27th April - Things will be better for us.

In John’s Gospel 20:17, once Mary realises that Jesus is there, she embraces and holds on to him in joy.

Jesus says not to hold on to him, because he has not yet ascended to the Father.

He is telling her not to hold on to the past as it were. It is not as if after his death, now that it is over, he has come back for a visit. His death was a ‘passing-over’ to a transformed life with God. He can now be present to us by sending his Spirit upon us.

This is good news for us too. I am not disadvantaged by not having seen Jesus in the flesh. He is now present to me wherever I am. I can access him any moment of any day, because he is within me. He has given himself fully to me, through sharing his Spirit with my spirit.

20th April - Mary Magdalene takes time to come to Faith in the Risen Jesus.

As we read John 20:11-16 and see the process Mary Magdalene goes through before she recognises the Risen Lord, there is comfort and encouragement for us.

Firstly she sees the empty tomb and thinking that Jesus’ body has been stolen, she runs immediately to convey this message to the Apostles.

After Peter and the beloved disciples leave the empty tomb. Mary stayed there weeping. On seeing Angels in the tomb she immediately says to them that someone has taken away Jesus’s body.

Then when she notices the man whom she thinks is the gardener, she says, “Sir, if you have taken him away tell me….”.

Not until Jesus says ‘Mary’ does she recognise him as ‘Rabbuni’ - ‘My dear teacher’.

Mary always had a great Faith in Jesus as well as a great love for him and yet here in this scene she actually meets him, and doesn’t recognise him.

She believed in him. She loved him deeply. But she had allowed the despair she felt at losing him to overwhelm her and cloud her eyes of Faith. She had seen him often restoring hope to people lives but she failed to grasp the fullness of that ‘hope’ for her own life.

I can talk to our Risen Jesus now and say “Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief”. Could I also say “Lord, remove the things that cloud my eyes from seeing you when you are really present”.

13th April - Believing without seeing

Let’s go back again to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning, John 20:1-10. It speaks volumes to us who believe. As Jesus said to doubting Thomas, “You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe”. (Jn 20:29)

From the empty tomb we can turn to the present day. Where is our Risen Lord now whom we cannot see?

We don’t have to go far. All we need do is go within ourselves. There our Risen Lord quietly resides and has done so for years and years. A young niece of mine once told me, “Uncle, you go into your heart room and you can talk to Jesus there”. We can say to him there, like Thomas the Apostle, “My Lord and my God”.

Likewise as we look at people around us, we can look more deeply and see the Risen Jesus there.

When we read and reflect on the Word of God, particularly the Gospels, we again meet our Risen Lord.

On the cross St Thomas Aquinas said that at least we could see Jesus’ humanity. In the Eucharist, not only is his divinity hidden from us but also his humanity. Yet with St Thomas Aquinas we can say we believe you are there Risen Lord. At the Consecration, we can look at the elevated host and say with another saint, Thomas the Apostle, ‘My Lord and my God’.

Every time we make acts of Faith like this, our Faith in our Risen Lord grows.

6th April - The rich Season of Eastertide

Jesus speaks to us in so many ways. One clear way is in the voice of his Church.

The Church in her wisdom says to us, that the core of our Faith, the Paschal Mystery, which we have just celebrated and been immersed into again this year, is so deep and profound that we need more time to drink it in. We need a life time really to drink it in as much as we can humanly. God and his Church now provides us with these fifty days of Eastertide. Let’s embrace them with generous hearts.

This week alone, this Octave of Easter, is rich with gospel accounts of appearances of the Risen Lord. The Church uses them as Gospels each day for Mass:-

Mt 28:1-10         Jesus appearing to two women.

Jn 20:11-18        Mary Magdalen and the Risen Lord.

Lk 24:13-35        The Disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Lk 24:35-48        The Apostles in Jerusalem

Jn 21:1-14          By the sea of Tiberius.

We would do well to read and reflect on some of these passages, so that our Faith in our Risen Lord will grow - as it slowly did for the Apostles and Disciples.

This week please go back also to Sunday’s Gospel Jn20:1-19. It is a very important one. There is no presence of Jesus here - only the empty tomb. Yet in this Gospel Peter and John come to Faith.

This is very important for us. We don’t ‘see’ Jesus. Often our experiences are of the ‘empty tomb’.  Yet at these times, when we stay there quietly in prayer, our Faith in the Risen Lord will grow. We will grow to believe even more without seeing.