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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

2nd SUNDAY OF EASTER April 24, 2022

Acts 5: 12-16; Ps118;
Revelation 1: 9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; John 20: 19-31

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

How effective are Jesus’ words? According to the Gospels, what he says happens. To the blind man he says "Have sight your faith has saved you" (Lk 18:42) – and the man sees. To the cripple by the pool at Bethsaida, he says, "Rise pick up your mat and walk" (Jn 5:8) and the man gets up and does just that. To the dead Lazarus in the tomb he says, "Lazarus, come out! (Jn 11:13) and Lazarus comes out of the tomb.

But these manifestation of the Word’s effective power are not new. From the very first words of the Bible God’s Word does what it says. In the opening of Genesis God speaks over the void, "Let there be light" (Gen 1:3), and light happens...so does all of creation, step by step, through the fruitful utterances of God’s Word. The prophets receive their call because, as Jeremiah says, "The word of God came to me…." (1:4). It is a word that, not only calls the prophets, but sustains them through their arduous tasks, even to their deaths.

Today’s gospel reveals the effectiveness of Jesus’ word when he speaks to his disciples, fear-bound behind locked doors. They had seen how the Romans brutalized and killed Jesus and they were afraid. They had been with him as he entered Jerusalem and they reveled in the adulation the crowds gave him. But Jesus was killed and as his known disciples they were in danger of the same fate. Mary Magdalene brought news of seeing the risen Lord, but that did not convince them, or dissolve their fears. They got together, locked the doors and were a community united by fear.

That is when Jesus comes through the locked doors, appears to them and speaks his greeting, "Peace be with you." It is not just a pep talk to scared the disciples; not just, "Stiff upper lip" or, "Pull yourselves together." Nor, does he reprimand them for their failures. It was Jesus speaking an authoritative word. The same word that raised Lazarus, forgave sin, and gave sight to the blind.

In the Bible peace, "shalom," is not just an absence of conflict. It is more embracing: it means that everyone and everything is safe and in right order. All separations and estrangement are healed – with God, other humans and even with nature. What was broken is mended and made new. Isn’t that what we hope for in our personal lives, and for the world – especially these days as we continue to grieve the slaughter happening in Ukraine?

The Bible teaches that such peace is possible only if we are reconciled with God. This reconciliation cannot be achieved by mere human effort. The story of the Gospels is that God has taken the initiative and made peace with us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus removes the disciples’ fear by first speaking a word. It is the Word that created the world. Now that word is powerful enough to drive out the fear of death and re-create his frightened disciples into people of faith and courage, strong enough for them to follow Christ all the way to their own sacrificial deaths.

Thomas was not with the original group who experienced Christ that first evening of the week. He does not believe the disciples’ experience and wants concrete proof. The next week Thomas is with the others and Jesus appears again, "Peace be with you," he says again to the disciples, this time including Thomas. Thomas had wanted to touch Jesus’ wounds and Jesus invites him to do so, but whether he does or not, is not told in the story. What we do know is Jesus again speaks, "Peace be with you." – the Word that accomplishes what it says.

Death does not have the last word – life does. Jesus is alive and is the Word of life. In the midst of a world that would stir fear in us, can we trust the God of life, who in Jesus overcomes death and speaks a word peace to us? Trusting that word can we be peace to others, show them that peace and not hatred and violence, will last?

With Thomas we kneel before our risen Lord and exclaim, "My Lord and my God." Let us not give up on our efforts, as small as they seem, to bring peace into our families, workplace, classroom and community. What peace-making efforts in my parish can I support that will bring people together, build community and console the fearful?

Those who were in that locked room and experienced the living Christ have gone, but his presence is with us and by the power of the Spirit the message of Good News continues to spread by our lives. The Greek for church is "ekklesia," which means, "called out." So, we are the community of people "called out" by the Spirit to live as a peace-making community in the midst of the world. As Jesus has reminded us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Mt 5:9).

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

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/042422.cfm

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

God’s mercy endures forever

Psalm 118: 2, 3, 4

Back in 2017, Pope Francis made a wonderful observation about mercy. He states:

Mercy in the light of Easter enables us to perceive it as a true form of awareness. This is important: mercy is a true form of awareness. We know that it [awareness] is experienced through many forms. It is experienced through the senses, it is experienced through intuition, through reason and even other forms. Well, it can also be experienced in mercy, because mercy opens the door of the mind in order to better understand the mystery of God and of our personal existence. Mercy enables us to understand that violence, rancor, vengefulness have no meaning, and the first victim is whoever feels these sentiments, because he deprives himself of his own dignity. Mercy also opens the door of the heart and allows one to express closeness especially to those who are lonely and marginalized, because it makes them feel as brothers and sisters, and as children of one Father. It favors recognition of those who need consolation and helps one find the appropriate words so as to give comfort. Brothers and sisters, mercy warms the heart and makes it sensitive to the needs of brothers and sisters with sharing and participation. Thus, mercy requires everyone to be instruments of justice, reconciliation and peace. Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone in the life of faith, and the concrete form by which we make Jesus’ Resurrection visible" (4/23/17, Regina Caeli Address).

Awareness is important in spiritual development. Spiritual director, Andy Otto, writes in Ignatian Spirituality.com, "Self-absorption is always inwardly focused. Self-awareness, on the other hand, is ultimately for the service of outward ministry. It is the oxygen of inner spiritual maturity, helping us better to serve and share God’s love with others. (https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/self-awareness-is-oxygen-of-spiritual-life/)

It was a small act of mercy on my part many years ago that made me aware that those who are poor have the same hopes and dreams as I had and that God’s love passes through each of us when we exercise our free will to do so. That one experience changed the trajectory of my own spiritual life. To see mercy as one of the doors to opening awareness of God and our fellow human beings can truly be experienced by participating in Cathedral’s outreach ministries. Go to our website for a listing: https://www.raleighcathedral.org/human-life-dignity-justice

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 Gospel reading:

Thomas said,

"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands

and put my finger into the nailmarks

and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Reflection:

Many of us can claim kinship to doubting Thomas. We commonly say, "I’ll believe it when I see it." Jesus counters that attitude when he utters the beatitude, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." That’s us!

We don’t see and then believe...instead, we believe and then see Christ alive in our prayer and our daily lives.

So we ask ourselves:

  • What is it in our personal or surrounding world that causes us to doubt our faith in the risen Christ?
  • What or who has strengthened our faith in those times?
  • What sign of the risen Christ am I to others?

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:

  • Christopher Goss #0150949 (On death row since 2/8/2005)
  • Eric G. Lane #0667195 (7/11/2005)
  • Eddie L. Taylor #0762634 (8/24/2005)

----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, OP 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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