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Apr 13, 2020

Many movies based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ focus on his suffering and crucifixion, The movie Risen is different.

In this 2016 film a fictional Roman tribune, sent to carry out the crucifixion of Jesus, notices that the followers of Jesus after the resurrection are no longer timid, fearful and undependable but transformed and more fully human. I wont spoil the movie for you, enough to say that it gives good insight to the disciples coming to terms with the life-changing reality of Jesus risen from the dead.

Most directors producing Holy Week / Easter movies have no idea how to communicate the resurrection of Jesus apart from perhaps a final scene depicting a sunrise across a lake to indicate a happy ending.

Risen is different because if focusses on the disciples of Jesus wrestling with the fact that Jesus is now with them in a new and more powerful way, not simply a resuscitated corpse but even more present, more real and more powerful than his pre-suffering and death presence.

Christians too easily slip into ignoring the significance of the resurrection of Jesus, following him as a good and wise teacher who lived and died a long time ago and who gave a great example and provided many maxims for healthy and happy living. When we communicate Christianity in this watered-down-insipid form we are left with nothing that is truly Christian, nothing more than a method of positive thinking. In short, when we do this we are missing the Christian message and therefore its no surprise that so few are attracted to faith.

As Pope Francis reflected in his Easter homily on Saturday night: The resurrection of Jesus “… is not mere optimism; it is not a pat on the back or an empty word of encouragement. It is a gift from heaven, which we could not have earned on our own”.

Beginning yesterday with Easter Sunday the church celebrates the Easter Octave: eight Easter Sundays in a row. Perhaps the lockdown this week provides an opportunity to take a little more time than usual to savour each day’s gospel reading, each one presenting a different encounter with the risen Jesus, each meeting helping each of us to personally appreciate more deeply the life-transforming significance of the resurrection of Jesus.

My desire is to experience the joy of the first disciples of Jesus when they realised he was alive. I’m inspired and encouraged by today’s gospel:

“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce the news to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”  (today’s Gospel)

There are some great phrases in that passage:  for example “fearful yet overjoyed” and “do not be afraid.”  You might find it helpful to use the 15 minute Lectio Divina podcast below as a way of savouring this scripture.

Then today’s psalm echoes the popular “keep safe” farewell greeting of these lockdown days:

Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.

And I’ll give the last word to Pope Francis, a paragraph from his Easter 2020 homily:

“Today we acquire a fundamental right that can never be taken away from us: the right to hope. It is a new and living hope that comes from God. It is not mere optimism; it is not a pat on the back or an empty word of encouragement. It is a gift from heaven, which we could not have earned on our own. over these weeks, we have kept repeating, “All will be well”, clinging to the beauty of our humanity and allowing words of encouragement to rise up from our hearts. But as the days go by and fears grow, even the boldest hope can dissipate. Jesus’ hope is different. He plants in our hearts the conviction that God is able to make everything work unto good, because even from the grave he brings life.” (Full text of homily at this link)

Lectio Divina

I’ve received a good number of emails about the Lectio Divina podcasts.  Initially some commented that the silences were too short so I lengthened them. Others would rather shorter silence periods during the podcast and have suggested that 15 minutes would be a better length for the total reflection. I’m happy to make any suggested adjustments. So today’s Lectio is a little different… 15 minutes total and only one slow reading of the scripture passage with shorter periods of silence. Try it and let me know how it can be further improved john@fff.org.nz

Here’s today’s Lectio – based on today’s Easter Monday gospel. Simply relax, prepare, press play, and pray.

10 Comments

  1. I now feel that because I am working still, I am somewhat missing an opportunity. The opportunity to come closer to the reality of the life changing Jesus. To so fully accept the Spirit of God that I am as confident and sure as the disciples were when sharing His love, whether by word or deed. May I find time to dwell on and in Him.
    Thankyou Fr John.

    Reply
    • Your work is your prayer, Jackie. Thank you for your gift of self to us all.

      Reply
  2. Thank you Fr John – I have enjoyed the Lenten journey with Food For Faith and am pleased that you will be continuing it throughout the lockdown. I like the 15 minute meditation better than the 20 minute one. I usually start the day with online Mass and then go straight into FFF. God bless you.

    Reply
  3. Thanks Fr John. I like the 15 minute format. I wonder at the usefulness of the red colour tracking across the sound track. It tempts me to use it as a substitute for watching the clock … like every child, I find myself asking “are we there yet?” … so for me it is a distraction. Warmest wishes

    Reply
  4. Thank you Father John and happy Easter to you! Thank you for the gift of your time and wisdom to us – some of whom you would have never met and may never meet during our time on Earth. You have brought me closer to Jesus this Easter, all while being physically distanced from our Church.

    I liked the 20 min version but can see the benefit of the shorter version too, especially as I will be starting work again this week.

    I too am grateful you will be continuing FFF beyond lent. God bless you.
    Riny

    Reply
    • Watching online Mass today, the priest said we have to proclaim Jesus is risen to people now, let people know about him now, in our lockdown days.
      And do not be afraid.
      Why wait ?

      Reply
  5. Alleluia. Amen. Blessed & Happy Easter. Grateful Fr John. Being guided through this Lectio Davina there is a strong awareness and spiritual connectedness near and far with this digital faith filled community – filled with awe … and aware of own fear and manipulations and being manipulated not to speak the truth.

    Reply
  6. The Risen Lord is the heart and soul of my Christian Faith.

    It is humbling for me to realize this afternoon that we have been continuing to do our best for the Faith of the Gospel. Our minds are harmonized, our love is the same, together we are one in the Holy Spirit and without a doubt, we are seeking the same divine meaning and purpose.

    The Prayerful Meditations each day help us to be safe, to understand the truth about the essence of humility and unity in peace. The stillness and silence gift us with blessings of renewal and transformation. +

    Blessings in abundance in return, Father John.

    Virginia

    Reply
  7. Father John thank you for these Lectio Divina podcasts. I prefer the twenty minute time frame and listening to the reading of the gospel twice as it gives more time to settle down and focus which in the midst of the stuff of life is not always easy. The sound of the bells gently ringing at times helps with that as well. It’s a very comforting sound and for me aids the meditation. I continue to be surprised at what happens during the twenty minutes. God continues to amaze.

    Reply
  8. I need the longer format and the passage read twice. Otherwise I lose the phrase that has token hold of me. Thank you John for this guidance in Lectio Divina.

    Reply

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