Showing posts with label Fra Angelico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fra Angelico. Show all posts

21 Apr 2017

'My Lord and my God!' Sunday Reflections, Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy), Year A


Year A
The Apostle St Thomas, El Greco 

Readings (New American Bible) 
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
Gospel John 20:19-31(NRSV, Catholic Ed.)

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’


John 20:19-31 from The Gospel of John
We can read the words of Jesus to Thomas as a gentle rebuke that has led to the nickname he may carry for all eternity: 'Doubting Thomas'. But I prefer to see him as the one who understood that the Risen Lord must carry the scars of his crucifixion and who made the most explicit act of faith in the whole of Sacred Scripture: My Lord and my God!

The First Reading today (Ats 2:42-47) opens with the words They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 'The breaking of the bread' is an expression used for the celebration of the Eucharist. We can see in this sentence the essence of the Mass as we celebrate it today: listening to God's word, praying and sharing in the Sacrifice of Jesus and sharing his Body and Blood.

Some commentators say that the failure of Thomas was not to listen to God's word as related by his companions. Maybe he did fail here but did the others have the same awareness as Thomas had that the Risen Lord must carry his scars for all eternity?

In Evangelii Gaudium No 7 Pope Francis writes: I never tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI which take us to the very heart of the Gospel: 'Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction'.

Thomas had been a companion of Jesus for two to three years but what he experienced in today's gospel was precisely what Pope Benedict describes as the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.
Servant of God, Fr Emil Joseph Kapaun (20 April 1916 - 23 May 1951) celebrating Mass with American soldiers during the Korean War [Wikipedia]

Full post here.

9 Mar 2017

‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ Second Sunday of Lent, Year A


Transfiguration, Fra Angelico 
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India )
Gospel Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSV)
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’

Like Peter, James and John, I caught a glimpse of something of the Purity of God on a hill. Tradition tells us that Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor, Israel. My 'Mount Tabor' was a hotel at the top of a hill in Lourdes, France.
During Holy Week 2001 I took part in the international pilgrimage of Faith and Light to Lourdes which takes place every ten years. Faith and Light was born of a desire to help people with an intellectual disability and their families find their place within the Church and society. This was the main purpose of the organized pilgrimage to Lourdes at Easter of 1971. The founders of the movement were Jean Vanier and Marie-Hélène Mathieu. 
Jean Vanier is also the founder of L'Arche. In the video below he speaks about the beginnings of that, not as a project or movement but as a covenant with two individuals with learning disabilities and their own dreams, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux.
Jean Vanier speaks about the early days of L'Arche and finding God in others
Full post here.

4 Dec 2015

'Prepare the way of the Lord.' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C

Linaoli Tabernacle, St John the Baptist, Fra Angelico, c.1433
Museo di San Marco, Florence [Web Gallery of Art

Gospel Luke 3:1-6 (NRV, Catholic Edition, Can) 

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’

Charles Kuralt was an American journalist who worked for many years on the CBS TV network in the USA. He was especially noted for his 'On the Road' features on the CBS Evening News. These started in 1967, the year I was ordained, and I became familiar with them when I went to study in the USA the following year.

I vividly remember one particular story - they were never from the highways but from the byways of the United States - about a man somewhat on the older side who lived in a small town somewhere in the heartland of the country. I forget the particular state. The nearest town was only a few kilometres away but there was no road connecting the two. People had to take a very long way around to get from one to the other.

The residents of both houses tried for years to persuade their politicians to build a road between the towns, without success. So this particular elderly citizen decided he'd start to build a road himself, using planks. When Charles Kuralt caught up with him he hadn't got very far - but he had started.

Setting for a meeting of the Legion of Mary
Full post here.

31 Oct 2015

'Rejoice and be glad . . .' Sunday Reflections, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day

The Coronation of the Virgin, Fra Angelico, 1434-35m Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy [Web Gallery of Art]

Gospel Matthew 5:1-12a (New Revised Standard Version, CatholicEdition, Canada)


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.”
Dublin buses [Wikipedia]
When I go home to my native Dublin I use public transport all the time. I often find God's presence in in those around me, passengers and drivers. 
Full post here.

California Fires, 2017

The good news is that only a small fraction of California is on fire or incinerated. The bad news is that this year's California wildf...