Fr Bob Writes – Divine Mercy Sunday

In his interaction with Thomas in today’s gospel, Jesus pronounces a blessing on all who will come to believe without actually seeing Jesus…the generation of Christians who never saw Jesus in person but come to believe through the testimony of first and second generation disciples and the written words of the gospels.  By extension, this “blessing” also belongs to you and me.

Personally, I think Thomas, rather than going down in history as “the doubter”, could be considered a wonderful role model for Christians today, particularly young people who wrestle with concepts of the faith. Thomas was strong.  This is the fellow who, when Jesus returned to the Jerusalem area to attend to Lazarus, said to the others (John 11:16):” Let us go to die with him.”  During the Last Supper, he is the only one to ask Jesus for an explanation of what he was talking about (John 14:5): “We don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” None of the other disciples understood, but only Thomas had the courage to ask.

When he got back to the house that Easter evening, it would have been easier for him to go along with the crowd.  We can just imagine how much his fellow disciples were pressing him to believe what they were telling him.  Instead, he stood firm in the face of a lot of pressure from friends.  When he did come to believe, however, he was again a pillar of strength and determination in what he believed.  While the other disciples remained in the more familiar cultures of the Mediterranean region, Thomas went to India to bring the word to a whole different linguistic and cultural setting.

Fr Bob Writes – Easter Sunday, April 15, 2017

Newness of life – that is the message of Easter, the Church’s principal feast.  It comes in the spring of the year when nature begins to burst forth anew.  The new clothes and the Easter eggs are symbols that point to new life. It is the resurrection itself that is the major statement about life.

Christ’s emergence from the tomb has importance for three major reasons.  First of all, it is God’s endorsement of everything Jesus claimed and taught.  His life ends in victory not defeat.  He was not destroyed by cynical machinations, political manipulation, or military power.  In Jesus’ resurrection, God has the final word.  Secondly, this faith event is the  cause of our salvation. Paul tells us that if Christ did not rise, then we are still deep in sin.  It is the risen Christ that gives us the Spirit, our sanctifier.  The “firstborn of the dead” gives assurance to all of us that we are called to a similar destiny.  Finally it is the risen Christ that represents the starting point of Christian faith.  It is the prism through which everything in his earthly ministry is now viewed.  Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish rabbi instructing his disciples, is truly God’s Son and Lord.  Easter stands at the heart of faith.

St Paul always looks at the practical dimension. We now have a heavenly homeland, a new vision, and eternal truths to shape our thinking.  This does not mean we live only for a world to come.  To bring the Easter spirit to life in a suffering world is very much our task in the here and now.  There are the disheartened and the discouraged , the terminally ill, youth in need of credible role models, the poor who people the world’s barrios and favellas.  The point is, however, that it is our spiritual vision of the new reality which directs all that we do.  Easter opens the door to a future heavenly banquet.  It is the ultimate Easter dinner to which all are invited by the Lord who rose and was first accepted in faith by one who loved.

Happy Easter to all our parishioners!!

Fr Bob Writes – Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

Our second reading this Sunday is a beautiful statement of the double nature of Jesus as both God and man.  It is probably that it is a hymn of the day, quoted by Paul in his letter to the Philippians.  Paul has been urging the Philippians to think and live more for others, than for themselves, calling them to a life of humility and selflessness.

In seeking a role model for them to follow, instead of referring to himself (which is his usual practice), Paul bids them took to Christ: “In your mind you should be the same as Christ Jesus.” The Second Person of the Trinity, while retaining his divine nature, “emptied himself” of the marvellous qualities and abilities attached to that divine nature (all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful etc) and took on our human nature, as we hear in Eucharistic Prayer IV, “a man like us in all things but sin.

In this total self-giving, Jesus both expresses the depth of God’s love for us and calls us to glory with him by a similar detachment of self out of love for God and others.  While focussed most in his sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus’ entire life from the moment of his conception was an act of dying to self out of love for others. In not seeking to “grasp onto” his divine attributes as God but choosing to empty himself of them for our benefit, Jesus reverses the fateful decision of our first parents who strove to become “like God,” and in their rebellion, opened the door to original sin and all its awful consequences.  Jesus reverses that act of disobedience in his own act of obedience which brings not condemnation, but salvation to us all.