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Contents: Volume 2 - Triduum - Easter Day - 2018


 

 

Triduum

EASTER

2018

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

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

 

 

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Triduum, Easter Day 2018

I offer some thoughts this year on these important readings as we all try to look beyond the seeming chaos in our world to a future more filled with the hope of the Easter Season.

Holy Thursday

Jesus knew that abandonment was one of the greatest fears of humans. At the Last Supper, Jesus showed us that he would remain with us always. The Gospel account of John tells of the service aspect of being a Christian, a way to honor and remember Jesus and to keep Jesus alive in our communities. In some way, we also leave a legacy of our own, a way to make a difference in someone's life, just as Jesus did. We also know that in different accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, a truly physical way to know Jesus is with us. We are never alone!

Good Friday

The underlying question for today always is "why is it called Good Friday when we remember such a horrible event?" My 9 year old grand daughter answered that one rather insightfully: "It is because Jesus chose to save others instead of himself by dying and then he was raised from the dead." As we read through and listen to these readings, we are often dismayed at the poor choices other people made and, in reflection, those that we, too, have made. It is indeed Good News that our God is a God who provides multiple opportunities for us to change the direction of our lives. Keeping our eyes on him, today on the cross, will remind us of the cost of our sins.

The Vigil

Our modern day technological culture has made it almost impossible to wait more than a second for anything. What a disservice to the Saturday before Easter day time when, as a child, we were encouraged to spend the day thinking about why Jesus died and what part we had in it. Waiting also involved preparation for the next part of the story, the hope of Easter! We symbolically cleaned everything in sight and made sure that our "new" Easter outfits were ready. Of course, as children of long ago, we anticipated popping that first jelly bean into our mouths right after church. We never went to the Easter Vigil so that experience came to me as an adult. Waiting through the long readings was difficult at first but the connections made by the walk through history was profound. The responsorial psalms brought much hope. Although the service was quite long especially the first time, I didn't want to leave church afterwards! Connections are important. Connections of the spiritual kind remain forever. Let us take the time to recall our own individual history and the future that Easter hope can bring.

Easter Day

Just as the women and the male apostles had only the beginnings of true belief when they initially saw the empty tomb, so, too, we believe but, sometimes, not yet fully. They had to "see" Jesus to believe as the two on the way to Emmaus or other accounts when Mary Magdalen is greeted by Jesus or the apostles later in the upper room. We have to "see" Jesus working in our lives. How does that happen? I think it happens when we are in community and see others do what Jesus did in service. It happens when we listen to/read Scripture and something palpable awakens in us. It happens at Mass at that moment when we just know the Lord's presence. It happens when we do something extraordinary that could only be initiated by the Spirit with in us. It happens continuously as we grow in learning that Jesus is still alive, in us and in our world. Let us pray that our fledgling belief this Easter day that Jesus is alive will be nourished by the little moments of hope that we encounter and indeed make happen ourselves from this day forward.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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First Sunday of Easter April 1 2018

Acts 10:34 & 37-43; Responsorial Psalm 118; 1st Corinthians 5:6-8 (or Colossians 3:1-4); Sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes; Gospel Acclamation 1st Corinthians 5:7-8; John 20:1-8 (or Mark 16:1-7 or Luke 24:13-35)

Today there are optional readings for the second reading and for gospel. There is so much to be reported regarding the events of this day nearly two thousand years ago that are many nuances to the message. This Easter liturgy of the Word allows the presider-priest a choice of readings for the second reading and the Gospel. The first reading from Acts, the responsorial psalm for that reading, and the Gospel Acclamation are so very expressive of the joy and excitement of this day of Remember-ing the Lord’s being raised up that there is no option. In the first reading, Peter comes out of hiding in the upper room. More importantly, Peter comes out of hiding from behind his guilt and regret. His shame is overcome and he shouts the message to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem for Passover. He has seen the empty tomb and at last understands Jesus. In the moment at the empty tomb, he lets go of his erroneous visions of a temporal king. He believes and understands what Jesus taught. This is the same Peter who in the late hours of Thursday denied Jesus three times while Jesus was accused of blasphemy by false witnesses. If we placed ourselves in his place in that terrible hour then, today, we discover within our spirits the release from the shame and sin of our denial of Jesus. We are shed of the shackles of guilt. Our sins lose their power to control and block us from living in the light of the Son of God, the Son of Man. When Peter realized his failure and the sinfulness of his denial, he went away and wept. Suddenly, on this first day of the week, his life takes on a new direction. When Mary of Magdala rushes into the upper room with the strange and unbelievable news of the empty tomb, he runs with John to see for himself. He sees and drops his guard and he believes. The darkness of his denials and his unbelief are ripped from him and he is lifted up to new life. Peter comes out of hiding and speaks to crowds of Jews and Gentiles gathered in Jerusalem for the High Holy Day of Passover. What a transformation: what hope came into his heart and mind after he saw the empty tomb! His heart must have pounded with joy and great peace as he realized his failure had not stopped Jesus from loving him. Peter in a flash understood the full scope of Jesus’ mission. He ignores the conspiracy of the Chief Priests and the Scribes. He lost his fear for his personal safety and the danger that would come to him because his preaching contradicted religious authorities. He demonstrates no fear of the occupying Roman guard who carried out the judgement of the Sanhedrin. He preaches the message of the saving acts of Jesus and insists Jesus is the one foretold by the prophets. His preaching is confident, joyful, and filled with great hope. His fear is gone: his faith has found fulfillment.

We are the beneficiaries of nearly two thousand years of our ancestors in the faith living out in their time and place the power of the life, miracles, and work of Jesus. We have the testimony of the uncountable cloud of witnesses who have gone before us in Faith in the Risen Lord. We have an advantage over Peter. The lives of our faith ancestors teach us by their life’s stories to live the message of the Lord and grow his Kingdom. Even our personal experience witnessing and remembering the faith of our parents, grandparents, cousins, friends and acquaintances give us evidence of the power of the events of Holy Week. We have heard, we know the stories of Jesus healing, preaching: we are sorrowful at his false trial, his condemnation, and his murder on the cruel and awful cross. If we can vision ourselves in the shoes of the fisherman, of Peter and the disciples who witnessed the Risen Jesus, can we not today discover our hearts lifted up as well? Is it possible to put ourselves in the company of the vast and uncountable cloud of witnesses? These are those who have gone before us and have lived in the relief and hope of the empty tomb. Can we quiet our hearts and deny our experience of hope in the hearts and minds of Peter and the apostles and disciples at the wonder of his Resurrection? How can we continue in our old ways, in our former unfulfilling joys pursuing the values of the Way of the World? Are we too frightened to let go of our self-centeredness and discover in Jesus for our future, our hope, our joy, our peace? Why can’t we run from the safety of the upper room and see for ourselves the empty tomb? When we walk with the women to the tomb expecting to find a dead god, if we rush with Peter and John to check out this strange story of the women, then this Easter will be the beginning of a new life within us. But we must go to the tomb and find it empty. We must see in the emptiness there – that burial place – that our shame, our failures, our lack of spiritual depth, all that is gone. All that holds us down, makes us grovel at the condemnations that are chains fashioned by the evil ones loses its power. All that bows our heads in shame, all that controls our spirit making it enslaved to empty promises all that is gone, all that is disappeared. That tomb that holds captive our living spirits is EMPTY. The Lord in his death and rising has removed everything that clutches our spirits and makes us slaves.

When we close our eyes and for only a moment to locate ourselves with Peter and then experience with the women, with Peter, and with John the evidence of the empty tomb, the words of our response to the first reading will arise from our hearts and we will be lifted up. We will sing with fullness of hearts overwhelmed by the emotion of this Resurrection of the Lord! "This is the day the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad!" For truly the remembering of this day nearly two thousand years ago is THE Day made for us by the Lord. The third verse of our response is a road map forward: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." This verse asks us to focus on the "cornerstones" on which we build our daily living. In the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection do our life’s foundation support a life of truth, peace and joy?

With the Responsorial Psalm still ringing in our ears we listen to Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. He instructs us to throw away the old yeast of wickedness and malice. Change to a new bread that is filled with sincerity and truth. The foundation of truthful and integral living is Jesus the Christ. Jesus the Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Now all is new; now there is an option for change. Guilt and sin have been taken on by Jesus and have lost their power to condemn us as we embrace the cross and share in the emptiness of the tomb. That tomb buried our peace and our joy in the carved walls of stone that are guilt and regret. It has been emptied out – it no longer retains our guilt, our regret, our emptiness. It is empty and we are freed.

The Sequence - Victimae Paschali Laudes -- is an ancient song celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. As the song of praise draws to a close it asks Mary of Magdala to testify what she observed at the tomb at break of day. The cadence and rhythms carry the message. Whose heart is unmoved by the images in this song?

The presider-priest often chooses the Gospel from John from the three available to him. Mary of Magdala discovers the empty tomb. She came to complete the customary burial rites of the Jews. She came without fear, motivated by love for her Teacher. At first she thought someone took Jesus’ body. She went for help to Peter and John. They went to the tomb frightened, concerned, and fearful of both religious and civil authorities. When they entered the tomb they saw the burial cloths were folded, neatly arranged. No grave robber or malicious authority would have taken time to do that.

Easter Hope comes even to those who are not members of our community of faith. In the northern hemisphere Easter signals the coming of springtime, a time of new life and hope for a renewed future. The powers of the world and the values that drive those powers lack the ability to bring peace, dignity, and worth to all. Those crushed by oppression from whatever source, those whose energies and wills are sapped by illness or disability, those whose circumstances are a constant dance with death and starvation – all of these persons find hope in Easter’s message. The loving kindness of God is recognized by his compassion and mercy to those who call on the name of the Lord. Those who live with faith and hope in the God of compassion and love respond through an active faith to love and make real and present the resurrection hope to those in pain and despair. The resurrection of the Lord is not only a personal event at the time we die. It is a reality for those of faith who suffer and endure the pains and outrages visited them by evil. That Resurrection is now, now and forever!

The optional reading from Luke’s gospel is most helpful. The story of the two walking away from Jerusalem on this first day of the week is truly a story that presents us a picture of the new People of God. It is a reminder of what happens when we come together as an Assembly of God’s People. First we gather – where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there. Then follows our liturgy of the Word; the Scriptures are proclaimed to us and opened to us as current events, explaining and revealing God present to us in our time, in our place. This is what Jesus did when he joined the two walking home. Jesus spoke of Moses and the prophets and explained how these Scriptures applied to the life of the Messiah and to their lives in the first century of the New Covenant. But it was in the breaking of bread and the pouring of the wine that the two recognized Jesus. As a result the two – even in the darkness of night – retraced their steps to rejoin the disciples in the upper room. Coming together to remember Jesus brings Jesus to us: when we gather he is with us: when we break out the Word of God, he is with us: when we break the bread and pour the wine, he is with us. Who can fail to understand this? Who would fail to come to the Community of Faith for their hope, for their strength, for their reconciliation? The empty tomb means we are freed to live in the message and the hope of the Risen Lord. The Risen Lord is with us when we gather, when we listen to the Word of God, and when we share the Bread that is broken and the Wine that is poured out.

"This is the Day the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it!" ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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RISING WITH JESUS TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

When my father died quite suddenly when I was 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 horible 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 actually 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 have stolen and hidden his body, and will not let him rest in peace.

She talks about her experience to 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 an 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 recognising, in fact, 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 Spiriti, 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 and expect 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 own 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 and clearly!

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

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John
 


 

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