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Thomas the Doubter - Second Sunday of Easter / Divine Mercy Sunday

St Thomas appears to have been an extraordinary man.  He was the only Apostle who went on to preach the Good News outside the then, known world, the Roman Empire.  He went to India.  And he was to pay a high price for his doubting. People just wouldn't believe him.  His gospel would not be accepted into the Church's Canon of Scriptures.  How's that for Karma, Thomas? For those who are uncomfortable with that Gospel, we can just stay with what he shares in common with the other evangelists - The Kingdom is to be found within and, listen those of you who have ears that hear, eyes that see.  What does that even mean? There are clues in the accounts of the appearances of Jesus.  It would seem that in all of them, the first prerequisite is .... to stop.  All the Apostles stop what they are doing.  No more visits to the Temple, isolated in the upper room, getting off the road to where they were going (Emmaus) or stopping their livelihood, fishing.  Stopping is pretty fundamental to the process, it would seem.  (And St Paul could give you a lecture on being stopped in your tracks.)  It all makes absolute sense.  Didn't Jesus describe his kingdom as something very subtle, like a young plant growing, you can't see it or hear it, but it's growing? When we stop we move from Martha mode, all the well meaning activity, to Mary - just giving attention, listening, absorbing.  We at least give ourselves a chance, if we stop. Thomas doesn't believe.  It's a matter of the head, logic.  It's his starting position.  Then Jesus shows him his wounds. Logic tells him then that it's true.  Jesus has indeed risen from the dead.  In that moment though, something else happens, something which made him cry out, "My Lord and my God."  He moved from his head, to his heart.  From believing or disbelieving, to realising it.  It is the heart which is suddenly responding, not the head.  (Jesus spoke about this, btw, the kingdom will remain hidden to those who think they will discover it via logic.  It won't happen.)  From that wonderful moment of realisation, Thomas' ears began to hear, his eyes began to see with much more clarity and sensitivity than he had previously known. For the Emmaus bound duo it's something slightly different.  Their starting point IS belief.  They are already convinced. They ask their fellow traveller - "Where have you been?  Haven't you heard what's been going on?"  They tell the stranger excitedly stuff he already knows.  I always envisage a Scottish Jesus there saying in a droll voice, "Is that right, aye?!" Thankfully, Jesus wasn't Scottish, so instead he sets about explaining the scriptures to them, with such insight and passion that their hearts are burning within them.  They've already made the move from head to heart.  But the weird thing is, both Apostles are actually unaware that it is happening within them in that moment.  It is only later that the realisation hits them - "Didn't our hearts burn within us ...."  It was already there, they just didn't see it until later, until their ears and eyes began to open. I used to always listen to the gospel where Jesus tells his followers to take the plank out of their own eyes, then they will see clearly enough to help their brother with the splinter in his, as a comment about hypocrisy and judgement of others. Now I see it differently.  It's more connected to today's gospel - for those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven, for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.  So if you feel the need to draw attention to someone else's sin, you'd better damned well make sure that you are seeing clearly enough to make that call. So where is this kingdom where seeing and hearing take on a different dimension, a different depth?  We know it isn't up there in the sky, otherwise the birds would get there before us.  It isn't in the ocean, where the fish will get first dibs.  It isn't in our moral virtue because tax collectors and prostitutes will get there before us.  It isn't in our intelligence because mere children get there before us.  Where is this within? This week a retired teacher was in touch with me.  He was cleaning out his attic and came across an old box filled with copies of report cards of former students.  As he looked at the names, he remembered each one, their dramas, their problems, their qualities.  And as he reflected, something else began to emerge.  He realised that he had been so patient with the one who was slow, encouraging to the one who was so down on himself, he provided challenge to the one who was bored, a listening ear to the one who had problems at home.  Suddenly, a bit like the Emmaus Apostles, it all became clear - his heart had been burning within him all along, he just never saw it until now.  And now, when those graces of patience, encouragement, challenge and the ability to listen are sorely needed, they are all right there, within him.  And he's using them now to such divine effect. Isn't that happening just now with you too?  The discovery that what you have been searching for, was actually there all along?  It just needed you to see it, to become aware of it. Jesus said - YOU are the light of the world.  The problem with most of us is not a question of belief that, that is true, it's a question of realising it, of moving from our heads to our hearts.  If you stop for a moment and just look at your last month, haven't you noticed that something beautiful is happening within you, that some 'grace' within you - who you really are - is suddenly emerging, apparently out of nowhere?  If not, look again.  It's there. My favourite appearance story is Jesus on the shore of the lake.  A still broken Peter, so aware of his recent failures, his cowardice, lack of courage, his shame.  I guess we can all identify with that.  But then he gets a glimpse of the Light of the World, standing on the shore but more importantly, within himself, in amongst that brokenness, and uselessness - a fisherman who can't catch fish is pretty useless - and shame.  Then ... well, the Risen Lord teaches him of the possibilities that await him if he just has a belief in the Christ who is within him and let that belief move from his head to his heart, a boat so filled to the brim that he can scarcely accept what is unfolding before his eyes.  A lovely moment where he looks at the filled boat and asks himself - just how on earth did that possibly happen? Fr Steve

Please join Fr Steve for Mass online at 10.30am on Sunday via this  zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/828192758 Other online Masses: https://www.churchservices.tv/timetable/ During this time of social distancing and to show solidarity in the Roman Catholic English Speaking Swiss Community, the English Speaking Roman Catholic Community of Basel – ESRCCB - is offering Sunday Mass video and reflections on YouTube and on its website.  It also offers the audio as a podcast.  Website: www.esrccb.org where the latest information including the latest mass video is posted.  Its YouTube Channel is at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq4ckils66RYLrtAXEsqz3w where they post Sunday Mass at 5:30pm and other videos.  They record Sunday morning but it takes several hours to record, edit, render and publish the video – hence why it is posted at 5:30pm. The audio is offered through a podcast at https://anchor.fm/esrccb with the RSS feed for podcasting software at https://anchor.fm/s/1688eb5c/podcast/rss. The audio is also available on Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/show/5BwTsxRm6Tfqe6VyUICKFS Bishop Morerod's Mass of 14 April: https://youtu.be/gkCpTulCRIo Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi Message, 21 April 2019

The resurrection of Christ is the principle of new life for every man and every woman, for true renewal always begins from the heart, from the conscience. Yet Easter is also the beginning of the new world, set free from the slavery of sin and death: the world open at last to the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of love, peace and fraternity. Christ is alive and he remains with us. Risen, he shows us the light of his face, and he does not abandon all those experiencing hardship, pain and sorrow. NOTICES THANK YOU: for your prayers for Nessie who has now come off the ventilator and has managed a telephone chat with Cezanne, her daughter. MELCHIOR'S GUIDED MEDITATION LIVE AT 6PM EACH SUNDAY: Click on the image below for the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAsd4ExXZkM&feature=youtu.be For those who can't join on Sunday, see Melchior's guided meditation on how to deal with boredom that you can use any time, just click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxu-my5sqcY&feature=youtu.be

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


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