Friday, 28 March 2008

A Living Word: Easter Week (V: Friday)

Patrick Comerford

In the days immediately after Easter, the Risen Christ asks his disciples to trust in God, asks them whether they love him, and asks them to make disciples of all nations.

When Jesus asks his disciples to trust in him, he’s asking them to believe in him.

In many groups and seminars I have taken part in, we’ve played warm-up games of trust. In games like these, someone can be asked to close their eyes, straighten their back, and fall backwards.

“Trust me,” the other person says. And with that, the person who has closed their eyes knows they can fall back.

In these trust games, “Trust me” means the very same as “believe me.”

The Gospel stories in the weeks after Easter make an interesting connection is made in between faith, love and mission. The three cannot exist without each other.

The disciples who were locked up in fear in the upper room had lost their trust and faith. But once they found their faith and trust again in the Risen Christ, they could go out in love into the world.

Over the years, I have worked with many mission agencies. And in each mission agency the same question is asked constantly: Why are we spending so much money on health care, on hospitals, on education?

But those projects help the very people Jesus was most concerned to bring in from the margins – women, children, the poor, those who suffered because they couldn’t afford to change their lot in life. Those projects show love, develop trust, and bring new life to those who need it most. They are practical demonstrations of the faith in the Risen Christ who brings new life.

This contribution to A Living Word was first broadcast on 28 March 2008 on RTÉ Radio 1. A Living Word is broadcast Monday to Friday at 6:40 a.m. as part of Risin Time with Maxi and repeated Tuesday to Saturday at 12:58 a.m. as part of Late Date. A Living Word is Radio 1's long-standing two-minute daily meditation. The archives are available at:

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/alivingword/1179969.html

A Living Word: Easter Week (IV: Thursday)


The gift of the Holy Spirit: the Church is the realised Pentecost

Patrick Comerford

In the days immediately after Easter, the Risen Christ promises his disciples peace, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that he would always be with them.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is one that embarrasses many of us as Christians.

We don’t really expect the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

Once we changed the holy-day of Pentecost into the June Bank Holiday weekend, and changed the days we had off work, the promise and gift of the Holy Spirit became culturally and socially irrelevant.

Some associate the gift of the Holy Spirit with confirmation and our teens. For others, the gift of the Holy Spirit has embarrassing associations with enthusiastic charismatic styles of worship that don’t fit in well with comfortable churches and parishes.

The Holy Spirit gets short shrift even in the Nicene Creed … just a few short lines, a few short phrases, no more than one extended sentence.

But the Holy Spirit didn’t just suddenly appear because of Christ’s promises to the Disciples in those days after the first Easter. Those few phrases in the Nicene Creed remind us that the Holy Spirit has always been there guiding us.

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, they like to talk about the Church as the actualised or lived Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is a promise not just to the disciples after Easter, or a promise to be long forgotten after our confirmation.

The gift and gifts of the Spirit are part of the fullness of the gifts we receive as we live out our Easter faith, and an assurance that the Risen Christ is always with us.

This contribution to A Living Word was first broadcast on 27 March 2008 on RTÉ Radio 1. A Living Word is broadcast Monday to Friday at 6:40 a.m. as part of Risin Time with Maxi and repeated Tuesday to Saturday at 12:58 a.m. as part of Late Date. A Living Word is Radio 1's long-standing two-minute daily meditation. The archives are available at:
http://www.rte.ie/radio1/alivingword/1179969.html

A Living Word: Easter Week (III: Wednesday)

Patrick Comerford

“Peace be with you.”

“Peace be with you.”

“Peace be with you.”

We hear this phrase three times on Easter morning when Jesus greets his friends and disciples after the Resurrection.

It is a phrase spoken by the Risen Christ three times. It has a Trinitarian resonance. It reminds me of the three times God says to Moses, “I am ...,” “I am…,” “I am …”

It reminds me of the three visitors who receive hospitality from Abraham, and remind him of God’s love, remind him of God’s plans for all creation, and remind him that when we welcome strangers sometimes we are entertaining angels, and in that we get a glimpse of God.

This phrase “peace be with you” in Saint John’s Gospel identifies the Risen Christ in the same way that the phrase “Be not afraid” identifies the Risen Christ in Saint Matthew’s Gospel.

In some churches, we can be too glib about that phase, “Peace be with you,” at the sign of peace – too glib, not just with our handshake, but with what we are wishing each other.

The peace that Jesus wishes for his disciples is not the usual sort of peace that we often wish one another on Sunday mornings: Sometimes, on Sunday mornings, it has become yet another saying robbed of its real significance, with no more heart-filled meaning than the supermarket check-out operator who says, “Have a nice day, missing you already.”

The peace that Christ is brings his disciples after Easter is a peace that the Disciples sorely need, a peace that a deeply divided Church needs, a peace that our world needs.

Peace be with you.

Peace be with you.

Peace be with you.

This contribution to A Living Word was first broadcast on 26 March 2008 on RTÉ Radio 1. A Living Word is broadcast Monday to Friday at 6:40 a.m. as part of Risin Time with Maxi and repeated Tuesday to Saturday at 12:58 a.m. as part of Late Date. A Living Word is Radio 1's long-standing two-minute daily meditation. The archives are available at:

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/alivingword/1179969.html