April 11, 2020
Monday of Easter Week
First Reading • (Acts 2:14, 22-32). Today’s reading is taken from Peter’s Pentecost Sermon, the first example of the proclamation of the kerygma or the essentials of Christian Gospel of salvation.
The opening line may be a little confusing: although Peter is standing with the Eleven, and this first Christian sermon shows him exercising authority as the leader of the Twelve, the ‘them’ he addresses is not the small apostolic band but the crowd of pilgrims thronging the Holy City who have been attracted by the sound of the great wind. The sermon proclaims the resurrection of Jesus, not just as the resuscitation of a corpse but as proof of his heavenly exaltation.
Gospel • (Mt 28:8-15). There are two main elements to today’s Gospel. First, the oldest form of a narrative of the appearance to the women. Mark’s Gospel had merely an appearance of an angel within the tomb. Matthew supplies an appearance of the Risen Jesus to the women as they hurry from the tomb ‘with awe and great joy’ (a notable and positive change of Mark’s ‘trembling and astonishment’ and silence – Mk 16:8).
Matthew’s second new element is the story of how the guards were bribed. This secondary detail appears in no other Gospel and is intended to counter Jewish claims that the body had been stolen.
Prayer of the Faithful
Introduction • With glad hearts, we approach the Lord who grants us the fullness of joy.
Petitions • That all Christians may have grace to cling in love to the risen Lord, and loyally to live and proclaim his Gospel.
That Christians and Jews may grow in understanding and trust.
That those who feel themselves abandoned or living a dark place, may know the gift of hope.
That those who were baptised this Easter may grow in joy.
That our beloved dead may be filled with gladness in God’s presence.
Concluding Prayer • Father of life and of love, preserve us in your grace and grant that we may have joyful confidence in following the path of life revealed to us through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Tuesday of Easter Week
First Reading • (Acts 2:36-41). This is the conclusion to the Pentecost sermon. It ends on a high point, that the purpose of the Resurrection was to make Jesus Lord and Saviour for the whole house of Israel.
It also moves into the response of the crowd. The sermons in Acts are not simply records of words preached: the word must become effective through the response of the hearers and here is in the question ‘What must we do?’ Interior repentance will be expressed in the external act of Baptism. Presumably, this would have been in the form of immersion; and Jerusalem, as archaeological excavations have revealed, was well supplied with immersion pools as required by Jewish purity laws.
Gospel • (Jn 20:11-18). John’s version of the appearance of the risen Jesus near the tomb is a masterpiece of dramatic rewriting. He highlights the sad dilemma of Mary: If the body is not in the tomb, then it must have been removed; but by whom and to where? Perhaps it was the gardener, annoyed at what he considers to be the unauthorised use of a tomb, who has removed it. Then there is the moment of recognition: when called by name, she recognises the familiar tones of the one who first brought healing into her life.
Introduction • Let us pray to the Lord whose words are all faithful and whose works are all to be trusted.
Petitions • That the risen Lord who recognised Mary and touched her heart, may come to us also with tender understanding.
That those who even at Easter are experiencing the loss of a loved one, may find that the compassion of the risen Lord gives them hope.
That all Christian people may respond generously and creatively to the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
That our beloved dead may find the risen Lord to be their help and their shield.
Concluding Prayer • God our refuge and our shield, look with mercy, we pray, on us who place all our hope in you, and support us as we open our hearts to the love and joy you reveal in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Wednesday of Easter Week
First Reading • (Acts 3:1-10). Today’s reading is based on Luke’s account of the life of the early Jerusalem community that, while practising a new form of fellowship with its own members, continues to observe the devout practises of the Law such as daily prayer in the Temple. The afternoon prayer, Mincha, which also included an offering of grain, was a prayer that intruded into the hours of the working day; so, to attend it regularly might be considered an act of special piety. The healing of the paralysed man is the first miracle worked by the followers of Jesus.
Gospel • (Lk 24:13-35). The account of the Journey to Emmaus and the recognition of Jesus by the disciples in the breaking of bread is one of the gems of Luke’s Gospel and not of his Easter account alone. It shows signs of having been polished over many years of retelling, as the community reflects on aspects of its Easter experience – the close reading and study of the Scriptures, the repeated breaking of the bread in memory of Jesus, the call to mission, all often done in the darkness of struggle and hesitant faith that somehow flashes anew in the recognition that he walks with them.
Introduction • Let us pray with the trust in the name of the Lord who accompanies his people on their journey through life.
Petitions • That the Church may always be grateful for the presence of the risen Lord in the Scriptures and in the breaking of bread.
That Christians may be big-hearted and generous in sharing the gifts given us by the risen Lord.
That all who have suffered loss or are, for any reason, downcast, may know that the risen Lord supports them and understands them.
That all whose calling it is to open the Scriptures for others may be faithful and sensitive in that task.
That our beloved dead may know the risen Lord face to face.
Concluding Prayer • God of strength, you remember your covenant from generation to generation; we pray you to send your blessing on all for whom we pray and to guide us in making known your might deeds, the blessings revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thursday of Easter Week
First Reading • (Acts 3:11-26). The healing of the paralysed man attracts a crowd and the crowd provides, once again, the opportunity for the apostles to proclaim that Jesus is risen. The sermons in Acts are not edited recordings of actual sermons as they were delivered but represent the distillation of the Church’s evolving faith in Jesus as the risen Lord. They have two main focuses – the historical reality of the crucifixion of Jesus at a known time and in a known place; and, secondly, the greater narrative of the history of Israel, as it is only against this background that it can be understood.
Gospel • (Lk 24: 35-48). Luke’s account of the appearance of Jesus to the assembled group of disciples takes place while the Emmaus pilgrims are still telling their story. The central part of the text wishes to emphasise the reality of the resurrection: although Jesus can appear despite closed doors, there is nevertheless a reality to his physical body that can be touched and which is able to digest food. The final part of the Gospel continues Luke’s building of a theology of the resurrection we have seen in action in the Gospel: viz., that it is only through the witness of the Old Testament writings – Law, Prophets and Psalms (the three parts of the Jewish sacred writings – Torah, Nebiim and Ketubhim, ‘Writings’).
Introduction • We are heirs of the prophets, heirs of all the promises God made to the Jewish people. And trusting that God is true and faithful, we turn to God in prayer.
Petitions • That the faith of Peter and John will encourage all Christians to a deeper trust in God.
That we will always reverence the name of Jesus in word and in deed.
That all who are in need of healing will know the loving are of the God who glorified his servant Jesus.
That all who work to alleviate suffering and distress may find support in their own time of need.
Concluding Prayer • God of our ancestors, your name is great through all the earth. Grant us the blessing of your peace and of being able to live as heirs of the prophets, thus giving witness to the glory of our Saviour Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Friday of Easter Week
First Reading • (Acts 4:1-12). The Apostles’ sermon to the crowd has two effects. It lands them in jail but it also brings another body of believers into their fellowship so that the Church, which on the day of the Ascension numbered a mere 120, has grown to a community of about 5,000 in a very short space of time. Like their Master, they are brought before the council and despite their lack of education, they are well able to speak in defence of the truth they proclaim. They use a Psalm quotation which Jesus himself had originally used about the stone rejected by the builders, to assert the truth about Jesus as the corner stone.
Gospel • (Jn 20:1-14). The appearance to the disciples by the lakeside has very clear links to John 6, the miraculous feeding of the crowd beside the lake. There is, for instance, the reference to a long night of effort that has produced little: they rowed against the wind in John 6 but made little headway: here, a night of fishing has produced only empty nets. In both scenes there is a meal of bread and fish with Jesus as the host, and the Eucharistic dimension of the food is hard to miss. Both are moments of revelation of who Jesus is. The deepest dimension of the Eucharistic mystery is the way in which it mediates to us the presence of the Risen One.
Introduction • Because we believe with Peter and John that there is only one name under heaven by which we can be saved, we make these prayers in the name of our risen Lord.
Petitions • For prisoners of conscience and their families: may they be supported by our prayers and by what we do.
For faith strong enough to withstand the pressure from forces resistant to the Gospel.
For grace that the meals we share would arouse in us a sense of gratitude for God’s many blessings.
For a great growth of the generosity that would enable society to satisfy all who are hungry for food, for acceptance and for respect.
Concluding Prayer • God of grace, whose love has no end, grant us, in your answer to our prayers, joy and gladness in seeing your salvation, the work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Saturday of Easter Week
First Reading • (Acts 4:13-21). The learned aristocrats and their retainers who compose the council cannot get the better of two uneducated Galilean fishermen. But they find themselves on the horns of a dilemma: they cannot allow preaching of this kind to pass unchecked; but there is clearly a market for it. Though Peter’s refusal to give an undertaking to stay silent does little to resolve their problem, the disciples walk free from the court.
Gospel • (Mk 16:9-15). Mark’s Gospel probably ended with the women leaving the tomb of Jesus in shocked silence, resolved to say nothing, as they cannot make sense of the empty tomb; and the angel’s proclamation of the resurrection is the only glimpse of an Easter light. The growing narrative of Easter leaves this stark but powerful need of a different ending. What we have here is from a different hand than that of the first evangelist. It has taken stories now familiar from their incorporation into other Gospels and placed them here in a simplified series of three brief narratives. The account of the appearance to Mary would seem to be based on John’s longer and more dramatic account which we read on Tuesday. The second is a simplified version of the Emmaus story and finally, there is a version of the appearance to the Eleven and their commissioning.
Introduction • On this day which was made by the Lord, we rejoice and are glad and we raise our hearts in prayer.
Petitions • That the Church may always be mindful of her calling to proclaim the Good News to all creation.
That our confident assurance in the love of God may enable us to witness sensitively to those who do not believe.
That we may receive help to recognise and welcome the many different, and often unexpected, ways in which the Lord comes to us.
That the risen Lord may lead us from doubt and timidity to confidence and strength.
Concluding Prayer • O God, our strength, our song and our saviour, grant that our lives may witness to the great truth that your right hand has triumphed: in Jesus Christ our Lord.
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