Prayer and Meditation for Monday, April 17, 2017 — “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb — fearful yet overjoyed”

Monday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 261

Reading 1 ACTS 2:14, 22-33

On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.

“You who are children of Israel, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
For David says of him:

I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did his flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit
that he received from the Father, as you both see and hear.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 16:1-2A AND 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

R. (1) Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaPS 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Image result for jesus and mary magdela at the tomb, art, pictures

Gospel MT 28:8-15

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce the news to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor
Magdalene Mary recognises Jesus outside the tomb – by William Hole

….

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city
and told the chief priests all that had happened.
The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel;
then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,
telling them, “You are to say,
‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’
And if this gets to the ears of the governor,
we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.
And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

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Lectio Divina:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Time
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Easter! Today’s Gospel describes the experience of the Resurrection which the disciples of Jesus had. At the beginning of his Gospel, in presenting Jesus, Matthew had said that Jesus is the Emmanuel, God with us (Mt 1, 23). Now, at the end, he communicates and increases this certainty of faith, because he proclaims that Jesus is risen (Mt 28, 6) and that he will be with us always, up to the end of time! (Mt 28, 20). In the contradictions of life, this truth is questioned, contested very much. Opposition is not lacking. The enemies, the chief priests of the Jews, defended themselves against the Good News of the Resurrection and sent word to say that the body had been stolen by the disciples (Mt 28, 11-13). This also happens today. On the one side, the effort of many persons to live and to witness to the resurrection. On the other side, so many evil people who fight against the resurrection and against life.
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• In the Gospel of Matthew, the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus is told through a symbolical language, which reveals the hidden sense of the events. Matthew speaks about the earthquake, of lightening and of the angels who announce the victory of Jesus over death (Mt 2-4). It is an apocalyptic language, very common at that time, to announce that finally the world had been transformed by the power of God! The hope of the poor, who reaffirmed their faith, was fulfilled: “He is alive in our midst!”
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• Matthew 28, 8: The joy of the Resurrection overcomes fear. On Sunday morning, the first day of the week, two women went to the tomb, Mary of Magdala and Mary of James, also called the other Mary. All of a sudden the earth trembled and an angel appeared as lightening. The guards who were guarding the tomb were so shaken up with fear that they were like dead men. The women were frightened but the angel encouraged them, announcing the victory of Jesus over death and sending them to go join the disciples of Jesus in Galilee. And in Galilee they would be able to see him again. Everything began there; they received the great revelation of the Risen Lord. The joy of the Resurrection began to overcome fear. Thus the announcement of life and resurrection begins in this way.
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• Matthew 28, 9-10: Jesus appears to the women. The women left quickly. In them there is a mixture of fear and of joy. These are sentiments typical of those who have a profound experience of the Mystery of God. Suddenly, Jesus himself went to meet them and said to them: “”Rejoice!” And they fell on their knees and adored him. It is the attitude of the one who believes and accepts the presence of God, even if it surprises and goes beyond the human capacity of understanding. Now, Jesus himself orders them to go and join the brothers in Galilee: “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me”.
• Matthew 28, 11-15: The astuteness or guile of the enemies of the Good News. The opposition itself which Jesus had to face during his life, springs up again now after his Resurrection. The chief priests meet and give money to the guards. They should spread the news that the disciples have robbed the body of Jesus, and this in order to avoid everything which is said about the resurrection. The chief priests do not accept the Good News of the Resurrection. They prefer to believe that it is an invention on the part of the disciples – men and women – of Jesus.
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• The significance of the testimony of the women. The presence of the women at the death, at the burial and at the resurrection of Jesus is significant. They are witnesses of the death of Jesus (Mt 27, 54-56). At the moment of the burial, they remain sitting before the tomb and, therefore, they can render witness of the place where Jesus was buried (Mt 27, 61). Now, on Sunday morning, they are there once again. They know that the empty tomb is truly the tomb of Jesus! The profound experience of death and resurrection which they had, transformed their lives. They themselves become qualified witnesses of the Resurrection in the Christian Communities. This is why they receive the order to announce: “Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead!”
Personal questions
• Which is the experience of resurrection that I have in my life? Is there in me some force which tries to oppose the experience of the resurrection? How do I react?
• Today, which is the mission of our community, of us, disciples of Jesus? From where can we draw force and strength and courage to fulfil our mission?
Concluding Prayer
I bless Yahweh who is my counsellor,
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep Yahweh before me always,
for with him at my right hand,
nothing can shake me. (Ps 16,7-8)
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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
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Over and over again in the scripture we see the words “do not be afraid.” God expects us to know and believe that he has our back!
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This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Image may contain: 1 person, closeup
St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) as a Young Woman (detail) by François Gerard (1827)
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore 
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17 APRIL, 2017, Monday within Easter Octave
INTELLIGIBILITY OF THE RESURRECTION
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ACTS 2:14. 22-33; MT 28:8-15]

Christian Faith stands or falls with our belief in the resurrection of our Lord.  Indeed, the resurrection of Christ is the foundational doctrine of Christian Faith.  All other doctrines of the Church depend on this sole doctrine.  Without the resurrection of Christ, there is no way for us to speak about the doctrines of the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, Justification, Judgement and Resurrection on the Last Day, the efficacy of the Sacraments, the reality of our Lord in the Eucharist and the forgiveness of sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the infallibility of the Church under the leadership of our Holy Father.

Truly, if you have absolute faith in the resurrection of Christ, then we will never be afraid of tomorrow, the future and especially death.  Because in Jesus, hatred has been overcome by love, death by life.  We know there will always be a tomorrow no matter what happens to us.  We should never fear death because we know our life on earth is but a pilgrimage.  Upon death, we will enter into the fullness of life.  On the last day, we will be resurrected like Christ.  We will have our transfigured bodies.  We will still be able to eat like Jesus, be in communion with everyone, not just with our loved ones.  We can transport ourselves from one place to another, walk through doors like Jesus with our transfigured bodies.

How, then, can we be sure that our faith in the Risen Lord is credible? As the gospel suggests, some could say that the Lord’s body was stolen.  Maybe, they only saw a ghost, not the resurrected Lord.  The truth is that it is very difficult to prove the resurrection of our Lord because seeing the Risen Lord is something beyond human imagination and expectation.  It is too difficult to believe it is true.  Even the apostles and the disciples initially greeted the news of the resurrection conveyed by the women with disbelief.  For the women themselves, when they encountered the Risen Lord, they were filled with awe and amazement.    Most of all, they were filled with a joy that was indescribable.  This is what the gospel said,  “Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.  And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet.”

For this reason, we can understand why today many people in the world still do not believe in the resurrection of our Lord.  This should not be surprising.  Since they have not seen the Risen Lord, why should they believe?  Whilst it is true that we can explain the missing body of Jesus as mentioned in the Story of the Empty Tomb, it could be, as suggested by some skeptics, that the body was stolen.  Maybe, the disciples were hallucinating when they claimed they saw the Lord because they were missing Him.  Indeed, those who cannot understand the mystery of the resurrection, like the religious leaders during the time of Jesus, try to explain this mystery away by covering up the facts and offering other interpretations.  Only those who are ready to accept the power of God’s intervention can be more receptive to the possibility of the resurrection.  This was what St Peter tried to show the logical or reasonableness of their belief in the resurrection of our Lord.

Firstly, we take note that the first instruction of the Lord to the women was: “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.”  The command to go back to Galilee where Jesus began His ministry and where the disciples were chosen and formed was important because the Risen Lord was not another reality or another person but the one and same Jesus of Nazareth, risen and transformed.  The One who had risen was identical with the Jesus of Nazareth.

This explains why St Peter took pains to show that the Risen Lord was Jesus of Nazareth, “a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know.”  So the Risen Lord is the Jesus of Nazareth.  In His earthly life, through His miracles, teachings and love for the people, it was the same God who “worked through Him.”  Jesus was truly sent by God for the salvation of His people.  This was recognized by the people who encountered Him.

Secondly, St Peter made it clear that the passion and death of Christ, although carried out by sinful and ignorant men, was within the plan of God.  The death of Jesus was not contrary to the His divine plan.  “This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power”.  Quoting from the psalm (16:9f) and the scripture, St Peter illustrated that this was foreordained by God. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of King David. “But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about what the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witness to that.”  King David said, “And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad.  Even my body shall rest in safety for you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay. You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness forever.”

In fact, what he said was not new because Christ revealed to them the plan of God when He explained to the disciples at Emmaus.  “’Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’  Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.”  (Lk 24:25-27) Christ’s death was necessary to show that death need not be feared because the last word is not death but life.  By dying in His human body, Jesus died to death.  With death conquered, the resurrection shows forth the fullness of life.

Thirdly, we know that the resurrection is real because of the transformation of life.  St Peter after Pentecost told the crowd, “Now raised to the heights by God’s hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.”  In other words, even if you do not believe that He is raised, we can see from the effects which are seen in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that the Father raised Jesus from the dead.  Now ascended on high, the Risen Lord bestows the same Spirit on all Christians so that we can have a foretaste of the risen life here.

In the light of the above, we can be confident that the witnesses to the Risen Lord are credible.  Even if the resurrection cannot be proven, the testimony is credible, faithful to the scriptures, and in continuity with the Jesus of Nazareth, in His teachings and life.  So the fact of the resurrection is credulous and faith invites us to submit to this revelation from God.

Finally, if the future of our life is to be with Christ and in Christ, then why are we still holding to the present life as if it is the fullness of life?  That is why St Paul himself quipped, “Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer.   I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.”  (Phil 1:20b-24)  Let us now live the resurrected life and now, so that we can enjoy the fullness of it hereafter.  To live the resurrected life is to live a life of love, freedom from all fear and anxiety, to take one day at a time knowing that the Lord will show us the way; knowing that He holds tomorrow and He holds our hands.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Monday, April 17, 2017 — “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb — fearful yet overjoyed””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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