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Weekly Reflection

"Watch out because God is full of surprises” a wise man once told me. God has many surprises in store for the church, for the world, and for those who attach themselves to God. Easter especially is  a celebration of the surprise. It is a festival of the unexpected.
Take the figure of Christ on the cross. The cross was invented as the ultimate instrument of darkness and of public humiliation, where all hope was lost for those undergoing crucifixion. Yet we know it today as the most central and holy of all Christian symbols. How could this desperate image possibly be made into the symbol of triumph?
God hears those who suffer and responds to those in distress, and so he responded in a most surprising way by raising his Son Jesus from the dead. And by this single most unexpected act, God dramatically affirmed the value of all that Jesus said and did, and demonstrated to the world that self-giving love is never offered in vain, but in fact is the primary path to salvation.

Mary Magdalene later is standing outside the tomb, preparing to embalm the body of the Lord, and Jesus appears to her. Filled with joy at this incredible surprise she boldly announces to the apostles, “I have seen the Lord”, the first public announcement that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead—and for 2000 years the people of God have never ceased to celebrate the resurrection with joy and have never ceased to proclaim this truth to the world.
May Easter bring you joy!
May you be open to God’s surprising ways in your life!
And may you strive to live out your baptism to the best of your ability by connecting your life to the source, the amazing grace of God.
During the Easter season we will hear readings from the Acts of the Apostles. In this book the missionary work of the apostles is explained as they strive to proclaim the Good News to the people, while battling many who are hostile to them.

In one place we hear about a Roman centurion named Cornelius, who was devoted to God and gave offerings to the poor. While Cornelius would seem like the perfect candidate for baptism into the Christian faith, there was a problem: he was not of Jewish origin, he was a Roman.
Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi, so it seemed obvious that this new religion would be only for those who were born Jewish. But now the question arose: Could baptism to offered to those outside the Jewish tradition as well?
Concerning this issue Peter excised his leadership in a most extraordinary way. He decided that it was God’s will that the gospel should be spread everywhere and baptism should be offered to all -- with no exceptions. This decision did not please everybody. But it would have a great affect how the Church viewed itself and its mission from then on.
From this point forward the church would no longer be exclusively tied to the Jewish tradition but would be open to all. This decision not only changed the composition of the church, but would eventually change the face of the entire ancient world. The early Christians therefore began to spread the faith from person to person and from heart to heart without excluding anyone. No matter whether a person was poor or outcast. A person's race, ethic origin,
or former religion didn't matter. All were acceptable.

Jesus taught: “You did not chose me, I chose you.” But what are we chosen for? We are chosen to bear good fruit: which means to bring others to a better place through good deeds and by being authentic in our own spirituality. The awesome challenge of bringing people into a relationship with God continues today. And today, as it was in the early Church, it is those times when heart speaks to heart about matters of faith that the Gospel can be heard with its greatest power.
While Christianity shares many teachings in common with other religions, such as similar moral teachings for example, one doctrine which is unique to our faith is the teaching about the Holy Trinity: that God is 3 persons.
Although the Old Testament only hints at the existence of a Trinity, the New Testament teaches it much more specifically, although the word Trinity is not used in the bible.

Jesus tells the disciples to baptize all nations not just in the name of God the Father, or in his own name, but ‘in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’. Here Jesus is revealing to the disciples the reality that God is a Trinity of persons.
That there are 3 persons yet only one God is a mystery which defies logic. St Patrick famously taught about the Trinity using a three leaf clover, showing that although the clover has three parts, there is just one clover. St Augustine used the human person as an analogy for the Trinity. He wrote that just as we have a mind, a soul and a will, yet are one individual, so too the Trinity is three persons, yet can be at the same time one God.
In an analogy of the Trinity, some spiritual writers also divide history into three ages: The age of the Father, and age of the Son and age of the Holy Spirit: the age of the Holy Spirit being our present time. Yet all three persons of the Trinity are, of course, present to every age.
But to me, the most powerful trinitarian teaching of all comes from reflecting on the divine love of the Trinity: All three persons of the Trinity are bonded by the most intimate and the most intense love that can be found in the universe. This is what unites them so profoundly.
For human beings, created in image of God, there is a great teaching here. It means we are not created by God to be a collection of isolated individuals. Rather, we are created for community and designed to live in community, just as God is at the centre a community of three persons.
We are a planet of many individuals, yet are one creation, one people. How often do we feel such unity in our world today, or even in our own neighbourhoods? It is clear that there is much work to do.
But the good news is that God’s love is not just contained within the 3 persons of the Trinity – it constantly radiates out and embraces to all who desire to be loved. Even in a world of isolation God’s love reaches out to all from the Trinity of persons, the source of all that is good.
God desires to give our lives the richness and quality that comes from being part of a true and loving community. But if that quality of life is to happen people need to see that they are made in the image of God, for this belief is the beginning of a common understanding that all people can share.
May we be first to show others how genuine love can lead to unity.  And may we also show that our love originates from the perfect love and unity of the Trinity. AMEN.