Showing posts with label Lebanon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lebanon. Show all posts

14 Apr 2017

'For as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.' Sunday Reflections, Easter Sunday


Easter Sunday

Resurrection, Léonard Limo Sin
The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible
At the Mass during the Day
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
Note that the above links also give alternative gospels that may be read on Easter Sunday.
Gospel John 20:1-9 (NRSV, Catholic Ed.)



Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

John 20:1-9 from The Gospel of John

I remember as a young priest, maybe in the summer of 1968 about six months after my ordination, celebrating Sunday Mass in the chapel of the Irish Sisters of Charity (now the Religious Sisters of Charity) in Stanhope Street, Dublin, where I had made my First Holy Communion on 20 May 1950. The beautiful chapel is no longer there.

Full post here.

26 Mar 2016

'But Christ is risen, he is alive and he walks with us.' Sunday Reflections, Easter Sunday 2016.



The Resurrection of Christ, Rembrandt, c.1639
Alte Pinakothek, Munich [Web Gallery of Art

At the Mass during the Day

Gospel John 20:1-9 (NRSV, Catholic Ed., Can.)

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

Dear brothers and sisters! The risen Christ is journeying ahead of us towards the new heavens and the new earth (cf. Rev 21:1), in which we shall all finally live as one family, as sons and daughters of the same Father. He is with us until the end of time. Let us walk behind him, in this wounded world, singing Alleluia. In our hearts there is joy and sorrow, on our faces there are smiles and tears. Such is our earthly reality. But Christ is risen, he is alive and he walks with us. For this reason we sing and we walk, faithfully carrying out our task in this world with our gaze fixed on heaven.


Happy Easter to all of you! (Pope Benedict, Easter Sunday 2011).

I have told the following story before here and on many other occasions, especially giving retreats. Each time I share it or recall it I experience the truth of Pope Benedict's words, Christ is risen, he is alive and he walks with us. I have also learned that persons with a deep, committed faith can sometimes be very fragile.
More than 30 years ago I spent part of a summer working in a suburban parish in the USA. One night at around 11 I did something I rarely did: make a late night phone call, and for no other reason than to say 'Hi'. I phoned a friend who was a teacher whom I had first met eleven years earlier when I was a young priest and she a generous, idealistic but confused 16-year-old. Over the years I saw 'Lily' - I'll call her that since that flower is often associated with Easter in northern climes and this is an Easter story – very rarely as I was here in the Philippines.


Full post here.

10 Sep 2015

'Those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.' Sunday Reflections, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B


Apostle Peter in Prison, Rembrandt, 1631 Israel Museum, Jerusalem [Web Gallery of Art]

Gospel Mark 8:27-35 (NRSV, Catholic Edition, Canada) 
    
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
This Sunday Benedict Daswa will be beatified in South Africa, the first South African to be formally recognized by the Church as a martyr. He was martyred on 2 February 1990, the day that Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
Blessed Benedict - he took that name when he became a Catholic in 1963 - was 43 when he died, a husband and father of eight children and a school principal. He was killed because of his opposition to witchcraft, which was widespread in his community, practised, out of fear, even by some Catholics.
Full post here.

3 Apr 2015

'He saw and believed.' Sunday Reflections, Easter Sunday

From The Gospel of John (2003) directed by Philip Saville

Gospel of the Mass during the Day, John 20:1-9
The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night
The Easter Vigil is not an 'anticipated Mass'. It stands on its own and is the most important liturgical celebration of the whole year. One may fulfil one's Sunday obligation by attending either the Easter Vigil or the Mass during the Day. One may also receive Holy Communion at both


The Resurrection of Christ, Rembrandt, c.1639

At the Mass during the Day    Gospel John 20:1-9 

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem  [Referred to in the poem below as 'Church of the Saviour']
Full post here.

19 Apr 2014

'He saw and believed.' Sunday Reflections, Easter Sunday


Passignano, 1600-25, Pinacoteca, Vatican [Web Gallery of Art]

The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

At the Mass During the Day


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)                                  

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)




Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

From The Gospel of John 
I remember as a young priests, maybe in the summer of 1969 about six months after my ordination, celebrating Sunday Mass in the chapel of the Irish Sisters of Charity (now the Religious Sisters of Charity) in Stanhope Street, Dublin, where I had made my First Holy Communion on 20 May 1950. the beautiful chapel is no longer there.
I remember clearly that my mother was at the Mass and that I preached about the Resurrection, probably quite eloquently and certainly with conviction.
Full post here.

30 Mar 2013

'Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope' - Pope Francis to young prisoners. Sunday Reflections, Easter Sunday




Readings for Easter Vigil (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings for Easter Vigil (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Readings for Mass on Easter Sunday (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings for Mass on Easter Sunday (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel for Mass on Easter Sunday John 20:1-9. (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb.  They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 


More than 30 years ago I spent part of a summer working in a suburban parish in the USA. One night at around 11 I did something I rarely did: make a late night phone call, and for no other reason than to say 'Hi'. I phoned a friend who was a teacher whom I had first met eleven years earlier when I was a young priest and she a generous, idealistic but confused 16-year-old. Over the years I saw 'Lily' - I'll call her that since that flower is often associated with Easter in northern climes and this is an Easter story.


I was shocked when 'Lily' answered. Her speech was slurred. She told me she had taken an overdose of a drug prescribed for a serious illness she had. I told her I would come over immediately but she said she would not let me in. She lived on her own but near her parents, about thirty minutes from where I was. I took another priest with me.

'Lily', of course, let us in. We spent about three hours with her. I was satisfied that what she had taken wasn't enough to kill her and that she wouldn't do anything drastic in the meantime. I promised to return in the morning.

I spent most of the next two days with 'Lily'. I called her doctor and also phoned a helpline for those dealing with or attempting suicide. 

I had seen 'Lily' grow in her faith over the years. After qualifying as a teacher she chose to teach in a parochial elementary school rather than in a public school, even though the salary was lower. She had a sense of mission. She came from a Catholic family but was aware since her childhood of her father's infidelity. But when she had attempted suicide when about 17 she saw her parents' great love for her, despite everything.

Yet it was something her mother said to her that had triggered off this latter attempt at suicide. 'Lily' felt that she wasn't living up to her mother's expectations. I think it was during the second morning I was with 'Lily' that she asked me, 'What are your expectations of me?' I answered, 'I don't have any expectations, only hopes'.

Hearing the word 'only hopes' was the turning point. That was when 'Lily' decided to live.

A few days later 'Lily' came to the parish where I was for confession and Mass and she was truly filled with the joy that only the Lord can give. She also wrote me a long letter - she was a wonderful letter writer - about her experience. 

Woman writing a letter, Gerard Terborch, c.1655 (Web Gallery of Art)

In her letter 'Lily' said: I have come to learn more about myself - as a 'vulnerable' yet 'hopeful' person, and yet even more important - I feel that my relationship with the Lord has deepened. I have a deeper hunger to be united with Him on a more intimate and dependent level.

Further on 'Lily' wrote: Most times we need to see and hear and feel Christ through another, to be able to believe in Him more faithfully and securely . . . I realize that years and years of therapy can amount to nothing unless the Lord is a very central part of it. I was able to share my fears, hurts, confusion, pain and - thank God - tears with you in and through the anointing of your priesthood . . .

I find 'Lily's' words echoed in those of Pope Francis when he celebrated Mass on Holy Thursday in Casal del Marmo Prison for Minors. He ended his homily with these words: Now we will perform this ceremony of washing feet, and let us think, let each one of us think: 'Am I really willing, willing to serve, to help others?'. Let us think about this, just this. And let us think that this sign is a caress of Jesus, which Jesus gives, because this is the real reason why Jesus came: to serve, to help us.

After the Mass Pope Francis met with the prisoners and said, Go forward, alright? And do not let yourselves be robbed of hope, do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Understood? Always with hopeGo forward! Thank you

In his final greetings as he was leaving Pope Francis said, Now I leave. Thank you so much for your welcome. Pray for me and do not let yourselves be robbed of hope. Always go forward! Thank you so much! [Emphases mine.]

The following summer, at the end of a sabbatical, I was in that same parish again. I met up with 'Lily'. She told me that she didn't think she had long to live. Knowing something of her medical history I took her seriously and we had a very deep and faith-filled conversation about that. There was nothing morbid about it. We were facing a reality but with faith and hope in the Resurrection. Afterwards we had lunch together in a restaurant and our conversation was totally lighthearted.

That was the last time we met. 'Lily' died peacefully a few months later at the age of 29.

I learned from that experience that there are persons of deep faith who can be very fragile. I have seen that in others subsequently.

I also saw God's utter love. Why did I make that late night phone call? I can see the Lord's hand in that visit, 'Lily' time. And I know that I was the only person whom 'Lily' could totally confide in at that time. Somehow it has been easier to share the past month's conflicts, feelings, tears and hopes with you which have built up over the years than with anyone else.

Lent and Easter is a prolonged moment every year when Jesus the Risen Lord says to each of us what Pope Francis said three times to the young prisoners last Thursday: Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope.

Through God's mercy more than thirty years ago the same Risen Lord said to my friend 'Lily',Do not let yourself be robbed of hope - and she took him at his word.



The meditations for the Via Crucis led by Pope Francis in the Colosseum on the night of Good Friday were prepared by young people from Lebanon, as Zenit reportsThe youth of Lebanon received the invitation from Pope Benedict XVI to take part in this year's Stations of the Cross – or Via Crucis – following the Holy Father's apostolic visit to Lebanon, and were invited to compose meditations for the event. A delegation of 45 Lebanese youth have come to Rome on pilgrimage for this evening's Via Crucis with Pope Francis.

The video above is that of a proclamation of Easter two years ago in a mall in Beirut. I have used it a number of times and it never fails to remind me that He is risen as he said, AlleluiaResurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia.

11 Sep 2012

'You are the Christ.' Sunday Reflections, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B


Saint Peter, El Greco, painted 1610-13

Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA) 

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

Gospel Mark 8:27-35 (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)

And Jesus went on with his disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" And they told him, "John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others one of the prophets." And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ." And he charged them to tell no one about him. And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men." And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. 

Scripture commentary on readings by Fr Martin McNamara MSC here.




Our Father sung in Syriac, a form of Aramaic used by Christians that is the official liturgical language of the Maronite Church.

Full post here.

21 Apr 2012

'You are witnesses to this.' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday of Easter Year B

Supper at Emmaus, Rembrandt, c.1629

Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA)  

Gospel Luke 24:35-48 (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread.

They were still talking about this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you!' In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, 'Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.' And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they could not believe it, and they stood dumbfounded; so he said to them, 'Have you anything here to eat?' And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, 'This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled.' He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, 'So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.'
 
An Soiscéal Lúcas 24:35-48 (Gaeilge, Irish)

Agus rinne siad féin ar tharla sa tslí a aithris, agus mar a d’aithin siad é i mbriseadh an aráin. 

Le linn na cainte sin dóibh, sheas sé féin ina measc agus dúirt leo: “Síocháin daoibh!” Ghlac siad scéin agus uamhan, á mheas gur ag féachaint ar spiorad a bhí siad. Ach dúirt sé leo: “Cad é an scanradh atá oraibh, agus cad chuige a bhfuil ceisteanna ag teacht in bhur gcroí! Féachaigí mo lámha agus mo chosa, gur mé féin atá ann. Láimhseálaigí mé, agus tuigigí nach mbíonn feoil ná cnámha ag spiorad mar a fheiceann sibh atá agamsa.” Á rá sin dó, thaispeáin sé dóibh a lámha agus a chosa. Agus ó bhí siad gan a chreidiúint fós le barr áthais, agus iad ag déanamh ionadh de, dúirt sé leo: “An bhfuil rud ar bith anseo agaibh a d’íosfaí?” Thug siad blúire d’iasc rósta dó. Ghlac sé é agus d’ith ina láthair é.

Ansin dúirt sé leo: “Is iad seo na focail a labhair mé libh agus mé fós in bhur gcuideachta: ‘Ní foláir na nithe uile a chomhlíonadh atá scríofa mar gheall orm i ndlí Mhaois agus sna fáithe agus sna sailm.’” Ansin d’oscail sé a n-aigne chun go dtuigfidís na scrioptúir, agus dúirt sé leo: “Is amhlaidh sin atá scríofa, go bhfulaingeodh an Críost agus go n éireodh sé ó mhairbh an treas lá, agus go mbeadh aithrí agus maithiúnas peacaí á bhfógairt ina ainm do na náisiúin uile, ag tosú ó Iarúsailéim. Is finnéithe sibhse ar na nithe seo.

Appearance While the Apostles are at Table, Duccio di Buoninsegna, c. 1308-11

Jesus tells the Eleven Apostles in today’s gospel that in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this

Repentance for the forgiveness of sins includes healing. The Gospels are full of stories of the healing of individuals. In the story of the paralyzed man let down through the roof by his friends so that Jesus could see him the Lord says to him first, My son, your sins are forgiven (Mark 2: 6). Only after that does he heal the man. In the story of the woman caught in adultery we read that Jesus looked up at the women and said ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again’ (John 8:10-11). In the experience of her repentance and being forgiven by Jesus the woman was healed.

Jesus tells us that this message would be preached to all the nations, and not only to the Apostles but to each of us, You are witnesses to this.

This very weekend that is happening in Beirut, Lebanon. A Rachel’s Vineyard retreat is being led by Bernadette from Ireland. This is a weekend of healing for women and men directly affected by abortion. It is a weekend where individuals can hear God’s forgiving and healing word in a safe and loving situation, where others who have experienced God’s healing love in this particular context are witness to this.

Every single one of us struggles with our sinfulness. Our experience of others forgiving us and of God himself forgiving us directly in the sacrament of confession can enable us to be witnesses to this.

Please pray that all involved in the retreat in Beirut will experience very powerfully the healing power of God’s love and that those who are healed will go on to become witnesses to this to others suffering from the pain of loss and of the awareness of their own sinfulness.

Lebanon is a country that has suffered greatly through wars. The Civil War lasted from 1975 to 1990 with great loss of life. But below is a joyful proclamation in Arabic of the Resurrection of Jesus recorded last year in a shopping mall in Beirut. Around 39 percent of the country’s population of around 4,250,000 are Christians and more than half the Christians are Catholics of the Maronite Rite. The rest are Catholics of other rites and members of various Orthodox churches. The video too may remind us that most of the Christians in the Middle East are Arabs and descendants of the earliest Christians.


You can get English subtitles by clicking on 'cc' at the bottom of the screen. But the joy of the Resurrection comes across in the Arabic. The singers, I've read, are all professionals.

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