WEDNESDAY REFLECTION

Mid-week Reflection

 14th April 2021

I suspect that most priests, most of the time, preach about the Gospel, rather than the reading.  During Eastertide, however, the opposite is probably the case.  We speak, not so much about the Gospel, but turn our attention to the Acts of the Apostles which is so captivating and exciting as it tells the story of the burgeoning early church. It’s so much easier to speak bout the Acts especially when the alternative is that deeply theological document, The Gospel of John.

So guess what….I am turning my attention to John!  If you were at Holy Mass yesterday, you would have heard his account of the post-Resurrection dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus.  The work of a teacher is to teach! That is, to share knowledge and a love of knowledge with pupils so that they can grasp the truth that is being offered to them.  The best teacher convinces pupils by living what he or she teaches.  That’s what Jesus did.  He came from the secrets of Heaven to the streets of the Earth.  That’s the mystery!  However, it can happen that a particular boy or girl does not want to understand, does not want to be taught, refuses to accept and understand.

Nicodemus in questioning Jesus about rebirth…about being re-born again…should have accepted and understood the message.  After all, he was steeped in the scriptures which often refer to taking on a new heart and a new spirit.  Some people do not listen.  Some listen but do not learn.  Some are unwilling to hear because it makes demands on them.  The Navarre Bible speaks of physical birth as “the paternity which engenders to death and baptism as the paternity which engenders to life.” But in spite of what we know to be true we can be unwilling to change our ways or to be changed.

That was Nicodemus.  At this stage he is not open to a new birth…to a re-creation.  He does not  want to change, or, perhaps, is afraid to do so.  An alcoholic once said to me, “You have a car and I don’t. That’s not fair.”  I said to him, “But don’t you realise that you have drunk two BMW’s?”  I’m not claiming that that changed him but he did eventually give up the drinking and got something even better than a BMW.  He got his faith back and died in the arms of the Lord.  A whole new world opened for him as it had for Nicodemus.  What a change that was!

Monsignor Monaghan

Rights Advice Scotland and MART

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HOMILY FROM CANON STEPHEN BAILLIE

2nd Sunday of Easter B21

Shalom

We do not come through suffering and difficult times unscarred. We are changed by them. Often it brings some sort of growth into our lives and usually it is not a pleasant experience. We only have to think of the past year of lockdowns and isolation and fear. In Pope Francis’ new book, Let us dream, he says ‘To enter into crisis is to be sifted. Your categories and ways of thinking get shaken up; your priorities and lifestyles are challenged. You cross a threshold, either by your own choice or by necessity, because there are crises, like the one we are going through, that you can’t avoid.’

Today’s Gospel shows us that even the most difficult situations can be transformed. The Risen Christ stands amongst the disciples even though the doors were firmly closed. The peace that he gives them (Shalom) is a peace of body, of mind and of spirit and it moves the disciples from despair and being ‘locked away’ to ‘rejoicing’. Jesus then asks the disciples to be an unending witness to God’s love. They, and we, are invited to be for others what Jesus has been for them.

Peter and Paul went to Greece and Rome. Mark went to Egypt and Syria. Thomas made his way as far as India. They all shared the Gospel message of Divine Mercy in the forgiveness and peace that the Risen Lord breathed on them. They were re-created and given a new life to face their personal fears in the face of much opposition and indifference. It is a reminder to us that we do not learn the truth as isolated individuals. Thomas teaches us to become a church community that is honest about our doubts.

The Gospel gives us a 9th beatitude: ‘Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe’. We are called to be a Church that touches the wounds of others with mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Pope Francis desires a church that is a murky, messy ‘field hospital’ of the mayhem of humanity.

The risen Jesus is active in all our lives and in the world around us, but we must be careful not to close ourselves off or let fear take over. John tells us that he writes these things so that we may come to believe and have life. Our call is to bring this peace and joy to others, ‘so I send you’. Who can you reach out to today?

As we commence this second week of Easter, let us remember our dead. Due to the restrictions we are not able to celebrate our Mass in St Conval’s Cemetery, Barrhead. But we remember and pray for our dead, especially our family, friends and priests that are buried there. May the Lord give them eternal rest. God bless you and your families, and I hope you have a fantastic week!

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