Friday, March 30, 2018

What is good about Good Friday? Why isn't it called Bad Friday? Because out of the appallingly bad came what was inexpressibly good. And the good trumps the bad, because though the bad was temporary, the good is eternal.

Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.  - Fulton J. Sheen: (1895 – 1979: was an American bishop of the Catholic Church known for his preaching and especially his work on television and radio.)

Scripture Text: (IS 52:13—53:12)
See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at himC
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of manC
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

Humanity needs constant forgiveness and redemption. The power of the cross is LOVE and holds the promise of LIFE in Christ. While Jesus is placed in the tomb, nothing could contain the immense amount of love within him, Jesus who is Love incarnate, God, the Christ. No stone could bar the way for LOVE and LIFE from triumphing. It was a love so powerful it blew out the stone at the entrance of the tomb! Jesus’ self-emptying on the Cross filled all of creation with renewed life, wholeness, greater freedom, and a promise of life everlasting.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Jesus is clear in his message: If I have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. He tells us he is giving us an example of service to others. “As I have done for you, you should also do.”………So why the reluctance to be a part of this? Why do we not want to follow Jesus in that? Maybe we are afraid; maybe just tired. It may be just a matter of trusting in God.

“Humility must accompany all our actions, must be with us everywhere; for as soon as we glory in our good works they are of no further value to our advancement in virtue.” St. Augustine of Hippo: (354 –430: was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy.)

Gospel text: (MT 26:14-25)
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples' feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
"Master, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later."
Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet."
Jesus answered him,
"Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."
Simon Peter said to him,
"Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."
Jesus said to him,
"Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all."
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another's feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do."

Jesus came into this world to destroy the power of sin and death. Jesus came into this world to offer freedom from sin, not from Pharaoh. Jesus came into this world to open up again the gates of Heaven, not the Red Sea. This is the freedom that Jesus won by dying on the Cross. But tonight, Jesus institutes the Eucharist. He establishes the Holy Eucharist in the form of a sacred meal. In reality, it is a sacrament that allows us to share in the power of the Cross, and makes us present at Calvary.

This Sacrament of the Eucharist is the foretaste of all of the goodness that God has prepared for us. Jesus gave us this Sacrament on the night before He died as a way of sharing in His promise to deliver us from every form of slavery. He wills to free us through the Eucharist from every one of our sins, and to lead us from this world into something that is greater and that lasts forever.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Despite all who betrayed Him, He still found it in his heart to help, forgive, and rebuild relationships. Through scripture we can find the strength to do the same.

The thorn from the bush one has planted, nourished and pruned pricks more deeply and draws more blood.  - Maya Angelou: (1928 –2014: was an American poet)

Gospel Text: (MT 26:14-25)
One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
"What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?"
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
"Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?"
He said,
"Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
'The teacher says, "My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples."'"
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
"Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
"Surely it is not I, Lord?"
He said in reply,
"He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born."
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
"Surely it is not I, Rabbi?"
He answered, "You have said so."

The sin of betrayal causes us to hurt those we love with our indifference and self-centeredness.

The sin of betrayal tells us it’s okay to be silent and passive rather than challenge the corrupt practices that are rampant in our society today.

The sin of betrayal leads us to buy into the merits of infidelity, addiction, crime and violence that makes life difficult for those we love and care about.

The sin of betrayal rears its ugly head when we favor revenge over reconciliation.

Jesus ate the Passover meal with people he trusted and loved.  We live, work, pray and socialize with people we trust and love each day.  When the sin of betrayal enters in and messes up our world even a little bit we feel hurt, angry, alone and bereft.  Jesus felt all of these human emotions, but in his great love for us, he accepted death on the cross in order that we all may enjoy new life.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“Peter denied Jesus; Judas betrayed Jesus. The bad news was that both of them fell off the track and were both filled with regrets, remorse and anguish for their mischievous behaviors. However it was only Peter who chose to rise again after falling! Judas chose to end it with suicide! - If you fall, you can rise again!”

What a mistake those who do not hope make! Judas made a huge blunder the day in which he sold Christ for 30 denarii, but he made an even bigger one when he thought that his sin was too great to be forgiven. No sin is too big: any wretchedness, however great, can always be enclosed in infinite mercy. - Pope John Paul I: (served as Pope of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City from 26 August 1978 to his sudden death 33 days later.)

Gospel Text: (JN 13:21-33, 36-38)
Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
"Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus' side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus' chest and said to him,
"Master, who is it?"
Jesus answered,
"It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it."
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly."
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
"Buy what we need for the feast,"
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
"Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
'Where I go you cannot come,' so now I say it to you."

Simon Peter said to him, "Master, where are you going?"
Jesus answered him,
"Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later."
Peter said to him,
"Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you."
Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times."

Today we hear the infamous promise of Saint Peter: “Why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you!” Our Lord knows that Peter is too weak to keep this promise. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Yet Jesus does not disown Peter. Within this encounter of human frailty and divine compassion, we see the Lord’s love for each of us reflected.

Despite the weakness of so many of His followers, Jesus does not abandon His intention to accomplish His Father’s Will. Jesus is abandoned, but He will not abandon His Father’s Will. Jesus still is willing to carry the Cross, for you in the same way as for His Blessed Mother, Saint Peter, and even for Judas Iscariot.

Perhaps the most striking action in today’s Gospel is Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Our Lord. Jesus knows Judas better than Judas knows himself. Jesus knew that it would be by Judas’ betrayal that He would be offered the Cross. But Jesus also knew that after his betrayal, Judas would refuse to turn back to the Lord for forgiveness, contrary to the desire of Jesus’ compassionate Sacred Heart.

Certainly Judas’ betrayal was more serious than Peter’s. Nonetheless, Judas could have turned back to Jesus afterwards, and would have found in Jesus a merciful Redeemer. When Jesus said, “…later on you shall come after me,” these words could have applied to Judas as to any of the other apostles. It was Judas’ own choice to hang himself which prevented him from following after Our Lord. Pray that in our sins, each of us will always turn to our loving Redeemer.

Monday, March 26, 2018

How might I be covering up disordered motives using an altruistic facade? What am I distracted by and where do I need to redirect my focus to Jesus, even if Jesus is sharing some startling or sobering news in my own life, that could be difficult for me to accept?

Man can and does rationalize his sins. He finds reasons for all his weakness, invents excuses that first calm and then deaden his conscience. He blames God, society, education, and environment for his wrong doing.  - Mother Angelica: ((born Rita Antoinette Rizzo; April 20, 1923 – March 27, 2016), also known as Mother Angelica, was a Catholic American Franciscan nun best known for her television personality.)

Gospel Text: (JN 12:1-11)
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
"Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages
and given to the poor?"
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, "Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him.

In the end, His death was not an accident. But for every person who worked to nail Jesus to the Cross, there was a choice made, or many choices. We remember that on the Cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Every one of us who is a sinner has the chance to accept this prayer. We have the chance to realize that even on the Cross, Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who wants to offer us His divine mercy and forgiveness.