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.
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.
This weekend, we are already experiencing a bitterly cold easterly wind. Apparently, we are promised even colder days and nights during the coming week. It is unusual to be so cold in late February and early March but hopefully, augurs well for a nice summer when all these cold winds, low temperatures and dark days are exhausted. The gospel on this second Sunday of Lent is always the account of the Transfiguration of the face of Jesus on Mount Tabor. He is accompanied by the ‘inner circle’ of disciples, Peter, James and John. They receive a privileged glimpse of the glory of God. In a sense they are virtually blinded by the light and the glory of Jesus. There is no cold easterly wind for them, but a warm glow radiating from the presence and the face of Jesus. As they do not know how to respond, they revert to their traditional understanding and want to build a tent to capture the moment and the presence of God. In our Mass and our faith, we are brought into that ‘inner circle’ where we can see the possibility of the glory of God, where we can be sheltered by God in a protective cloud and we hear the whisper of God as we ‘listen to Him’. This weekend let the face and glory of Jesus shine on you and warm your life and heart and show you a glimpse of what is possible through faith and the presence of God.
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.
Lent 2018 begins during the coming week and it has come around very quickly after Christmas season. Indeed, the cold temperatures and chilling winds of the last few weeks have really impacted on people as if we remain in January and are surprised by the arrival of Lent. Many people have been affected by flu and the cold weather seems to have ‘gotten in’ to people. Spring seems a while away and here we are at a special time of the year. Each liturgical season is a new beginning filled with hope and Lent 2018 is no different. Most certainly many people will come to the church on Ash Wednesday to receive the imprint of ashes as a sign of repentance and conversion. Many people will endeavour to attend weekday Mass during the sacred season and as a way of conversion. Please God, despite many counter attractions and some scepticism in the public space, many people will use this as a personal opportunity to turn our hearts and minds to God. Make Lent 2018 a special time and utilise the opportunity and gift that God gives to each one of us. Time is precious and we thank God for the gift of this sacred time for ourselves, our families, our community and parish.