SR-2017-04-16

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
    For Easter Sunday (Cycle A) – April 16, 2017


 


The word of God is the source of life and spirituality of the family.”   (Synod on the Family) 


Easter Sunday Theme: The Lord Has Indeed Risen.

Easter is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is celebrated on Sunday, and marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, the last day of the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday), and is the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year (our 50-day meditation on the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection). Since Easter represents the fulfillment of God’s promises to humankind, it is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar.

  • Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 10:34a,37-43      Peter preaches about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,22-23      Rejoice in this day of the Lord.
  • Reading 2 – Colossians 3:1-4      Having been raised by Christ, be concerned with what is above.
  • Gospel – John 20:1-9     Mary of Magdala finds that the stone has been removed from Jesus’ tomb. 


Reading 1     Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43                   (Salvation in Christ)

Context – The history of the early Church is represented in the New Testament by the Book of Acts. Luke, a physician and thought to be a companion of Paul, first wrote the “Gospel According to Luke” and then wrote the “Acts of the Apostles”. It is the only New Testament document devoted exclusively to the story of the early Church. The Catholic Church uses this book at Mass almost exclusively through the Easter season, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. According to Acts, the Church is a community entrusted with a mission to carry the “good news” of Jesus Christ forth to the whole world.

Today’s Reading –  What we hear of today is the inauguration of the mission to the Gentiles. Peter stressed the universal benefit of Jesus’ ministry in this message to Gentiles; it was for Gentiles as well as Jews. The power of Jesus’ ministry flows from Him being anointed by God with the Holy Spirit.


Peter proceeded to speak and said: “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John [the Baptist] preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem (All the way from Galilee to Jerusalem.). They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree (they put to death on a cross the Lord of all creation). This Man God raised on the third day and granted that He be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God (the Apostles) in advance, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead (see Luke 24:41-43). He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that He is the One appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins through His name.” 


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “The cross of Christ reveals the love of God at its best and the sin of humankind at its worst.”  (Anonymous)



Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23                       (The Day of the Lord)

Today’s Psalm –  This thanksgiving psalm is applied to all the great things God has done in Christ, especially raising Him from the dead.


R – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.”
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
“The right hand of the LORD has struck with power; the right hand of the LORD is exalted. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.”
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.
R. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           “The stone which the builders rejected”Jesus is compared to the stone that the builders (His adversaries) had rejected. Whenever builders construct a stone building they discard some stones because they do not fit. Jesus was discarded like one of these stones, but God had restored Him to usefulness and given Him a position of prominence in God’s work.

“the cornerstone”The cornerstone of a large building was the largest and or most important stone in the foundation. All the other foundation stones were laid and aligned in reference to this key stone. God made Jesus the cornerstone of our salvation.



Reading 2     Colossians 3:1-4                         (Seek Heavenly Things)     

Context – Members of the congregation at Colosse had incorporated pagan elements into their practice. The Epistle to the Colossians, written by Paul in 61- 63 AD., declares Christ’s supremacy over the entire created universe and exhorts Christians to lead godly lives. The letter consists of two parts: first a doctrinal section, then a second regarding conduct. In both sections, false teachers who have been spreading error in the congregation are opposed.

Today’s Reading – Christians have been raised to a new kind of life, a supernatural life, whereby they share, even while on earth, in the glorious life of the risen Jesus. This life is at present spiritual and hidden, but when our Lord comes again in glory, it will become manifest and glorious.


Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (The right hand of God is a metaphor for the place of supreme privilege and divine authority.). Think of what is above (think of our spiritual blessings and hope, our Savior’s desires, etc.), not of what is on earth. For you have died (In baptism, we die to sin and are raised in Christ.), and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory. (Although St. Paul’s main emphasis throughout has been on the present resurrection with Christ in baptism, this is a reference to the future resurrection at the end of time.)


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.



Gospel     John 20:1-9                         (Renewed Faith)

Context – John’s Gospel was written around 90 AD. His Gospel has an evangelistic purpose – preaching about Christ for conversion to Him.  John explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. He is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of the Fourth Gospel.

Today’s Reading – Our Gospel today tells us about the disciples’ discovery of the empty tomb. It concludes by telling us that they did not yet understand that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thus, the details provided are not necessarily meant to offer proof of the Resurrection. The details invite us to reflect upon a most amazing gift, that is faith in Jesus and His Resurrection.


On the first day of the week (Sunday), Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved (John), and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in (John defers to Peter, the leader of the Apostles, by letting him enter first.). When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered His head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture  that He had to rise from the dead. (Scripture = Resurrection passages in the Old Testament: Psalm 16:10, Hosea 16:2, Jonah 2:1,2,10. Peter was still ignorant that Jesus was to rise from the dead. For although the apostles had so often heard their divine Master speak in the most plain terms of His resurrection, still being so much accustomed to parables, they did not understand, and imagined something else was meant by these words. – St. Augustine)


PAUSE  and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “The empty cross and the empty tomb are God’s ‘receipts’ telling us that the debt has been paid.” (Pastor Dr. Warren Wiersbe, theologian)



Catechism 2174 – Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:
We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish Sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from        darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.  



 

Come, Holy Spirit

Last week, I had the opportunity to concelebrate the liturgy for the celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation.  A family member had a son who was being confirmed and I was invited to be a concelebrant at the Mass.  At first, I wondered how I was going to “fit” this celebration into a crowded calendar, but after some maneuvering, I managed to find the time needed for this momentous Christian initiation liturgy.

I was a very inspirational event for me, perhaps one intended for me by the Lord as this time during the Lenten season.  As I sat in the sanctuary and looked out at the faces of those being confirmed, I was touched by the integrity and devotion of the young adults being confirmed.  There was no lack of “being totally involved” in this Kairos moment in their lives.  The enthusiasm with which they “dialogued” with the Bishop and the solemnity with which they approached the bishop to be confirmed, inspired my own commitment to the Lord’s service and gave me great hope for the future of the Christian community.

I was reminded of St. Augustine’s famous quote about “our hearts are made for You, O Lord, and they will not rest until they rest in You”.  The Confirmandi exhibited a vitality in their expression of their faith commitment that touched my heart and my soul.  It stirred my heart as I watched them receive the Holy Spirit into their hearts in the very sacramental grace of the moment.  I was renewed and recalled to mind that invocation of the Holy Spirit where we pray, invoking the Spirit to come and renew the face of the earth.  Certainly, the change that I saw on the faces of the children confirmed, “confirmed” in me the special presence of the Spirit at that moment and inspired me to invite the Spirit into my heart that afternoon in a special way that renewed my own heart and soul. I was very thankful for the grace to be part of this very special afternoon Confirmation liturgy.