TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul

I am struggling with what aspect of the past week, the Octave of Easter, to focus on for this week’s message. There are just so many key messages, even from the Second Sunday of Easter readings.

Here is some of what I have heard, and wish to share with you.

Mercy

The Second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday. The Collect begins with the words: “God of everlasting mercy….”

And then the words of Psalm 118

Let the house of Israel say,
"His mercy endures forever."
Let the house of Aaron say,
"His mercy endures forever."
Let those who fear the LORD say,
"His mercy endures forever."
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.

I am also reminded of the words of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which is recited while using rosary beads:

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and the Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

This is followed by the recitation of the following words on each of the 10 ‘Hail Mary’ beads:

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

This week, Fr Richard Shortall SJ, our Missionary of Mercy, is in Rome at a gathering of the Missionaries of Mercy from across the globe. Fr Richard is one of five who has been chosen to tell his story of being a Missionary of Mercy here in our diocese. You might recall he was given the name ‘Missionary on Wheels’, when he first went to Rome and was commissioned. 

I share with you some of the words he is planning to speak:

During my community visits the doors of the church, which were normally closed—were wide open, indicating that I was seated in the church ready to listen to the stories of anyone who chose to sit down with me.  During these visits of their MOM—as I was called—the parishioners were offered a special opportunity to encounter our kind, all-embracing, welcoming, understanding, merciful God.

…….

The daily experience of sitting in the church engaged in what Pope Francis calls 'the apostolate of the ear' was a profound, humbling and privileged one.  Whenever I arrived in a community, I promised parishioners that I would sit in the church ready to listen with a merciful gaze, open arms, a welcoming non-judgmental heart to any story of pain, sorrow, disappointment, heaviness of spirit which they brought to me.  My hope was that in such a conversation they would experience something of God's closeness to them and God's forgiving acceptance of them.

What a blessing for us and for Fr Richard and I hope for Pope Francis when he receives the photo book of Fr Richard’s time with us as our Missionary of Mercy.

Community

During the week we have been listening to the readings from the Acts of the Apostles and in this Sunday’s first reading from (Acts 4:32-35) we heard how the whole group of believers was united, heart and soul, while the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and they were all given great respect. No one was in need as they shared all they had.

Love

And from the Second Reading (The first letter of St John 5:1-6):

We can be sure that we love God’s children if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us; this is what loving God is – keeping his commandments; and his commandments are not difficult, because anyone who has been begotten by God has already overcome the world; this is the victory over the world – our faith.

Peace

In John’s Gospel for the weekend (John 20:19 – 31), Jesus enters the closed room, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews and Jesus says, ‘Peace be with you.’ He transformed their fear into joy and he said again ‘Peace be with you.’

What a powerful statement we are called to repeat: Peace be with you.

Forgiveness

And again from John’s Gospel:

Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.

Belief

Jesus spoke to Thomas saying, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

It seems to me there are many ‘Thomases’ who surround us, who doubt, who refuse to explore the gift of faith or who are just too busy to turn up.

These key messages came together for me during the praying of Eucharistic Prayer III with the words:

May this Sacrifice of our reconciliation,
we pray, O Lord,
advance the peace and salvation of all the world.
Be pleased to confirm in faith and charity
your pilgrim Church on earth,…….

Listen graciously to the prayers of your family,
who you have summoned before you:
in your compassion, O merciful Father,
gather to yourself all your children
scattered throughout the world.

And then I discovered the following words in my missal at the beginning of the readings for Sunday:

That you may believe. Our belief in the teachings and resurrection of Jesus prompts us to be a part of the Christian community. In turn, our experience of Christian community strengthens our faith. It was only when Thomas was with the other disciples that he met the risen Christ and came to believe in him. It is a simple truth that faith builds community and community builds faith.

This week, I hope you are able to connect these key messages as I have for your daily lives – Mercy, Community, Love, Peace, Forgiveness, Belief – the stuff that makes our faith tangible and real.

Continue searching and invite others to join you.

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is the Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.