending of all our hopes, we can learn from the Gospel story that tells of Jesus walking alongside those in sorrow. They are aware of being comforted without knowing why. Only later, as Jesus celebrates Eucharist with them, are they aware that he has been with them all along their journey.

In this Easter season, I ask for the grace of a deeper appreciation of the presence of Christ Jesus in my daily life.

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Second Sunday of Easter, Year A, 23 April 2017

“Peace be with you”

The Risen Christ brings new life to all. Resurrection is not just an historical event, but an ongoing ever-present reality. United with the Cosmic Christ, we are called to an ever deeper understanding of the wonder of resurrection in our lives.

In today’s Gospel story, Thomas is not present when the Risen Jesus first comes to the disciples in the upper room. Eight days later, Jesus reveals the reality of his resurrection to Thomas in a personal way. Thomas recognises the truth and exclaims “My Lord and my God!” Jesus breathes his spirit on the disciples and sends them out into the world to spread his message of love, forgiveness and peace.

In the First Reading from Acts, the early Christian Church is filled with the same Spirit to transform the lives of others. They share their belongings, live in community and break bread together. Praying and praising God, they would be familiar with today’s Psalm – a song of gratitude, joy and celebration of the Lord’s unending love.

In the Second Reading we are assured that faith in the Risen Christ will guard us through difficulties and will be a source of joy now that we have been made children of God.
This week, let us pray for willing hearts that are open to receive the transforming deep peace that only Christ can give us.

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Easter Sunday, Year A, 16th April 2017

Alleluia!

Christ our hope is risen! The readings for Easter Sunday are full of this joyful response and of the understanding of what this great mystery means to us.

The First Reading from Acts is Peter’s succinct account to Cornelius of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. He is witness to all of this and is called to proclaim it to everyone. As followers of Jesus we are called to do likewise.

Psalm 117 is very much an Easter psalm, which we shall meet several times over the season. Today’s verses are a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s love and for his power in raising Christ in victory.

Both alternatives for the Second Reading emphasise the meaning of the ‘new life’ we have as the baptised in Christ. We are the ‘new bread’ living the ‘true life’ in Christ, celebrating God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The Gospel narrative shows Peter and John slowly coming to realise that Jesus has truly risen from the dead. Until then, they had not understood, had not grasped the teaching of scripture.

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