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This Sunday's Programme

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3rd Sunday Easter B

Sunday 14th April 2024

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Lk 24: 35-48

The disciples, to whom Jesus had appeared at Emmaus, were describing what had happened on the way and how they recognised Jesus in the breaking of the bread, when, while they were still speaking, Jesus himself stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ They were dismayed and terrified because they thought they were seeing a ghost.  But Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you so upset?  Why are you thinking and feeling like this? See here are my hands and my feet, look, yes, it is I, my very self.  Touch me and understand that a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones as you can see I have.’  While he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  They were so overjoyed they simply couldn’t believe it and wondered what was going on. So he said to them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish.  Taking it, he ate it while they watched.

He said to them, ‘What has happened, happened just as I told you it would and it happened that way to fulfil what was written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’  He then opened up their minds so that they might understand the Scriptures.  He said to them, ‘So now you can see how the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day.  Now, beginning in Jerusalem, repentance for the forgiveness of sin is to be proclaimed to the entire world.  You are the witnesses to all this.’

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 4: 2,4,7, 9.

Hear me, O God of righteousness, when I cry!
Answer me in my distress,
have mercy and hear my prayer.

Know that God is gracious to those he loves.
God hears when I my cry.

Many ask: ‘What brings about happiness?’
God let the light of you face shine on us!

I will lie down in peace and sleep
for in you alone, God, I trust.

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, may the Risen Jesus come into the midst of the difficulties and challenges of our lives with his gift of peace. Open our hearts to his life-giving Spirit that our lives may witness to his triumph over sin. We ask this in his name, confident that you will hear us.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

So much in so few words! How do the evangelists do it? This passage of Luke is both a culmination of the Gospel and a hinge by which this Gospel swings into the coming book of Acts. The disciples’ reaction to the presence of Jesus recalls the way Zechariah reacted to the message of the Angel Gabriel at the opening of the Gospel. With their mixed confusion and joy, the reader is lead to wonder how they will accept with faith the message offered them. The end of the Gospel reveals that it will be by the coming power of the Spirit.

Through this scene, Jesus repeatedly uses a Greek word, ‘autos’, which stresses the sense of self, for example, ‘It is I, my very self.’ Luke had repeatedly used this word in his Gospel in relation to Jesus but he never uses it this way in Acts. By this simple device, he stresses the uniqueness and centrality of Jesus – all that the disciples have seen and been told has been about Jesus, all that they are to tell is to be about him.

How are they to proclaim this person? From their own experience read in relation to the Law, Prophets and Writings. In telling them to touch him, the disciples are to own their own personal experience. But then Jesus places that experience within the community’s religious tradition. And then, even more, they are to express their belief by sharing it with all who labour under the burden of sin – they are to preach the forgiveness that comes from repentance, that profound change of mind and heart that comes with the power of the Spirit.

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

Just what was happening emotionally with these disciples? They had already heard the story of Jesus’ resurrection from the women who had gone to the tomb and they disbelieved that. Later, that night they heard Peter testify to seeing Jesus. They believed him enough to proclaim to the disciples returning from Emmaus that ‘Jesus had risen!’ Now when Jesus himself stands in their midst their emotions go wild and they simply cannot get a handle on what is happening. The verbs used by Luke are all extreme – dismay, terror, confusion, joy, doubts welling up in their hearts. They seem to be exploding all over the place. Jesus grounds them, first by making it clear how real he is physically. Touch me, watch me eat. Then he opens their minds and hearts to realise that what had happened to him wasn’t God patching up something that had gone horribly wrong but rather was according to the plan of God, a plan worked into the history of the people of Israel.

What are we to make of this? It seems that our experience of Resurrection suffers from the opposite of what happened to the disciples. In our calm, serene, orderly proclamation we may have missed just how earth shattering this event was. How can we change that? Maybe by seriously considering just what Jesus said to them? The thought that Jesus is physically present, somewhere, somehow disturbs our notions of reality. The thought that God is working inexorably through the sad and grand history of humanity confirms our desire that God is with us at all times but still makes us a little uncertain as to where God really is. As we consider, no, are disturbed by, these ways of viewing reality, may Jesus, too, touch our minds and hearts to perceive the divine love that desires to erupt in our world.

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

Uproar was the disciples’ response to the risen Jesus. Joy, terror, dismay, confusion, wonder ran riot within them. Jesus dealt with this by grounding them in a sense of his physical presence, stretching their understanding by showing how the Scriptures revealed what had happened to him. He then challenged them to share this Good News with the entire world.

By comparison, our experience of Resurrection seems rather thin. So maybe we should pause and seriously ask ourselves, where could we recognise and experience the Risen Jesus? Could it be in our physical world, as we go beyond ourselves in love and service, doing deeds that don’t come easily to us? Could it be in stretching our minds and hearts to appreciate the riches of the Scriptures and our religious tradition and see what they tell us about Jesus? Could it be in taking up the challenge to present the Good News to the people with whom we live? If you are like me, these questions stir up all sorts of reactions within me: terror at what it might cost, confusion as to what I could actually do, wonder at how it might turn out. But maybe the only way for us to enter into the Resurrection is to be discombobulated like those disciples at the first Easter.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

Jesus appearing to the Disciples while they were at Table  by Duccio di Buoninsegna.

– In this woodcut by Johann Weigel Jesus is shown eating fish.

 

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

As you go through this week, mull on the things in your life and faith that cause you confusion. As you mull over them, ask Jesus to come into those very place with his Risen life, offering you guidance that you would not expect.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

When you are at rest, recall those times in your life when you have been thrown into confusion and which you have found very challenging. Ponder closely on one of those times. Ask the Spirit to guide you as you slowly recall what happened, how you felt, reacted and responded. Can you see the places where the difficult situation called you into growth in faith and love? Can you see where you grew and where you faltered? Ask the Spirit to show you how you can allow the healing presence of Jesus to led you to grow anew from that situation.

Rest in the love of your God.