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One of the most beautiful places to celebrate Mass during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. At Tabgha – the Church of the Loaves and Fishes – the outside chapel is right on the shoreline itself. The waters of the Lake form the background to the altar, which is in the form of a large boulder; the concelebrating priests stand behind it, the Lake stretching out behind them, and the congregation stand in front and as the Mass continues the reality of the Lord’s resurrection appearance to his disciples at the Lakeside becomes very real:
Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee) … when it was already light, there stood Jesus on the shore … as soon as the disciples (who had gone fishing) came ashore they saw that there was some bread there and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it … Jesus said to them ‘Come and have breakfast … Jesus then stepped forward , took the bread and gave it to them and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus revealed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead (John 21).
Part of the joy of Easter is that the disciples discover that their communion with Jesus continues. He has risen from the dead, he is alive and their relationship with Him, though changed, is not broken or ended but goes on:
Resurrection means, quite simply, that the body ceases to be a limit and that its capacity for communion remains (Pope Benedict).
We are made for Communion with God and with one another in Christ. Our communion with the Risen Christ is what has sustained and brought us through this past difficult year of pandemic and lockdown and social-distancing. Nothing can separate us from Him and the love poured out upon the world through his death and resurrection; nothing can break the communion we have with Him or the communion we have with one another through Him. This is the Easter Faith of the Church and it is the guiding reality in our lives:
Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise.
(George Herbert: Easter)
Fr Brian, Fr Peter, Fr George, Fr David, Monica, Ann, Rhona, Jenny and Carolyn join with me in wishing you all a very happy Easter deeply blessed by the communion into which the Risen Lord draws us and the Peace and Joy which are his Easter gifts to us all.