SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTIONS – APRIL – 2020

5th April 2020 – Palm Sunday – Cycle A – Matthew 26:14 – 27:66

This gospel reading is long and very dramatic. In itself it could be the script of a tragedy. Take any one event in this tragedy and visualise it. How does this make me feel? If I were in the scene I am visualising who would I be? Is there one person I identify with most or feel the most compassion for? Focus on the scene that attracts you or use the one below.

As evening approached Joseph asked for Jesus’ body so he could bury him. It was all over, Jesus dead and the crowds gone home. Evening means it will soon be night and dark. Joseph had the courage and the means to do the right thing. How do I handle tragedy and ending? When have I avoided doing the right thing? A large stone was rolled over the entrance, an obstacle sealing Jesus in and the women out. Are there obstacles which block me – either keeping me prisoner or preventing me from being close to Jesus? Why is it that only the women were waiting?

During the evening Jesus spent agonising in the garden while his friends slept he warned then to pray that they would not be led into temptation – that they would not give up or lose hope. We pray the same thing every time we pray the Our Father. Let us pray this week that we too may not give up while waiting for the Kingdom.

12th April 2020 – Easter Sunday – Year A – Matthew 28:1-10 (Vigil Gospel)

The two Mary’s go to the tomb to find Jesus. Do I wish to find Jesus? Where do I go? What am I seeking? Let me come to the tomb this morning and experience the earthquake and see the angel in bright clothing, sitting on a rock and listen for the reassurance that Jesus has risen and the double message of, ‘come and see where he lay’ and ‘go and tell…’. What is the message that I hear? Who will I tell?

When they met Jesus, and heard his greeting they fell down to their knees and held his feet and worshipped him. Where do I meet Jesus? What is important for me to hear? How do I offer my love and worship? What do I feel? The divine refrain is always, ‘Be not afraid!’ Is this an important message for me and why? Jesus is more radiant and fully alive than before his death. The two Mary’s run off to take the message to the disciples and the power of Easter, of resurrection, begins to work in the disciples and continues to this day! What is the unique part that I play? What

will I still do or be?

The disciples had run away a couple of days before this when Jesus was imprisoned, believing that everything was lost. Perhaps I have had experiences which felt similar to me, loss of a relationship or a job, health issues, financial difficulties, death of a loved one? Let me remember a significant one. What helped me to get up again and put the broken pieces of my life together and ‘rise’ again? This is an experience of the power of Easter in the present time. How does Easter empower me today? What are my hopes?

Christ is risen! Christ’s resurrection is not a once off event, but anticipates the resurrection of each of us, of our loved ones, our communities, all peoples of all the world and the whole of God’s creation! Let us rejoice as we hold this in our hearts always! 

19th April 2020 – 2nd Sunday of Easter – Cycle A – John 20:19-31

In the gospel passage today John records two resurrection appearances of Jesus, both of which happened in a locked room. There is an atmosphere of fear. They are fearful that they too may be arrested and face punishment because of their association with Jesus. Some, who had invested much time with Jesus, might have been fearful, angry and/or confused because Jesus had not measured up to whatever criteria they had had of him. What are my criteria and expectations of being a believer in Jesus Christ? Some people seem so strong and sure in their faith, how does that leave me feeling when I, like Thomas, might be questioning and asking for some sign, some touch, some word, some empirically verifiable truth? What or who supports me through these times?

However, John tells us that Jesus mysteriously appears among them as they were gathered together and says, “Peace be with you”. Today, God still mysteriously enters even though we have ‘closed ourselves in the room’ and says, “Peace be with you”.What areas of myself have been ‘locked away behind a closed door’? What do I feel I need to do to have peace in these places? Do I experience peace when gathering with other believers or when at the table of the Lord? When have I felt the peace of God? Can I then respond, like Thomas, with, ‘My Lord and my God!’?

Many in the past and today have suffered grievously and lost their childlike sense of peace because of those who ruled by fear. Some institutions, families and people have caused young minds to see God as a hard punitive God convincing their innocent hearts of their badness, sinfulness, guilt and shame. What was I taught or how do I perceive God as a result of how I was raised? Has this changed over the years? Have I witnessed or read about the peace of God in someone even though they were in an extremely difficult, fearful or perilous situation? How has their faith inspired or supported me?

“As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” “Receive the Holy Spirit.” “Peace be with you.” May these words of the Resurrected Lord find a home deep within my heart enabling me to joyfully continue Jesus’ mission as a channel of peace.

26th April 2020 – 3rd Sunday of Easter – Cycle A – Luke 24:13-35

Today we are travelling with two of the disciples who are downright miserable and trudging their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They have obviously been discussing the death of Jesus, who they admit to a fellow traveller who joins them, that they felt he was a great prophet. The magnitude of how great a prophet he was, the promised Christ, has not yet dawned on them. How do I understand Jesus as prophet? Do I understand how these disciples were unable to think beyond their deep loss? What has been my experience of death of a loved one? What was helpful in my grief? How does Jesus’ resurrection affect my thinking and acceptance of death?

As they journey along Jesus slowly and gently teaches them, explaining the prophesies and more in Scripture. They are enthralled and their hearts burn as their confused thoughts are brought to greater clarity and they begin to come to greater understanding. When does my heart burn? Do I burn with passion to learn more and more about God and His ways? Who is/are my fellow traveller/s? Can I remember someone, some scripture or an insight in prayer which has lifted ‘a veil’ that led to a new level on my spiritual journey? Have I experienced stumbling blocks and road detours that have hidden Christ from me?

With the breaking of bread, they suddenly recognise Jesus, and all His teachings become clear and their earlier dejection is transformed into deep joy and a sense of freedom. What ‘oppresses’ me? Do I fall prey to financial stresses, emotional turmoil, relationship failures? Where do I find freedom? How does Jesus offer freedom to me? Do I remember Jesus in the breaking of bread? What are my habits or rituals which remind me that Jesus accompanies me ‘on the way’?

The two disciples, in their response to recognising Jesus in their lives, rush back to Jerusalem eager to impart the Good News of Christ’s resurrection to the other disciples. This week as I travel along on my unique journey, let me invite Jesus as my ‘fellow traveller’ and the Holy Spirit as my guide and ask that Jesus’ teachings make my heart burn with hunger for knowledge of our compassionate and loving God and the graces so generously offered to us.