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And their eyes were opened .... Third Sunday of Easter, 3 May 2020

Updated: May 16, 2020

See end of this message for notices, links to online Masses (including Fr Steve's 10.30am Zoom Sunday Mass), reflections, news and prayers to lift your spirit from Redemptorist publications; for Melchior's Sunday evening meditation link; etc.

We all have our routines in the morning.  My head wakes up first.  Unfortunately these days, it takes a while for my body to join it.  It's such an effort to get it started.  I concentrate hard, summon up every ounce of energy in me, then I finally manage to get my eye lids to part.  Result!  The seeing is switched on, we're off and running, another day in lockdown. First port of call, well second actually, (the first would be more information than you require), is the kitchen.  Coffee!  I ran out of capsules two weeks ago.  Yesterday a boxful arrived courtesy of a parishioner.  I have so much to be grateful for.  The aroma was especially sweet to savour because someone gave me that.  The box of coffee but the aroma as well.  And the taste.  I experienced gratitude. I lit a smoke while opening the door to the balcony to let some fresh air in - go figure - stepped out on to the balcony, sat down and began thinking about what I was going to write about the Emmaus gospel.  I wondered if people knew that the two disciples on that road were Clopas and his wife.  That the one who was doing all the talking was probably not Clopas.  It was his wife who stood at the foot of the cross.  It was she who brought oil to venerate the body of Jesus.  It was she who witnessed the empty tomb.  She was the one who knew about all the "goings on" in Jerusalem those past few days. I took another slurp of coffee.  God, that's good.  In the distance, well about as distant as it gets for us earthlings, the sun was up.  The beautiful morning glow was already beginning to dissipate the mist in the distance.  I guess creation is a bit like me, it takes a bit of time to get going in the morning.  But that glow, that stillness, it's so magnificent. My head returned to Emmaus.  It's pretty significant that, that first ever Eucharist of the Risen Lord, didn't take place on 'the mountain or in Jerusalem.'  It didn't take place in a Temple or a Church.  Jesus chose to reveal himself at the breaking of bread for the first time in someone's .... home.  That reminds me, I should make some toast.  Wow!  A heron flies overhead.  It's fantastic.  Just as it disappears, I hear the tap tap tap of something on the pine tree ten feet away from my balcony.  My eyes follow my ears and I see it - a tree creeper bird.  It's having breakfast too. A blue tit arrives and lands where it always does on the fir tree, a little horizontal stub of a branch.  It's like a little stage, an altar even.  And it belts out a song.  It makes me laugh out loud.  What a racket from such a small thing.  Wait a minute, there's another one accompanying it this morning.  It's a chick!  The first one I've seen this year.  It flaps its wings furiously demanding to be fed.  The adult bird goes back and forward to the feeder but will not give the young one any food.  Back and forward the adult goes until suddenly the young one 'gets it.'  It flies up to the feeder and for the first time in its life, it feeds itself.  It's a fully fledged blue-tit now.  And I saw it happen. But that's not getting the sermon done.  My head returned to the appearances of Jesus.  I realise I'm becoming frustrated.  All that stuff is just information.  Clopas and his wife, I mean.  People are feeling deprived of the Eucharist, I'm only coming up with some information, something that might have them saying, - well that's interesting.  But no more.  It isn't experiential.  It's not helping people to open their eyes and see, to open their ears and hear.  It's not helping them to 'get it.' A big bumblebee suddenly grabs my attention.  It's buzzing away amongst my pots of geraniums.  Someone gave me them too, last year.  And the plants didn't die during winter and now they are flourishing again, lots of crimson red flowers.  I experience gratitude again.  And a white butterfly lands on one flower, wow, the wings catch the sun and gleam against the red petals.  Oops, it's gone.  Maybe it doesn't like geranium flavour. Speaking of which, I check my little window box of herbs.  Rosemary, thyme, coriander, parsley, basil and mint.  I check the perfume of each one.  It's crazy, they all share the same soil, the same water, the same sunlight, but they are all so different.  And when you really look at the detail of the leafs, it's kind of a miracle, right there in a window box.  I decide I'm going to cook a meal this evening and use .... thyme!  Decision made.  Potato dauphinois, mmmm! That's if I ever get the reflection for the newsletter done.  It's becoming a hardship now.  And it's going to get worse.  Next week the Apostles are fishing on a boat.  Jesus appears on the shore.  John just about has a heart attack.  Peter falls into the water.  The boat just about capsizes and there are fish flying about everywhere.  Where do I even begin to convey in language what those men felt, what they experienced in their hearts?  The incredible shift in understanding that took place in that moment that changed their lives forever?  It's too big an ask, God. Ping!  Ah, the first text message of the day provides a welcome distraction from bleedin' sermons.  Someone's down at the lake for an early morning meander.  No words, just a little piece of video they've just taken - see attachment. You know what, Steve, just leave it.  If God is Spirit, He'll find some way to show them His presence during this time of no Eucharist.  Pam, I can't think of anything to write this week, I'm really distracted.  Every time I go to write about God, something else happens that completely takes my mind away from Him.  Maybe just put in a reflection by Richard Rohr or Roland Rolheiser for this week instead.  I'm sure no one will mind. Steve Ron Rolheiser it is!  Living Beyond Our Crucifixions Every dream eventually gets crucified.  How?  By time, circumstance, jealousy and that curious, perverse dictate, somehow innate within the order of things, that ensures that there is always someone or something that cannot leave well enough alone, but, for reasons of its own, must hunt down and strike what is good. The good will always be envied, hated, pursued, smudged, killed.  That’s true even of dreams.  Something there is that needs a crucifixion.  Every body of Christ inevitably suffers the same fate as Jesus.  There’s no smooth ride for what’s whole, good, true or beautiful. But that’s only half the equation, the bad half.  What’s also true, what the resurrection teaches, is that, while nothing that is of God can avoid crucifixion, no body of Christ ever stays in the tomb for long either. God always rolls back the stone and, soon enough, new life bursts forth and we see why that original life had to be crucified.  (“Wasn’t it necessary that the Christ should so have to suffer and die?”)  Resurrection follows crucifixion.  Every crucified body will rise again. But where do we meet the resurrection?  Where does the resurrected Christ meet us? Scripture is subtle, but clear.  Where can we expect to meet the resurrected Christ after a crucifixion?  The gospel tell us that, on the morning of the resurrection, the women-followers of Jesus, the midwives of hope, set out for the tomb of Jesus, carrying spices, intending to anoint and embalm a dead body.  Well-intentioned, but misguided, what they find is not a dead body, but by an empty tomb and an angel challenging them with these words: “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?  Go instead into Galilee and you will find him there!” Go instead into Galilee.  What a curious expression!  What is Galilee?  Why go back?  In the post-resurrection accounts in the gospels, Galilee is not simply a physical geography.  It is, first of all, a place in the heart.  Galilee is the dream, the road of discipleship that they had once walked with Jesus, and that place and time when their hearts had most burned with hope and enthusiasm.  And now, just when they feel that this all is dead, that their faith is only fantasy, they are told to go back to the place where it all began: “Go back to Galilee.  He will meet you there!” And they do go back, to Galilee, to that special place in their hearts, to the dream, to their discipleship. Sure enough, Jesus appears to them there.  He doesn’t appear exactly as they remember him, nor as often as they would like him to, but he does appear as more than a ghost or a mere idea.  The Christ that appears to them after the resurrection no longer fits their original expectation, but he is physical enough to eat fish in the presence, real enough to be touched as a human being and powerful enough to change their lives forever. Ultimately that is what the resurrection challenges us to do, to go back to Galilee, to return to the dream, hope and discipleship that had once inflamed us but that now is crucified. This, too, is what it means to “be on the road to Emmaus”.  In Luke’s gospel, we are told that on the day of the resurrection, two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem towards Emmaus, their faces downcast. That single line contains an entire spirituality: for Luke, Jerusalem, like Galilee for the other gospel writers, means the dream, the hope, the kingdom, the centre from which all is to begin and where ultimately all is to culminate.  And the disciples are “walking away” from this, away from the dream, towards Emmaus.  Emmaus was a Roman Spa – a Las Vegas and Monte Carlo of human consolation.  Their dream has been crucified and the disciples, discouraged and hope-emptied, are walking away from it, towards human consolation, muttering: “But we had hoped!”  They never get to Emmaus.  Jesus appears to them on the road, reshapes their hope in the light of the crucifixion, and turns them back towards Jerusalem. One of the essential messages of Easter is this: whenever we are discouraged in our faith, whenever our hopes seem to be crucified, we need to go back to Galilee and Jerusalem, that is, to the dream, to the road of discipleship that we had embarked upon before everything went wrong.  The temptation of course, whenever we feel this way, whenever the kingdom doesn’t seen to work, is to abandon discipleship for human consolation, to set out instead for Emmaus, for the consolation of Las Vegas and Monte Carlo. But, as we already know, we never quite get to Emmaus.  In one guise or another, Christ always meets us on the road, burns holes in our hearts, explains the latest crucifixion to us, and sends us back – to Galilee and to our abandoned discipleship.  Once there, it all makes sense again. NOTICES ONLINE MASS SUNDAY, 10.30AM - Please join Fr Steve for Mass online at 10.30am on Sunday via this Zoom link: MELCHIOR'S GUIDED MEDITATION LIVE AT 6PM EACH SUNDAY: Sunday Session 26.04- Intention and desire MOTHER TERESA SISTERS' DONATIONS: thank you for your continued support of the Mother Teresa Sisters during this time of crisis.  Food and other household items can be delivered to them at: Ch de la Foret 2, 1018 Bellevaux.   Please ring: 021 647 3135 on arrival to let them know you have bags for them to store.   Suggested items: rice, pre-made ravioli, canned beans, canned vegetables, jam, tea, coffee, milk, eggs, pasta, vegetable oil, soap, toilet roll.  Online donations are also very much appreciated: Missionaries of Charity, IBAN/KONTO number: CH38 09 00 00 00 174 035 795. FR STEVE'S ANNIVERSARY GIFT: thank you to everyone who has donated to Fr Steve's anniversary gift (the 30th anniversary of his ordination on 1 June and the 10th anniversary of his arrival at Our Lady of Faith, September 2010).  If you'd like to contribute to the cash gift we will present to him please do so, reference: Fr Steve Gift, via:  BCV Bank Account No: 10-725-4 IBAN: CH08 0076 7000 K534 3156 6 Account Name: English Catholic Mission Address: Ave de Bethusy 54, 1012 Lausanne Reflections, news and prayers to lift your spirit.

Pope Francis reflects on Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in the Gospel (Jn 3:16-21): “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Pope Francis said this passage contains a wealth of theological revelation about Redemption. He focused his attention on two aspects: the revelation of God’s love and the existential choice between light and darkness. “God loves us,” said the Pope. “He loves us madly. As one saint used to say, God’s love seems like madness.”Converse with GodAcquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends. The Mental Health Foundation, a charity with a mission to help people understand, protect and sustain their mental health, has put together some top tips for supporting those that are struggling.

  • Call a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while

  • Tell a family member how much you love and appreciate them

  • Make a cup of tea for someone you live with

  • Arrange to have a cup of tea and virtual catch up with someone you know

  • Help with a household chore at home

  • Arrange to watch a film at the same time as a friend and video call

  • Tell someone you know that you are proud of them

  • Tell someone you know why you are thankful for them

  • Send a motivational text to a friend who is struggling

  • Send someone you know a joke to cheer them up

  • Send someone you know a picture of a cute animal

  • Send an inspirational quote to a friend

  • Send an interesting article to a friend

  • Contact someone you haven’t seen in a while and arrange a phone call

  • Spend time playing with your pet

  • Reach out to call a friend, family member or neighbour who is experiencing loneliness or self-isolation

  • Donate to a charity

  • Lend your ear – call a colleague and ask how they’re finding it all

  • Give praise to your colleague for something they’ve done well

  • Arrange to have a video lunch with a colleague

  • Send an inspirational story of kindness from around the world to someone you know

  • Donate to foodbanks

  • Offer to skill share with a friend via video call - you could teach guitar, dance etc.

  • Offer support to vulnerable neighbours

  • Offer to send someone a takeaway or a meal

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