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Holy Saturday (April 15): “They laid him in a rock-hewn tomb”

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Gospel Reading: Luke 23:50-56  [reading for the Easter Vigil: Matthew 28:1-10]

50 Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid; 56 then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Meditation: Jesus not only died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3); he also, by the grace of God, tasted death for every one (Hebrews 2:9). It was a real death that put an end to his earthly human existence. Jesus died in mid afternoon and the Sabbath began at 6:00 pm. Since the Jewish law permitted no work on the Sabbath, the body had to be buried quickly. Someone brave enough would have to get permission from the Roman authorities to take the body and bury it. The bodies of executed criminals were usually left unburied as carrion (dead flesh) for the vultures and dogs. Jesus was spared this indignity through the gracious intervention of Joseph of Arimethea.

Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s tomb – but no tomb could contain him for long
Who was this admirer and secret disciple of Jesus? Luke tells us that Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council that condemned Jesus. We are told that he did not agree with their verdict. He was either absent from their meeting or silent when they tried Jesus. What kind of man was Joseph? Luke tells us that he was “good and righteous” and “looking for the kingdom of God”. Although he did not stand up for Jesus at his trial, he nonetheless, sought to honor him in his death by giving him a proper burial. This was to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah had foretold: “He was cut off out of the land of the living ..and they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:8-9).

The power of God kept Jesus’ body from corruption so he could rise victorious on the third day
In the Book of Revelation, the Lord Jesus speaks: “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one: I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18). No tomb in the world could contain the Lord Jesus for long. His death on the cross purchased our redemption and his triumph over the grave on Easter morning defeated death. What preserved the Lord Jesus from corruption? He was kept from decay and he rose from the dead by divine power. “My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not let your Holy One see corruption” (Psalm 16:9-10). The mystery of Christ’s lying in the tomb on the sabbath reveals the great sabbath rest of God after the fulfillment of our salvation which brings peace to the whole world (Colossians 1:18-20). Is your hope in this life only, or is it well founded in the resurrection of Christ and his promise that those who believe in him will live forever?

“Lord Jesus, you died that I might live forever in your kingdom of peace and righteousness. Strengthen my faith that I may I know the power of your resurrection and live in the hope of seeing you face to face for ever.”

Psalm 16:1; 8-11

1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
8 I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure.
10 For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your godly one see the Pit.
11 You show me the path of life; in your presence there is fulness of joy, in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

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Good Friday (April 14): “It is finished”Screen shot 2017-04-12 at 12.55.07 AM

Gospel Reading: John 19:17-30  ( for fuller passage see: John 18:1-19:42)

“So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.  There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.  Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’.  Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.  The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, The King of the Jews’, but, ‘This man said, I am King  of the Jews’.  Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written’.

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic.  But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be’.  this was to fulfill the scripture. “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots”.  So the soldiers did this.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’  Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’  And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.  After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), ‘I thirst’.  A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth.  When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit”

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12

53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;  and as one from whom men hide their faces  he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;  yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;  upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;  and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;  like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief;  when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days;  the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand; 11 he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous;  and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;  because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors;  yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:3-12)

Meditation: The cross brings us face to face with Jesus’ suffering. He was alone – all his disciples had deserted him except for his mother and three women along with John, the beloved disciple. And his death was agonizing and humiliating. Normally a crucified man could last for several days on a cross. Jesus’ had already been scourged, beaten with rods, and a crown of thorns pressed into his skull. It is no wonder that he died mid-afternoon. Pilate publicly heralded Jesus “The King of the Jews” as he died upon the cross, no doubt to irritate and annoy the chief priests and Pharisees (John 19:19).

Jesus was crucified for his claim to be King. The Jews had understood that the Messiah would come as their king to establish God’s reign for them. They wanted a king who would free them from tyranny and foreign domination. Many had high hopes that Jesus would be the Messianic king. Little did they understand what kind of kingship Jesus claimed to have. Jesus came to conquer hearts and souls for an imperishable kingdom, rather than to conquer perishable lands and entitlements.

Jesus’ death on the cross defeated sin and death for us
We can find no greater proof of God’s love for us than the willing sacrifice of his Son on the cross. Jesus’ parting words, “It is finished!” express triumph rather than defeat. Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit knowing that the strife was now over and the battle was won. Even on the cross Jesus knew the joy of victory. What the Father sent him into the world to do has now been accomplished. Christ offered himself without blemish to God and he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (see Hebrews 9:24-26).

As we gaze on his wounds – we touch the scars of his resurrection
While the close company of Jesus’ disciples – his apostles – had deserted him and hid out of fear from the Jewish authorities, Jesus’ mother and some of the women who were close to Jesus stood close to him while he hung upon the cross. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D) in his sermon on John’s passion account focuses on the gaze of the women who witnessed the shedding of his blood and the offering of his life as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. Augustine invites us to present ourselves before Jesus crucified who took our sins upon himself and nailed them to the cross. Through the eyes of faith we, too, gaze upon the bloodied body of our Redeemer who paid the price for our sins – and we touch the scars of his resurrection who defeated death for our sake so that we may know the victory of his cross and resurrection and receive the promise of everlasting life and glory with him in his kingdom:

“As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs. We see his blood as he dies. We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection.  He bows his head, as if to kiss you.  His heart is made bare open, as it were, in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you. His whole body is displayed for your redemption. Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind: as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you, so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.” (GMI 248)

The miracle of my salvation
In the cross of Christ we see the triumph of Jesus over his enemies – sin, Satan, and death. Christian writers down through the centuries have sung the praises of the Cross of Christ. Paul the Apostle exclaimed, “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).

Hear what Gregory Nazianzen (329-389 AD), an early church father and bishop of Constantinople, wrote about the triumph of Christ’s exaltation on the cross :

“Many indeed are the wondrous happenings of that time: God hanging from a cross, the sun made dark and again flaming out; for it was fitting that creation should mourn with its creator. The temple veil rent, blood and water flowing from his side: the one as from a man, the other as from what was above man; the earth shaken, the rocks shattered because of the rock; the dead risen to bear witness to the final and universal resurrection of the dead. The happenings at the sepulcher and after the sepulcher, who can fittingly recount them? Yet no one of them can be compared to the miracle of my salvation. A few drops of blood renew the whole world, and do for all men what the rennet does for the milk: joining us and binding us together. (On the Holy Pasch, Oration 45.1)

Rupert of Deutz (1075-1129), a Benedictine theologian and abbot, wrote:

“The cross of Christ is the door to heaven, the key to paradise, the downfall of the devil, the uplifting of mankind, the consolation of our imprisonment, the prize for our freedom.”

The throne of love and sign of God’s mercy
The Cross of Christ is the safeguard of our faith, the assurance of our hope, and the throne of love. It is also the sign of God’s mercy and the proof of forgiveness. By his cross Jesus Christ has pardoned us and set us free from the tyranny of sin. He paid the price for us when he made atonement for our sins. The way to peace, joy, and righteousness in the kingdom of God and the way to victory over sin and corruption, fear and defeat, despair and death is through the cross of Jesus Christ. Do you follow the Lord Jesus in his way of the cross with joy, hope, and confidence?

“Lord Jesus Christ, by your death on the cross you have won pardon for us and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death. May I live in the joy and freedom of your victory over sin and death.”

Psalm 31:2,6,12-17,24

2 Incline your ear to me, rescue me speedily!  Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
6 You hate those who pay regard to vain idols; but I trust in the LORD.
12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
13 Yes, I hear the whispering of many — terror on every side! —  as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O LORD, I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors!
16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!
17 Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I call on you;  let the wicked be put to shame, let them go dumbfounded to Sheol.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

A Daily Quote for Lent: Christ nailed our weakness to the cross, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

“As evening drew near, the Lord yielded up His soul upon the cross in the certainty of receiving it back again. It was not wrested from Him against His will. But we too were represented there. Christ had nothing to hang upon the cross except the body He had received from us. And in doing so He nailed our human weakness to the cross.” (excerpt fromCommentary on Psalm 140,5)

Maundy Thursday

Screen shot 2017-04-12 at 12.47.41 AMHoly Thursday (April 13): Jesus’ supreme humility

Gospel Reading: John 13:1-15

1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. 5 Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.

6 He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 12:1-8,11-14

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; 4 and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats; 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening.

7 Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste.  It is the LORD’s passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever.

Meditation: Does your love waver when you encounter bitter disappointments and injury from others? As Jesus’ hour of humiliation draws near he reveals to his disciples the supreme humility which shaped the love he had for them. He stoops to perform a menial task reserved for servants – the washing of smelly, dirty feet. In stooping to serve his disciples Jesus knew he would be betrayed by one of them and that the rest would abandon him through fear and disloyalty. Such knowledge could have easily led to bitterness or hatred. Jesus met the injury of betrayal and disloyalty with the greatest humility and supreme love.

Let the love of Christ rule in your heart and actions
Jesus loved his disciples to the very end, even when they failed him and forsook him. The Lord loves each of us freely and unconditionally. His love has power to set us free to love and serve others with Christ-like compassion and humility. Paul the Apostle tells us that Christ’s gift of love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us (Romans 5:5 and 8:35-39). Does the love of Christ rule in your heart, thoughts, intentions and actions?

The love of Christ conquers all and never fails
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) in his sermon for Holy Thursday wrote:

“He had the power of laying down his life; we by contrast cannot choose the length of our lives, and we die even if it is against our will. He, by dying, destroyed death in himself; we are freed from death only in his death. His body did not see corruption; our body will see corruption and only then be clothed through him in incorruption at the end of the world. He needed no help from us in saving us; without him we can do nothing. He gave himself to us as the vine to the branches; apart from him we cannot have life.

Finally, even if brothers die for brothers, yet no martyr by shedding his blood brings forgiveness for the sins of his brothers, as Christ brought forgiveness to us. In this he gave us, not an example to imitate but a reason for rejoicing. Inasmuch, then, as they shed their blood for their brothers, the martyrs provided “the same kind of meal” as they had received at the Lord’s table. Let us then love one another as Christ also loved us and gave himself up for us.”

“Lord Jesus, your love conquers all and never fails. Help me to love others freely, with heart-felt compassion, kindness and goodness. Where there is injury, may I sow peace rather than strife.”

Psalm 116:12-13, 16-18

12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your handmaid.  You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

A Daily Quote for Lent: Christ chose to be a servant who offered himself for us, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

“Even though the man Christ Jesus, in the form of God together with the Father with whom He is one God, accepts our sacrifice, nonetheless He has chosen in the form of a servant to be the sacrifice rather than accept it. Therefore, He is the priest Himself Who presents the offering, and He Himself is what is offered.” (excerpt from City of God, 10,20)

Holy Wednesday

art3_foto2Wednesday (April 12): The tragedy of the betrayal

Gospel Reading: Matthew 26:14-25

14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests  15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. 17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. 20 When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; 21 and as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. 24 The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man  if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Is it I, Master?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9

4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary.  Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear  to hear as those who are taught. 5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward. 6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;  I hid not my face  from shame and spitting. 7 For the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been confounded;  therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; 8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me?  Let us stand up together.  Who is my adversary?  Let him come near to me. 9 Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty?  Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment;  the moth will eat them up.

Meditation: Why did Judas betray his Master? Was his treachery motivated by greed, bitter disappointment with Jesus, or hatred because of disillusionment? It may be that Judas never intended for his Master to die. Maybe he thought Jesus was proceeding too slowly and not acting aggressively enough in setting up his messianic kingdom. Perhaps Judas wanted to force Jesus’ hand by compelling him to act. Nonetheless, his tragedy was his refusal to accept Jesus as he was.

The power of greed can only be overcome with the power of Christ’s love poured out for us
Origen (185-254 AD), a bible scholar and early church father, comments on Judas’ betrayal:

“Let us consider what Judas said to the Jewish priests: What will you give me if I hand him over to you? He was willing to take money in exchange for handing over the Word of God. They do the same thing who accept sensual or worldly goods in exchange for handing over and casting out from their souls the Savior and Word of truth who came to dwell with them. Indeed, it would be fitting to apply Judas’s example to all who show contempt for the Word of God and betray him, as it were, by committing sin for the sake of money or for any selfish motive. People who behave in this way appear openly to be calling out to the powers of the enemy who offer worldly gain in return for the sin of betraying God’s Word, saying, What will you give me if I hand him over to you? And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.The number of coins they gave Judas was equivalent to the number of years the Savior had sojourned in this world. For at the age of thirty, he was baptized and began to preach the gospel, like Joseph was thirty years old when he began to gather grain for his brothers (Genesis 41:46). Just as at that time the grain was prepared by God for the sons of Israel but given also to the Egyptians, so also the gospel was prepared for the saints but preached also to the unfaithful and wicked.” (Commentary on Matthew 78.)

The Lord will test our hearts to show us where we need his love and strength to do his will
Jesus knew beforehand what would befall him. As Jesus ate his last supper meal with his twelve apostles he put them under trial and suspicion (one of you will betray me) to teach them to examine themselves rightly, lest they be high-minded and think themselves more strong than they were. We, also must examine ourselves in the light of God’s truth and grace and ask him to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love that we may not fail him or forsake him when we are tempted. Do you pray with confidence in the words Jesus gave us to pray:Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13)?

“God our Father, we are exceedingly frail and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking. Strengthen our weakness, we beseech you, that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice, and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts; for Jesus Christ’s sake.”  (Prayer of Thomas a Kempis)

Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31-34

8 I have become a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother’s sons.
9 For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
10 When I humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.
21 They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
22 Let their own table before them become a snare; let their sacrificial feasts be a trap.
31 This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.
32 Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33 For the LORD hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
34 Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves therein.

A Daily Quote for Lent: God’s help for a complete conversion, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

“When we transform our old life and give our spirit a new image, we find it hard and tiring to turn back from the darkness of earthly passions to the serene calm of the divine light. We thus ask God to help us that a complete conversion may be brought about in us.” (excerpt from Confessions 10,4)

Holy Tuesday

Holy Tuesday, one of the days which the Church calls Great and Holy have within the liturgical development of the Holy Week a very definite purpose. They place all its celebrations in the perspective of End ; they remind us of the eschatological meaning of Pascha. …“Now is the Judgment of this world” (John 12:31). The Pascha of Jesus signified its end to “this world” and it has been at its end since then. This end can last for hundreds of centuries this does not alter the nature of time in which we live as the “last time.” “The fashion of this world passeth away…” (I Cor. 7:31).

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Daily Reading for Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

 

Reading 1, Isaiah 49:1-6

1 Coasts and islands, listen to me, pay attention, distant peoples. Yahweh called me when I was in the womb, before my birth he had pronounced my name.

2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword, he hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me into a sharpened arrow and concealed me in his quiver.

3 He said to me, ‘Israel, you are my servant, through whom I shall manifest my glory.’

4 But I said, ‘My toil has been futile, I have exhausted myself for nothing, to no purpose.’ Yet all the while my cause was with Yahweh and my reward with my God.

5 And now Yahweh has spoken, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him and to re-unite Israel to him;-I shall be honoured in Yahweh’s eyes, and my God has been my strength.-

6 He said, ‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I shall make you a light to the nations so that my salvation may reach the remotest parts of earth.’


Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17

1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put to shame.

2 In your saving justice rescue me, deliver me, listen to me and save me.

3 Be a sheltering rock for me, always accessible; you have determined to save me, for you are my rock, my fortress.

4 My God, rescue me from the clutches of the wicked, from the grasp of the rogue and the ruthless.

5 For you are my hope, Lord, my trust, Yahweh, since boyhood.

6 On you I have relied since my birth, since my mother’s womb you have been my portion, the constant theme of my praise.

15 My lips shall proclaim your saving justice, your saving power all day long.

16 I will come in the power of Yahweh to tell of your justice, yours alone.

17 God, you have taught me from boyhood, and I am still proclaiming your marvels.

 

Gospel, John 13:21-33, 36-38

21 Having said this, Jesus was deeply disturbed and declared, ‘In all truth I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’

22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he meant.

23 The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus;

24 Simon Peter signed to him and said, ‘Ask who it is he means,’

25 so leaning back close to Jesus’ chest he said, ‘Who is it, Lord?’

26 Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give the piece of bread that I dip in the dish.’ And when he had dipped the piece of bread he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.

27 At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus then said, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’

28 None of the others at table understood why he said this.

29 Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival,’ or telling him to give something to the poor.

30 As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. It was night.

31 When he had gone, Jesus said: Now has the Son of man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified.

32 If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon.

33 Little children, I shall be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and, as I told the Jews, where I am going, you cannot come.

36 Simon Peter said, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Now you cannot follow me where I am going, but later you shall follow me.’

37 Peter said to him, ‘Why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’

38 ‘Lay down your life for me?’ answered Jesus. ‘In all truth I tell you, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’

Holy Monday

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Monday (April 10): Extravagant love for Jesus

Gospel Reading: John 12:1-11

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled  with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. 8 The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” 9 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was  there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus also to death, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. 12 The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 42:1-7

1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights;  I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;  he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth;  and the coastlands wait for his law. 5 Thus says God,the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6 “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you;  I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations,7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

Meditation: Do you know the love that knows no bounds? As Jesus dines with his beloved friends, Mary does something which only love can do. She took the most precious thing she had and spent it all on Jesus. Her love was not calculated but extravagant. Mary’s action was motivated by one thing, and one thing only, namely, her love for Jesus and her gratitude for God’s mercy. She did something, however, a Jewish woman would never do in public. She loosed her hair and anointed Jesus with her tears. It was customary for a woman on her wedding day to bound her hair. For a married woman to loosen her hair in public was a sign of grave immodesty. Mary was oblivious to all around her, except for Jesus. She took no thought for what others would think, but what would please her Lord. In humility she stooped to anoint Jesus’ feet and to dry them with her hair. How do you anoint the Lord’s feet and show him your love and gratitude?

Love unbounded and poured out in gratitude
The Gospel of John records that the whole house was filled with the perfume of the ointment (John 12:3). What Mary had done brought sweetness not only in the physical sense, but the spiritual sense as well. Her lovely deed shows the extravagance of love – a love that we cannot outmatch. The Lord Jesus showed us the extravagance of his love in giving the best he had by pouring out his own blood for our sake and by anointing us with his Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul says that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39). Do you allow the love of Christ to rule in all your thoughts and intentions, and in all your words and deeds?

The cost to the giver shows the true beauty and goodness of a heart filled with love and gratitude
Why was Judas critical of Mary’s lovely deed? Judas viewed her act as extravagant wastefulness because of greed. A person views things according to what it inside the heart and soul. Judas was an embittered man and had a warped sense of what was precious and valuable, especially to God. Jesus had put Judas in charge of their common purse, no doubt because he was gifted in financial matters. The greatest temptation we can face will often come in the area of our greatest strength or gifting. Judas used money entrusted to him for wrong and hurtful purposes. He allowed greed and personal gain to corrupt his heart and to warp his view of things. He was critical towards Mary because he imputed unworthy motives. Do you examine your heart correctly when you impute wrong or unworthy motives towards others?

“Give us, Lord, a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of you. Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation, dullness in prayer. Give us fervor and delight in thinking of you and your grace, your tender compassion towards me. The things we pray for, good Lord, give us grace to labor for: through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Prayer of Sir Thomas More, 16th century)

Psalm 27:1-3,13-14

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life;  of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me, uttering slanders against me, my adversaries and foes, they shall stumble and fall.
3 Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;  though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage;  yes, wait for the LORD!

A Daily Quote for Lent: God first loved us, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.

“Fulfill the commandments out of love. Could anyone refuse to love our God, so abounding in mercy, so just in all His ways? Could anyone deny love to Him Who first loved us despite all our injustice and all our pride? Could anyone refuse to love God Who so loved us as to send His only Son not only to live among human beings but also to be put to death for their sake and at their own hands?.” (excerpt from Catechetical Instructions 39)

Palm Sunday

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Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent, the beginning of Holy Week, and commemorates the triumphant arrival of Christ in Jerusalem, days before he was crucified.

Palm Sunday is known as such because the faithful will often receive palm fronds which they use to participate in the reenactment of Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem. In the Gospels, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a young donkey, and to the lavish praise of the townspeople who threw clothes, or possibly palms or small branches, in front of him as a sign of homage. This was a customary practice for people of great respect.

Palm branches are widely recognized symbol of peace and victory, hence their preferred use on Palm Sunday.

The use of a donkey instead of a horse is highly symbolic, it represents the humble arrival of someone in peace, as opposed to arriving on a steed in war.

A week later, Christ would rise from the dead on the first Easter.

 

During Palm Sunday Mass, palms are distributed to parishioners who carry them in a ritual procession into church. The palms are blessed and many people will fashion them into small crosses or other items of personal devotion. These may be returned to the church, or kept for the year.

 

Because the palms are blessed, they may not be discarded as trash. Instead, they are appropriately gathered at the church and incinerated to create the ashes that will be used in the follow year’s Ash Wednesday observance.