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This Sunday's Programme

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5th Sunday Easter C

Sunday 15th May 2022

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

Jn 13:31-35

After receiving the morsel, Satan entered Judas. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’…Then, having received the morsel, Judas went out. It was night.

Then when he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, then God in turn will glorify him in his own self and shall glorify him immediately.

‘Little children, I am yet with you for such a short time. You will look for me. Just as I told the Jews, I am saying to you. Where I am going, you cannot yet come so I say this to you: I am giving you a new commandment. Love one another! Just as I have loved you so you must love each other. By this will all people know that you are my disciples: by the love you have for each other.’

Psalm

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

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 144:8-13

The Lord is gracious, rich in compassion,
slow to anger, rich in mercy.
The Lord is good to all,
compassion flows over all his works.

All your works praise you O God.
All your saints bless you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom,
they proclaim your mastery over all,
making known to humanity your mighty deeds,
and the glory and honour of your kingdom

Your kingdom is everlasting.
Your rule is eternal.

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, send us your Spirit that we may enter into the glory of Jesus your Son. Fill us with the love with which he faced sin and evil, that we, in turn, may serve each other with love and forgiveness. We ask this in Jesus’ 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

The Gospel reading as it is given in the lectionary is a beautiful text. Lovely, reassuring, if somewhat vague about the glory that is happening between God and Jesus. But when it is placed in its content, its ‘glory’ is thrown into sharp relief, a relief that is not at all comforting, except in the knowledge that God in Jesus has confronted and overthrown the power of Satan. These words of Jesus follow on the incident where Jesus makes it clear to Judas that he knows about the betrayal that he is about to inflict. In offering the morsel, Jesus offers Judas the opportunity to choose otherwise. He does not…and Satan is allowed his time, his hour. Jesus’ glory lies in this. He will confront evil and, in his suffering and death, will defeat it. The disciples cannot yet follow Jesus. Evil has to be overthrown before Jesus would allow that to happen.

As one protecting his own, he calls them ‘little children’ and enjoins them to imitate him in his love. At this Last Supper, the action that immediately preceded the interaction between Jesus and Judas was Jesus’ washing of the feet of his disciples. This is the sign of what love is about: service, and service undertaken in the humblest of activities and the humblest of postures. This interpretation of love is so radical, so profound that it becomes the sign by which the world will know that God was revealed in Jesus. God will be present in their love for each other.

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

‘It was night.’ It was in the face of darkness that Jesus revealed his glory. In his act of giving the morsel to Judas, Jesus had offered him the chance to turn away from his act of betrayal. But Judas chose otherwise, and then Satan entered him. After Judas left the circle of disciples, Jesus spoke of the glory that he was about to enter into. This was not glory as we, and the world, know it: the glory of esteem, power, and adulation. No, quite the opposite. It was a glory that would face the consequences of Judas’ wicked choice, the hatred of the religious leaders, the indifference of Pilate, the brutality of the soldiers and the desertion and denial by his disciples. This is what Jesus’ glory consists of: loving in the face of evil and sin.

At the present time, the Catholic Church is Australia is undergoing a period of deep humiliation. As the Royal Commission continues, news bulletins regularly recount the sins and failures of members of our Church against the weakest in our society. One awful aspect of this is that the humiliation is justified. The mentality that wants our church, ‘our tribe’ to be esteemed, to look good was the very mentality that allowed abuse to go on for so long. The issue for us now is how are we to make this situation a place of true ‘glory’. We must be like Jesus. We must face sin for what it truly is, with no excuses, no justifications. We must face sin in its raw awfulness and ask ourselves how we have colluded with the mentality that allowed this abuse to happen. Then, and only then, will our hearts be softened to listen to the cry of the abused and to respond. The glory of Jesus in this situation will only be revealed when we have faced our sin, begged forgiveness of the abused and work towards their healing. Then will God’s glory truly be revealed – the overcoming of evil with love.

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

Amongst my family and friends, there are a number of couples who have very good marriages. Every person amongst them will affirm, and affirm vigorously, that making their marriage has been hard work. Not hard work in the sense of drudgery. Rather this hard work is more like that of an artist or an engineer bringing into being a new creation. It takes skill, imagination, the commitment of hours, attention to detail, faithfulness in the boring patches, but especially devotion from the depths of the self. In short, it takes true love. Yet the commitment of marriage is even greater than that of the artist or engineer. They can walk away from their creation, or take a holiday. True love in marriage and in families doesn’t have that luxury. And it is not just in marriage that such love occurs. The story of Sr Rachel Fassera, an Italian nun working in Uganda, is overwhelming (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboke_abductions). When students in her care were kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army, she tracked through the jungle and begged, prayed and nagged until most of them were released. The account of this incident shows the complexity and difficulty that love must sometime negotiate in this real and messy world.

When Jesus tells us to love as he has loved us, he is not speaking of a sweet and gentle love that makes life easy. No, he is talking of bringing us, weak and broken as we are to the fullness of life in our real and messy world. When I seriously consider the love that Jesus has shown to me, I must admit that he does embrace me as I am….but he doesn’t let me stay that way. From tender suggestions to vigorous and sometimes unpleasant rebukes, he works on me, trying to induce, encourage and sometimes almost, dare I say it, bully me into a richer and fuller life. And he asks me in turn to show that love. Why am I fearful to do so? Perhaps because I am nervous of receiving such an overwhelming love. But I need not fear. Jesus is still working on me.

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

Art Works

The paintings for this week are of the Last Supper.

  • Giotto’s Last Supper (click red text).
  • Tintoretto’s Last Supper (click red text).
  • Note the interplay of light and dark in Nikolay Gay’s Last Supper (click red text).
  • Salvador Dali’s painting of the Last Supper conveys the sense of glory and mystery of the Last Discourse of John’s Gospel. (click red text).

Movies

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 different ways people, yourself included, seek glory. Then mull on the ‘glory’ of Jesus, confronting evil with good, sin with love, hurt with forgiveness. How can you bring his ‘glory’ into your daily life?

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.

Jesus commands us to love each other as he has loved us. Ponder on the differing ways Jesus has shown his love to you. Enter into these, using your memory and imagination to recall how you felt and how you responded to that love in different situations.

When you have pondered this love for some time, ask yourself how you could act in a similar manner towards the people with whom you live and work.

Rest in the love of your God.

Suggestions for the Programme

The elements of the programme can be used in any way that helps your prayer. The suggestions below are fairly simple ways of using this programme.

DAILY PRAYER

Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Our Father
Prayer

Or

Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
Psalm
Our Father

PRAYER

Staff Prayer
The programme can also be used for Staff Prayer. How you may put together such a prayer would be influenced largely by the size and dynamics of your staff. For example, a smaller staff group might be able to use discussion of a movie as a way of exploring the meaning of a Gospel.

Example
A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Reflection
Invitation for share reflections
Our Father
Prayer

Another Example
Hymn
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
Psalm
Our Father
Prayer

  • I Have Loved You by Michael Joncas
  • Love Divine, all Loves Excelling by Charles Wesley
  • Ubi Caritas Taize Chant
  • Where there is Charity and Love by Richard Connolly
  • Love is his Word by Ronald Krisman and Luke Connaughton

O flame of living love,
that at its deepest centre
wounds now my soul with tenderness!
Since you no more remove,
end then, if you intend to;
tear now the veil of mutual sweetness!

O cautery so sweet!
O wound’s caress!
O soothing hand! O delicate the touching,
that signals life complete,
pays every debt,
changes death to life in its ending!

O fiery light,
in whose resplendencies
deep caves of purest feeling,
that once were eyeless night,
with rarest beauties
shed warmth and light on the loving

How lovingly, how gently
you return now to my breast
where you live all secret and alone
and filled with virtue’s glory
how your sweetest breath
delicately pierces to the bone!

John of the Cross