Gospel Meditations

GOSPEL MEDITATION FOR
24 APRIL, 2017, MONDAY, 2ND WEEK IN EASTERTIDE
BY REV FR ERBIN FERNANDEZ, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY CENTRE (CSC)
COPYRIGHTS RESERVED.

“UNLESS THEY ARE BORN AGAIN” (JOHN 3:3)

GOSPEL: JOHN 3:1-9

http://www.universalis.com/20170424/mass.htm

(I sense Jesus wanting to meet me. I prayerfully call upon the Holy Spirit to be present. I prayerfully read today’s gospel passage slowly once through. I sit in silence for a few minutes with the gospel text. I now pray through the following meditation. I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me, pausing wherever I need to.)

`When Jesus said that a man must be born anew Nicodemus misunderstood him, and the misunderstanding came from the fact that the word which the Revised Standard Version translates anew, the Greek word `anothen`, has three different meanings. (i) It can mean from the beginning, completely radically. (ii) It can mean again, in the sense of for the second time. (iii) It can mean from above, and, therefore, from God It is not possible for us to get all these meanings into any English word; and yet all three of them are in the phrase born anew. To be born anew is to undergo such a radical change that it is like a new birth; it is to have something happen to the soul which can only be described as being born all over again; and the whole process is not a human achievement, because it comes from the grace and power of God. When we read the story, it looks at first sight as if Nicodemus took the word anew in only the second sense, and with a crude literalism. How can anyone, he said, enter again into his mother’s womb and be born a second time when he is already an old man? But there is more to Nicodemus’ answer than that. In his heart there was a great unsatisfied longing. It is as if he said with infinite, wistful yearning: “You talk about being born anew; you talk about this radical, fundamental change which is so necessary. I know that it is necessary; but in my experience it is impossible. There is nothing I would like more; but you might as well tell me, a full grown man, to enter into my mother’s womb and be born all over again.” It is not the desirability of this change that Nicodemus questioned; that he knew only too well; it is the possibility. Nicodemus is up against the eternal problem, the problem of the man who wants to be changed and who cannot change himself.

The ancient world knew all about rebirth and regeneration. It longed for it and searched for it everywhere. When Christianity came to the world with a message of rebirth, it came with precisely that for which all the world was seeking. What, then, does this rebirth mean for us? To be born again is to be changed in such a way that it can be described only as rebirth and re-creation. The change comes when we love Jesus and allow him into our hearts. Then we are forgiven for the past and armed by the Spirit for the future; then we can truly accept the will of God. And then we become citizens of the kingdom; then we become sons of God; then we enter into eternal life, which is the very life of God.`1 Indeed Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Action: Today I will review my own journey to spiritual re-birth. Where am I in this journey? Am I even aware there is such a journey to be taken?

(I journal: What phrase touched me today? What is Jesus inviting me to live today? I ask for a specific grace for today.)

1 http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/john-3.html#1

GOSPEL MEDITATION FOR
23 APRIL, 2017, DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
BY REV FR ERBIN FERNANDEZ, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY CENTRE (CSC)
COPYRIGHTS RESERVED.

“WHERE THE DISCIPLES HAD MET” (JOHN 20:19)

GOSPEL: JOHN 20:19-31

http://www.universalis.com/20170423/mass.htm

(I sense Jesus wanting to meet me. I prayerfully call upon the Holy Spirit to be present. I prayerfully read today’s gospel passage slowly once through. I sit in silence for a few minutes with the gospel text. I now pray through the following meditation. I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me, pausing wherever I need to.)

`Faith isn’t knowing for sure that something will happen – Faith is really just the opposite! Faith is Not Knowing that something will happen – It’s not being sure at all – but going ahead and taking that step anyway. In today’s gospel story from John, the disciples really have their backs up against a wall. Their whole world’s come crashing down around them. They’re terrified. The authorities are hot on their trail and they’re locked up in some upper room in Jerusalem. At the moment we meet them – they’re more than a little paranoid. And some of us can probably identify with that too! Now what we need to understand is that for three years or so Jesus had been with these disciples. And for three years, he’d provided them with their strength – He’d been the one giving them all their courage. When Jesus was with them, they felt safe and secure. When Jesus was with them, they experienced his peace. But once Jesus had died, it seems that all their courage and all their faith died right along with him. So now they’d given up their dreams and most of them were getting ready to pack up and head back to Galilee. Peter was going back to his fishing. He said, “No more following dreamers like Jesus – no more fishing for men – From now on – he said: I’m sticking with fish – fish that I can see.” According to John’s gospel, the scene is now three days after Jesus’ death – and the disciples are in hiding behind those locked doors. But now John says that somehow Jesus enters into that room and he stands among them. Somehow he’s there – made present to them once again; Very gently he says the word: “Peace.” They can’t understand how this can be happening – they’re sacred to death – they aren’t peaceful at all! – So Jesus has to repeat himself and he says to them again:“Peace!” Then Jesus does a really strange thing. It says he breathes over his friends and he says: “Here’s holy spirit! Here’s my spirit! Take it now!” Take it into your hearts and feel what it’s like to have me back in your life again.

Feel my presence – know that I’m still with you – Feel that empty hole where your faith and your courage used to be. Feel that hole filling up once again – Feel it filling up with God’s Spirit and with my love.” And so we ask: Just what is it that John’s trying to tell us through this strange sounding story of his? I think his message boils down simply to this: That when Jesus was absent from his disciple’s hearts – they were full of fear. But when Jesus was present to them once again – their fears were removed and they were once again filled with his peace. Somehow that night, the disciples once again felt his presence and experienced his peace. Somehow that night, the disciples once again came to know Jesus as real and as present – but now in a very different way than before – And once they did that, (no matter how that all happened) they found their faith and they found their courage restored.`1 An important point to note is that they stayed together, even in they fear and disappointment, they stayed together until Jesus came to them and gave them the Holy Spirit. Once we leave the Christian community established by Christ, we no longer carry God and the fellowship with us in our hearts – this is when we become prey to the Evil One.

Thomas was one such disciple who was isolated from the community and missed the opportunity to see Jesus and receive the Spirit. Thomas was isolated in his doubt and fear but Jesus our Divine Mercy comes to him and pours out His mercy over the doubt of Thomas. This is what we celebrate today on this Mercy Sunday. It’s not too late for anyone to receive the Holy Spirit and the love of God. All we need to do is keep walking with the community of faith. Let us make that commitment to stay in Christian community as we await Pentecost this year! Indeed Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Action: Today I will commit myself to journey with a particular Christian community

(I journal: What phrase touched me today? What is Jesus inviting me to live today? I ask for a specific grace for today.)

1 https://www.sermonwriter.com/sermons/john-2019-31-doubting-thomas-us-wigmore