Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A, 24th May 2020

All these joined in continuous prayer …

In this time of worldwide fear and uncertainty, we are called to a deepening faith in our Lord, our stronghold and hope. As Christians, we also try to be a beacon of light for our fellow human beings.

The First Reading picks up the early Christian story immediately after Jesus’s ascension: Mary the mother of Jesus, his disciples and extended family gather in the upper room to await in prayer the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The Gospel also takes us back to a special place, the room where the Last Supper took place. Here Jesus prays, making known to his disciples – and to us – the name and teachings of the Father. Eternal life is to know the Father and Christ and their intimate relationship together.

The Psalm exudes trust and confidence in the God of the living; it inspires us to seek the Lord’s face and get to know him.

In the Second Reading, Peter gives his community encouragement as they endure challenges and hard times. He assures them of a special blessing if they live the values of Christ.

As the Easter Season draws to a close, we might pray together:
‘Lord, we believe you are indeed our light, help and stronghold in these dark times. May your Holy Spirit comfort us all; and may our relationship of loving trust with you deepen.’

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Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A, 17th May 2020

Speak out with a voice of joy … the Lord has set his people free!

Even though we remain conscious of the real trauma that many continue to struggle with today, there is a sense of joy in this week’s readings. We hear of it arising from the marvellous acts of the apostles (today’s First Reading), and also in the Psalm, a hymn rejoicing in the great things the Lord has done for his people.

In the same way, we have a taste of this joy in the Gospel promise: the Spirit will be given to us, and the Lord will be in us and we in the Lord.

Even the sufferings meted out to the followers of Christ (Second Reading) could not diminish their gratitude for the Lord. This was bound up in the hope of the Resurrection which gave them, as it today gives us, the reason to respect one another and to reverence the Lord.

This week, let’s pray that the trials we have faced over the past months, and the sufferings we continue to endure, will not hold back the life of the Spirit in us. In all things, may we speak with joy of the good things the Lord has done and continues to work in our lives.

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Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A, 10th May 2020

Ring out your joy to the Lord!

This week’s readings speak powerfully of faith, hope and trust in God. During the coming week and for the weeks ahead, God’s word inspires, sustains and encourages us as we continue to live with the impacts of current events.

We learn how the early church devised a way to ensure the fair sharing of food and material necessities among all the faithful, so that the apostles could continue preaching and teaching about Jesus (First Reading). They accomplished this task with prayer, seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit in their decision-making.

St Peter (Second Reading) speaks of the difficulties of living without faith, and rejoices that those who are believers can be close to Jesus and become a holy people living in the light of God.

We are reminded that our hope is in God who is faithful, who loves justice and right, and who seeks to rescue the people who hope in his love (Psalm). I am invited to remember God as the source of my hope in difficulty, and to offer praise and thanksgiving with joy.

The Gospel is part of Jesus’s farewell to his disciples. Although he will leave them physically, he asks them not to be troubled, to trust in God. He invites us also to trust. We will not be left alone, but will know our Risen Lord as the Way, the Truth and the Life, and be enabled to live the way, truth and life of Jesus for others.

I may like to ponder how am I making my decisions during this difficult time? Perhaps I am called to try to spend some time each day with Jesus, growing closer to him and his values.

I ask Jesus for the grace to live this week in hope, trust and joy.

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Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A, 3rd May 2020

Good Shepherd Sunday

Today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday, for the Gospel is always taken from St John, where Jesus speaks of himself as the ‘Good Shepherd’. A shepherd leads his flock and Jesus is the shepherd who leads his followers. The sheep know his voice, trust him, and will follow only him. In the same way, we also keep today as Vocations Sunday, when the Church prays for new ‘good shepherds’ to lead our Christian communities, especially at this difficult time.

In the First Reading, Peter proclaims to the crowd that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. They are invited to have faith in Christ, and by repenting and being baptised, they will be forgiven. Peter reminds them that God’s promise is for everyone.

This familiar Psalm demonstrates the hope and trust of the psalmist in the Lord who is my shepherd, and who cares for me providing guidance, comfort and rest.

In the Second Reading, Peter continues encouraging the people to follow Christ’s example and to put their trust in God, particularly when times are difficult or unjust. By dying on the cross he has healed us and brought us back to God.

Jesus tells his disciples – and us – that he is the gate of the sheepfold; it is in following him that we can have the fullness of life. (Gospel)

In my prayer this week, I may want to take time to speak to Jesus as my shepherd and reflect on what that means for me. On this Vocations Sunday, perhaps I can also consider how I am responding to the way Jesus is calling me, and pray that others also hear his invitation.

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Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), Year A, 19th April 2020

His love has no end!

At the heart of today’s Easter liturgy, we witness God’s unending love and mercy at work in the midst of very human doubt and weakness.

In the Gospel, the risen Christ appears amongst the disciples in their hiding place. Blessed with the Holy Spirit, they are sent out to spread Christ’s message of love, forgiveness and peace. Thomas is not with them and cannot believe what they tell him, but eight days later, Jesus returns and the reality of resurrection is revealed to Thomas in a personal way.

The Second Reading reminds us that the resurrection has reclaimed our birth-right as children of God. We are encouraged to be mindful and joyful at this reality. This changes us and everything forever. Even in the trials and anxieties of the times we are living though, faith will always be enough.

The First Reading shows how the Early Church, filled with the Spirit of the risen Christ, lived out its faith. Its members are united in the breaking of bread, communal prayer, a spirit of shared generosity, and in compassionate acts of love. This is the life we are called to live too, even as today we face the challenge of maintaining our bonds of fellowship when we can no longer safely gather as a community.  Christ is with us totally in the suffering of our longing to be  together again.

United  with Christians everywhere, and against a tide of doubt and scepticism, our faith-filled actions, expressed in small acts of kindness will declare with the Psalmist: ‘His love has no end’.

At one with the Easter spirit of the Early Church, let’s pray for each other, and especially for those facing trials because of their health or isolation. May we remain joyful in the certain knowledge of God’s great mercy that has made us his children.

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Easter Sunday, Year A, 12th April 2020

May the risen Lord breathe on our minds and open our eyes.

On this Easter morning, we stand with the first believers at the empty tomb, full of wonder and awe at the enormity of what has taken place. Today we can trust that our whole life lies with Christ.

In the First Reading, we hear Peter addressing a group of Gentiles within the household of the centurion Cornelius. His speech is significant: God wants the salvation of all peoples.

The Psalmist joyfully foresees the resurrection of Jesus and recognises it as the work of God Himself.

St Paul, in contrasting earthly and heavenly realities, urges the Colossians to set their gaze on heaven, where Christ is seated. Now we have been brought back to true life with Christ, we will share in his glory when he is revealed. (Second Reading)

The Gospel records how Peter and his unnamed companion slowly come to realize that Jesus has risen from the dead. This disciple, ‘the one Jesus loved’, symbolises where all faithful Christians are invited to be: in a loving, intimate relationship with Christ.

On this Easter Day, we may want to pray to recognise the dignity that belongs to us as Christians. We ask also for the grace we need to live out that dignity in practice, even when our daily lives have been unexpectedly upset in times of uncertainty and confusion.

 

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Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C, 19th May 2019

‘Love one another, just as I have loved you’

As Eastertide continues, we can take fresh heart that we are part of God’s glorious plan to bring about a new creation. Jesus’s new commandment to love one another as he loves us is the key to transforming the world.

The exhilarating mission of Paul and Barnabas in the First Reading helps us to see what can be achieved when we allow God to work within us, even as we endure hardships on the way.

The Psalm calls us to sing with the whole creation of God’s mighty deeds; his glory, his goodness and his compassion for us.

The vision of the heavenly Jerusalem in the Second Reading promises a new creation where the bond between God and his people is fully restored.

In the Gospel, Father and Son are together glorified as Jesus prepares to leave this world. Now Jesus gives his friends a new charge: to love one another as he loves us, so we can be recognised as his disciples.

This week I might pray to love others more and more as Jesus loves us, so that I can help play my own part in making all things new.

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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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