Lent Daily Reflections 2013

Easter Sunday

The Resurrection is described - not as an event that might have been recorded if there had been a cameraman around at the time - but as an experience in the people to whom he appeared.

This was a simultaneously intensely personal and powerfully communal experience. It changed the individuals who felt it and created a confident, other-centred community out of a group of frightened, broken-hearted self-doubters.

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Holy Saturday

‘Something strange is happening today’. A second century Christian writer in a beautiful teaching once tried to express the experience of absent presence that fills the emptiness after the burial of Jesus.

Everyone who has buried a loved one has felt this strangeness that follows the rituals and the companionship of family and friends. In the jokes and stories at the gathering after the service, there is permission, within the social conventions, to step aside briefly from the sense of loss and emptiness.

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Good Friday

Under most legal systems through history death has been both the greatest crime and the greatest punishment. It is irreversible, absolute, and that is one reason why it is so terrible.

Another, of course, is that it is the loss that laces all losses. In anything we have ever had taken away from us by force or accident the fear of death has been aroused. When death finally comes it seems to prove that this fear is justified: eventually everything goes; so everything is ultimately meaningless.

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Holy Thursday

He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.

At the last ritual meal which Jesus shared with his friends he threw himself into it with such passion that he became it. The symbols of bread and wine, common fruits of the earth and staples of the daily local meals, occasioned both nourishment and celebration.

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Wednesday of Holy Week

‘Judas, who was to betray him; asked in his turn, ‘Not I, Rabbi, surely?’ ‘They are your own words’ answered Jesus.’

There are several revealing aspects around the theme of betrayal in the Passion story. Jesus is the one betrayed, most obviously by one particular disciple. But Jesus is also the one who foresees it and exposes it almost clinically. Judas plays innocent and says ‘not I surely’ and Jesus says – not for the first time – ‘you said it not me’.

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Tuesday of Holy Week

There are plenty who sit and talk. Fewer walk the talk. Even fewer are able to make the walking the ultimate and complete expression of the talking. By their actions they express everything that their words once meant. In this they acquire the pure eloquence of silence.

This point is a culmination of all that has been anticipated and understood in the past – a fulfillment of a prophecy. It is like walking towards the edge of a cliff and seeing it approach you as you walk towards it.

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Monday of Holy Week

Our Holy Week retreat began on Bere Island yesterday. There are people here from different parts of the world as well as locals from the island and the Beara Peninsula which is an area of great natural beauty, both gentle and rugged. 

Many around the world will also be participating by internet. To a great degree today space has been conquered by technology. There’s a difference of course between virtual and physical presence, but presence it is either way.

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Passion Sunday

Without passion there’s no compassion. In the same way there has to be eros in the mixture if there is to be agape as well. If there’s no force of attraction there’s nothing to propel us into transcendence.

Passion can however break loose of this formula and become autonomous – just serving its own appetite and self-interest. It morphs into a rogue force in our psyche that causes devastation in the world around us. We bounce wildly from desire to exhaustion before we start looking for another object to desire.

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Passion Sunday

Without passion there’s no compassion. In the same way there has to be eros in the mixture if there is to be agape as well. If there’s no force of attraction there’s nothing to propel us into transcendence.

Passion can however break loose of this formula and become autonomous – just serving its own appetite and self-interest. It morphs into a rogue force in our psyche that causes devastation in the world around us. We bounce wildly from desire to exhaustion before we start looking for another object to desire.

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Saturday of Lent Week 5

John Cassian, the 5th century master of the spiritual life, advises us to say the mantra, continuously revolving it in the heart, ‘in prosperity and adversity’.

The global economy illustrates the often dramatic ups and down of life. Boom periods where expectations and greed run amok lead to bust. Then times of austerity follow and, as always, inflict most hardship on the most vulnerable members of society. 

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