Through Shadows and Images...

A Blog by Tom Gourlay

Month: May 2015

31 May 2015 – Trinity Sunday

Gospel Mt 28:16-20
“And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time”
There can be little more reassuring a line than these final words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, a truth which though mystifying is in fact an answer to the hesitation felt by some of the disciples in today’s Gospel reading.
When they arrived at the place where Jesus had arranged to meet them we are told that they fell down before him to worship him – an act totally reserved for the veneration of God, and yet we are told that despite all that they had witnessed these past 50 days or more, there were still some who hesitated.
So often we find ourselves in a similar place – having witnessed the miraculous, and yet still hesitant -still uncertain as to how to respond.
Find your pulse.
Now try, just by using your mind, to stop you heart from beating. You can’t, can you?
There is something of the miraculous in our very existence, and something in our nature which cries out for more – for the infinite. And despite this yearning for the infinite we experience a hesitation within us, that this yearning cannot be completely fulfilled.
It is to this hesitation that the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel are addressed: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’

Prayer for the day
Taken from the Office of Readings for Trinity Sunday
God our Father,
    you revealed the great mystery of your godhead to men
    when you sent into the world
    the Word who is Truth
    and the Spirit who makes us holy.
Help us to believe in you and worship you,
    as the true faith teaches:
    three Persons, eternal in glory,
    one God, infinite in majesty.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
    who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
    one God, for ever and ever.

24 May 2015 – Pentecost Sunday

“And you too will be witnesses …”
A full 50 days has passed since the resurrection, and with this feast of Pentecost the Easter season comes to an end in the most dramatic way imaginable.
The miraculous events of that Pentecost event which followed the death and resurrection of Jesus saw the birth of a something greater than a mere club or association of people, something greater than a movement even. What emerges is not just a group of people bound by an ethical system or set of ideals. If that were the case there would be no reason for their continuance after the horrific public torture and execution of their leader.
The people that follow after Jesus are bound together by a common event – an experience of a life transformed by an encounter with a person who was not defeated by death – a person whose continuing presence is felt in the deep and profound joy which penetrates every fibre of their being as individuals, and which binds them together in love.
In this Gospel story Jesus bequeaths to his followers his Holy Spirit. This is the same Spirit which descends on the Apostles in the Upper Room (see Acts 2), the same Spirit that inspires the missionary journey’s of those first Apostles, the same spirit which inspired the writing of the Sacred Scriptures we hold so dear, and the same Spirit that continues to inspire us as we read from those Scriptures and engage in those works of mercy to which we are called.
The Spirit given to us by Christ binds us together in love and continues to animate his Body, the Church.
Today’s feast of Pentecost puts to us a real challenge – have I opened myself to the presence of the Spirit in my day to day? Have I allowed the Spirit to inspire my work, so that I can be fully a member of Jesus’ body, the Church?

Let us persist in praying for Jesus’ continued sending of his Spirit to enlighten and enliven us

Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. 
And You shall renew the face of the earth. 

17 May 2015 – Ascension Sunday (in Australia)

Gospel Mk 16:15-20
“These are the signs that will be associated with believers…”

The story which we mark today is perhaps one of the most fantastic that we have in the Gospels. After his death and resurrection we’ve been regaled with tales of his numerous miraculous appearances to the disciples, and now we find him physically taken up into heaven, and seated at the right hand of God.
What more can we be asked to believe?
For the disciples this must have been an amazing experience. This period of 40 days or so since his resurrection, having witnessed something so incredible – one can scarcely imagine how deeply these events would have impacted them.
In his final discourse before his glorious ascension, Jesus tells the disciples of the signs which will accompany those who believe in him into the future. Contemporary readers such as ourselves may be tempted to scoff at such an assertion – looking around we rarely if ever see such miraculous signs taking place.
Throughout this Easter season we have been reading and reflecting on the miraculous events which followed their initial proclamation of the Gospel. But in our times these ‘miraculous experiences have become less frequent. What we do experience now however, is something more miraculous, more exceptional. ‘When Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29), his precise intention was to indicate the exceptional, miraculous nature of an event of which each one us is called to be a subject.’ (Why the Church? P. 94)
Sometimes we cry out for something that will banish all of our questioning questions and silence our doubts, but if such were to happen would our resulting acceptance truly be faith?

Our evidence, like that of those who were evangelised by the first disciples, is a life transformed by an encounter with Jesus. 

Food for thought
‘The Christian message announces the permanence of the fact of Christ, as a continuous happening – not something that happened once – but as something that still happens.’ (Luigi Giussani, Why the Church?, 203)

10 May 2015 – 6th Sunday of Easter

Gospel Jn 15:9-17

“You did not choose me: no, I chose you”
The theme of today’s reading is one that we often reflect on – the love of God. We have recounted here before us a stunning message from Jesus to his disciples. He tells them clearly and beautifully of the love that he has for them. John, the author of this Gospel is clearly very affected by the reality of this love that he experienced directly from Christ – it is a recurring theme in his writings. Elsewhere he states explicitly that God doesn’t just have love – it is not simply one of his attributes, as though it is one among many. No, in point of fact, God actually is love. [1 Jn 4:8]
This can be a reality that is easily lost on us – in fact often the more we hear it, the less real it can seems. This image of love, detached from the reality of our lives becomes a trite, schmaltzy bit of warm-fuzzy nothingness.  But Jesus’ words here reveal the profound reality of what it means to love – words that are in fact deeply profound.
“A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.” – Here is love: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
What this looks like in our lives may be different according to our current state in life: whether we are a parent, a friend, a husband or a wife, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, a son or a daughter. The call to love is not something that is just for some people. No, it is for each and every one of us. And it is in this act of loving, in this act of spending our lives in love and service of others that we find our true self.
The words of the Second Vatican Council, so often quoted by Pope St John Paul II echo this call; ”man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” [GS, 24]

Let us turn to Christ and ask that he will provide what is lacking in our love, and for the courage to spend our lives in love and service of him and those whom he loves.

Point to Ponder
Recognise that you have been chosen first. God has chosen me, as his beloved daughter or son.
We love only because he has loved us first.

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