Skip to comments.The Blessed Season of Easter - Fifty Days of Reflections
Posted on 04/19/2004 8:33:36 PM PDT by Salvation
Even though I have been offline, you have been in my thoughts and prayers.
I am typing the following reflections, so please bear with me. (Some I am retyping, because this new system is not letting the A drive function properly.)
The first post for each day is different. Topics include the Easter Season, personalities, traditions, customs or the saint whose feast is celebrated on that particular day.
The second post for each day is an excerpt from the Gospel passage for that day during the weekday Mass. Additional reflections are offered on Sundays.
I hope you enjoy these six minute daily reflections during the Season of Easter as much as I am.
Also, please do "Spend some time with the Risen Lord!"
Apart from Mary Magdalenes presence at the cross and at the tomb, there is only one other reference to her in the entire New Testament. She is included among the women disciples who traveled with Jesus.
Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities. Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna Susanna, and many others (Lk 8:1-3)
As often happens with those about whom little is known, legends grew up about Mary Magdalene. One says that after Jesus ascension, she was miraculously transported to France in an oarless boat.
Another legend is that she went with the Mother of Jesus to Ephesus, and died there. Still another legend has her going to Rome.
Mary Magdalene is an important figure in the recent book -- The Da Vinci Code. This novel, which does not claim to be historical, draws upon legends and mixes fact and fable to create a fascinating story. Scholars are careful to point out that the plot is thread together by means of much historical and theological fiction.
These two women are sent by Jesus to tell the good news to the other disciples.
If Jesus wants to meet the disciples in Galilee, why doesnt he go and tell them himself? Because the Risen Christ acts through others. His appearances were not favors to selected individuals. He manifested himself in order to send the newborn Church on its mission. In todays passage, we see him send Mary Magdalene and the other Mary on a mission -- passing on the good news and a sense of forgiveness.
Notice that Jesus refers to the other disciples as my brothers. He had done this during his ministry, but that was before they had failed miserably and abandoned him in Gethsemane. But the Lord came for sinners. He mercifully restores them to full discipleship by referring to them again as my brothers. They are forgiven.
There are two traits we must never lose. But along the way there have been times when one or the other is weaker or stronger.
Which is most needed in our time? In my life?
William E. Barrett (1900-1986) was an advertising man who left his full-time job to become a free-lance writer. Over his career, he wrote many novels and short stories, most of which had a Catholic theme.
Several of his books became movies, including The Left Hand of God starring Humphrey Bogart as an escaped convict who disguised himself as a priest.
Another of Barretts books, The Lilies of the Field, was made into a movie in 1963. It starred Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith, and itinerant handyman who ended up working at a convent.
On this date 40 years ago, Sidney Poitier became the first African-American actor to win an Academy Award for his role in The Lilies of the Field
The Lilies of the Field introduced the song Amen, which not only became a top 10 hit, but also is sometimes used at liturgies.
I grew up as a Catholic
I think every writer uses their life experiences in their writing. I wasnt preaching to anyone. I was just writing what I knew best. ~William E. Barrett
Mary Magdalene had only one thing in mind to find the body of Jesus, which she thought had been stolen. So she disregards the question Jesus asks and gets right to the matter at hand: Are you the one who moved Jesus body .. and will you help get it back?
She doesnt realize that she is saying this to the Risen Lord himself.
How can someone who believes in Jesus, meet Jesus and not know its Jesus?
Well, he wasnt what she had expected. His risen body was transformed.
I wonder if there are times when the Lord is present to me in a special way and I miss it because its not what I expected.
Like right now?
Some of the sites mentioned in the Gospels are difficult to locate today. For one thing, their names changed over time. Also there was not, in the early centuries, the same interest in pilgrimages that later developed.
Cana is an example of this two different villages claim to be the site where Jesus changed the water into wine.
Emmaus is another example. There is no known village that was called Emmaus at the time of Christ, and still is called that today. Luke indicates that the village was seven miles from Jerusalem but unfortunately he doesnt say in which direction.
There are three villages today that claim to be the site.
It is a custom in some places to take an Emmaus Walk in the days following Easter.
The idea is to go out for a walk and greet and speak with anyone along the way, recognizing that it was by such a greeting that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus met the Risen Christ.
Todays Gospel is the familiar Emmaus story.
Remember these two disciples are disciples of Jesus. They walk with him for seven miles, and they dont realize who he is.
Luke, writing some 50 years after the event, is teaching his community (and us) something crucial. Things arent always what they seem. We may think the Lord is absent, but in fact he is present. Truly present. Its a real presence, not just a memory.
Luke is also teaching us that one of the most powerful experiences of the Risen Lord is the Eucharist. That is where Jesus is specially present in his words and in the breaking of the bread.
Note that the disciples didnt recognize him in his words (while they were on the way).
I need to think about that. Because thats what Im doing right now reflecting on the Scriptures.
Could it be that the Risen Lord has been with me these past few minutes, and I havent realized it?
It is not recorded that anyone actually witnessed the Resurrection. No one not Mary Magdalene, or Peter, or the Beloved Disciple saw Jesus emerge from the tomb. (There are some apocryphal accounts, but the Church has never accepted these as part of the Scriptures.)
Some of the disciples saw the empty tomb on Easter morning, but this is not in itself compelling evidence of the Resurrection. (Mary Magdalenes thought was that someone had taken the body of Jesus.)
What is compelling is that after the Resurrection, the Risen Christ appears to the disciples.
But is this compelling evidence? Did they really see him, or was it some kind of mystical experience?
While nothing forces us to believe that their experience of the Risen Christ was real, there is much that warrants belief in this. Most of all, it is the change that took place in these first witnesses. Before their experience of the Risen Christ they were skeptical. But afterwards, there was a radical change that lasted for the rest of their lives. For some of them, it would be at the price of their lives.
The Gospel descriptions of these encounters indicate a happening far different from a dream, an ecstatic episode or merely a subjective experience. It is reasonable to say that the change that took place in these witnesses is only understandable in the light of an actual experience.
To believe in the Resurrection ultimately requires an act of faith. But the accounts of these early witnesses provide very strong support for that act of faith.
Jesus shows them his hands and his feet. Were there still traces of the nail marks on his risen body? John, in his Gospel, is quite clear on this Jesus invites the doubting Thomas to touch his wounds.
We all have wounds from broken relationships, injuries, setbacks, crime, tragedies. Perhaps some wounds were the result of our own mistakes. Some may still be bleeding.
We live with these wounds. They may have healed, but the scars are still there. They are part of our lives. They stay part of us even after death.
But after death, theyre transformed. No longer the dark side of our life, they shine.
This transformation begins this side of death when, especially at Eucharist, I join my wounds to the Lords suffering and death. Like a musician who uses dissonance to produce a beautiful song, the Lord uses the dissonance of my wounds to create something beautiful within me.
Take some time with the Lord and compare wounds.
Please notify via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Reflection Ping List.
PS. I am rebuilding my ping list after a computer crash, so if you did not get a ping and you previously had contacted me, please send me another FReepmail.
Thanks in advance for your understanding.
And, to NYer, for the daily readings. Inspirational, indeed.
This is the time of year when many second-graders receive their First Communion. But it was not always so.
Until about the 13th century, children were admitted to Communion from infancy. At baptism, infants were confirmed, and then given the Eucharist. usually a small amount of the consecrated wine. (The Eastern Rites have continued this practice down to the present day.)
Over the centuries, as disputes arose over the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, there developed a trend toward requiring that children not receive the Eucharist until they had some instruction in the real presence.
In 1215, because Catholics by then received the Eucharist very infrequently, the Lateran Council decreed that all persons who had reached the age of discretion receive the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist at least once a year. (This came to be known as the Easter duty.)
When applied to children, this meant that first Communion was now delayed until they reached the age when they could have an understanding not only of the Eucharist, but of sin and forgiveness. This delayed First Communion until the age of 10, 12, or even 14.
Seven centuries later, in 1910 (less than 100 years ago), Pope Pius X decreed that children should be admitted to First Communion as soon as they could distinguish between the Bread of the Eucharist and ordinary bread. Thus, First Communion was given at about the age of seven.
Several details are interesting in this scene.
First, it takes place on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee the same area where Jesus had miraculously fed the crowd with the loaves and fishes.
Second, at the Last Supper (in Lukes Gospel), the disciples squabbled about who was the most important. Jesus, using the image of a waiter, said to them: Who is greater: The one seated at table or the one waiting on him? Yet, I am here among you as the one who serves.
Thats exactly what hes doing now. He cooked their breakfast.
This is the Jesus who died, rose from the dead, and ascended to glory. And here he is, like a mother taking care of her children.
Jesus constantly reaches out to me, extends his graced love to me. He wants only to care for me, help me, heal me, forgive me.
There are times when I especially need to be cared for.
The four Gospels give nine narrative descriptions of the appearances of the Risen Lord. (In some cases, the same appearance is described in more than one Gospel.)
What is remarkable about these accounts is their sobriety. They are not eerie, mysterious, bizarre, sensationalized, as in some of the apocryphal gospels, or as often in accounts of visions.
For example, in Lukes account, the disciples wonder if they are seeing a ghost. But Jesus doesnt go in that direction. He shows them his hands and feet, and after that he asks for something to eat.
This contrasts with the accounts in some of the pseudo-gospels, which tend toward the secret and sensational. For example, here is how the apocryphal Gospel of Peter (written between 150-200 A.D.) describes the resurrection replete with a cross that walks, two angels as tall as the sky escorting Jesus, and Jesus even taller.
The soldiers saw
three men come out of the sepulcher, with the two supporting the other one, and a cross following them, and the heads of the two reaching up to heaven, but that of the one being led out by them going beyond the heavens."
Marks Gospel presents a negative picture of those who would later emerge as leaders in the Christian community the disciples in general. Peter in particular, and even the relatives of Jesus who early in his ministry set out to seize him because they thought he was out of his mind (3:21). Even in todays passage, the disciples fall short.
Why does Mark present such a negative portrait?
It is thought that Mark wrote his Gospel for the Christians in Rome just after they had experienced a terrible persecution under Nero. Some of them, under torture, gave up their faith and even betrayed other Christians, costing them their lives. After Nero died, some of the deserters wanted to rejoin the Christian community, but there were hard feelings. Some even questioned whether a person who disclaimed their baptism could ever be reinstated.
Mark wanted to remind them that the disciples failed too including Peter. But they were able to emerge from failure to greatness, even giving their lives in martyrdom.
We can all think of our failures. And we can all take heart from Mark he meant his Gospel for us too.
Mystagogia described the ancient custom of spending the first week of Easter with the newly baptized helping them experience the depths of the truth they had accepted in their baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
Mystagogia described the ancient custom of spending the first week of Easter with the newly baptized helping them experience the depts. Of the truth they had accepted in their baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
Great painters and great musicians can study the principles of art and music, but the beauty they produce doesnt come from being able to recite principles. Artists have to take these principles inside themselves, and also be taken by them, so that the principles live in ways that no one could put into words.
Well-prepared seven-year-olds who receive First Eucharist have much, much more to learn about what they are receiving. One would hope that the growth would last a lifetime.
The Easter season is a time of mystagogia for everyone new Christians and old Christians.
The God-life given as a gift by Christ has inexhaustible and enjoyable implications.
The passage in the next post is sometimes used as the basis for the question, Are you a born again Christian? This usually means, Have you, in your adult life, had a conversion experience in which you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?
But thats not exactly what todays text says.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that a person must be born from above. The phrase from above" in this sentence is a Greek word which can have two meanings: from above and again.
Nicodemus takes it to mean again. He asks, How can a person once grown old be born again? The again here is a different Greek word than the one on the lips of Jesus. Its a word that always means again.
Jesus corrects Nicodemus by saying explicitly that he means born from above that is, of the Spirit. In other words, the question is about baptism. John the Baptist had said that he was giving a baptism of water, whereas the one to come after him would baptize with the holy Spirit.