focus of the day:

Bring up individual texts by left-clicking on the text links: e.g. today's first reading
Isaiah 9 : 1 - 6
will open in a new window with text in the left column & our commentary scrolls down on the right.

REMEMBERING OUR WAR DEAD

     The readings of the Easter season naturally focus on the postive outcomes of the passion and death of Jesus. The central Christian theme is not unrelated to the ANZAC theme, of remembering all those who have made the supreme sacrifice in war.
We gather today to hear more about the good news of God's victory, in Jesus, over the power of death. On this ANZAC Day we remember the events at Gallipoli's ANZAC Cove and all the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice for our country in wartime.
 

the first reading:

Isaiah announces the coming of a new ruler and the nature of this rule. Historically there is a link with the ideology of the Davidic kings. But instead of pointing to success for a new ruler's armies, the prophet speaks about the victory of "justice" and "uprightness".

Isaiah 9 : 1 - 6

     In Jerusalem, "life" and "truth" are organised in self-serving ways (Is.1:1-15). In this context Isaiah speaks a prophetic vision of the powerful will of YHWH being asserted in new ways (Is.1:16ff). The words of the prophet offer an alternative scenario to people who lack faith in any other point of reference outside their own interests (Is.1:21-23). Isaiah envisions the dismantling of the existing power arrangements (Is.24-25a) and the making of a new start (Is.1:26b)!
     Ironically, this talk of dismantling the old, becomes the way that lets the prophet to speak about hope and what comes after the dismantling. In the time to come, there will be a new city, a new community, a new faith (Is.4:2-6). And importantly, emphasis is laid on the fact that YHWH will not quit - until the newness is brought about (Is.9:2ff)! It is YHWH's power-for-life which will be gifted to Jerusalem. This power-for-life concerns a new neighbourhood wellbeing. It is both a free gift and the requirement for new practices. The movement towards newness takes the form of an ideal ruler, whose ruling ways will be life-giving!(vv.6-7).
     The hopeful vision of the prophet, serves a critical function, of destabilsing the present arangement of power in Jerusalem. This glowing picture of the city's future and especially of it's future ruler, serves to expose the injustices of the present order and the failure of the present rulers. This vision of the promised future, works against, undermines, and subverts the present power arrangements in Jerusalem society. Isaiah's speech about YHWH's power-for-life is another way to speak about the powers for no-life that currently hold sway among the Hebrew people and their current rulers' failure to live up to their calling, to be YHWH's agents. It becomes a statement about the power of ideology to seduce, deceive, and prevent an honest discernment of reality.
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the response:

A song of thanksgiving. The speaker reviews earlier trouble, and acknowledges that God has heard, acted, and overcome the trouble.

Psalm 126 (125) : 1 - 6

     The trouble is described as life-threatening (v.3). The speaker prayed to YHWH, and asked for deliverance from the trouble (v.4) and YHWH heard and acted (vv.2-3).
      As a consequence the speaker resolved to trust YHWH with all future life. To "love YHWH" (v.1), means to acknowledge YHWH's rule and to submit to YHWH's commandments. To "call on YHWH" means to entrust all future life, whatever the need or trouble, to YHWH's care.
      Reflecting on a past deliverance, the speaker resolves to keep loyal to YHWH into the future, whatever may come along!
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the second reading:

The writer urges that reconciliation to God, through the death of Christ, has broken the power of evil and the long-standing separation between Hebrews and non-Hebrews!

Ephesians 2 : 13 - 18

     All the characteristics of the Messiah are evident in Jesus' work. Peace-making among those formerly hostile. A new creative power in evidence in His healings. His reconciling. His opening up access to God. All these practices are in agreement with the Hebrew prophetic tradition about the behaviour of the Messiah!
      The people "far off" or "near" (v.17) refer respectively to "non-Hebrews" and "converts". By his sacrifice, Jesus has united Hebrews and people of other nationalities. All are reconciled to God and one another through the peace achieved "by the blood of Christ". Before Jesus' coming, non-Hebrews were outside Israel's privileges. They were worldly, despairing, and without the real God. Jesus broke down the barriers that were barring them of access to God (vv.14-15).
      The barriers mentioned was probably a reference to the wall that separated the court of the Hebrews from the non-Hebrews in the temple area. A religion based on all kinds of rules and regulations (about hand washing or how many steps could be taken on the Sabbath) could never be a universal religion. Jesus ended all this. According to the author - now Hebrew and non-Hebrew can find their way to the Father in the one holy Spirit (v.18). The Christian community is part of a building founded on apostles and prophets, and always held together by the work of Christ. Together they make up the new temple of God!
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the Gospel:

In replying to a request from some Greek-speaking Hebrew worshippers in Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus, who is facing His own imminent death, thinks in terms of God's covenant plan for the salvation of all humanity.

John 12 : 23 - 28

     One view of death is to understand it as a putting an end to further achievement. When dead - a person can't do anything more! Another view of death is that it can be an achievement in itself. For example, a heroic death can redeem a worthless life!! Or a person's death can focus the achievement of a lifetime. St.Paul says the death of Jesus was for others (Rm.4:25). That underlines that the self-giving of Jesus, was dominant in His life.
      In the Hebrew scriptural tradition, God's "glory" (v.28) is any triumph of God over oppression. When the Hebrew people crossed the Reed Sea, freeing themselves from Egypt, the scriptures say that they saw God's "glory" in the demise of the Egyptians (Ex.14:31 & 15:21). That "glory of God" is YHWH's appearance in history. The God of the Hebrew scriptures, is essentially liberating! Now the gospel writer says that this liberation comes through Jesus' hour of arrest, beating, ridicule, crucifixion, death and burial (v.23).
      Jesus was "glorified" in His suffering and death! Living and loving are similar activities. To live truly, is to give our life to others. To try to save our life selfishly - is not living! It is death "without glory" as the gospel writer would say! Jesus worked for the Father's glory (v.26b). His death is freely offered and is the completion of that work according to the writer (vv.27-28) in that Jesus' "glorification" reveals the greatness of the Father's love for people. Jesus is the vehicle of God's judgement (vv.29-33). Whenever the prophets announced a liberation of the people (and the punishment of an oppressor) they described God as, "coming among the clouds" to make a judgement (Jl.2:2 & Zp.1:15)!
      Jesus is saying that He is the Messiah establishing justice on Earth! The allusion is to the book of Daniel (Dn.7:24) where a mysterious person; one "like a Human one", is described. This mysterious one comes, "among the clouds of heaven" to rule over all the Earth!
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