Lanie LeBlanc OP
2. -- Carol &
Brian Gleeson CP
Paul O'Reilly SJ
reflection can be here!)
In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the apostles and us "as I
have done for you, you should also do." His words
specifically applied to serving and caring for others. I
think they also apply to other ways in which Jesus modeled
for us the way we should live. Among other things, I think
that includes Jesus's prayer life, how he interacted with
those on the margins of his society at the time, his
determination to do the will of the Father, and his
unwavering internal compass that always pointed toward
guidance and forgiveness. Jesus's actions were
life-changing... how will they affect us and the people we
As always, my reading/hearing such familiar Scripture
readings focuses on something I had not encountered before
or that invokes a deeper meaning. This year, I am struck by
several parts that move the narrative to the divine
fulfillment that had been so willingly accepted by Jesus. In
the Garden, Jesus identifies himself twice as "I AM' because
the first time, the band of soldiers and guards "turned and
fell away". I was also struck by the number of things Pilate
tried to do to set Jesus free. It was indeed the Father's
love for us sinners that we know "upon him was the
chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were
healed." In this day of sadness, "let us confidently
approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find
grace for timely help."
Easter Vigil/ Easter Sunday
The seven Old Testament readings give witness to the
unconditional love of God throughout the ages. We are also
told in the letter to the Romans that "just as Christ was
raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life." What newness of
life do we and our world need right now? As we rejoice this
evening, during the day, and throughout the Easter Season, I
think it is important to reflect on the new opportunities
that we have been given by the Passion and Resurrection.
Not much has changed about some things since the
Resurrection narratives. In both the Gospel for the Vigil
and Easter Day, women were given the opportunity by God to
be the first witnesses of the empty tomb, but their account
was viewed by the males as "nonsense" and disbelief. Good
for Peter who checked it out at least, and then believed.
Yay for Pope Francis who continues to open the doors and
windows of the church to women and to the marginalized
children of God through rearranging the advising and
governing structures in the Vatican and, of course, the
Synod. Let us rejoice this day that " we the church" are
moving closer to the vision of God for all of us, God's
equally loved children. Let us be open to making
opportunities for all more of a reality. Let it begin with
Easter Vigil April 16 2022
There are seven possible readings from the Hebrew
Scriptures ("Hebrew" seems more accurate than "Old" as
despite the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures predate the
Christian Scriptures, they are not old in the sense of being
irrelevant. As a matter of truth, those Hebrew Scriptures
are necessary for understanding the arc of God’s working
with his Creation). At the vigil – because of the length of
that wonderful service – only five are necessary. We have
listed all seven here and encourage readers to take time to
read each of these – especially if unable or unwilling to
attend the long, long, long Vigil Service. The notes below
each are meant only as a focal point for reading and not a
complete explanation of those readings.
1st: Genesis 1:1- 2:2; Responsorial Psalm 104
This reading is an account of Creation that presents
creation as coming from the Word of God and including in the
very first verse the Spirit of God hovering over the chaos
that was unbridled oceans. It is meant not as a literal
presentation of how all came to be but to present the
physical world and humanity as God’s marvelous gift to his
creation – the focus on light and life is apparent. Enjoy it
for its imagery and the message of physical goodness as
contrary to much ranting about the evil of physical reality.
God is good and only goodness can spring from his Word. One
warning: humanity has dominion over all that is – doesn’t
mean abuse of but is in ancient thinking "the care and
nurturing of." For it is God’s will that all creation "has
what it needs to flourish." That is also what is meant by
2nd: Genesis 22:1-18; Responsorial Psalm 16
This is the "binding of Isaac" story as named by Judaism.
They look at this as a test of Abraham’s obedience. Perhaps
there is more to this story than that. The Canaanites had a
practice of dedicating the first born to the god Moloch.
That sacrifice was conducted by casting the first-born male
into a fiery furnace. Perhaps this was a way of Abraham
coming to realize that God would never ask such a sacrifice.
Even so, many think of this willingness to sacrifice his
only son as an example of God’s love for his creation in
that he would allow his only son to be murdered if that is
what it took for the message of the mission of the Word to
be effective. As Jesus’ prophetic mission was a threat to
the status of many in those days as well as ours today.
3rd: Exodus 14:15 – 15:1; Responsorial Psalm Exodus
Who wants to leave what is comfortable even if where one
is then what can cause a change? So many of us are addicted
to system, to harmful attitudes, to harmful habits that we
cannot find our way out of such terrible conditions to
leave. Pharoah is not named by design. Pharoah stands for
all that would bind us, would limit our growth of spirit,
which would kill creativity, and our joy and sense of
gratitude. Moses leads the people away, but is stopped by a
sea. Going through the waters of the sea is a foretaste of
baptism. In a sense what they have left behind on the banks
of the sea is all that has limited them from being all they
could be. Listen carefully how all this plays out. What we
leave behind that enslaves us is left in the middle of the
sea to be destroyed. The beautiful responsorial song of
celebration is the song of Miriam.
4th: Isaiah 54;5-14; Responsorial Psalm 30
This reading is from the second part of the prophet
Isaiah. This is the part, you may remember, that reflects
the time of the Jews in the Babylonian Captivity. This is
the second great liberation for the Chosen People – the
first in the previous reading the one from Pharoah of Egypt.
Isaiah presents the nation as the bride of God. If the
nation is the Bride of God, then the nation is the one who
takes care of the economy of the home. She it is who bears
the children, feeds, clothes, houses, and invests in
productive lands for the welfare of the family. She spins
wool and flax for their clothing. In as sense Isaiah is
telling these people in Exile they have behaved as an
adulterous wife that got them in trouble and captivity. It
was their choices but even so God loves his bride.
5th: Isaiah 55:1-11; Responsorial Psalm 12
This also is from the second part of the prophet Isaiah.
It is an interesting contrast to the preceding narrative
from Isaiah. This reading tells the people and us that God
is always present, no matter the joy, no matter the sorrow,
no matter the health, no matter the illness. God is like
water that refreshes and brings life to the desert. God is
like bread that is food and nourishment for hungry souls.
What a beautifully written encouragement to look for God in
his work. We would like to see God’s face, hear their voice,
touch their creative triune hand, smell the wonder of God’s
presence, and taste the delight of his nourishment. All you
who thirst come to the water and drink! All you who hunger,
come and eat without cost. This is almost too much to
comprehend. This is a thought and a presence to wallow in.
We see God when we look for God’s presence in creation, in
relationships, in the forces of nature, and especially in
the love we share with one another.
6th: Baruch 3:9-15, 32 – 4:4; Responsorial Psalm 19
Baruch is thought to be the secretary to the prophet
Jeremiah. He presents God in detail by speaking about the
Creation of God. Typically, we take for granted what our
senses tell us and share with our intellect. But there is
more to reality than what is apparent. If we pay attention
we will see the fingers of God at work, constantly calling,
constantly supporting us. But we’ve got to look with the
senses given us by faith in order to know God’s presence
7th: Ezekiel 36:16-17 & 18-28; Responsorial Psalm 51
The behavior of the Chosen Nation has brought upon the
nation horrors of war, of slaughter, of all sorts of
devastation. They people have been so evil and wicked in
their attitudes toward others, toward the earth, toward all
of creation, and to the worship of God. But God relents
because of his name – that is Yahweh – which means "I am who
is with you at all times." Because of his self-given name
God cannot do other than relent or else God would be lying
in claiming that name. God would not be Wholly – or how we
spell that "holy" if he falsified even his self-naming.
Romans 6:3-11; Responsorial Psalm 118
Paul is certainly being Paul in this reading from his
letter to the Romans. He insists that we are resurrected
along with Jesus because we were baptized IN the Lord. "IN
the Lord" seems a strange idiom. What could he mean? He says
elsewhere, "I live now not I, but Christ lives in me." Is
this what it means? It’s like Paul says elsewhere – "Jesus
was obedient unto death, even death on the cross." Does this
imply that the Father was angry, and that Jesus placated
that anger by dying that horrifically painful and shameful
death? The word obedient seems out of place. What Paul means
is that Jesus was aligned completely unto and through death
to his prophetic mission. His mission was to liberate people
who chose to follow him into fullness of life – not only
there but also now. That is the continual message of Jesus’
preaching and healing. It is all about liberation – listen
in the middle of reading this part of the letter to the
Romans "that we may no longer be in slavery to sin." There
is that liberation theme we find in the first readings for
this holiest of nights. When we are baptized IN him, we
leave our sinful hearts content on the banks of the sea
through which Moses led those Hebrews.
After forty days of fasting, prayer and almsgiving, this
gospel is a welcome scene. It was dawning into a bright sky
when the women from Galilee brought the spices for a proper
burial. How shocked they were to see the stone that covered
the rock-hewn tomb rolled away. They went in to find Jesus’
body and it was not there. The apparition of two men in
dazzling garments had them terrified and they fell to the
anointed through his resurrection, as the Christ. "Why do
you seek the living among the dead?" That is what we must
think about. Do we worship a dead man, or do we see and
comprehend instead a man very much alive and recreated? Is
that how we think of Jesus? That is what Jesus anointed the
Christ is to us, a living and vibrant model and teacher and
healer and prophet.
Easter Sunday April 17 2022
Acts10:thirty-four & 37-43; Responsorial Psalm 118;
Colossians 3:1-4; Sequence Victimae Paschalis; Gospel
Acclamation 1st Corinthians 5:7-8; John 20:1-9
The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles
written by Luke. It is out of place but intentionally chosen
for the first reading this Easter. The preaching by Peter
actually occurs after the Spirit has ignited their hearts
and healed their weaknesses and fear. The reading is Peter
confirming the faith of the other disciples and revealing to
the people gathered the fiftieth day after Passover the
fulfillment of the prophets’ words and works recorded in the
Hebrew Scriptures. Again, in the beginning of the Easter
season, Peter speaks about liberation, about healing, about
knocking off the chains of slavery or addiction or idol
worship of wealth, power, or influence.
Paul writing to the Colossians tells us to go behind what
we know with our senses and seek out the deeper meaning of
the death of Jesus in the light of his Resurrection. "Seek
what is above where Christ is seated at the right hand of
God." In short, do not get trapped by that which has
enslaved you and made your living miserable and anxious.
Look beyond that which seems the rewards of the whole and
look more to the rewards that come from following in the way
of the Christ. Just what is that way? In the coming Sundays
of the Easter Season, we will be given the answers to those
questions. That is why skipping out on a Sunday or two
reduces the chances of getting it right and retaining one’s
liberation from what robs us of the freedom that is the
inheritance of the Daughters and Sons of God. In any
listening to the Scriptures, Hebrew or Christian, we got to
engage our hearts so that our ears get into the thickness
and meaning of words. We become so accustomed to "code
words" that we glide over words with depth and intensity. We
end up mumbling formulas that lack the power to lift us up.
Be awake, open our hearts – that’s Paul’s message here.
Ah, comes the magnificent sequence. The poetry there is
wonderful. We’ve of necessity need to let the images flood
our minds and make their way into our hearts. If you have a
couple of minutes of spare time, go to You Tube and listen
to the ancient melodies applied top this sequence. It would
be listed under Victimae Paschali Laudes. Despite a lack of
Latin ability, the melodies and the poetry of the Latin will
Then comes the gospel this time of John. The poetry
continues as John uses his magic to paint a scene for us. He
says Magdala came to the tomb but later indicates more than
she came there. These women came unafraid. The hurried
burial to avoid profaning the Sabbath did not show complete
respect to the body of Jesus and they were committed to
righting that flaw. They discovered the body absent. It was
Mary Magdala who ran to tell Peter, someone had stolen
Jesus’ body. Who would do such a thing? Grave robbers? The
only thing of value there was the burial cloth and the face
covering and it had been left. Was it those who condemned
Jesus, seeking to make a public spectacle of him? That was
hardly possible as they condemned him for his prophecy of
saying he would rise in three days. Who could have done this
I have to laugh, being of advanced age to see that John,
the younger, ran faster than Peter. I can picture the two of
them, the space between them widening as they rushed along
the path to the tomb. John would have known where the tomb
was because he was a witness on Golgotha. He would have
helped Joseph of Arimathea take down Jesus body and carry it
to the unused tomb. Peter goes into the tomb followed by
John. It is an amazing thing that it says that John went
into the tomb after Peter, an argument used frequently to
justify the primacy of Peter in the Community of the Church.
When John went in, "he saw and believed."
Did that mean that John first came to understand the
words of preparation Jesus had given the apostles? Does it
mean that Peter still did not quite get the whole picture of
what had happened? Put ourselves there – knowing as we all
do of someone who died. Going to the funeral parlor and
discovering they are absent. What would we think if that
were to happen? So, with Peter. We know that later this
Sunday of the Resurrection that Jesus came through the walls
of the upper room where the last supper had been. No door
opened, yet it was apparent he was flesh and bone. It is no
wonder that his first words were, "Peace be with you. Do not
be afraid." Put ourselves in that room this Sunday,
remembering the passion accounts we have heard this week.
What goes through your minds? What do you believe?
RISING WITH JESUS TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER
Acts 10:34, 37-43; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 20:1-9
When my father died quite suddenly when I was away in
Belgium studying, my mother wrote that she was devastated.
and that her life would never be, and could never be, the
same again. All of us, facing the death of someone we love
face a horrible and indescribable loss, along with feelings
of absence and emptiness. One sometimes hears grieving
people say: "I’m simply gutted."
For some persons, their feelings of loss are so great
that they deny what has happened. They think they hear the
footsteps of their loved one on the path outside or coming
down the stairs, or turning the key in the front door.
When Mary Magdalen goes to visit the tomb of Jesus, it’s
very early on Sunday, the first day of the week. It’s still
dark but there’s enough light to see that the stone has
already been moved from the entrance to the tomb. But she is
not in any kind of denial. She expects to come face to face
with death. Not for a moment does she kid herself that Jesus
is no longer dead. Instead, surely persons unknown must have
stolen and hidden his body, and will not let him rest in
She talks about her experience with Simon Peter and the
anonymous Beloved Disciple. Together they race to the tomb.
When Peter enters the tomb, he sees at first only the burial
clothes. But when the disciple Jesus particularly loved
enters the tomb he sees more. He sees what faith sees. Jesus
is not dead but alive. Maybe he has figured out that if
people had stolen the body they would not have taken the
trouble to roll up the burial clothes. More likely, it’s
simply his belief in the greatness, goodness, and uniqueness
of Jesus that leaves him convinced that God would not and
could not leave him for dead. In any case, we are told
simply that "he saw and he believed".
What we are celebrating today in the resurrection, then,
is first of all the power of God’s liberating love for his
dear Son. His resurrection is God the Father’s answer to all
those wicked men who murdered Jesus on the cross and
expected him to stay dead and buried forever.
In raising Jesus from the dead, God raised and revived
every story Jesus told, every truth Jesus taught, every
value Jesus stood for, every choice Jesus made, and every
purpose he pursued. Everything about him and his history was
given new life, new meaning, and new relevance.
So, the resurrection of Jesus is not a hysterical
invention by people who refused to accept the death of their
Leader. After all, his first followers were simply not
expecting it. So much so that when they caught sight of him
alive again they were gobsmacked. They could hardly believe
their eyes and ears. But they had to accept the plain fact
that there was Jesus, raised in his body, alive and well
before their very eyes, and that all this had happened
through the unbounded power of God’s love for his Son.
What we are also celebrating today is our resurrection
from the dead, our resurrection from deadly deeds, or at
least our resurrection from anything less than the best, the
most honest, the most authentic, the most generous, and the
most loving ways of living our lives. We are recognizing
that not only is Jesus Christ alive now in himself, but he
is also alive in us - alive in us through the presence,
power, and action of the Holy Spirit, his second self.
After all, It was through the Spirit within him that
Jesus "went about doing good and curing all who were in the
power [of evil]" (Acts 10:38). It is through that same
Spirit, coming from our Risen Lord, that you and I can hope
to think like him, act like him, live like him, die like
him, and rise like him.
So, here and now on this Easter Day, let us encourage one
another to respond to the power of the Holy Spirit among us
by renewing our baptismal promises and renewing them
sincerely and enthusiastically. Let us reject darkness,
evil, and sin in every shape and form. Let us promise to
follow Jesus in a life of light, goodness, and love, a life
shaped by his example. So, with trust in the mighty Spirit
of Jesus within us and among us, let us here and now renew
our Baptismal Promises, and renew them loudly, clearly, and
Gleeson CP" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Year A,B,C: Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper
"Not my feet, Lord, surely."
Why the feet?
Well, after a while working with homeless people I think
I may know.
All of us have parts of ourselves of which we are
ashamed. All of us have parts of our bodies which are not
shaped or colored as we would wish.
All of us have parts of our minds which are not as calm,
relaxed, even-tempered as we would like to pretend.
All of us have parts of our histories which we would wish
to forget and wish even more that others would forget. One
of my brothers in the Lord has yet to live down a moment
twenty years ago when he fell asleep during a homily –
something which wouldn’t have been quite so bad if he hadn’t
been the one giving the homily.
Homeless people are commonly filled with shame. It is
often what kills them. And the bit they are generally most
ashamed of is the feet. These are feet that hit a lot of
pavement, that stand on a lot on street corners, that sweat
a lot in hot weather, that never get dry in wet weather,
that never get warm in cold weather, that never get clean in
any weather. And it is part of the definition of an apostle
that she or he has no final resting place except in the
Lord; no true home but the road. So, perhaps it is not a
surprise that the first twelve apostles are a bit reticent
about their feet.
When I worked with the Wapisana tribe - an Amerindian
community in the Amazon, we once had a meeting with some of
the lay church leaders about how we could make the Sunday
service reflect more closely their particular Amerindian
I should explain: the Rupununi is a parish the size of
Wales – about 5,000 square miles. And in that parish, there
are about 15,000 Catholics spread over 53 small villages,
each with their own little church and their own lay Church
leader. Obviously, with three priests spread over 53
communities hundreds of miles apart, a priest can only visit
them at most once a month. So it is really important for the
people that when they come together on a Sunday morning,
they really feel that God is present among them. So we
really wanted to work with the lay leaders on making the
Sunday prayer services really express the life and presence
of God within the community.
So one of the first questions that came up was how to
perform a welcoming ceremony at the start. What would –
within that particular culture and that particular context -
be a meaningful expression of God’s welcome to His People?
So, to keep it local and relevant, we asked them: "What
does the Touchau - the village chief - say when visitors
from another village come to see him."
And they thought about that for a little while. And the
answer came back: "He says: ‘Kaimen’ - a word that means
And we asked: "But, doesn’t he say anything else?"
And they talked for a little while among themselves and
the answer came back: "No, not really. He just says ‘Kaimen’
But we felt we needed something more to start a Sunday
service with than just "hello". So we talked a bit more and
we got nowhere.
Eventually - at long last - one of my brother priests
asked the right question: "When visitors come from another
village, what does the Touchau do?"
They said: "Oh well! He gives them water to wash, and he
gets people to come and massage their feet and then he
brings in a big bowl of Casiri to drink." - that’s the local
traditional cassava beer. "And then everybody feels very
And then we had a long and lively discussion of whether
or not it was a good idea to start the Sunday service by
having a foot massage and sharing around a large bowl of
cassava beer. And in the end we decided it probably wasn’t.
I leave aside the question of whether or not that was the
right decision (you’ll not be surprised to hear that I was
in the loudly dissenting minority). But that made an
important point - the welcome is not in the words. Words are
cheap. The welcome is in the action. We welcome Christ not
by faith alone - not just by saying that Jesus is Lord. We
welcome him by keeping his commandments - by living our
lives as he asked of us and by sharing his body and blood as
he told us.
And so, when the Lord welcomes us, He welcomes all of us
– not just every single one of us, but every part of us.
Even the parts we do not welcome in ourselves.
Even the feet.
Let us stand and profess our Faith that we are God’s
creation – God’s work of art.
Year C: Easter Sunday (Vigil).
"Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?
He is not here; he has risen."
Every doctor always remembers the first patient who died
under his care. For me, it was an elderly woman who came to
hospital very sick with heat stroke and dehydration. We did
our best for her; put fluid back into the veins and treated
everything else we could treat. But her kidneys failed and
then her heart began to fail and then her liver. Finally,
after clinging on for about a week in the Intensive Care
Unit, she died early one morning.
Late in the evening of the day she died, I was driving
along the road past the hospital. And I saw her husband,
standing by the side of the road all alone, holding just a
little plastic bag which, somehow I knew, contained the few
little possessions his wife had left behind. He was just
standing there, watching the cars pass by on the road and
even from the car I could see the tears wet on his face. I
think he may have been waiting for a bus and had forgotten
that the last bus had gone at least an hour ago. But that
picture of him standing there, all alone, with just a few of
his wife’s belongings, weeping, will forever be for me my
picture of misery, loneliness and grief.
I stopped and picked him up. How could I not?
He lived thirty miles out of my way, but I couldn’t leave
him there. I drove as fast as I dared because I knew what he
was going to say and I couldn’t bear to hear it and I wanted
to shorten the journey as much as possible.
He talked about their life together - how happy they had
been; what they had shared – how happy she had been when he
had come back safe and healthy after the War. Their sorrow
at not being able to have children; their shared happiness
in a small isolated sheep farm deep in the Cornish
And now, she was gone and he was wobbling like a man
trying to stand on one leg - like a boxer who has been
knocked down and badly hurt, but has beaten the count and is
trying to make the referee think that he’s fit to continue.
And, I have to admit, I was wobbling a bit too. So, in fact
was the car.
One thing he clung to. He believed that somewhere;
somehow; some way; they would meet again and they would be
happy again – together.
This was before I was a priest – and when I was not at my
most Christian – but I remembered the words of St Paul to
"If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we
are the most miserable of all people. But Christ has in fact
been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have
Our faith – our entire hope – is based upon the
Resurrection of Christ. Without the Resurrection, Christ was
a great man who lived a good life – did some extraordinary
things; taught some extraordinary thoughts and made some
extraordinary claims. But if the Resurrection is True, then
the most extraordinary thing is true – that God really did
become man two thousand years ago; experienced our life;
went through our death and rose for our Salvation.
The evidence does not convince everyone. The testimony of
a few frightened women. The claims of some apostles who ran
away from the Cross but saw him again in Galilee; The
experiences of Paul and the other disciples that witness to
his rising again and his Ascension to the Father. But if –
as we believe – Paul is right – "Christ has in fact been
raised from the dead" - then Mr Clement Parker, his wife
Edith, and all of us have something to hope for.
Let us stand and profess our faith in God who gives us
all something to hope for.
Year A,B,C: Easter Sunday (Day).
"Till this moment they had failed to understand the
teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead."
A long time ago in a land far, far way…
Well, actually, about twenty years ago, when I was in
South America, a young woman (I shall call her Sonja) came
to see me in the mission hospital where I worked.
And she looked dreadful.
She was distraught and weeping and shaking.
It seemed like she was in despair.
She crept into my room.
And she sat down.
And there was a long silence as she tried to compose
And then she said what I knew she was going to say:
"I am a victim of HIV".
Those were the days, thankfully now long in the past,
when there was almost no treatment for HIV – and almost no
hope. The diagnosis felt like a death sentence.
So she talked, crying most of the time, about what had
happened – how she had felt a bit ill with a cough and flu –
how she had gone along to a government Clinic and the clinic
had asked her to have the test – and it had come back
positive. It had been a dreadful shock.
And then she talked for a time about the person who she
thought had given it to her.
And then she talked about her fears for the future, about
how she was afraid of getting sick, and dying – perhaps in
pain and suffering.
And then she began to talk about what would happen after
death – and most of all about what would happen to her
7-year old daughter. That was her greatest fear. Between
sobs, she said, "All my family are overseas, so what will
happen to her?"
I let her talk.
In these situations, there is pretty much nothing else
you can do.
But eventually she finished and I started trying to tell
her some positive things: even in those days, there was some
treatment we could offer – some hope that we could offer to
help people with HIV to live longer and to live better.
I did my best, but it wasn’t enough. At the end, she was
still in despair. I was afraid to let her go because I
thought she would hurt herself, perhaps even kill herself as
so many used to do soon after diagnosis. I was worried that
she had come to me like so many others used to do, as their
last hope wheb the government clinics had told them there
was nothing they could do. So I asked her to see a friend of
mine Sister Jacinta who is a nun and in those days did a lot
of good work counselling people with HIV and helping them
come to terms with their disease and to make the best of
their time. Sonja agreed that she would go to see her every
day. And she agreed that she would come back and see me in a
week’s time. And I also asked her to take another test at
our own hospital, just to document the diagnosis for our own
Two days later, the second test came back – and it was
I was almost frightened to tell her because I was afraid
that the lab might have made a mistake and I would be giving
her false hope. It’s very rare for a positive test to be
wrong. And giving false hope is the worst thing a doctor can
do – because it destroys true hope.
So we did a third test. And I made the lab do it by six
different methods just to be sure – and it was definitely
Still, I wouldn’t believe it. I went personally to the
head of the laboratory and made her do the test herself,
with her own hands, over and over again until I could be
As you may imagine, Sonja’s relief was immense – suddenly
her whole life opened up again. Initially, she was reluctant
to believe it as I had been. But having taken effort to make
myself sure, I was able to make her sure.
But it was not the same life. I asked her how it felt.
She said that on the day of her diagnosis, she had suddenly
understood what was really important in her life. And,
without any pious rubbish, what was really important in her
life were her relationship with God and her 7-year old
daughter. And absolutely nothing else.
And she said that on that day of her diagnosis, she had
made herself a promise to live whatever life remained to her
in service of those things that were really important to
her. And now that her time was longer than she had feared,
it was a promise she still intended to keep. Until that
moment, she had failed to understand that she must rise from
I would like us all to reflect for a few moments. If for
ourselves the chips were really down; if we thought we did
not have long to live; what would be really important to us,
each of us, just at that moment. Because there will come a
day when that is all that will be important. It is only
when, like Sonia, we have risen from the dead that we know
the true meaning of our lives. Because that is the
difference between Good Friday and Easter Sunday; between
despair and hope, between death and new life.
So I say to you again, ‘Happy Easter!’
Let us stand and profess our Faith in the Lord’s
Resurrection and New Life.
Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections,
and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the
preaching you hear. Send them to
email@example.com. Deadline is
Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.
-- Fr. John Boll, OP