26 April 2017
The high priest intervened with all his supporters from the party of the Sadducees. Prompted by jealousy, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the common gaol.
But at night the angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and said as he led them out, ‘Go and stand in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new Life.’ They did as they were told; they went into the Temple at dawn and began to preach.
When the high priest arrived, he and his supporters convened the Sanhedrin – this was the full Senate of Israel – and sent to the gaol for them to be brought. But when the officials arrived at the prison they found they were not inside, so they went back and reported, ‘We found the gaol securely locked and the warders on duty at the gates, but when we unlocked the door we found no one inside.’ When the captain of the Temple and the chief priests heard this news they wondered what this could mean. Then a man arrived with fresh news. ‘At this very moment’ he said, ‘the men you imprisoned are in the Temple. They are standing there preaching to the people.’ The captain went with his men and fetched them. They were afraid to use force in case the people stoned them.
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’
God loved the world so much
“Happy Easter!” I believe that many people greet, or expect to greet Easter with some degree of happiness. With that expectation comes disappointment when the happy feeling fails to arrive. Bells are ringing during Easter day mass, the priest is telling the congregation to wish each other “Happy Easter”, but maybe in your heart you are thinking – Okay, Jesus has risen, I know that. But I am not feeling very happy, though I think I ought to be.
“God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.” Today’s gospel reading begins with the lines that form the core of the entire gospel. Our creator, our God, has showed us that our lives are worth living, and that there is something to look forward to at the end.
As eloquently expressed by Pope Benedict XVI, “He who follows the will of God knows that in the middle of all the horrors he may encounter, he will not lose the ultimate protection. He knows that the foundation of the world is love and that therefore even where no man can, or will help him, he can go forward trusting in Him, who loves him.” This is what we should be happy about – a deep assurance and faith in His love.
In the film Castaway, the island castaway Chuck Noland describes to a friend what he felt after his failed suicide attempt on the island where he spent four long years in solitude. He is reflecting on that after realising that he cannot be together with the love of his life after his rescue and return to his home.
“I had power over *nothing*. And that’s when this feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow. I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place again. So that’s what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in, and gave me a sail. And now, here I am. I’m back. In Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass… And I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island. And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
To me, Chuck’s blanket of warmth represents the substance of faith. In the face of deep loss, sadness and despair, can we still ask, “Who knows what the tide could bring?”
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray that our faith will be a disciplined one.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the silver linings and unexpected good things that God has sent our way.