SHALOM

After the tumultuous events of Holy Week, Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and his subsequent trial and execution, where were the disciples? Not out on the streets preaching and teaching, not mounting a campaign to prove the innocence of the dead Jesus, but all huddled together in a rented room with the doors locked.
They were afraid. Perhaps they feared that the guards would come and look for them as they had done for their master. The gospel simply says the doors were locked “for fear of the Jews”.  What Jesus says to them, when like a ghost he appears in the locked room, is “Shalom”. They would have known this to be the usual greeting which people exchanged on meeting. Yet Jesus says to them a second time “Shalom”.
Shalom doesn’t simply mean “peace”. It means that deep-down feeling of health, prosperity, security and freedom. It is a positive thing rather than just the absence of disquiet. Shalom is that unshakeable sensation that we are held in the palm of God’s hand and nothing can ever separate us from him.
When we feel afraid or disquieted it’s a comfort to know that even the disciples found it hard to be calm all the time. When we begin to doubt the substance of our faith, when we become discouraged and think we’re getting nowhere, Jesus has one simple word for us: “Shalom”. Faith in the risen Lord does not mean that everything becomes rosy, that we wander through life with no problems or concerns. You could argue that the more a person believes, the deeper the questions and doubts that arise. But what it does mean is that we are able to view the same realities from a different perspective, through a different lens.
The fact that Jesus is risen from the dead means that we no longer face things alone. We no longer are held in the grip of anxiety and fear.
Jesus rose not to abandon us but to be by our side. He is as present to us today as he was in that room with the disciples. And, whatever our fears are, his presence offers us Shalom.

SVP

A new group of the St Vincent de Paul Society was set up recently and involves parishes surrounding the city centre. As the purpose of the SVP is to help those in difficulty, including those with financial problems they need some funds to draw on for any emergency help which they can give.
So, to re-introduce a long standing tradition in our church there will be a retiring collection for them on the first Sunday of every month (other collections notwithstanding). The first collection will be on the first Sunday of May.

Book of the Apocalypse

Also during this cycle the second readings are taken from the Apocalypse, a difficult book full of symbolism which does not sit comfortably in the modern mind. God’s intention is to unite all things in Christ in a kingdom of love and peace. This is a good challenge for us today.

Acts of the Apostles

During Easter on Sundays and during the weekdays the first reading is always from the Acts of the Apostles. This tells us about the early Church from the time of the Ascension. We can only marvel at the speed of its growth and the very real energy and life as the Holy Spirit surged through the Church.
During the Easter Season the first readings at every Mass are from the Acts of the Apostles but there is  greater significance in this Year C when we read from St Luke’s gospel on Sundays; St Luke is also the author of the Acts of the Apostles.

Doubting Thomas

Easter Sunday lasts for 8 days! Every day in the octave of Easter is a celebration of Easter.
At Mass on this second Sunday we read the Gospel of St John telling us of the first meeting of Jesus with the apostles.
Thomas is not present; when they tell him that they have seen the Lord once again we have another example of this apostle’s incredulity which has given him the nickname of Doubting Thomas: ‘Unless I can see the holes the nails made…I refuse to believe’ which prompted Jesus’ response in the quotation above. This should come as no surprise to us as we read at the Easter Vigil Mass when they treated the story of the women who had seen the empty tomb as ‘pure nonsense’.