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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

EASTER SUNDAY -C- April 17, 2022

Acts 10: 34a, 37-43; Psalm 118;
Colossians 3: 1-4; John 20: 1-9

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

Happy Easter!

I would have preferred a different gospel for this Easter Sunday. There is so much death in the world these days. As I write this the Russians are still on their murderous spree in Ukraine. Some are calling it a Holocaust. They seem bent on wiping out the Ukrainian people and, for those who survive, what would they have to return to, but ruins and devastation?

The effects of the horror go further than the borders of Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine supply more than a quarter of the world’s wheat, feeding billions of people. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the boycott on Russian goods threaten to cut off substantial supplies of wheat. One researcher predicts that in four months, when the next harvest is due, things can be "particularly gloomy," for many countries in Africa and the Middle East that depend on that wheat. We are talking about hunger and starvation in the future, just one more deadly result of this war. That is why on Easter Sunday I would have preferred a more spectacular, spirit-rousing resurrection story, not one of Mary and two apostles finding an empty tomb. Is that all there is!

Mary Magdalene and the other women play a consistent role in the final stages of Jesus’ life. In Holy Week we sing, "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" Well, Mary and the women were there. The gospel narratives of Jesus’ last days mention the women who were with him till the end. Mary Magdalene was one of them. They could not relieve his pain and dying, but they could be present to him, loving faces amid the mockery and surrounding brutality. Only a tiny group of women were with Jesus as he died. Where were his other disciples? Consistent in the stories was the presence of Mary. She wasn’t listed as a disciple still, she and the other women risked their lives by being present with the dying Jesus. It was a danger for them to be there because they might have also been considered revolutionaries, as Jesus was.

Mary is also a key witness to Jesus’ resurrection. The first hint that something is astir is when she comes early in the morning, as John puts it, "while it was still dark." Light and dark are key themes in John. He isn’t just mentioning the time of day. Death rules in the dark, Jesus is the approaching light. She finds the stone removed and the tomb empty.

There is a hint of a new day coming; but not quite yet. For Mary it is still dark, all she knows is that her beloved Jesus is dead and now his body is gone. Many of us experience the death of a loved one in a similar way. We go to visit a grave, pay respects to the dead, remember and grieve our loss. It is still dark. What Mary finds is an empty tomb. Her interpretation of the "facts" is, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb and we don’t know where they put him."

For people in dire straits, because of severe illness, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, homelessness, etc., life can feel like an empty tomb and Jesus gone. Yet, we believe he is alive and the lives of faithful Christians can be sure signs of his living and caring presence. It is hard to be with the dying and desperate and not be able to change their fate. Mary Magdalene, through Jesus’ last hours and at the empty tomb, is a faithful presence. As we read further in John, she is also the first to meet the risen Lord (20:11ff). Still – at the tomb – death seemed to be the final victor – but it was not!

The resurrection accounts remind us that we are more like the first disciples. In some of the accounts women go to the tomb with spices to anoint Jesus’ body for entombment. In John’s account Mary also goes prepared for death and to grieve the loss of Jesus. When she tells Peter and John the body is missing, they race to the tomb expecting that and no more – a missing, dead body.

Is that what we expect: what is dead, stays dead? Is it possible that what is too good to be true, is true? That life is the reality we can believe in? Can we go to the places where no life seems possible, like that tomb, and be the "beloved disciple" who believes, even before he and we get to see and touch the risen Lord?

If Peter gets to the tomb and comes to believe then he will have to view the world through the lens Jesus’ Spirit gives; there will be no other way of looking and judging. As we look into the empty tomb, will we believe? Will we accept the forgiveness of our past disloyalties and compromises, as Peter did? And then, whom must we forgive and set free with new life? Will we live and proclaim the Easter faith by forgiving enemies, feeding the hungry, encouraging those with weak, or beginner’s faith? Will sharing in this Eucharist today, God’s generous gift of new life, stir up in us a desire to be generous to others? The empty tomb raises a lot of questions for us.

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/041722.cfmx

PRAYER FOR ALL MIGRANTS

to Saint Joseph , persecuted and courageous migrant

Saint Joseph

You who have experienced the suffering

of those who must flee

You who were forced to flee

to save the lives of those dearest to you

Protect all those who flee because of

war, hatred, hunger

Support them in their difficulties

strengthen them in hope

and let them find welcome and solidarity

Guide their steps and open the hearts

of those who can help them. Amen

(Pope Francis, Catechesis on Saint Joseph, December 29, 2021

Quoted in the Houston Catholic Worker Newsletter, Jan-March 2022)

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.

Psalm 118:23

"Wake up, sleeper," cried the great Apostle Paul, "rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

"Awaken Us"

 (an Easter prayer from Catholic Relief Services)

Lord of all hopefulness, awaken us.

Show us the meaning in our toil

That we may ever rejoice in the promise of the seeds we sow.

Lord of all righteousness, awaken us.

Show us the good path

That we may walk in confidence in Your wisdom and understanding.

Lord of all hospitality, awaken us.

Show us the refuge of eagles' wings

That we may always be people of shelter in times of storm.

Lord of all freedom, awaken us.

Show us the courage that called our forefathers out of bondage

That we may always stand with the bound and the oppressed,

and be their champions.

Lord of all peace, awaken us.

Show us the heart that stills even raging waters

That we may make still raging hearts and reconcile warring neighbors.

Lord of all charity, awaken us.

Teach us of the unending return on our sacrifice

That we may rejoice more fully in our giving.

Lord, you have eyes for the just and ears for their cry.

Awaken in us a heart of justice

That you may count us among their number. AMEN.

At this Easter season may we all awaken and see.

 

Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS, Director,

Office of Human Life, Dignity, and Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Acts of the Apostles reading:

[Peter said to the people]

We are witnesses of all that he did

both in the country of the Jews

and in Jerusalem.

Reflection:

In the early church the word "witness" was the same as "martyr." To give public witness to Christ means to be willing to suffer for our faith. From the earliest times to this day compelling witnesses have shown that people not only profess their faith in Christ and his resurrection in words, but are also prepared to live their faith – even die for it.

So we ask ourselves:

  • Where am I called to be a "witness" for Christ?
  • What does it cost me to be that witness?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

I don’t want a moratorium on the death penalty, I want the abolition of it. I can’t understand why a county [USA] that is so committed to human rights doesn’t find the death penalty and obscenity.

----Bishop Desmond Tutu

This is a particularly vulnerable time for state and federal prisoners. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of the inmates listed below to let them know we have not forgotten them. If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • John Scott Badgett #0014016 (On death row since 5/6/2004)
  • Paul D. Cummings #0523493 (9/8/2004)
  • Alexander Polke #0801680 (2/7/2005)

----Central Prison, P.O. 247 Phoenix, MD 21131

Please note: Central Prison is in Raleigh, NC., but for security purposes, mail to inmates is processed through a clearing house at the above address in Maryland.

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to Fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP:

St. Albert Priory

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars.

Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation:
https://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to Fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

St. Albert the Great Priory & Novitiate

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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