The first reading is Israel’s oft told story of a transition moment in their history. They were brought out of slavery in Egypt, and that is referred to by the word ‘reproach, and the name Gilgal which can mean ‘rolled away;’ they have been troubled for a generation wandering in the desert, where they displeased God but were also protected by Him; and now they have just set foot in the land they believed God had long promised would be theirs ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ Moses, who led them for so much of this physical and spiritual journey, had disappeared from the scene once they were in sight of the end. Joshua has taken over as leader, and with the help of God, and stepping stones, they cross the river Jordan, perhaps swollen from the melted northern mountain snows, reflecting the crossing of the ‘sea’ to escape the Egyptians forty years previously. So with great joy they celebrate with the fruits of their new land, a new Passover into a new future. Their bread was fresh from the wheat and hence had no time to leaven, so thereafter it became a symbol of entering the promised land, replacing the manna (meaning ‘what is it?’) that they took as a short-term miraculous food from God in the desert.
The well-chosen second reading is also about transition, this time for the Christians. It is with remarkable depth that Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, describes the radically new situation that we are now in, writing “who is in Christ is a new creation!” And he goes on to say that it is our job to bring this new being into the world – that’s the whole world, not just our own folk or just the Jews. God joined our sinful humanity in Christ, so that all humans would be in a good relationship with God, described as God’s righteousness. The old has passed away and the new reality created.
The Gospel gives us a parable unique to Luke which he says Jesus told to the scribes and Pharisees, because they were quite disturbed by His association and even goodwill towards tax collectors and sinners. We call it the parable of the prodigal son. It is about the relationship of a father with one of his sons when he returned repentant after going off and wasting his inheritance and his life and coming on extremely bad times; he runs to greet and forgive him even before he has said he is sorry. God is like that father towards people who go astray and only seem to regret their folly when things go all haywire. There is also another son who has been faithful and at home all the time, and who feels quite unfairly treated by the lavish reception given to the prodigal, but that’s what we can be like as well. It is a powerful, though simple illustration of what Jesus wants to show His Father and ours is like.
Texts can be found here
In the first reading we have the account of a ceremony of the Jewish religion. It is told as if it took place in the desert where the people had wandered on their way from slavery in Egypt towards the promised land. Before entering this land Moses leads this service of re-commitment between the people and God. They take part in a sacrificial communion involving the slaying of animal and the shedding of blood – it is symbolic of their covenant with God. Since Christ, and from Him, we have a different understanding of sacrifice; it is no longer offering something of ours to God, but offering our whole life for the good of others – and this is what Christ did.
In the passage from Hebrews the author expresses the transformation of the covenant to a new dimension through the life and death of Jesus. The inner sanctuary of the Jewish temple, which had been a tent in the desert period, was entered only by a high priest who had to try to purify himself from his sins before entry. Now in the era of the new covenant, the tent has become the realm of heaven, in which we can all participate. It has been attained by the life and death of Christ, which He lived for others, with God’s Spirit in accord with God’s will. The reference to the blood of Christ makes sense when we consider the Hebrew understanding of the word; for them blood was the life of the person, so the writer is saying that Christ offered Hid life to open up for us the sacred presence of God in our world.
In Mark chapter 14 there are three paragraphs about the last supper: a) the preparation for the meal (verses 12-16), then b) the foretelling of the betrayal (17-21) and c) the ritual of the meal itself (22-26); the betrayal foretelling is omitted from in our reading. The first and the last of the three have been taken by Mark from different sources. The account a) of the preparation is about the disciples preparing for the Passover meal; it follows a pattern used to set the scene for a significant divine event and is common in some fairy tales, but also appears at the start of chapter 11 of Mark’s gospel when two disciples get an ass for Jesus to ride on into Jerusalem. It is this first section that suggests that the meal is a Passover one. The section c) does not really tell of a meal at all but only of the bread and the wine with Jesus’ significant words about each; it most likely is the set of words used in the ‘liturgy’ of the churches with which Mark is familiar. The “giving thanks” gives us the word Eucharist. It is worth noting the significance of key words: ‘body’ is not like our word which often for us means the physical part of our make-up as distinct from the psyche or the soul, but in the language of Jesus it referred to the whole person (as in our word somebody), but with an emphasis on the way I am with you – my presence; ‘blood’ clearly does mean the liquid, but the stress is on it as the life of the person or animal (and is so used in sacrifices); and the word ‘many’ is a literal translation of the language of Jesus in which there is no word for ‘everyone,’ but that is what it implies. For the reader – for us – the Passover section is about the covenant – the relationship between people and God and the community it forms us into
Our Easter services are
March 29th Holy Thursday 6pm
March 30th Good Friday 3pm
March 31st Holy Saturday Vigil 8pm
April 1st Easter Sunday 9.30am
This Christmas we will have
Christmas Eve Midnight Mass with carols starting at 11.40pm
Christmas Day Mass 9.30am
Everyone is very welcome to join us!