28th March - Easter Octave

While the Easter Vigil, for those who had the privilege of celebrating it, or the Easter Sunday Mass, is such a joyful occasion and the highlight of the year, we need more time to drink it in. It is exactly because it is so rich, so deep, such a Mystery, that we need much more time to do this year after year.

The Church helps us by having restored the importance of the whole week following Jesus’ Resurrection as an Octave. In fact Eastertide - the 50 days to Pentecost - gives us much more time to ponder all this in our hearts, like Mary.

While Jesus is risen and dies no more, the cross, pain and suffering continues in people’s lives - and for many in our world it is just so heavy - especially where there is poverty, hunger, disasters, injustice and the scourge of war and conflict.

Jesus wants that to change and wants us to change what we can. Nevertheless there is still the cross in our lives whether it is small or big.

What Jesus is calling us to do is to embrace the cross in its many forms, as St Paul did, and to know the power of his Resurrection. In fact we can only embrace that cross by the power of his Resurrection. (Philippians 3:10)

21st March - Holy Week

We call this week ‘Holy’ because of the most important events in the history of the world that it commemorates and, in our Liturgy, relives in some way -the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.

My plan this week in prayer is to spend time with Jesus, and be some way with him in what he went through.  

The Readings of the Masses of the Day can help here.

The Passion of St Luke that we had on Palm Sunday could be good to slowly go through again. Luke can be called the ‘Gospel of Mercy’ and Jesus’ Mercy can be seen many times in this passage. 

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, using our gift of imagination can draw us more into this mystery of Jesus’ suffering and death.

Whichever way or ways we use, not only will it draw us more to know Jesus and his deep love for us, and how he is with us in our trials, suffering and crosses. It will also prepare us to appreciate more his rising from the dead and the power of his risen life with us in the joys and sadness’s of our lives.

15th March - Prodigal Son continued

Please take up and read again in St Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 15:11-32, the story of the Prodigal Son. Please do more than this and go more deeply into it by spending some time imagining the scene.

Pope Francis, recently speaking of this father, said that while the son was not physically present to him, the father always held him in his heart. The Pope even imagines the father climbing onto the roof every day to look out for his son!

What Jesus says in the story is that the father races to the son as soon as he recognises him. He embraces him and kisses him tenderly before the son could say a word. Even when the son begins his prepared speech the father cuts him short and says, ‘Tidy him up and dress him up and let’s have the biggest party we’ve had for some time!’

What a welcome!

Now please put yourself into this story. Think of the times that you have needed the mercy of God and gone to our generous, lavish and merciful father. Think of how you have received that warm welcome and received his great kindness. Feel embraced by our wonderful God. In other words I am asking you for a few minutes to go back and savour the times you have experienced the mercy of God. The more we experience and drink in that mercy, the more that mercy will flow over from us to those around us. 

8th March - Prodigal Son

Last Sunday we had the special Gospel of the ‘Prodigal Son’. Before the renewal of the Liturgy after the Second  Vatican Council, this important and beautiful Gospel was never used on a Sunday. Now at least, in our three yearly cycle of Readings, we have it every three years.

How important is it? Cardinal Martini, a Jesuit, a Scripture scholar and the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan a few years ago, mentioned that it could be said that this story sums up the whole of St Luke’s Gospel - if not all the Gospels.

Jesus came to reveal to us how infinitely good, loving and merciful God our Father is. As Pope Francis said, Jesus is “the face of the Father’s mercy”.

By all that Jesus was, said and did, we see how generously merciful God our Father is.

The story Luke gives us is not a fairy story. Go to the end of St Luke’s Gospel and we see Jesus there on the cross. He prays for those who condemned him unjustly, tortured him and crucified him.  

To the thief who said “remember me when you come into your Kingdom”, he quickly replied, “today you will be with me in paradise”.

Spend a few moments with Jesus thinking about and praying about all this.