6th Sunday Easter
Sunday 22nd 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
Judas, not Judas Iscariot, asked, ‘How is it that you reveal yourself to us and not to the world?’
Jesus answered him and said, ‘If someone loves me and keeps my words, my Father will love that person and we shall come and make our home within that person.
The one who doesn’t love me, doesn’t keep my word. Be sure of this, the word I speak is not my own, it is the word of the one who sent me, the Father!
I have spoken these words to you while I was with you but the Consoler, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send you in my name, will teach you and remind you of all that was said to you.
Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give you. But be careful, I am not giving a peace like the world’s peace.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You have heard me say how I was going away and how I would return again. If you really loved me you would rejoice because I am going to the Father: for the Father is greater than I.
I have told you all this before it happens so that you may believe.’
The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.
This Sunday's Psalm
Ps 66:2-3, 5-6, 8
Be merciful O God and bless us
and let the light of your face shine on us.
Then your ways will be known on earth
and all nations will see your salvation.
The nations will rejoice and sing for joy
for you judge with justice,
govern the nations with fairness,
guide the peoples of the earth.
The peoples will praise you, O God.
All the peoples will praise you.
God will continue to bless us
and all the nations of the world will revere God.
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
Yes, loving Father, send us your Spirit. May he make the words of Jesus live in our hearts and minds, becoming flesh in our lives. As these words come to fulfilment in us, may we discover that you truly have made your home within us and that we are filled with your peace. 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 paraphrase includes the question that Judas, not the Iscariot, asked that was the lead in to the text for this Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus’ response is to a very clear question and one that we may have pondered at times. Why did Jesus reveal himself to those disciples, those particular people in that particular time and place? If that question it asked, it can lead to another. How can a historical Saviour, Jesus, offer salvation to the whole human race? Jesus response to these questions is found this this Gospel text.
Firstly, he constantly refers to the reality of the words that he has spoken to these disciples. This reality is repeatedly affirmed in this short text, as they are also throughout the Last Discourse. The words the disciples have heard are not just sounds. Lived, they will be a revelation of divine life in their very lives. Indeed the words and how they are lived are to be a revelation of the salvation that was offered in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
But the capacity to live those words will not come from the disciples themselves. It will be the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God who will recall those words and make them a reality in the lives of the disciples. The Holy Spirit is the power of God that unites all creation and offers all peoples the salvation given in Jesus Christ. So, even though, salvation came through the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, this is offered to the world in two ways: through the preaching of the disciples, which is still restrained by the particularities of time and place, and through the power of the Spirit which creates, unites and fulfils all creation.
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
We all want peace. Yes, we all want peace. But what are we prepared to do for it? Not much. Perhaps we are like this because the idea, the notion of peace is somewhat bland, if not downright boring. We tend to look at peace as the absence of war, of conflict. Yawn. But if we look at it the other way round, it may prove to be a more attractive, appealing idea that will compel us to take the time and trouble to create it in our world. Looking at it this way leads me to think of the father of one of my religious sisters. I never met him but have been impressed by the legacy he left. He went to WWI – he was in the second wave of troops to go into Gallipoli. From fighting in the trenches in France, he carried a knee injury for the rest of his life. Though he rarely spoke about the war, the effect it had on him was to develop a passion for his family. Having experienced such an horrendous theatre of death, he was determined to celebrate life. You can hear it still in the way his family speaks of him.
When Jesus bequeathed peace to his disciples, it was when the people hating him were about to arrest, torture and kill him. Jesus’ peace needed to be a very robust thing to counter this level of animosity and aggression. It was. That is why Jesus could bequeath it so confidently. This peace that comes from God is not had in the absence of sin, evil or suffering. Rather this peace uses those things to create a place of grace within our world. This peace compels us to imagine how we can use negative experiences and situations creatively. For example, in the world of art, creative breakthroughs so often come about when something has gone wrong for the artist and he or she cannot afford to throw out the work and start again. How much more so with our own lives! We cannot walk away from where we are. But we can implore the Spirit of Peace to come upon us and transform how we respond. The peace offered in such situations will be robust, creative and not the least bit boring.
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
One of the most harrowing movies I have seen is Who will love my children?. It is based on the true story of Lucile Fray. She had 10 children and, after the birth of her last child, developed terminal breast cancer. Much as she loved her husband, she knew he was incapable of caring for his family and she realised that, with her death, the children would be separated into different orphanages losing contact with both their father and each other. So she prepared ‘homes’ for them, finding couples who wanted to adopt one or more of her children. One of her provisos to the couples was that the children were to be able to keep in touch with their father and each other. Finding these ‘homes’ was the quest of her dying months. It is simply ‘aweful’ to watch: the level of love she had for both her husband and her children combined with a clear head and a steely determination to do the best for each of them seems almost inhuman. Only God could love like that.
When Jesus says that the Father will come and make his home with those who keep his word, we are inclined to find these words comforting and reassuring – and so they are. And Jesus goes on to say that the Holy Spirit will come and teach us his words, reminding us of all he has said. Even more comfort there. But even more than Lucile Fray wanted for her children, the Father wants the fullness of life and love for us. Being at home with him, means being at home with ourselves and with each other. To grow into this, we need clear heads and steely determination to face what undermines the growth of love in our lives. This knowledge will not come from ourselves. Indeed, it is a form of wisdom that can only come from the Spirit of God. In our desire to grow in love, we need pray, “Come Holy Spirit!” and be prepared for an interesting and challenging time.
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
- The Last Supper by Duccio di Buoninsegna. (click red text)
–The Last Supper by Willem Andriesz de Raet
(click red text)
- The Last Supper by Nicholas Poussin. (click red text)
- The Last Supper by James Tissot. (click red text)
- The Last Supper by Gisele Bauche.. (click red text)
Who will love my children?
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.
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!"
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 meaning of peace in your daily life. Notice especially the people or situations in which you experience discord. Rather than seeking ‘peace’ as an absence of discord, imagine how the difficulties could be used as a means for enriching the lives of all involved.
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.
Recall your best experiences of home. Now extrapolate them into a sense of home even better than your own experience. God the Father wants to come and make his home within you. He will never force himself on us but need to be welcoming. With your best imagine of home before you, welcome God into your life. How good do you feel? Let those emotions and thoughts be your prayer.
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.
Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
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.
A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Invitation for share reflections
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
- Let There Be Peace on Earth by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller
- Prayer of Peace by St Francis, music Sebastian Temple.
- The strife is over battle down 12 century, translated by Francis Pott
- How lovely is your dwelling place by A. Gregory Murray