Joy of Easter: A scholarly perspective

March 29, 2022 in News

Hearers of The Word – Praying and Exploring the Readings for Easter and Pentecost: Year C » is the last of nine books in the series of Gospel reflections by biblical scholar Kieran J O’Mahony OSA. Messenger Publications has published three books each year for the liturgical Years A, B and C – covering the seasons of Advent and Christmas, Lent and Holy Week, and Easter and Pentecost.

In the latest book, Fr O’Mahony shows readers that Easter is a time of joy rooted in their faith and their relationship with God. With verse-by-verse commentary, a detailed explanation of the Old and New Testament background behind each reading, and suggestions for prayer and reflection, it is an invitation for people to engage in a more meaningful way with the scriptures.

In the commentary on how Jesus repeatedly questions Peter by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21) for the Third Sunday of Easter, O’Mahony writes:

“The threefold questioning is clearly an evocation of the threefold denial. The writer alternates the words for love (agapaō and phileō), but this variation seems to bear no special meaning. The full phrase ‘son of John’ is found only in John 1:42, but insisted upon here.

“In the earlier text, the name Cephas is given without any confession of faith, simply a future statement of greatness. Here, in chapter 21, that promise is fulfilled.”

Carolanne Henry of Messenger Publications links the book with the synodal process currently taking place in the Church. She says:

“As we navigate the process of becoming a synodal Church, the Word of God can provide us with spiritual nourishment, companionship and support.

“In the final volume of his Hearers of the Word series, Kieran O’Mahony shows us the relevance of the Word to our lives today and that the conflicts of Paul’s time can guide us through the challenges of the present.

“It asks us to rejoice and go outside, because Christ is risen, the first fruits of all who have fallen asleep!”

Referring to Jesus breathing on the disciples in the Gospel of John for Pentecost Sunday, O’Mahony comments:

“This verb ‘to breathe’ is used only here in the New Testament and is a direct echo of the Old Testament usage, as just noted. The rereading in Wisdom 15:10-11 is close to John because it links the verb to inspire, to breathe into, which is based on the root pneuma, meaning breath or wind.

“At this moment, the new creation comes to be. It is likewise a fulfilment of a prediction of John the Baptist: And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptise with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit’ (John 1:32-33).”

Kieran J O’Mahony OSA is an Augustinian friar and biblical scholar. He is on the team of the Tarsus Scripture School initiative and his Weekly Notes provide an email resource for each week’s readings throughout the year.

Hearers of The Word – Praying and Exploring the Readings for Easter and Pentecost: Year C » by Kieran J O’Mahony OSA is published in Ireland and the UK by Messenger Publications. It is priced at €19.95/£18.95.