5th Sunday B Easter – Rising With Christ
We’re having a lovely late Spring and I savour the gentle breeze when strolling in the early morning through nearby groves and woodlets. It is soothing after the Covid ‘stay at home’ strictures to get out and feel the cool air and to hear the rustle of fresh leaves. With sunrise, nature comes alive and everything teems with new life. Birds sing and dance with each other through the trees. Squirrels scamper and climb and leap from branch to branch. Somewhere in the distance the cuckoo was up one morning and greeting the new day. I wondered what earth’s first morning was like, and imagined the breath of God breathing life into the universe some fourteen billion years ago. I like the idea of God breathing life and grace and helping every living thing to be. Daily I’m visited by robin, thrush, blackbird, swallow…you name it… as each lands outside and looks through my very large window, breathing as with the ever ancient and ever fresh breath of God.
The Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s earlier letters witness to a deepening and growing understanding of the mystery of Jesus. The liturgies of Eastertime offer us readings from the New Testament that might act as tools for our own better understanding of and growth in the Faith. Thomas’ doubts about Jesus resurrection may well have captured the experience of many early followers, and especially of many if not most Christians ever since. – John 20: 24ff. Doubts about the Faith are nothing new. Many of us grew up in an environment of simple belief where religious doubts and questions were left unexplored, and our understanding remained at an undeveloped level. Doubts and questions, if we deal with them, help us to grow, and growth is usually a challenge. ‘What do I really, really believe in?’ is a searching question I ask when my faith gets wobbly with doubt.
Some of the Easter season gospel readings are taken from Jesus’ words at the Last Supper – ‘I am the vine, you are the branches’ (John 15) – and invite us to a personal relationship with him. Christianity is not a set of ideas. It’s a call to a deep relationship with someone who speaks to us with many different accents and in divers tones of voice, and through all kinds of people and situations, and especially through the Scriptures. To follow Jesus requires that we have developed some contemplative listening skills: listening to the Scriptures, to the voice of the Shepherd, to the signs of the times, listening to others and to ourselves. It also requires on our part some rudimentary practice of prayer. A recently published book, ‘Learning to Pray‘ by James Martin sj, is not a bad introduction for beginners to the basic prayer practice of Christians, but it’s also meant for those experienced in the ways of the Spirit.
The incident by the tomb on Easter morning, where Jesus told Mary not to cling to him, was his way of inviting/challenging her (and us) to a deeper level of faith – John 20: 11 ff. A healthy faith will always seek better understanding. As we grow and develop as adults we are meant to grow in wisdom and in our understanding of the Faith. It should be normal for us to seek to understand better what our religion is all about. Three good online lectures will be available in early May that are designed to help us understand our Faith better and the role of God’s Spirit in our lives. Here’s the link for these three talks and the webinar: www.tarsusscriptureschool.ie Our great teachers in the faith tell us that faith either grows or diminishes in us; it doesn’t remain still or static. If the Faith doesn’t grow in us through prayer and understanding it atrophies and dies. But if it grows we will see life differently and have what the late Michael Paul Gallagher sj called ‘the vision arising from being loved.’
Fr. QQ – 4/2/2021