Sundays in April, May June 2021

Sunday 4 April
Easter Sunday
Acts 10.34,37–43
Psalm 117
Colossians 3.1–4
John 20.1–9
It is easy to understand why people wrote and read the Apocryphal Gospels when we look at the Resurrection of the Lord in our canonical Gospels. The Gospel of Peter and the Acts of Pilate have far more exciting and dramatic accounts of what happened at the tomb, and that would surely have appealed to people. But the early Church fiercely resisted such texts together with a whole host of other writings as not being authentic. That is why today we have this rather understated account of the visit to the tomb by Peter and the Beloved Disciple. Next week’s Gospel is the story of Thomas who states unequivocally ‘unless I see ... I refuse to believe’, and that would probably be the default position of many people. Yet when the Beloved Disciple arrives at the tomb before Peter, he waits, and when he does enter, he does not see any great wonders, he sees simply a few bandages and linen cloths, and yet we are told ‘he saw, and he believed’. Shortly afterwards we hear that Mary Magdalene encounters the Risen Christ near the tomb, and when he addresses her, she recognises him, and goes to tell the others. The fact that it is the Beloved Disciple who is recorded as the first person to believe in the Resurrection is significant, because he did not see the Lord in person as Mary Magdalene did, or as Thomas insists on doing; the Gospel insists that belief comes through faith and love. It is because the disciple – ‘the one whom Jesus loved’ – had that faith that he understood ‘that he must rise from the dead’. Today, as on every Sunday, countless people across the globe will stand and affirm that ‘on the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures’. They do that not because they have seen extraordinary things, but through faith; faith founded on perhaps a few glimpses of experience but rooted in the faith of the Church handed down from those first disciples who believed.

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Breaking the Word - Sundays

In the constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Fathers of Vatican II decreed that: ‘The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word’. (SC.52) The lavish feast of Sacred Scripture at the celebration of the Eucharist is designed to nourish and inspire the faithful. The following reflections on the Sunday readings for the next two months are an attempt to help readers and listeners to both savour and  ponder the selected passages so as to be drawn ever closer to the source of that nourishment. The author is a parish priest in Dorset and Vicar General of the Diocese of Plymouth.