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This Sunday's Programme

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Easter Sunday B

Sunday 31st March 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

Mk 16:1-8

When the Sabbath has passed, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, the women who had accompanied Jesus in his ministry and witnessed his death, bought spices and came to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early in the morning, just as the sun was rising, they approached the tomb. Amongst themselves they asked, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the face of the tomb?’ but when they looked, the stone, which was huge, had already been rolled away! Entering the tomb they saw a young man, clothed in a white robe, sitting on the right side and they were terrified. But he said to them: ‘Do not be afraid! You seek Jesus, the one who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. Look at the place where they laid him! Now, go on your way and tell the disciples and Peter that he is going before you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ They rushed out and fled from the tomb, trembling with amazement. And they told nothing to anyone for they were so afraid.


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

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23

Give thanks for God’s goodness:
God’s love is forever.
Let all the people cry:
God’s love is forever.

The strength of God has succeeded,
Mighty deeds accomplished for all to see.
I will not die,
I will live,
I will proclaim God’s deeds.

The stone the builders rejected
holds the building together.
This is God’s work,
and we witnessed the marvel.



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 we enter into the mystery of Jesus’ resurrection with awe and amazement. As we follow the angel’s word and seek Jesus in the Galilee of our lives, may your Spirit transform the ordinary events of our lives into signs of Jesus life giving love. 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

The Resurrection account from the Gospel of Mark, which is an option for the Gospel Reading, is a strange text. It forms what is recognised in scholarly circles as the first ending of the Gospel. As it stands it is difficult to understand. So difficult that it seems the Marcan community added another ending that presents other resurrection accounts. But still we must ask what Mark was doing ending his Gospel with the women running away in fear and saying nothing to anyone? How could this make sense to the early readers who clearly knew that the message of the angel had been conveyed at some point?

Throughout the Gospel, one way Mark presents the mystery of Jesus is by stressing the misunderstanding that people had concerning the Messiah and the identity of Jesus. Constantly people got it wrong and were ordered to keep silence. The Gospel moves towards the true ‘proclamation’ of Jesus’ identity by the centurion at the time of his death. Three days later, women who had been his constant companions and seen all that he had done are the ones to whom the Resurrection is revealed. Struck with fear and awe, they withdraw and keep silence. How does one find words to speak the unspeakable? Perhaps first by being silent before the mystery. Maybe this is what Mark was teaching through this strange ending. Wait in reverent awe before mysteries of God; enter into one’s heart and find Jesus risen within – then go forth offering the world its salvation



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

‘Resurrection’- the word trips off our tongues so easily but do we really know what it means? No, we don’t. This inbreaking of divine life into our world is so far beyond human understanding that we can only stammer at the mystery. Even if Benedict XVI joined forces with Steven Spielberg and J. K. Rowling to describe the resurrection, they would still struggle to convey what God was doing in Jesus. Maybe that is why God chose first women, who were not regarded as fit to give testimony in Jewish Law, and then, disciples who had failed Jesus, to be the witnesses to God’s transformation of reality in Jesus’ triumph over sin and death. Only those who are humble can be open to this mystery.

Today, God choses us – yes, you and me – as his witnesses. Do you feel inadequate? That’s good, because that is a good place to begin. In fact, it is the only place. The challenge comes not just from the greatness of the mystery, it also from where the mystery is found – within the human heart. Hidden away in our depths, we need to allow the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection to change the dark places of our hearts before we can witness to it. We need to take on Jesus’ power to forgive, to love realistically, to hope in difficult circumstances. As we do this our hearts, minds and lives are transformed and we are then able, in our own feeble way, to reveal God’s transforming love to our world.


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

In the fine biographical movie, ‘Temple Grandin’, we follow the emergence of Temple from being a child confined by her autism to her becoming a woman able to use her autism as a way to interact with and change her world. Her mother had a profound influence on her but what a journey it was for that woman. Continually her hopes for her daughter were challenged, dashed and sometimes transformed. In spite of pain and difficulty, she never gave up hope. Ultimately this hope was rewarded but never would have she dreamt that her daughter would make her name as a prominent abattoir designer!
At the heart of the Easter mystery is the transformation of people’s hope in God. All the people in the Gospel story had their hope in God challenged: Pilate and the religious authorities, the soldiers, the people taunting Jesus, the disciples, the women who came to the tomb. All had certain beliefs about God and how God should act in the world. These in turn affected how they understood Jesus. Those who were rigid in how they thought God would act missed what was happening. Those prepared to be challenged through their pain and confusion came to see and recognise the risen Jesus.
We, too, have our hopes and when they are challenged by reality, we need to remember that the reality of God’s love was shown in the crucified, abandoned one, who chose to rise quietly from the dead. As we seek to embrace that reality, our hopes will be transformed – into what we do not know – but we do know that we will be transfused by love.


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

–  This painting by Arthur Hughes is a glorious contrast in dark and light with the women coming out of their world of darkness into resurrection light.

– This painting, The women going to the Sepulcher by Robert Anning Bell shows the love, devotion and desolation of the women as they come to the tomb.

– Macha Chmakoff’s Resurrection  shows the inbreaking of divine light into a world of grey.

– This resurrection scene by Denis Maurice glows with light.


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.

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

Mull on the events in your daily life that offer you awe. As you encounter these events in the coming week, allow them to open you to the richer life that Jesus offers in his resurrection.

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.

Consider some of the hopes you have had in your life. How were they challenged by the life’s events and circumstances? How were you disappointed? Where did you find God in the situation? As you look back can you see how God used this for your greater growth?

Rest in the love of your God.