On May 12th & 19th, there will be two First Holy Communion ceremonies in our parish. Many other children will receive their Holy Communion in neighbouring parishes. Many people will be invited to Holy Communion ceremonies in other places and in other parts of the country. The ‘Do This in Memory’ programme continues this Saturday evening. All these are tremendous family events providing nostalgia for adults and a sense of joy and excitement for the children. It is the presence of God in the Eucharist that brings such happiness. While 2018 is a different landscape for families, the gift of the Eucharist for children becomes even more important and not less so. One of the central images of the First Holy Communion programme is the image of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd is illustrated and celebrated at the time of the First Confession. The Good Shepherd gathers together, gently leads and cares for all. The Good Shepherd is beautifully presented in this weekend’s gospel text. The Good Shepherd loves and cares for each one of us. This weekend is also Vocation Sunday. Again the Good Shepherd is the encouraging model and image. It is a tremendous gift from God to be able to serve as a priest in 2018 and we look forward to this year trusting in the Good Shepherd.
On this Second Sunday of Easter and also, Divine Mercy Sunday, we meet a very familiar friend in the disciple Thomas. We are all comfortable in his company because he says what we often think when we find it hard to believe without evidence. He says what the rest of us are thinking! The beauty of this dialogue with the Risen Jesus is the way in which he is received by Jesus. Jesus brings Thomas to belief by touch. It is not about convincing Thomas at a rational or academic level. Jesus ‘meets’ Thomas in his suffering and at a point which Thomas immediately grasps and understands. It is a model for each of us this weekend. While we struggle at a level of reason and intellect yet we can immediately grasp the presence of the Risen Jesus in our suffering and pain. This weekend, we ask the Risen Jesus to take our hand and to place it into His side. We can touch the Risen Jesus in the Eucharist and receive the healing and belief we crave. Doubt no longer, but believe.
How often do you hear people say that they love Easter and prefer this time of the year over the stress and madness of the run-up to Christmas? Usually there is a reference to the better weather expected around Easter and the brighter evenings with the clocks moving forward. Apart from the weather, this is all true again this year as we embark on Holy Week, the school holidays and some valuable rest. This year, there is also a sense that we have been through difficult days, cold temperatures, snowfall and consequent disruption. Holy Week is truly the ‘Great Week’ or an Seachtain Mór. From Palm Sunday onwards, we truly enter into a sacred time. It feels like entering ‘a bubble’ where there is a slower pace and we follow in the footsteps of Jesus from His entry into Jerusalem, His celebration of the Last Supper, remaining with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Passion, Crucifixion and ultimately, the Resurrection of Jesus. This weekend, we will carry our palm branches to honour the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and realise the ultimate outcome in His death on the Cross. We know these steps so well in our own lives. We know suffering, pain, sadness, bereavement, failure and disappointment. We know the Cross and this week; this Cross will become our hope and our victory. Walk these steps this year like never before. Take your palm this weekend, embrace your Cross on Good Friday and celebrate resurrection, new hope and new life on Easter Day. It is a great week and enjoy every moment.
The Holy Week ceremonies have been very well attended and beautifully celebrated in our church this past week. We have followed the footsteps of Jesus from the Last Supper in the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane, along the Via Dolorosa in the Stations of the Cross and finally to the hill of Calvary. We have participated in the silence of Good Friday and now celebrate the explosion of joy and new life in the resurrection of Jesus. Every Mass that is celebrated is an ‘overflowing’ of the Easter Vigil. It is the triumph of life over death, light over darkness and hope over despair. It is God drawing us out of the slavery of ‘our Egypt’ with a ‘strong hand and mighty arm’ and bringing us to the freedom and joy of ‘a promised land’ of new hope. Please God, you can taste this hope in your own life, with your family or in the solitude of our minds and hearts. May God bless all on this Easter Day 2018.
It has been a difficult week for many people. While the snow initially appears wonderful, the problems, consequences and challenges soon emerge and many things usually taken for granted suddenly become difficult. Every blessing to all those who work in our emergency and public services. They have done a wonderful job and we all thank them. In recent days, older people have recalled previous snow events in 1982 and 2009-10. Such discussions usually began with the words ‘I remember back’ or ‘I remember’. In the gospel this weekend, the disciples suddenly remember the words of scripture and the promises made to them. When Jesus clears the temple, they remember scripture but fail to understand the meaning and purpose of His actions. They remember the words of scripture but fail to see the wisdom behind them and the wisdom of Jesus’ actions. This weekend, help us to remember everything that we have been told and promised through our faith and from our parents and teachers. Help us to see the wisdom and understand that there is a profound meaning to them and to the Mass. We make big efforts to attend in cold temperatures and dangerous surfaces to ‘do this in memory of Me’. As always, we are in the right place, listening to the right words, remembering a deep truth and blessed to be part of a wonderful faith community here in Mayfield.