RSS

Monthly Archives: March 2015

Tuesday of Holy Week

Today’s Readings   Isaiah 49:1-6  John 13:21-33, 36-38
www.usccb.org/bible/readings/033115.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/15_03_31.mp3

  1-6         In today’s Gospel we see two of Jesus’ closest disciples separate themselves from Jesus, or at least we are told that they will and since we know the rest of the story we know that they do. Jesus has just completed washing his disciples’ feet in humble service and then tells them he is “deeply troubled.” One of them will betray him and when Peter tries to offer support, Jesus tells him he too will betray him by denying that he knows him, not once, but three times.

What I would like to reflect on today is the responses of each of these men, or at least the responses that our tradition holds and what that says about our relationship with Jesus. All four Gospels record Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial, and three record that Peter “broke down and wept”. Only Matthew records the reaction of Judas (27:3-5); his remorse and return of the money and his subsequent suicide. Luke does discuss Judas’ suicide in Acts 1:18-19, but attributes it to a fall. I do not want to spend time discussing the validity or the believability of these stories (nor the alternate story found in the newly translated Gospel of Judas), but I do think these stories, as told by our tradition, have great value in teaching us about reconciliation.

Both men were sorrowful for what they had done. Judas seems to have despaired and failed to understand that Jesus’ love and forgiveness had the power to heal even this breach of friendship, this absolute loss of trust. Peter remained and even if he did not believe the power of Jesus’ forgiveness to save, he learned it through experience. Mark’s Gospel makes the point to name Peter along with the other disciples who should hear the news from the women that Jesus has been raised (16:7). Luke says Peter runs to the tomb to verify the women’s report (24:12). John’s Gospel gives us a very detailed description of Peter’s reconciliation (21). In Acts Peter is the spokesperson for the community of disciples. Indicating that the community knew about Peter’s denial and they accepted God’s forgiveness of Peter and forgave Peter as well. The community was open to Peter and followed his leadership.

When we turn away from Jesus and separate ourselves from him, do we believe in his power of love and forgiveness? Or do we despair and lose hope that we cannot be forgiven?  When we know of someone’s “sin” do we hold it against them, even though our tradition teaches us that God has already forgiven the person? Do we continue to beat ourselves up about a “sin” even after asking forgiveness? This is saying we do not trust that God has really forgiven the person, even if that person is us. Nothing we do, no breach of confidence, no lose of trust, no sin is greater than God’s love and forgiveness.

It is the power of God’s love and forgiveness that saves; this is what Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is about.

Tuesday of Holy Week

Celebrant: My friends, Jesus, God’s Suffering Servant, has been made a light to the nations, the source of salvation  for all people. So then let us pray 

That those who are suffering for their faith may know that, as it was for Jesus, their cause is with the Father, and their reward is with God. Lord, hear us.

That those who are troubled in spirit and who live with fear may find in the same experiences of Jesus a strength which sustains them and gives them light. Lord, hear us.

That as we share this Eucharist may we, like the Beloved Disciple, rest our head on the Heart of Christ.  Lord, hear us

That those who betray a friend may receive the grace to repent, be forgiven and be reconciled. Lord, hear us.

Celebrant: Lord, in times of trouble we take our refuge in you. Let us sing of your salvation, given through Jesus your Son, who is Lord, forever and ever.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Passion (Palm) Sunday

Today’s Readings For the Entrance Procession:  Mark 11:1-10 or John 12:12-16 
For Mass:   Isaiah 50:4-7    Phil 2:6-11         Mark 14:1–15:47
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/15_03_29.mp3

1-11



1-15      Of all the deaths that have occurred in human history, no death is more remembered by Christians than that of Jesus. We hear the account of his suffering and death every Passion Sunday, as we will this Sunday (Mark 14:1-15:47), and every Good Friday. We recall his death each time we pray the Eucharistic Prayer during the celebration of Mass. And of course the death of Jesus is brought to mind each time we see a crucifix.

But why do we place such emphasis on his death? How was the death of Jesus different from other deaths?

We might answer that his death was different because Jesus was an absolutely innocent man who was unjustly condemned to death.

Yet countless innocent people have lost their lives over the centuries. Innocent civilians have been slaughtered in war and disvalued as collateral damage. Unborn innocent children have been killed by abortion. And innocent people have suffered because of flaws and abuses in the justice system.

We might answer that the death of Jesus was different because the sufferings that he endured were unlike like those inflicted on any other person – the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the carrying of the cross, the piercing of his hands and feet with nails, his slow suffocation, his public humiliation and mockery.

Yet horrendous and horrific deaths are suffered by many people. In our own day people are being beheaded, crucified, buried alive, and locked in cages and burned to death by fanatical Islamic extremists. People in political prisons and forced labour camps suffer unspeakable tortures not just for two days as did Jesus but for many days and even years. We only need remember the millions brutalized and murdered in the Holocaust and in campaigns of ethnic cleansing to realize that horrific deaths are all too common.

We might answer that the death of Jesus was different because it came about because of his faithfulness to God. He refused to deny who he was as God’s beloved Son.

Yet we as a Church honour many people who have been put to death because of their faithfulness to God and to his Church. We have the martyrs of the past whose feast days we celebrate and the Christian martyrs of our own day who give their lives rather than deny their Christian faith.

Yet the death of Jesus was different.

The death of Jesus was a declaration of God’s love for his people. For God so loved us that “he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8)

The death of Jesus was absolute proof of God’s personal love and care for each of us. For the God who took on flesh and came among his people loves us in an individual and personal way. We are not simply one among billions. Each of us is the one for whom Christ died. As Saint Augustine told us, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love.”

The death of Jesus was unlike all other deaths for it alone was followed by Resurrection. In return for remaining that ever-faithful Son in the face of suffering and death, the Father remained faithful to Jesus. God did not abandon Jesus to death but raised him to new life. The Resurrection of Jesus is our assurance that if we strive to be faithful to God like Jesus, then we shall also be raised like him.

Of all deaths, that of Jesus Christ is the one we most remember, celebrate, and honour. For his death changed our understanding of death and our understanding of God’s love for us. As Jesus told us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Saturday Fifth Week of Lent

Today’s Readings     Ezekiel 37:21-28      John 11:45-56
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/15_03_28.mp3

     1-15 The settings of our two readings are very different, but in both we hear God’s expressed intention for His people. They remind  us of the core of our belief: God is love. God is love at its purest form; he never leaves, he never forgets, he never hurts, and he always forgives.

In the first, Ezekiel, a member of the priestly class and a refugee in Babylon, voices God’s desire not only to restore the captives to Israel, but even to unite with them the far-flung exiles from the northern kingdom who had been carried into captivity many years earlier.

In the second, Caiaphas, another priest, this time in Jerusalem, and concerned to have Jesus silenced, voices God’s intention “to gather into one the dispersed children of God”, which would come about as a result of Jesus’ death.

The gospel is the final decision to put Jesus to death. Caiaphas states that it is expedient that one should die for the nation. John remarks that this was an unconscious prophecy, for Jesus died for all nations and peoples. From this point on, they look for a change to arrest Jesus

Today, as we stand on the threshold of Holy Week, in which we will make that saving death present in our own time, it is helpful to reflect both on the unity which God Himself prays for throughout the Bible (e.g., “. . . that they all may be one, as you Father in Me, and I in You . . . that the world may believe . . .”) and on the emphasis throughout on a people, not just individuals.

Saturday Fifth Week of Lent

Celebrant: Jesus died for all the scattered children of God in order to bring every person into unity in the love of the Father. We pray for our world. 

For every person on this planet that God’s love may draw us into unity. Lord, hear us.

For those Christians, who like Jesus, cannot go openly among the  people, that the persecution which they endure will soon pass. Lord, hear us.

For all who believe in Christ and are seeking his companionship in the sacrament of Baptism at Easter, that they may know him as friend and Brother and Redeemer and God. Lord, hear us.

For each other, that in our own difficulties, we may know that the Lord  is at our side, a Mighty Hero. Lord, hear us.

Celebrant: Lord, hear the cry of all who are distressed at this time, be their shield, mighty help and stronghold through Christ our Lord.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Today’s Readings   Jer 31:31-34   Heb 5:7-9   John 12:20-33
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/15_03_22.mp3

 1-13         John doesn’t tell us what exactly these Gentiles were doing at the Passover festival in Jerusalem, except that they came with others who were there to worship. All we know is that it was a mixed-up society, like ours is today, with people of all sorts of religious and cultural persuasions passing through, some staying, some vying for dominance, others wanting simply enough space to survive. John doesn’t tell us what the Greeks’ questions were, but we can guess from Jesus’ answer that it might have had something to do with their place in his message of salvation. Was Jesus’ message only for the Jews? If so, which Jews? Was it for the Gentiles, too? If so, which Gentiles?

Part of our Lenten journey has been about wrestling with rules. If we have to follow rules, whose rules? Our own? The church’s? God’s?  Like those ancient Greeks wanting to see Jesus, we want to know who’s really saved, who’s got the answers, who’s living the right life. And, if we’re not fairly unusual, we’ve each been spending Lent trying to figure out the answer to that question, so we know whose understanding of the Gospel is correct, just so we can get our acts cleaned up in time for Easter.

We receive some comforting words from the ancient prophetic voice of Jeremiah today. At least we know that our controversy over rules is nothing new. Jeremiah spoke at a time when the Babylonian empire had decimated ancient Israel. The Hebrew people were plucked up from their homeland and scattered in foreign countries, surrounded by strange religions. Without their central place of worship, the Temple in Jerusalem, the Hebrews were asking difficult questions about the source of their identity. Like us, they wanted to know what rules they should follow, the standard of behaviour that would keep them in contact with their God and hold them together as a people.

Jeremiah’s response is as frustrating as it is hopeful. He speaks of a new covenant, one which will be written on the hearts of God’s people, and one that will bring such intimate knowledge of God that, in fact, all the old rules will no longer be necessary. It’s a beautiful image, but it is far from easy. Christianity has struggled for two thousand years trying to reconcile itself with this new covenant. If church history says anything at all, it tells us how much trouble we’ve had believing that God’s law is in our hearts. We are so much more inclined to write canon laws and set up regulations for everything from our liturgies to our altar guilds, rather than to take Jeremiah’s call seriously.

This is a terrible way to leave us near the end of Lent. Just when we’re supposed to have all our ducks in a row and ourselves prepared for Easter, we are confronted with some sense that our effort to follow rules is all backwards. Today’s readings are telling us that all of us are missing the point in our theological and ecclesiastical disagreements, our bitter disputes over what constitutes “right” behaviour, our tireless pursuit of perfecting ourselves when every “correction” seems to raise a multitude of new problems.

The Good News today is that Jesus Christ understands exactly where we are, both individually and corporately. John’s Gospel has Christ saying, “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.”

If we are troubled by the present state of things in the church and in the world, we are exactly where we need to be at the end of Lent. If we are confused and disturbed by our own lack of certainty about things, then that is precisely how we ought to feel. It is because of our very confusion that we are actually more inclined to stop and listen for the voice of God, the thunder that the bystanders hear in today’s Gospel, the thunder that comes rolling into the midst of our unsettled hearts and announces God’s presence with us.

And then we are called simply to serve and to follow, the only instruction that Jesus seems to give regarding the Greek visitors. That’s all that Jesus asks of each of us; that’s all that Christ demands of the church. But we all know what that means. Following means giving up the security of our rules. It involves walking the path to the cross, a place where our confusion and Christ’s confusion come together in a terrible moment of pain and suffering, a place where our rules don’t work at all anymore and all our systems break down.
It’s a grim message, but one that seems worthy of the last part of Lent. So we must follow, we must listen to the confusing thunder of God’s voice in our lives and bear our agitated hearts in the way of the cross. It does not promise to be a fun time for any of us, for we all know what it means to suffer.
But Christ’s promise never leaves us without hope, for although the deadly judgment is coming, we are told that Christ will rise again and draw us together into the heart of God. It is this hope in Easter that will be our strength through the coming Holy Week. It promises, in fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophecy, to write God’s law of love within us, in the very depths of our hearts. And, above all, it promises to show us finally that it is God’s effort and strength that will give us new and abundant life-if only we will follow.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Friday 4th Week of Lent

Today’s Readings      Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22     John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/15_03_20.mp3

The first reading comes from early on in the Book of Wisdom in a passage describing life as seen by the godless.

We often feel that if we are good and virtuous and, even more, because we are good and virtuous, people should be inspired to follow and imitate our good example. However, experience tells us that many times the opposite is the case. It is so well put in today’s reading and it applies so perfectly to Jesus, so much so that some people see in this passage a prophecy about Jesus. However, it also applies to hundreds of others down the ages whose goodness has been resented, whose behaviour is seen as a condemnation and a threat to those with different values and who have been as a result persecuted and even killed.

“He annoys us and opposes our way of life.” By itself that should not be a problem but it is because the prophet’s words are felt to be true and create feelings of guilt in those against whom they are directed. “He reproaches us for our sins against the Law and accuses of sins against our upbringing.” The reproach is not denied but it is strongly resented.

Jesus himself has told us not to be surprised that we too will be misunderstood and treated as he was. The following of Christ involves what is called a ‘counter-witness’ to the prevailing values in our societies. Such a counter-witness will often be deeply resented, attacked, rubbished and ridiculed and it may invite even violence and death.

Of course, we also have to be very careful that our witness is based on truth, integrity and love; we have to be careful to avoid any taint of Pharisaism or superior elitism, which we can fall into so easily. It is God we are proclaiming, not ourselves.

The Lenten season offers us an opportunity to spend more time with God.  As we approach Holy Week, we need to reflect on these things and see how they fit into our lives.

Friday 4th Week of Lent

Celebrant: Sisters and brothers, for Jesus, the mission to proclaim the Good News was always dangerous. But he spoke the truth fearlessly because of his faithfulness to the Father’s will. 

We pray that the Church may be bold in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus and the mercy of the Father, so that people can rejoice in God’s love and not live in fear of judgement. Lord, hear us.

We pray for those who give witness to the Gospel in the face of danger, that the Holy Spirit may strengthen their resolve and give them hearts of compassion. Lord, hear us.

We pray for those who have a hatred for any religion that they may come to respect the basic human right each person has to freedom of religion. Lord, hear us.

We pray for peace in every place where war, violence or terrorism is bring death, injury, destruction of homes and places of work, and disruption of education for children and health care for the sick. Lord, hear us.

Celebrant: Lord our God, draw close to the broken hearted, restore their hope, and rescue them from danger through Christ our Lord.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Solemnity of St Joseph

Today’s Readings    2 Samuel 7:4-5,12-14,16   Romans 4:13,16-18,22   Matthew 1:16,18-21,24
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/15_03_19.mp3

 1-6     St. Joseph, whose feast we celebrate today, was the last of the descendants of Abraham and the foster father of Jesus. Joseph was a direct descendant of both Abraham and King David. At the very beginning of St. Matthew’s gospel and immediately preceding today’s gospel reading, we find the list of the genealogy of Jesus.   St. Joseph was fortunate enough to have his family tree made for him because it was so important to the people of Israel. In today’s first scripture reading we hear that the house and kingdom of David will stand firm forever. This is a confirmation of God’s covenant with the Israelites. And Matthew quotes the angel as calling Joseph the son of David. This is a further confirmation of God’s keeping his covenant with his people.

Joseph is extolled by Matthew as a righteous man. There is much about the life of St. Joseph that we do not know. Many of us, and I am one, would like to know more of the details of the life of this extraordinary man. However, I think we must never lose sight of the fact that we do know what was most important about St. Joseph. Namely, we know that he was the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. During his life as Mary’s husband he was their constant protector.

Today we read how this all came about and how Joseph took Mary as his wife. He is favoured with the tremendous privilege of a message from God brought to him by an angel in a dream. Joseph hears and immediately obeys the will of God. His whole subsequent married life is to be marked by fidelity to the will of God. Again and again he will do the will of God in taking care of Jesus and Mary. As I read today’s readings and ponder the life of St. Joseph, I come to a deeper realization of just how important a part he played in the life of Jesus and in the work of our redemption.

Finding out what God wants from us as well as answering his call can be a long and difficult journey.  But it’s a necessary journey when leading a faith-filled life.

As we continue Lent and prepare for Holy Week and Easter, St. Joseph can be our guide to Jesus and Mary

Solemnity of St Joseph

Celebrant: Joseph was chosen by the Father to guide and protect Jesus and Mary in a bond of love and respect. Inspired by his faithfulness we turn to God our Father in prayer. 

May the Universal Church, united through the ministry of Pope Francis, experience the prayerful support of St Joseph, her patron. Lord, hear us.

May family life be blessed with love and respect as was the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Lord, hear us.

May all in the Archdiocese who have been placed under the patronage of St Joseph be united in their faith and be generous in their charity: Lord, hear us.

May the Sisters of St Joseph be richly blessed in their vocation today, and may their numbers increase for the service of the Church and society. Lord, hear us.

May workers, especially those facing unemployment, carpenters and travelers, those searching for a home or under threat of losing their home, and all who desire a happy death, find in Joseph a loving patron. Lord, hear us.

Celebrant: God our Father, in Joseph we see the just man, who full of integrity, served your Son with total devotion. Increase our love for Jesus Christ, and make us his faithful disciples, now and forever.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tuesday Fourth Week of Lent

Today’s Readings      Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12    John 5:1-16
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/15_03_17.mp3

In the Middle East, desert land was commonplace and water all-important. Water was a symbol of God’s saving grace.

Ezekiel describes the flowing water that exits from the threshold of the temple and flows to the east.  This water makes the sea fresh when the two meet, enabling fruit to grow and trees to prosper, nurturing all forms of life.  This refreshing water comes from the temple of the Lord.  It grows as it flows from a shallow stream to a mighty river.

Truly, this is a symbol of the kind of life that God wishes us to share with him. “I have come that they may have life, life in abundance” (John 10:10).

Let us during this Lenten season experience the healing power of Jesus, a healing power which was initiated at our Baptism but which needs to continue for as long as we live.

Today we see Jesus back in Jerusalem. He goes to the pool near the Sheep Gate. John says it had five  around the pool are large numbers of people blind, lame and paralysed. The man who has been ill for 38 years follows the same routine of going to the pools that provide relief and healing. When Jesus asks this man if he wants to be well, his answer revolves around the pools. He is not looking for anything different from what he already knows and is familiar with — his routine. The healing power of Jesus frees this man from his illness even when he is still focused on the pools. Jesus offers the man an opportunity to be healed that is different than his goal of relief in the pools.  Later, Jesus and the man meet in the Temple. The man is told to complete his experience of healing by abandoning a life of sin, bringing body and spirit into full harmony and wholeness. Jesus is saying is that physical wholeness needs to be matched by spiritual wholeness, the wholeness of the complete person. This is the third of Jesus’ seven signs – again bringing life and wholeness.The season of Lent is an opportunity to ask him to do the same for us.

Tuesday Fourth Week of Lent

Celebrant: My friends, Jesus healing the man by the pool teaches us about baptism in which sin is forgiven and new life given. So then let us pray. 

That the Elect who are preparing for their Easter Baptism may be filled with hope and joy as they seek to dedicate themselves to Christ. Lord, hear us.

That those preparing for Full Communion with the Catholic Church may deepen their baptismal commitment to Christ. Lord, hear us.

That we may not be guilty of passing judgment on those who do good, but always rejoice when God works his wonders through others. Lord, hear us.

That we may persevere in our prayer and live in hope as did the man who lay for 38 years by the pool. Lord, hear us

That there may be an end to violence and a restoration of peace and human rights and religious freedom for the people of Syria. Lord, hear us.

Celebrant: Lord, you are our refuge and strength in time of distress. Look with love upon those who live in difficult or dangerous conditions and bring them to peace and harmony through Christ our Lord.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 17, 2015 in Uncategorized