Saturday, 22 March 2008

Easter Sunday - Year A

Acts 10:34.37-43; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9

A friend of mine who had been raised a Catholic but left and came back to the Church later in life told me she came back because she missed the silence.

She said that in the protestant denomination she joined they had everything from red hot preaching to red hot singing to sharing and fellowship, but they had no silence.

She was referring to those moments of stillness and peace with which our liturgy abounds, or should abound. Particularly she mentioned that mysterious moment of silence when the priest speaks the words of Consecration and then holds up the Sacred Host to the people and they look up in faith.

There is no silence like that moment and it happens every time, even if there is a screaming baby or two. At that moment we look up at the Host and our minds struggle to come to terms with the miracle: This is Jesus!

She said there is nothing like that silence anywhere in any of the other churches she attended and sometimes, she said, she wished the priest would just go on and hold the Host there for much longer so that this silence would be prolonged and have time to sink into her soul.

It’s not just about an absence of noise, but a being face to face with a deeper reality, an infinite meaning which puts us all in our place, which tells us who we are, which establishes a proper order in our lives.

Some people bow their heads immediately the priest raises the Host. I think this is a pity. In the Missal it says: The priest now shows the Sacred Host to the people. What do we usually do when someone shows us something? We look at it, right? So that, as the Scripture says, we might see.

What did the angel tell the women at the tomb to do in last night’s reading? Come and see … come and see the place where he lay, and then go quickly and tell his disciples.

We look at the Sacred Host and at the Chalice in deep silence and wonderment and say: I believe, or as the Irish do: My Lord and my God.

This silence of the Consecration can be a part of our daily prayer time with the Lord and from there a part of our daily life. Some people call their time of prayer quiet time and its goal is to reach this silence.

It is in this silence that we learn to believe.

There are a number of special moments such as this in the Sacred Scripture. Mary Magdalene at the tomb hears the risen Lord say her name: Mary. One can imagine the microsecond of silence, of hearing, of seeing, of believing - and she exclaims: Rabbuni!

Then there is the special moment, it was just an instant, described in the Gospel this morning .… then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed…

What went on in the mind and heart of the disciple John we do not know but it was a moment of seeing which suddenly became a moment of believing – and the specific content of that believing was – He is risen! Alleluia!

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