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Contents: Volume 2 - 3rd Sunday of Easter - C
May 1, 2022

 

  2022

EASTER

III

(C)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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3rd Sunday of Easter

Our Gospel story has many wonderful points for reflection this week. Since many people are still in the process of recovering from the life changing effects of the pandemic and are attempting a less isolated lifestyle, my thought was that the apostles must have felt a bit the same in a way, thinking something like : "OK, now what do we do?" Jesus is right there to tell and show them.

Jesus tells them to do something familiar: go fishing. They chose to do so even though they had spent a tiring night doing just that, but completely unsuccessfully. The physical results this time were more than amazing and Jesus cooking breakfast for them was even more so!

There are all kinds of helpful things we can read into this story and take from it. Weariness seems more a part of life these days than ever, perhaps compounded by lingering feelings of stress, loss, and grief. Yet, we are still called to do what Jesus says, and then, to do what Jesus did.

Life as a follower of Jesus is just not easy! What Jesus told us to do and did himself involves both faith and action. Jesus guides us and oh, how he nourishes us!

While Jesus may not supply an unexpected meal these days when we are famished or exhausted, maybe even a bit despondent, what has he provided during those times? I can remember some simple things such as having time for a nap, a phone call from a friend, seeing a sole flower in a desolated place, the sun peeking from behind a mass of clouds, or an impromptu hug from a family member, usually the youngest! These "God-sightings", as the children and volunteers in Vacation Bible Camp called them, are revitalizing.

It is time to "see" and experience anew the good around us and remember from Whom they come. It is time to reach out in small ways and larger ones to those close to us and those whom we wish were closer to us to share God's goodness. Those ways will build our physical, emotional, and spiritual strength little by little until, before we know it, we will actually feel and visibly see the fruits of the Holy Spirit's work in us once again, just like He said!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Third Sunday of Easter May 1 2022

Acts of Apostles 5:27-32 & 40-41; Responsorial Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; Gospel Acclamation "Christ is Risen, creator of all; he has shown pity on all people!"; John 21:1-19

It is interesting to note how the scriptures for this Sunday are like a wrap. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles speaks of the fear of the Sanhedrin and the chief priest at the preaching of Peter and the apostles. The gospel finishes off the lesson this Sunday, the third of Easter, by describing the church. Lest we be confused, this is the church, the assembly, those called together in local parish worshipping, caring for each other, and living out the good news that is the mission and ministry of Jesus – this one born like us but divine as well, as the second reading insists. This church, this people called together in solidarity, in hope springing into faith and in faith demanding charity – this is the church of which John’s gospel reading this Sunday speaks. The institutional church is a support group for the People of God, not the other way around. Taking each of these three reading this Sunday might be helpful in gaining a greater understanding of who we are as the People of God.

In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we should first remember that the apostles were jailed by the Sanhedrin for preaching the good news about Jesus’ death and resurrection. The religious leadership thought to silence them by imprisonment. The story that begins our reading this Sunday tells us an angel came in the night to the prison and led those apostles through the locked cells, past unsuspecting and unaware guards. How surprised was the Sanhedrin when the apostles were once again on temple grounds, preaching yet again the message of Jesus crucified and risen. They were promptly rounded up and brought before the chief priest and the Sanhedrin. The officer of the prison and of the guards was questioned about his failure to secure these men. The officer insisted he had done his job and could not explain how it was these men were free. The Sanhedrin felt their authority was threatened and thus their power and influence would be lost. The apostles preaching despite commanded by religious authority to cease and desist was a challenge to their power. That seems their overriding concern. Yet again, there was the matter of their complicity in the murder of this innocent man, Jesus. After all it was Pilate who carried out the execution. In their failure to accept responsibility this Sanhedrin piled guilt upon guilt with no sense of remorse, of repentance, of seeking forgiveness for their murder of the Christ, the Lord. Failing to acknowledge their complicity in His death, they were refusing reconciliation with God.

The apostles who once hid themselves behind locked doors, suddenly have an abundance of courage. The resurrection has given them the strength of character to remember the works and words of Jesus. There is here clarity of those who wish to deny their guilt and sinfulness and those who acknowledge their failures. The apostles understood Jesus’ words on the cross: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." The apostles understood and used the crises to discover hope and from hope into faith. Faith demanded they preach, heal, and teach. The Sanhedrin is lost to history. The apostles continue to reveal and to provide an avenue for hope and from hope to faith and from faith to charity. The question for each of us this third Sunday of Easter is simple: do we have the hope in the resurrection that came to the apostles and disciples? If so, do we live in that hope, that faith, and with that charity toward humanity and creation?

The second reading is from that terribly misused book of Revelation by another John from the one who was the beloved disciple. In his visions that occurred during his exile to the island of Patmos, we are taken to the presence of God in what we identify as paradise and/or heaven. The images in the vision are of the lamb of God – that terrific image found in Isaiah. We should remember that Isaiah prophesized about the suffering servant in the second segment of that prophet. The word for servant and the word for lamb in Hebrew are the same. There is an obvious connection with the lamb with the Exodus where the lamb’s blood on the lintels of doorways saved the first born from death. In the song of the living creatures and the elders – numbering in tens of tens of thousands, a great cloud of witnesses to the Lamb there are seven attributes declared to be the Lamb’s.

The first is power: this is not military might as we might first conjecture. It is the strength to accomplish, to achieve whatever plan is God’s. There is no failure of God’s plan that can be laid to the Lamb – because that Lamb has the strength to do God’s will.

The second is riches: this is not gold, silver, treasuries loaded with precious gems or fossil fuels. These riches are what is needed to achieve God’s plan, God’s will.

The third is wisdom: this is the knowledge and comprehension of the secrets of God and of the answers to all the problems of life.

The fourth is strength: this is the energy and endurance to disarm the power of evil and overthrow Satan.

The fifth is honor: this is the magnificence of the Lamb at which every knee will bend, and every tongue confess that the Lamb is Lord. This is by no command but only by the Lamb’s presence.

The sixth is glory: glory is the presence of the Living God. The glory of the Lamb is the glory of God, thus proving that the Lamb of God, Jesus, is indeed divine.

The seventh is blessing: blessing is what is given to creation to make it whole, complete in the image and likeness it is of the Creator. The six other characteristics of the Lamb are used in service to humanity. Jesus, the Lamb, gives of those others freely, as blessings extended to all who would seek them.

The four living creatures – the four evangelists’ authors of the gospels – shout their Amen’s. We use that word to end every prayer or to announce something of great importance. Once I heard a linguist describe the etymology of that word. I have not found support for it online, but it adds additional color to the use of the word. I was told it derived from Aramaic, from those nomads who shepherded their flocks in the desert lands of the middle east. They made their homes in moveable tents, a round sort of affair that was formed around a central tent post. That post was planted in the sand/soil and formed the basis for their homes. That teacher of mine said that what Amen meant to the herder and his family a simple statement. "Here I plant my tent pole." Here it is that I have my home, here is my heart at rest, here it is that my family is sheltered and nourished. So, saying Amen in that sense means what I have prayed, what I have said, what I believe, what I pray for and about is where my heart is. May it be so, always.

The gospel this Sunday seems to be an addition to John’s gospel. It is added to set aside conjectures that the appearance of Jesus after his crucifixion was merely a vision, one shared by the intensity of his presence before his death. Or perhaps it was mere a group hallucination. John’s gospel insists this was no vision, no hallucination. Jesus is presented as building a cooking fire and baking bread on it along with a fish. It was to be a breakfast. The apostles were fishing – a return to their former life as it was not apparent to them what mission was theirs. At Jesus’ direction they cast their nets – even though exhausted from a long unsuccessful night of such work. They caught an abundance of fish – well, John says 153. John never makes such a remark in his gospel except to point to something important. There are many conjectures by scholars about what it means. St. Jerome presents us with one that makes a lot of sense to me. He says there are 153 varieties of fish in the rivers and lakes and seas. That was the common understanding in those times. The fact that 153 are caught in that net means to say that all nations, all peoples, all races, all colors, all languages, all genders, all classes of persons – all, each and every person is acceptable in the church. The great net of the fishermen should have broken from the diversity and number. But it did not – nor does it today. Diversity is often used to exclude. In this gospel there is no acceptable reason for exclusion of anyone. All people are gathered into the love and mystery of Jesus The Christ. The net that is the church, the People of God is expansive enough to gather all. This net is not one of confinement but of inclusion, as is a shelter for all. It was Peter, recall, who draws the net to land, to where the Christ stands making breakfast for us all.

If we understand our pain, our struggles, our challenges we can understand why we hold that Jesus is The Christ. There is hope in his ministry, in his sticking to his mission despite death, even death on a cross. A recent news story indicates that adolescents in our time are struggling with the conditions of the world. The confusion, the lack of peace, the absence of justice, the increasing divide between wealth and poverty, power and lack of resources is a cause of despair. Where is there a way forward? Where is there hope for a life that supports, educates, nourishes, supports creativity and commitment? The message this Sunday has the potential of supplying energy, insight, hope and movements of the heart to a higher aspiration than current civil, industrial, and military establishments offer. In the face of adversity and violence we have the option of listening to the risen One as he says to each, "Be not afraid. Peace be with you."

Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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UPS AND DOWNS OF FOLLOWING JESUS: 3RD SUNDAY EASTER C

Let me tell you a true story about a young girl, who said to her father one day: ‘Dad, I would like to play the harp.’ Her father was sympathetic but tried to discourage his daughter from pursuing that dream. ‘They cost a lot of money,’ he said, ‘and your mom is very sick. ‘But I’ll work my holidays and Saturdays,’ she answered. ‘It’s impossible, you’re only 14.’ her dad retorted. But with dogged determination, she stuck to her plans until with her mother’s illness she could work no longer. She had saved $1200, but where do you find a harp for $1200? It seemed like a busted dream. But then the impossible happened. Call it coincidence or call it divine providence? A harp teacher told her of an older woman who had a very good harp and no longer played it. The teacher said she would ask on the girl’s behalf. That very day the lady with the harp happened to be home for the first time in three years. ‘Yes,’ she said: ‘I still have the harp and I will sell it to the young girl for what she can afford.’ Not only that! She offered to teach her how to play it without the usual fees. Soon the girl’s family home was echoing day after day to the beautiful sounds of the harp.

We human beings are full of purpose and plans, goals, objectives, and targets. The possibility of achieving them leads us to make far-reaching changes in our lives. This is illustrated by our decision, renewed on Easter Sunday, to reject sin and evil and to follow Jesus in a life of unselfish loving.

Experience suggests that involvement in the life of the Church and its goals is mostly an experience of fulfillment and hope. Experience also suggests that this is not always the case, since sometimes we also have frustrations and failures, disappointments and discouragement. At such times we come face to face with our frailty and inadequacy, as well as that of others.

For the sake of continuing our commitment, it will help to reflect on the situation of the disciples in today's gospel reading. Seven of them are mentioned. To their credit they had previously responded to the invitation of Jesus to be his companions, to share his mission of making the kingdom of God happen on earth, and to share his activities of teaching, helping, and healing for the kingdom. In their shared life and work, they have known times of elation, excitement, and high achievement. But right now, it has all come to an abrupt end. Jesus their beloved Master, has been arrested, sentenced, and killed.

Right now, they are grief-stricken and feeling that without his presence, his inspiration and guidance, his support and encouragement, they simply cannot go on. So, in this gospel scene, we find them many miles from Jerusalem, the place of the crucifixion, and the scene of their failures and disappointments. They have returned to Galilee and their former occupations. In a sense, they have left the Church.

It's within this situation of disappointed hopes and broken dreams that Jesus comes back into their lives. Not simply as Jesus of Nazareth this time, but as the Risen Lord, powerful and empowering. The details of the story of this meeting suggest that Jesus is forgiving them for abandoning him and his mission, that he is re-commissioning them to continue his life and work, and that he is strengthening their resolve to re-commit.

Their human weakness is dramatized in their failure to catch any fish. But the encouragement and assistance of Jesus change their failure into success. We learn that they haul 'the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them.’ This dramatically represents Jesus re-commissioning them to their previous calling to be 'fishers of people.’ It also symbolizes Jesus working with them to ensure the success of their work.

We note also the significance of the breakfast on the beach which Jesus provides. It may be seen as 'a communion breakfast,’ in which Jesus gives himself as nourishment, sustenance, and support to his friends.

The story of the first disciples and their encounter with the Risen One is our story too. We can easily identify with their weaknesses and failures, their despondency and discouragement, their disillusionment and despair. We too can be feeling, at least sometimes: 'I didn't think that my life would work out like this. I thought people would be more appreciative, and be more ready to make allowances. I expected more satisfaction and more meaning than what I'm getting. Is that all there is? Just how long I can keep belonging to Jesus Christ and keep striving to follow him and work for him in this community?’

When we are thinking and feeling like that, it’s clear that we have lost heart. On the other hand, it’s a signal, as the saying goes, 'to let go and let God.’ Thinking and feeling like that is a signal to us to let the Risen Christ come to us as he came to his first friends, and to give us that new heart, that new Spirit, that new meaning and purpose, and that new energy which they received, and which we need so much. In our Holy Communion with the Risen Jesus today, let’s share with him what we are thinking and feeling about it all!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year C: 3rd Sunday of Easter

"Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do?"

The day I was ordained, just before the ceremony, I remember asking the Bishop who was ordaining me what he thought it really meant to be an ordained priest in the Church. He thought for a moment, forebore to comment on my timing of the question, and then he said, "it just means being a Christian... ... ... in public!"

And immediately, I knew exactly what he meant.

You see, I had the misfortune of going to a Jesuit school where they played rugby. I think I just might have been the worst rugby player they ever had. It’s a biggish claim because there were some others who were pretty bad also. But, I think I earned the title because I was the slowest runner - I heard a few weeks ago that, forty-something years on, I still hold the record for the slowest hundred metres ever run on the School sports day. And with my bad eyesight, I generally couldn’t see most of the players, let alone the ball.

But one day - I think there must have been a ‘flu epidemic - they decided they were so short that they had to pick me for the school team. Because I couldn’t run, couldn’t tackle and couldn’t see, they put me out on the left wing where I could do least harm and they gave the outside centre strict instructions never, ever, under any circumstances whatever, to pass me the ball.

It was a close game. Right at the end, we were losing by two points. We needed to score. Inevitably, the worst happened and all my fears came true. The ball came along the line to the outside centre. He beat two men, but was tackled short of the line. In desperation, he offloaded the ball to me and pointed to the try-line – only ten yards away at most.

And you can guess the rest.

At least for once I caught the ball.

I ran as fast as ever I could.

I strained with every sinew I possessed.

I stretched for the line.

And I was tackled

And I dropped the ball a yard – less than a yard – a foot - short of the line.

The whistle blew for the knock-on.

The game was over and I had lost the game for my team.

It felt like I’d let down my friends, my family, my school, my country, my religion, my entire planet and a pretty decent chunk of the solar system. It was the lowest moment of my life, before or since.

It may seem like a small thing now, but these things really matter when you are 11. And for months afterwards I prayed so hard – even harder than I prayed for good exam results – I prayed that God would never again either literally or metaphorically put the ball in my hands ten yards from any kind of goal-line. That was the kind of responsibility I knew I could not handle.

So, today, I would ask your prayers for all those who attempt to follow the vocation of being a Christian in public, all those who, whether formally ordained or not, attempt to pick up the ball of the Christian life and run with it. Generally, they will have needed persuasion even to be on the pitch. They will not have chosen their position, nor the timing of the pass that comes to them. But they will know that they have been called, chosen, trained as best they can and perhaps even ordained to give the best service of which they are capable. They will do their best. They will carry the ball as far as they can. But they will need the prayers, support and help of every spectator in the ground. And, in my experience, someone to pick them up afterwards.

So we pray that the Lord who calls us may also give us all the grace to be true "Christians in Public".

Paul O'Reilly <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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