Tuesday, 25 April 2017


Some years ago a friend greeted me when I was on a train journey.   That came as a surprise, because I hadn’t expected to see him there.   In fact, although I was sitting  next to him I didn’t recognised him.  And even when he greeted me, I found it difficult to put a name to his familiar face.   My problem was that I didn’t expect him to be on my train, making the same journey as me.  My imagination couldn’t make the leap to recognise him in an unexpected situation.   I expect most of you have had a similar experience.

That’s something like what happened to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.    Jesus was the last person they expected to meet.  After all, everyone knew that he’d just been crucified and then buried.   With His death all the hope they’d placed in Him had been shattered.   They were desolate!   

When the risen Lord joined them as they sadly talked about Him they didn’t recognise Him, partly because they didn’t expect to see Him.    They didn’t realise who it was who explained that the Scriptures foretold that He must suffer and die, and that He would rise from the grave.   They only recognise Him at the end of the journey, when the risen Lord, shared a meal with them and broke bread in a familiar way.
Luke recorded this graphic account of the risen Lord’s appearance to help convince us that He did not abandon us when He ascended to heaven.   We have two sceptical witnesses who became convinced that the Lord had truly risen.   They hastened to share this wonderful news the disciples.  That sums up the mission of the Church and of each of us.   

This episode is meant to reassure us that Jesus is now with us in new ways.   He speaks to our minds and hearts through the Scriptures.   As the two disciples recognised Jesus in the breaking of bread, we are reminded that we meet him in the sacramental life of the Church –especially in the Eucharist.   Finally, this episode tells us that our crucified and risen Lord accompanies us as we journey through life, just as He did the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
But throughout this account of Christ’s resurrection appearance there’s the problem of recognising Him.   That requires both God’s gift of faith and also our openness to the unexpected.    We need to realise that the Word of God Himself speaks to us personally through the written text of the Scriptures.   And when we receive the sacraments we must look beyond the physical appearance of, say, bread, wine, water and words, and make the leap of faith to believe that we meet Jesus Himself, approaching us to help us in our different needs. 

Finally, we meet Jesus in the people we encounter in our journey through life.   Some may be easy to recognise as being really Christ-like.  But it may be much hard to recognise Jesus, as He identifies with the needy, the despised and rejected in society.  Today’s Gospel reminds us that we need great sensitivity to appreciate Christ who is already in our midst in so many ways.  We can so easily miss Him!
 Isidore O.P.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


The death of Jesus on the cross brought desolation,   despair, a  sense of loss to those who had loved and admired Him. The disciples on the road to Emmaus spoke for all of them, “Our hope had been that He would be the one to set Israel free,” (Lk.24.21).   

Joyfully the Easter  Liturgy  has celebrated  His Resurrection. However, before any such joy there were some dreadful moments, such  as when the closest of His friends found His  tomb to be empty.  Losing a loved one, then losing His body – undoubtedly here a sense  of   emptiness and hopelessness.

It is into this emptiness that the risen Jesus begins  to  pour FAITH – belief  that He, thought to be a disappointing failure, was, in fact,  a triumphant hero. 

Upon this Faith Foundation Jesus builds   HOPE – confidence of  their lives being once more built around Jesus; once more it would be possible to have expectations of Jesus.

 From the  first day of the week following His  crucifixion Jesus appeared to His friends  with greetings such as, “Be not afraid, peace be with you, give me some food, look at my wounds,   even touch them, I’m not a ghost!”

 On these occasions they overcame their doubts as they received the GIFT OF FAITH  so as  to  believe that  Jesus  had, indeed, achieved what He came to do – conquer sin and death  and then  pass into Glory.

 What is more, by His resurrection from the dead Jesus had  extracted hope out of the ashes of despair.      This GIFT OF HOPE  answered the question,     “How does this  personal triumph of Jesus  affect us?”  

Interesting that the first person to be assured of a future with Jesus was the thief hanging on cross next to Him!   "In truth I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise,” (Lk23.43).

 As for ourselves, we can take to ourselves what  Jesus said to Martha, “I am the Resurrection. Anyone who believes in me, even though that person dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die,” (Jn.11.25).

What better could we hope for?

Peter Clarke, O.P. 

Friday, 14 April 2017


What drama the Paschal -Easter -Vigil!  On Good Friday, we, with the Crucified Christ, were plunged into the darkness of death. On Holy Saturday we remained grieving for Jesus and for our deceased loved ones.

Then, at dusk, the liturgy of the Paschal Vigil begins. Outside the church a fire is lit, signifying the spark of new life.  The Paschal Candle –representing the risen Lord - is lit from the fire.

Triumphantly the deacon holds aloft the Paschal Candle and leads us into the darkened church.   Three times he halts and sings, “The Light of Christ!” All reply, “Thanks be to God!”  At the first pause those within this procession light their candles from the Paschal Candle; at the second pause the candles of the congregation are lit from those in the procession; at the last pause the candles in the sanctuary are lit and all the church lights are switched on. 

Every detail of this drama proclaims the risen Lord’s victory over the darkness of sin and death.  He is, indeed, the Light of the World, whom the Darkness of Evil could not overcome.

Spreading light  from the solitary flame of the Paschal Candle to the remotest corners of the church expresses the missionary work of the Church -to hand on the light of Faith, the light of Life, which we have received from the risen Lord,  drawing people into the Paschal mystery of His death and resurrection. 

We hand on what we have received -that’s what ‘tradition’ is all about! As we process through the darkness and holding our candles the Pilgrim Church brings the light of the risen Lord to the world.  With Christ, we have become lights to the world.  The light we shed is derived from Him, not from ourselves.

Addressing the Paschal Candle of the Risen Lord, the deacon then sings the ‘Exultet.’  This proclaims the triumph of light over darkness, firstly, as God created the universe, and then the renewal of creation through the Paschal mystery. In the prologue to his Gospel John unites these two themes, as he declares the creative Word as being the light shining in the darkness, which could neither understand nor overcome the light. 

The ‘Exultet’ then outlines salvation history, with the emphasis on God delivering His people by night from slavery in Egypt, and leading them by the pillar of fire into the Promised Land.  Through Jesus the light of the risen Lord has led us in a new Exodus from the darkness of sin to the light of life as the children of God.

The Paschal Mystery is then linked to our baptism.  As the Paschal Candle is plunged into the font, and the water is blessed, the font becomes both the tomb and womb for the children of God.  Through baptism we die with Christ to sin and rise with Him to new life. 
At our baptisms we are entrusted with a candle lit from the Paschal Candle and urged to keep it shining throughout our lives.  We become children of the light and at the Vigil renew our baptismal commitment to walk in the light of Christ and reject the ways of darkness. This is the most appropriate time to be baptised.

The celebration of the light of the Paschal Vigil is concluded when all the bells are rung and we sing the ‘Gloria.’ -a joyful celebration of the dawn of the bright new Day of the Risen Lord!

The Paschal Vigil uses the deeply symbolic imagery of light, darkness, fire and water, accompanied by inspiring words, to express the mystery of salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection.    It is a very dramatic celebration.  Sadly,  some consider this to be less important than Christmas midnight Mass.

Isidore Clarke O.P.