1635 Rembrandt_vanRijnThe Resurrection
Here in Rembrandt’s painting Christ stands behind the angel. But he is no longer a recognisable human being. Instead pure light and energy radiate out of the darkness of the tomb, a theological statement rather than a physical one. In the face of this light, the human beings in the painting tumble into a confused group.
Rembrandt, perhaps the most famous Dutch painter of the 17th century and one of the greatest in all Europe, was using the same technique that Caravaggio used with such success: a strong light highlighting the darkness around it.
The 1630’s was a particularly prosperous time for Rembrandt. He married Saskia van Uylenburgh, the wealthy niece of an art dealer, and they had four children, only one of whom survived. His firstborn son was born and died in the year ‘The Resurrection’ was painted. The idea of Christ’s conquest over Death may have seemed especially relevant to Rembrandt at this painful time, since he was deeply religious and a devoted family man.
THE MEANINGS OF EASTER
Easter (Old English: Ēostre; Greek: Πάσχα, Paskha; Aramaic: פֶּסחא Pasḥa; from Hebrew: פֶּסַח Pesaḥ) is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday). The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to have occurred between AD 26 and 36.
Easter marks the end of Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of the Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.
Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21 (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on March 20 in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar whose March 21 corresponds, during the 21st century, to April 3 in the Gregorian Calendar, in which calendar their celebration of Easter therefore varies between April 4 and May 8.
Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are etymologically related or homonymous.
Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but decorating Easter eggs is a common motif. In the Western world, customs such as egg hunting and the Easter Bunny extend from the domain of church, and often have a secular character.
The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus the egg as a symbol of new life has been around for eons. The particulars may vary, but most cultures around the world use the egg as a symbol of new life and rebirth. A notation in the household accounts of Edward I of England showed an expenditure of eighteen pence for 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and coloured for Easter gifts. The first book to mention Easter eggs by name was written five hundred years ago. Yet, a North African tribe that had become Christian much earlier in time had a custom of coloring eggs at Easter. Long hard winters often meant little food, and a fresh egg for Easter was quite a prize. Later, Christians abstained from eating meat during the Lenten season prior to Easter. Easter was the first chance to enjoy eggs and meat after the long abstinence.
Some European children go from house to house begging for Easter eggs, much like Halloween trick-or-treaters. Called pace-egging, it comes from the old word for Easter, Pasch. Many old cultures also attributed the egg with great healing powers. It is interesting to note that eggs play almost no part in the Easter celebrations of Mexico, South America, and Native American Indian cultures. Egg-rolling contests are a symbolic re-enactment of the rolling away of the stone from Christ’s tomb. The decoration of small leaf-barren branches as Easter egg trees has become a popular custom in the United States since the 1990s. Here in Australia, Coles, Woolworths and Darrel Lea have been selling Easter Eggs, Rabbits and Hot Cross Buns since February. On Holy Thursday the Sydney Royal Easter Show opens its gates, and make sure that your credit is good!!!! For others Easter is just another Holiday time to perhaps get away to the Beach. The Lenten penance for lots of people ends up being the heavy traffic leading out of Sydney. And yet all the while the antiphon is there for the listening……Lord, by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free, you are the Saviour of the World.
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.
First Reading: Acts 10:34. 37-43
Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.’ Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and also to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)
Psalm: Ps 117:1-2. 16-17. 22-23
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 love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’ R.
The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds. R.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes. R.
Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4
Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday!
We never say it… 🙂
Gospel: John 20:1-9
It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’
So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES
If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.
Focusing the Word
Key words and phrases
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
He is not here; he is risen.
Christ has become our paschal sacrifice; let us feast with joy in the Lord.
Now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God.
Connecting the Word
to the point
Our seeing and believing in Jesus’ resurrection is as much a challenge to us today as it was to the disciples who were eye witnesses. The challenge really lies in seeing and believing the resurrection comes through our own lives of self-sacrifice that bring new life to others.
Understanding the Word
Even on this day when the gospel announces the risen Lord, we feel the contradictions that the resurrection mystery arouses – seeing and believing on the one hand, misunderstanding and confusion on the other. This mystery defies all human understanding. These Easter stories tell us that the resurrection isn’t something we understand, but believe and live.
We might take our clue to entering into the mystery from the second reading (from 1 Corinthians). Lent has been the time when we cleared out the old yeast (of ‘evil and wickedness’) so that we may become a fresh batch of dough. Like Christ, our paschal lamb who has been sacrificed, we too must be willing to give ourselves up in the self-sacrifice ‘of sincerity and truth’. Inasmuch as we are the dough, we must be willing to allow others to feast on us. When Paul invites the Corinthians, ‘let us celebrate the feast’, it is truly a startling invitation: as Jesus gave his body on the cross and gives his Body and Blood to us as nourishment, so must we do the same. The only way to open ourselves to the new life that God promises through the resurrection of Jesus Christ is to open ourselves to the needs of others in self-sacrifice. If we try to understand this resurrection mystery we will miss it. The readings today invite us to live the mystery and in the living of self-sacrifice does God give us the new life that Jesus’ resurrection offers.
The gospel identifies three characters: Mary of Magdala, Peter, and the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’. By not naming him, John can function symbolically – all of us are the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’. Instead of trying to understand we simply ‘run’ to the mystery and embrace it so that we, like John, can enter into it and see and believe. In John’s gospel seeing and believing aren’t mental exercises but actions that express one’s inner disposition. Thus our belief in the resurrection is a matter of self-sacrifice, of allowing others to ‘feast’ on us.
Even on this Easter day when we rejoice in the resurrected life of Jesus we are reminded that resurrection has its cost: self-emptying for the sake of others The paradox of Christianity is that death and self-sacrifice aren’t presented as negatives to avoid but positive stances to embrace because they are the door into resurrected life. We have the next fifty days of celebrating resurrection to help us grasp in our hearts and daily living that when we reach out to others it ourselves are actually living Jesus’ resurrected life. We only need take the time to contemplate this mystery and recognise the good with which God blesses us. We need to see beyond the obvious – an empty tomb and the demands of self emptying – to the glory that God has bestowed through Christ Jesus
The alleluia that bursts forth with the news of resurrection captures a heart felt cry that we be willing to identify ourselves with the dying and rising Christ. Let the feast begin!
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
Easter Sunday is with us again! Is it with a sigh of relief that we take a break at this time of the year? Has the subtle autumn morning chill and the occasional morning fog reminded us that times and seasons are changing? The Easter Liturgy speaks in harmony with spring in the Northern Hemisphere while here are we, Down Under, celebrating new life while the Willow’s leaves are starting to die, and the Liquid Ambers are beginning to change colour before their leaves fall to the ground and Winter will soon be upon us. For the Eastern coast of Australia, we feel a little cheated because we didn’t have much Summer to speak of.
Resurrection implies new life, which is the gift we receive each morning when we wake up … today being a totally different day from yesterday. The nature of a gift is that someone gives and someone else receives … but with no price tag attached. The difference with God’s gift of life each day, is that He doesn’t give it to us to keep for ourselves, but to share with others. The Easter Liturgy celebrates the Father re breathing ‘life’ into His Son … the ‘new life’ to be shared among all people and by all people.
Easter is about hope! It is unthinkable that a Christian would ever entertain the ideas of hopelessness, even though we live in a world which thrives and makes money on bad news! Jesus triumphed over darkness, sin and death, and in the words of St. Paul, ‘Having given us Christ Jesus, will the Father not surely give us everything else?’ In today’s world and in today’s Church, there is a tremendous need for people of hope, because the doomsday prophets have never had it so good!
St. Peter wrote the following words to the early Christian community … ‘Always have an explanation to give to those who ask you the reason for the hope that you have.’ Peter had lived through and witnessed many failures, so his point about hope is deeply relevant. I am sure that he is not alone in this regard … we can all possibly identify with him.
Easter time is a reminder of our Baptismal responsibilities. We have a very real sign of that within our Parish communities when we welcome, and admit our Elect, into full communion with the Church. We are therefore strongly reminded that we must be a community of Hospitality, a community of Mission and a community of Thanksgiving. Underpinning all that, we are as St Paul says, ‘planted on love and built on love, so that together with all the Saints we will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, we are filled with the utter fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3:18.
Easter time offers an enormous challenge to everyone. Do we personally believe in the community which we call the Church, to the extent that we want to really know and care about each other? Or do we view the Sacramental life of the Church as some kind of Spiritual Service Station, where we can fill up every now and then? The Sacramental Community nourishes us, and we are called to nourish it by our active participation.
Let us all pray that through this Easter Season, we will be stronger in our hope, livelier in our love for one another, and with the eyes of faith, more sensitive in seeing the saving hand of God in our lives, and within our community.
God Bless you, and your families. Fr. Kev
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. Seeing that it is Easter Sunday, some yellow and white material draped creatively around the prayer Setting will speak of Easter Joy. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…
Leader: Let us pray with joyful trust to our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the Church, our world, and for all people, and let us say: R/ Lord of glory, hear our prayer.
– For a new youth for the Church, that the faithful may bear open witness to their faith in a God of life and of love, let us pray: R/ Lord of glory, hear our prayer.
– For a new life of justice in our world, that the voiceless and the rejected may rise from the tombs of oppression, let us pray: R/ Lord of glory, hear our prayer.
– For a new life of hope for those who suffer, that they may again see that God cares and that Jesus has gone through the same distress and that there are also many people who care, let us pray: R/ Lord of glory, hear our prayer.
– For fresh trust of those at the point of death, and for a lively faith in those who mourn the death of a beloved relative or friend, that they may meet again in the Father’s house, let us pray: R/ Lord of glory, hear our prayer.
– For a life of tender and faithful love in our families and Christian communities, that this unity and friendship may lead us and those who see us to the Lord of life, let us pray: R/ Lord of glory, hear our prayer.
– Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and ipads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray you:R/. Lord of glory, hear our prayer
Leader: Jesus, our risen Lord, you are our life and our joy. May we pass with you from death to life, now and for ever. R/ Amen.
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.
Leader: The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.