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Clinging to the vine


The disciples were naturally skeptical about St. Paul, as they had known him as being an active persecutor of the tiny Christian community, and news of his sudden conversion was naturally doubted.

Since Easter, the theme of our Sunday liturgies has revolved around fear and doubt. We reflected on the doubting Thomas, yet he actually was not any different from the others, except that more was asked of him.

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The doubt trap

The theme of our Sunday liturgies in the Easter period has been centred around doubt. We have listened to the story of the Doubting Thomas and heard Jesus saying, “Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe.”

Today, we have yet another story about doubt from the Acts of the Apostles, where the disciples would not believe that St. Paul had changed his stripes and become a believer, until they saw and heard him in action.

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Are you seeing clearly?

Our post-Easter liturgy is full of stories of surprise. Last Sunday we read about the disciples locked in the upper room and the surprise they received when Jesus appeared in the midst of them.

This week, we have a similar theme. Some of the disciples were gathered together. They were still troubled and mystified by the death of Jesus, and no doubt disappointed. There was also fear, as they had left Jerusalem.

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The blessing of doubt

Jesus’ invitation to Thomas to place his finger in the wounds on his wrists and put his hand into his side can seem to be a bit like Jesus calling him to account for doubting what he had heard from the others.

It rings of the attitude, if you don’t believe what others have told you, come here and have a look for yourself.

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It is worth believing

Can you imagine the headlines? 

Empty tomb in happy valley cemetery!
Rumours of dead man walking

I don’t think that we will see such a headline in the South China Morning Post. Maybe it wouldn’t even cover it. It may well be written off as the hallucinations of a few late night revellers on their way home from an all night binge.

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Why have you 
abandoned me!

On his cross, Jesus cried out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which has been translated as, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Usually this sentence is understood as complete, as an expression of Jesus’ agony on the cross. We can understand Jesus’ words as an expression of the well-known experience of the absence of God.

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Blessed are the 
pure in heart...

A pure heart create for me, O God,” the psalmist cries. In addition to this, Jesus teaches us that the pure in heart are blessed. The pure in heart are those who do not live by mixed motives and who can relate to God and neighbour simply in love.

In practice, most of us live with mixed motivation. We teach our children to be good—but perhaps part of the reason is that we do not want our children to embarrass us.

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Thank you very much

We end each Mass with the phrase, “Thanks be to God!” It sums up for us the whole thanksgiving experience of our Mass.

And today is really a Mass of thanksgiving, because our readings review how generous and loving our God has been to us. In Lent, we can look beyond our daily little problems and lift our eyes and our hearts to the very good news about God, the lover.

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Testing the 

Setting boundaries is an important part of moral development. As children grow, parents have to set boundaries for them.

There is a gradual process of negotiating boundaries, until the children, in their turn, become mature adults. But even mature adults need boundaries too. And some of these cannot be negotiated.

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No is an answer too

Trust is frequently demanded in our lives. We have to trust the drivers of the busses that wend their way through the sometimes narrow streets of Hong Kong, especially as we look over precipitous drops on the road side.

We have to trust lawyers and accountants to handle our money, our futures, even our lives. We have to trust our children, who shrug as they dash off into a dangerous world. Trust is essential.