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Newsletter of St. John the Apostle Parish

April 2023

Dear Parish Family and Friends,

As we enter the most holy of days it is good to reflect on the events leading to Easter.

The Great Triduum begins with the Mass on Maundy Thursday and ends with Evening Prayer on Easter Day. It is the last time Jesus eats the Passover meal with his disciples: the lamb, along with the unleavened bread, the wine, and the bitter herbs. In this way he institutes his supper. As St Paul tells us, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me,’ In the same way he took the cup. After supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’’’ The Mass renews the Last Supper of the Lord. It is the living presence of his sacrifice and communion with his Body given and his Blood poured out.


It is a day of bitterness and mourning. We are spiritually focused on Christ’s cross. The Church altars are stripped of their adornments. Our hearts and all our thoughts are turned to Jesus crucified, who abandoned by his disciples and with the tender help and presence of his mother Mary dies on the cross for all of mankind’s salvation.


For fifty days, from Easter to Pentecost, the Church continues to fix its attention and its heart on the risen Jesus and to re-invoke his appearances. These appearances generated and strengthened the certainty that Jesus’ resurrection was not a fantasy or a pious way of remedying the disappointment of his death. Even though Jesus no longer belonged to the physical world, nonetheless these people really did see him: Mary Magdalene and the other women; Peter, John, and the other Apostles who ate with him; and a great number of Disciples. From their experience, we are reassured the “Lord has truly been raised” The victory of Jesus over death is the heart of our faith, which otherwise would be deprived of all its content.

Here are two of the recorded appearances: The Supper at Emmaus. On Easter night, Jesus appeared to two of his disciples taking a journey to the town of Emmaus. They were sad at the death of Jesus and their hope for a great liberator were gone. They were joined by an unknown traveler who asked why they were so sad. They replied “Are you the only person in Jerusalem who has not heard about Jesus? How he was unjustly tried and put to death on the cross. And now some of the women claim that he is risen from the dead.” The disciples were slow to understand all that the prophets spoke. They didn’t understand that according to the Scriptures, the Messiah would have to suffer to enter into his glory. The stranger began to explain to the disciples everything that scripture had to say about the Messiah. 

The Disciples invited him to stay with them to eat when they arrived in Emmaus. He sat down to supper with them, when he blessed and broke the bread and gave it to them, they recognized him as Jesus, and he immediately disappeared.  He celebrated the Eucharist with them, he read and expounded the Word, explaining that all things are summed up in the mystery of his death and resurrection, and, as at the Last Supper, he offered the bread, which is his Body.

Thomas: “My Lord and my God!”

When Jesus was risen, he appeared on the night of Easter to his Apostles, bringing his gift of peace and the Spirit. Thomas was not present at the supper, so he did not believe that the Apostles had seen the Lord. He wanted to see for himself and touch him in person. Jesus, who, after eight days, reappeared in the Apostles midst even though they had locked the doors, satisfied the terms set by Thomas. He invited Thomas to touch the marks of the wounds in his hands and in his open side. “Do not be unbelieving, but believe,” urged Jesus, proclaiming “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  And Thomas responded with the wonderful confession “My Lord and my God!’ 

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

We celebrate Jesus our good Shepherd on the second Sunday after Easter. Jesus is a unique Shepherd who commits himself to giving his life for his sheep. The Lord Jesus selected and applied that image in a surprising way, giving his own life to save the lives of the flock. “I AM the good Shepherd,” he proclaimed. “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” Jesus did this by dying on the cross. Now that He is risen, he guides us personally: he knows us by name and takes care of each one of us. Jesus even looks for us when we are lost. This is why we can say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want… Even though I walk in the dark valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me”.

O God, who for our redemption didst give thine only begotten Son to the death of the Cross, and by his glorious resurrection hast delivered us from the power of our enemy; Grant us so to ie daily from sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen Second collect for Easter Day, BCP page 165.

In Christ’s Name who died and rose again for us.

Have a Blessed Easter.

Thomas B. Wirth+ Rector

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