April 18, 2014

Good Friday


Jesus' death brings courage
 


"Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body.  
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom." (John 19: 38-40)

Joseph used to follow Jesus in secret "for fear of the Jews." Now, he even goes to Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus.

Nicodemus "was a Pharisee [and] a ruler of the Jews." (John 3:1).  He "had first come to to Jesus at night" probably because he did not want people to know.  Now he comes bringing "a mixture of of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds." It would be pretty difficult trying to hide something that heavy.

Do I want to be known as a follower of Jesus? Why would I keep my relationship with Jesus secret?

May his passion and death out of love for me give me the courage to profess and live my faith in him.

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Image source:   catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com

April 12, 2014

Palm Sunday - A


Commentary


The  Slave Who Sets Us Free

Christ Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…. He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8)

This core of the Christian faith is expressed in some of the details of the various readings selected for this celebration of Palm Sunday.

-         Jesus is the Savior who brings peace.  It is evident in the manner of his entering the city to bring to fulfillment God’s plan of salvation.  He does not come as a warrior king riding on a horse, but as a humble prince of peace, on a young donkey. 

-         He was crucified, the most undignified capital punishment. 
             (1)   In the Roman society, crucifixion was never used for a free Roman citizen, but “on the lower classes, that is, slaves, violent criminals, and political rebels.” [1]   

      (2)  In Jewish tradition, there is no crucifixion as such.  Nevertheless, hanging is for a criminal who has committed a “capital offense.”  Moreover, “who is hanged is accursed by God.”  So much so, that Moses commanded the people to remove the corpse.  Otherwise, the corpse, if it “[remains] on the tree overnight” would “defile the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you as a heritage.” (Deuteronomy 21: 22-23) [2]

Yet, that is the manner of death the Son of God accepted out of obedience to the Father, and out of love for the human race.  In this way, the Son of God enables us, who are slaves to sins and death, to be free children of God forever.

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[1] & [2]  Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.  The Gospel of Matthew.  Sacra Pagina Series.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 397.

Palm Sunday - A (April 13, 2014)


Readings

Image source:  www.agnusday.org

April 5, 2014

5th Sunday of Lent - A


Commentary

Lazarus and Jesus

When Jesus arrives at Lazarus’ tomb, the stone still covers it.   And it is Jesus who orders it to be taken away.

And Lazarus is still in there.  He comes out only when Jesus calls him.   His “hands and feet [are tied] with burial bands, and his face [is] wrapped in a cloth.”  He still needs others’ help to “be freed from the trappings of death to go his way.” [1]

On the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, when Mary of Magdala comes to Jesus’ tomb, the stone has been removed (John 20:1).

Later, when Peter arrives, he finds the tomb empty.  Jesus is no longer there.  Inside the tomb, Peter finds the different burial cloths folded separately (20:6-7).  These “trappings of death” can no longer hold Jesus. 

While Lazarus is restored to life, it will be temporary.  He will die again.

Jesus will never die again.  He has conquered death for ever. 

And the life he gives us is everlasting. 

As we near the end of our Lenten journey, what remnants of sin and death do I still hang on to?  And what remnants of sin and death do I still allow to tie me down?  With Jesus’ power, I can conquer them all, and rise with Him to new life.
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[1] Francis J. Moloney.  The Gospel of John.  Sacra Pagina Series.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 333.

5th Sunday of Lent - A (April 6, 2014)


Readings

Image source:  http://www.agnusday.org

March 29, 2014

4th Sunday of Lent - A (March 30, 2014)


Commentary
John 9: 1-41

I Am the Light of the World

The man who was born blind meets Jesus twice.  In the first encounter, he does not speak to Jesus.  Later, when asked, he knows his healer only by the human name "Jesus."  The second time he meets Jesus, he already professes his faith, and addresses him as "Lord."

The disciples themselves, speaking only once in the whole episode know Jesus only as a rabbi (v. 2).  They still have some "seeing" to do in order to recognize the full identity of Jesus.

The Pharisees, on the contrary, never speak with Jesus.  The irony is that they interrogate the man about Jesus.  They summon his parents and question them.  Yet, not even once do they ask Jesus, the target of their questioning.  

Consequently, at first, some of the Pharisees still acknowledge something miraculous about what Jesus has done in saying, "How can a sinful man do such signs?"

Yet, without an encounter with Jesus, they fail to see the light.  By the end, they all denounce Jesus as a sinner (v. 24) and reject any possibility of Divine power in what he has done.

One cannot see unless one comes to "the Light of the world."

March 22, 2014

3rd Sunday of Lent - A


Commentary
The Savior’s Gifts

Jesus is the one who asks the Samaritan woman, an outsider, for a drink. 

Yet, it is Jesus who offers her three precious gifts. 

First, Jesus gives the water of eternal life.  We receive this gift in our baptism into his death and resurrection.

The second gift is the food that sustains Jesus himself.  His food is given to us when we do the Father’s will. 

The third gift is Jesus’ words of truth.  It is not just the words of truth that sees into the depths of our lives and our hearts.  It is the words that lead us to “worship the Father in Spirit and truth.”

And Jesus continues to reach out to us, the way he reached out to the Samaritan woman and her people, to give us these gifts – the gifts of eternal life. 

Like the Samaritan outsiders, may we recognize through these gifts that “this is truly the savior of the world.”