Breaking death's barrier

Second Sunday of Easter (Year C) April 11 (Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118; Revelation 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19; John 20:19-31)

Simplicity and power often go hand in hand. In many of the accounts of the earliest days of the Christian community, life was indeed simple — not easy — but accompanied by what Acts refers to as “signs and wonders.” There were no creeds to give ascent to for the simple reason that they had not yet been formulated. The simple entrance requirement was faith in the person and mission of Jesus the Messiah and a belief that He was indeed God’s emissary.

An essential part of this profession of faith was a commitment to discipleship, fidelity to the spiritual path of Jesus and a willingness to share in the joys and struggles of the community that bore His name. It is also very striking that the initial attraction of the faith for outsiders was not liturgy, worship spaces or social standing. The attraction was the obvious signs of God’s presence working in and through believers for the good of others. It was this that led people to view the community with awe and respect.

    There is one humanity under God

    Resurrection of the Lord (Year C) April 4 (Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18)

    God has saved the most amazing and world-altering part of His revelation in Jesus until the last. Peter recites the ancient proclamation of the good news: the wonderful and powerful deeds of Jesus, the healing that He performed and the many deeds of compassion and mercy that flowed from Him.

      Jesus' suffering was for our good

      Passion Sunday (Year C) March 28 (Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14-23:56)

      The professional martyr or victim is a character known to us all. This individual drinks deeply from the cup of self-pity and victimhood and firmly believes that their “persecution” is because they are right and others wrong. They are standing up for what is right while others operate out of self-interest or corruption. But more often than not, they are suffering for their own opinions, prejudices and behaviour that is aggressive and intolerant.

        The final judgment will be up to God

        Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year C) March 21 (Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11)

        The God of Exodus was the God of mighty signs and wonders. But the God of Isaiah is set on outdoing Himself as He describes His intended liberation and restoration of the people of Israel. They are to forget all of the things that God has done in the past because they will pale in comparison to what God has in mind for the future.

          God's grace is at work in so many ways

          Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year C) March 14 (Joshua 5:9, 10-12; Psalm 34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32)

          It was a new day for the people of Israel. After 40 long and hard years of wandering in the arid wilderness, they had finally crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land — the land “flowing with milk and honey.” They were provided with manna to eat during their journey through the desert but that now ceases. They eat from the produce of the land and they will have to walk on their own feet now. 

            Why carry rocks around?

            Long ago, I let a friend down. It’s still vivid in my memory. I’d promised, but at the last minute I phoned up and cancelled, leaving her in the lurch. She was cold and angry on the phone; we hung up quickly. I couldn’t blame her; I’d hurt her. Though I’d apologized, the effects remained.

            I don’t know what happened with her, because she stopped speaking to me. But for me, a burden was created which I long carried: guilt. A paralysing burden. Perhaps part of me was reluctant to put it down, as though staggering under it would gain me points, and enough collected points would earn me forgiveness. This type of guilt, someone observed to me, is like a knapsack full of rocks strapped to one’s back: a dead weight that gradually, increasingly wearies the bearer.

              God calls us to change our ways

              Third Sunday of Lent (Year C) March 7 (Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9)

              Many of God’s manifestations in the midst of everyday life are quiet and subtle. But sometimes they are anything but subtle — in fact, they can be dramatic, awe-inspiring and even a bit frightening.

                Take up the cross and follow in His footsteps

                Second Sunday of Lent (Year C) Feb. 28 (Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:7-4:1; Luke 9:28-36)

                Gazing into a starry sky on a dark night can be a humbling experience. The entire universe seems alive with billions of points of light. The inspiring nature of this encounter with the infinite can deepen one’s faith. But it can also be extremely humbling and some may even find their faith shaken as they contemplate comparative human insignificance in the face of such incredible expanse.

                  God alone

                  First Sunday of Lent (Year C) Feb. 21 (Deuteronomy 26:4-10; Psalm 91; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13)

                  Ingratitude is a poison of the heart and soul and many suffer its deadly effects. For so many, the glass is always half empty rather than half full and there is a corresponding willingness to focus on lack rather than abundance.

                    The cry of the downtrodden is Jesus' cry

                    Years ago, a friend of mine volunteered to teach in a Haitian orphanage. When she returned home temporarily due to political upheaval, I was rapidly educated about this country, its beauties and its pains.

                    Among many discoveries was that Canadians waste water. Growing up surrounded by fresh water, I’d never considered that water might be finite and we could waste or should conserve it.

                      God's path leads to success

                      Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) Feb. 14 (Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20; Luke 6:17, 20-26)

                      Do we need God? That seems to be the question of our age, and for many the answer is a resounding “no.”

                      The humanist or atheist claims that religion is dangerous and retrograde. Humans can do quite well on their own and have no need of silly superstitions and childish beliefs. Human efforts will do just fine — far better to rely on science, technology and human reason.