Easter Sunday C
Sunday 17th April 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
The women who had followed Jesus came to the tomb, on the first day of the week at the crack of dawn, carrying with them burial spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the entrance to the burial vault. Entering in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. Then it happened, while they were so perplexed, that two men appeared in dazzlingly white clothes standing right by them. Frightened, they bowed, their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here, he is risen. Remember what he said to you when you were in Galilee: the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful people and be crucified and rise from the dead.’ And then they remembered his words!
Returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and all the rest of the disciples. The women were Mary of Magdala, and Joanna and Mary, the mother of James and the other women with them all telling this to the apostles. But they thought what they said was sheer nonsense and didn’t believe them.
But Peter ran to the tomb, and bending down saw the linen cloths lying alone and came away wondering to himself what had happened.
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, as the women at the tomb first heard the Easter message and believed, allowing their lives to be transformed, so may I too listen to message of love you have given the world in Jesus’ resurrection. May my belief be shown in a life radiating the teaching of Jesus. I ask this in his name confident that you will hear me.
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 of Luke and the Book of Acts forms a single literary piece and the Resurrection Story is the axis on which the drama of revelation turns. Here the story of Jesus, the Son of God becomes the story of his community of faith that will go out into the whole world. In the final verses of the Passion Narrative, Luke makes it clear that there was present at Jesus’ death a group of women from Galilee. These are the ones who come to the tomb to do the traditional Jewish rites of embalming of the body. There they encounter two men, whose description recalls Luke’s description of Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration. Immediately, these challenge the women: ‘Why seek the living among the dead?’ In telling them that Jesus is risen, they tell them to remember what he had taught them in Galilee. ‘Remembering’ in Christian terms is not just a mere recalling of events but a bringing together of reality on a number of levels. Remembering the words of Jesus from his preaching will transform their minds and hearts to take in faith this new divine life that has broken into their world. Their reaction shows how well they have understood. With no command from the men/angels in Luke’s account, the women do what any believing Christian must do with his or her faith, they go and proclaim the Good News. Their whole demeanour tells that something extraordinary had happened. Even though the disciples discount their story, thinking that they are delirious, they still proclaim the new life that has come to them.
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
Learning something new, especially something significant is not a simple straightforward adding of one piece of knowledge upon another. Rather a change in our understanding requires experiencing a whole range of emotions, some of them conflicting, some of them unpleasant. Real, lasting change takes time and can comes at a personal cost. In the Resurrection stories, we see puzzlement, agitation, doubts, fears and a sense of personal inadequacy as well as joy and delirium. As the disciples come to terms with the fact that Jesus is not just revived but resurrected, they struggle through all these emotions and more. The differing disciples make the transition at differing speeds and as we shall see in the later Gospel stories and in Acts, they backslide as well as enter more deeply into the mystery of Resurrection faith.
In Luke’s Gospel it is the women who ‘get it’ the quickest and their understanding is inextricably linked to remembering the teaching Jesus gave in Galilee. So much of that teaching called for not only a faith in Jesus but also a change in behaviour – one that called for humble service of each other, a spirit of forgiveness and love shown to all. Which leads to another aspect of growth in knowledge of Jesus Christ. It truly only occurs when it is made concrete in our behaviour. As we strive to make his teaching a reality it our lives, we can, like the women. ‘get it’ and not only know the reality of the Resurrection but proclaim it by our way of life.
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
Can you imagine the conversation between these women returning from the tomb? Words and memories would have tumbled over each other as they shared their excitement. Yet surely there was a voice amongst them bringing them back to the reality of their situation, stating the obvious, ‘But they won’t listen to us – we are only women!’ All four Gospel accounts have their differences but one thing they agree on: the Resurrection of Jesus was first revealed to women! Women, whose testimony was discounted in both Jewish law and society. What was God thinking? Maybe that the last had become first, maybe that the lowly had been raised up, maybe that the hungry had been filled. When we look back to the beginning of Luke’s Gospel we see that it is the slip of a village girl who believes the extraordinary message of the angel, while the elderly devout priest struggles to believe and that God must go to the further lengths than the message of an angel to bring him to faith. The same thing happens with the disciples. The practical woman who stated her fears was right: the men didn’t listen to them and Jesus had to come himself before they could come to faith.
If we have problems understanding what Resurrection faith means we need to look to where there is weakness, to the rejected, to the ignored. The people who are deemed least in our society are the ones who can lead us into the mighty ways of God. This is why the poor, the sick, the weak are treasured- not because they are people upon who we can exercise our good works, or philanthropy. No, we do good to them so that we may enter into the richness of grace and faith that God will offer us through them.
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 He is Risen shows the women with the radiant angel. (click red text)
- The scene of the women at the tomb is a favourite one with the artist He Qi. In this scene we see the women at the tomb examining the empty tomb. (click red text)
- In this Jesus Mafa the women encounter an angel at the tomb. (click red text)
- This scene of the women at the tomb is by Malaysian artist Hanna Varghese.
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 times when the hope of God’s love has sustained you in weakness or fear. In the ordinary situations of your life, what wisdom and insight can that hope offer you now?
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 the people or situations that have taught you about the Resurrection. What was the weakness of sense of failure that God had overcome in these people? What was the sense of weakness or sense of failure that God worked through in your life? As you dwell on what happened can you see how God’s ways of dealing with those situations were different to how we would have dealt with them?
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
- You Have Put on Christ by H Hughes
- This is the Day by Christopher Wilcock
- By your Kingly Power, O Risen Lord by James McAuley
- I Know that My Redeemer Lives by Samuel Medley