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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Week’

Following Jesus is Learning to Go Out of Ourselves

In Uncategorized on 2013/03/29 at 12:00 AM

We began this week—the heart of the entire liturgical year—during which we accompany Jesus in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, with Palm Sunday.

“But what,” the Pope asked, “does it mean for us to live Holy Week? What does it mean to follow Jesus on his journey to Calvary, toward the Cross and his Resurrection? On his earthly mission, Jesus walked the streets of the Holy Land. He called 12 simple persons to stay with him, sharing his path and continuing his mission … He spoke to everyone, without distinction: to the great and the humble … the powerful and the weak. He brought God’s mercy and forgiveness. He healed, consoled, understood. He gave hope. He brought to all the presence of God who cares for every man and woman as a good father and a good mother cares for each of their children.”

“God,” Francis emphasized, “didn’t wait for us to come to him. It was He who came to us. … Jesus lived the everyday reality of the most common persons. … He cried when he saw Martha and Mary suffering for the death of their brother Lazarus … He also experienced the betrayal of a friend. In Christ, God has given us the assurance that He is with us, in our midst. … Jesus has no home because his home is the people, us ourselves. His mission is to open the doors to God for all, to be the presence of God’s love.”

“During Holy Week we are living the apex … of this plan of love that runs throughout the history of the relationship between God and humanity. Jesus enters into Jerusalem to take the final step in which his entire existence is summed up. He gives himself completely, keeping nothing for himself, not even his life. At the Last Supper, with his friends, He shares the bread and distributes the chalice ‘for us’. The Son of God offers himself to us; puts his Body and his Blood in our hands to be always with us … And in the Garden of the Mount of Olives, as at the trial before Pilate, he makes no resistance, but gives himself.”

“Jesus doesn’t live this love that leads to sacrifice passively or as his fatal destiny. He certainly didn’t hide his deep human turmoil when faced with violent death, but he entrusted himself to the Father with full confidence … to show his love for us. Each one of us can say, ‘Jesus loved me and gave himself up for me’.”

“What does this mean for us? It means that this path is also mine, also yours, also our path. Living Holy Week, following Jesus not only with moved hearts, means learning to come out of ourselves … in order to meet others, in order to go toward the edges of our existence, to take the first steps towards our brothers and sisters, especially those who are farthest from us, those who are forgotten, those who need understanding, consolation, and assistance.”

“Living Holy Week is always going deeper into God’s logic, into the logic of the Cross, which is not first and foremost a logic of sorrow and death but one of love and the self giving that brings life. It is entering into the logic of the Gospel. Following, accompanying Christ, staying with him when he demands that we ‘go out’: out of ourselves, out of a tired and habitual way of living the faith, out of the temptation of locking ourselves in our own schemes that wind up closing the horizon of God’s creative action. God went out of himself in order to come amongst us … to bring us the mercy … that saves and gives hope. And we, if we want to follow and remain with him, cannot be satisfied with staying in the sheep pen with the ninety-nine sheep. We have to ‘go out’, to search for the little lost sheep, the furthest one, with him.”

“Often,” he observed, “we settle for some prayers, a distracted and infrequent Sunday Mass, some act of charity, but we don’t have this courage to ‘go out’ and bring Christ. We are a little like St. Peter. As soon as Jesus talks of his passion, death, and resurrection, of giving himself and love for all, the Apostle takes him aside and scolds him. What Jesus is saying shakes up his plans, seems unacceptable, the safe certainty he had constructed, his idea of the Messiah, in difficulty. And Jesus … addressing some of the harshest words of the Gospel to Peter, says: ‘Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.’ God thinks mercifully. God thinks like a father who awaits the return of his son and goes out to meet him, sees him coming when he is still afar … a sign that he was awaiting him every day from the terrace of his house. God thinks like the Samaritan who doesn’t pass by the unfortunate man, pitying him or looking away, but rather assisting him without asking anything in return, without asking if he was a Jew or a Samaritan, rich or poor.”

“Holy Week,” Francis concluded, “is a time of grace that the Lord gives us to open the doors of our hearts, of our lives, of our parishes—so many closed parishes are a shame—of our movements and associations, to ‘go out’ and meet others, to draw near them and bring them the light and joy of our faith. To always go out with the love and tenderness of God!”

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Good Friday

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2013/03/29 at 12:00 AM
  • The Passion Narrative that we just read brings us face to face with the darkest elements of humanity. Through this story we are shown the horrible power of our sins.
  • Indeed, my brothers and sisters, we must never get comfortable with our Lord’s Passion, nor must we allow ourselves to take our Lord’s suffering and death for granted.
  • Isaiah the prophet reminds us that: “it was our infirmities that He bore, our sufferings that He endured.” As we console ourselves with the fact that Jesus lovingly suffered for us, we must remember that He also suffered because of us, and Christ’s wounds reflect the sickness of our sinfulness.
  • In looking upon the marred, beaten, broken, and crucified body of Jesus, we see the effects of our sins – not simply upon the One who has taken our sins upon Himself, but we see as well in His wounds a symbol of the devastation sin wreaks in our souls.
  • Sin is a destroyer. It maims, it wounds, and it robs us of the beauty we possess as children made in the image and likeness of God. Sin is a sickness that can kill us.
  • Yet despite the pain we rightly experience today in looking upon our Savior whom we have crucified by our sins, we call this Friday “good,” for it is through our Lord’s suffering and death that we are given the opportunity to share in His eternal glory.
  • Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. ReidReverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NCBy faith we know that the misery of human sin is only part of today’s story, for our Lord’s Passion also shows us the power of suffering borne with love.
  • In his letter to the Romans (6:8), St. Paul wrote: “If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Christ.” It is this fundamental Christian belief that we hold fast to, especially on this day in which we memorialize our Lord’s death on the cross.
  • But as St. Paul tells us, to live with Christ, we must die with Christ, which means we must share our Lord’s willingness to suffer.
  • You see, my brothers and sisters, there is no such thing as a comfortable Christianity. By its very nature, Christian discipleship is painful and even death-like precisely because it requires imitating Him who suffered and died for us. It requires the cross.
  • While we may not suffer and die as did Jesus, a Christian’s willingness to suffer and die must be whole-hearted and open to whatever it is that God wills for us.
  • For most of us our sufferings will consist mainly of the normal everyday sufferings that come from embracing the demands of our vocations. They will come from the sins committed through our own stupidity and self-centeredness, as well that of others.
  • For most of us our willingness to die will be expressed by the taking on of voluntary penances and sacrifices so as to die to self. Not all Saints are called to be martyrs.
  • Ultimately, our willingness to suffer and die in union with Christ on the cross must be firmly rooted in a desire to follow God’s will no matter what the cost. Even more so, our willingness to suffer and die in union with Christ must be firmly rooted in LOVE.
  • Our Lord’s death on the cross shows us the power of suffering offered in love: namely, it reverses the effects of sin. Again in his letter to the Romans (6:23), St. Paul teaches us that the wages of sin is death, but Christ’s suffering and death bring us life!
  • And when, out of love, we are willing suffer and die in union with Christ – even in the smallest of ways – we reverse the effects of sin in our lives: we break free from the slavery sin causes, the virtues begin to grow, and we make reparation for our sins.

•Ultimately, we participate in our own redemption, as well as the redemption of all mankind. It is for this reason that we venerate and kiss the cross today. It is for this reason that today is a very good Friday indeed. By God’s grace, may we all suffer well.

Holy Thursday

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2013/03/27 at 12:00 AM
  • With this Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we begin our solemn 3-part vigil in preparation for Easter Sunday known as the Triduum.
  • As its name suggests, the Triduum is three liturgies in one, consisting of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which we are now celebrating, the Passion of the Lord, which we will celebrate tomorrow, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night.
  • Tonight, with this Mass, we sit with Christ at the Last Supper as He gives us the inseparable gifts of the priesthood and the Eucharist, and at the end of the Mass we will follow our Lord into the Garden of Gethsemane to watch and pray with Him.
  • Tomorrow we will witness all that He suffers for us, and we will stand at the foot of the cross with His Mother as Jesus dies for our sins. And finally, on Holy Saturday night, we will peer into the empty tomb and experience anew the glory of His resurrection.
  • Tonight’s Gospel tells us that Jesus “loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.” In celebrating the liturgies of Triduum, we see the many ways that our Lord shows His love for us.
  • In tonight’s Mass our Lord shows us His love by giving us His two most powerful and important gifts: the priesthood and the Eucharist.
  • Tomorrow, we witness our Lord’s sacrificial and self-emptying love poured out for us on the cross. In His great love for us, Jesus will suffer and die a most ignoble death, even though He is innocent, and He will do so to save us from our sins.
  • And on Holy Saturday night we will experience His love through the power of His resurrection, a gift that He lovingly promises to give to each of us if we simply believe in Him and live our lives as witnesses to our belief in Him.
  • The liturgies of the Triduum also show us God’s greatness, and in tonight’s Mass we see our Lord’s greatness expressed paradoxically in humble service.
  • Although Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He kneels before His disciples and washes their feet like a common slave, an action that we memorialize in this Mass.
  • Our Lord’s humility does not end there, though. We see Christ’s humility expressed in two other important ways in tonight’s Mass.
  • We see His humility in the fact that He is willing to become our food and drink. In His great love for us, He hides His infinite greatness in bread and wine so that we might eat and drink of our redemption in Holy Communion.
  • Not only does Jesus become bread and wine, but He even extends His power to confect the Eucharist, to forgive sins, to bless and heal and counsel and teach to weak and broken men like myself in the gift of the priesthood.
  • And our Lord does this not so that He can elevate priests above the people entrusted to their care, but so that there might be men in this world who will perpetuate His love and continue His humble service throughout history.
  • And all this: His humble service, His love, His twin gifts of the Eucharist and the priesthood we experience and live anew in this Mass.
  • As we experience our Lord’s loving and humble service, as we receive His gifts of the priesthood and the Eucharist, we are called to give thanks to our Lord.
  • We show our gratitude first by our willingness to follow our Lord into the Garden tonight so that we might stay and pray with Him. As such, at the end of this Mass we will have a Eucharistic Procession and Adoration until midnight.
  • Yet the gratitude demanded of us for such awesome gifts cannot be satisfied by prayer alone. Indeed, our gratitude to Christ is best shown through humble imitation of Him.
  • Like our Lord, we also must be willing to humble ourselves before others and serve them. We must be willing to give of ourselves fully through charitable words and actions, most especially through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
  • We must also show our love and gratitude to our Lord by treating the Eucharist with profound reverence and love, maintaining a reverent decorum whenever we are in its presence, only receiving the Eucharist when we are properly disposed to do so.
  • Lastly, we show our thanks to our Lord by the way we treat our priests, recognizing that by the grace of Holy Orders, priests stand in Christ’s place here on earth.
  • I make this last point with a great deal of trepidation, because although by grace I am a priest of Jesus Christ, I am a weak and sinful man. I sincerely ask for your forgiveness for the times that I have failed to be a priest like Jesus Christ.
  • But even though priests are weak and sinful, we must treat them with a certain respect and reverence because they stand in the person of Christ. Indeed, because of the great dignity priests possess, we must treat priests as we would treat Jesus Himself.
  • Truly, I’ve found that most of you here at St. Ann’s do just that, and I’m so very grateful for the respect, affection, and love you show me despite my faults and failings.
  • But if I may be so bold as to ask something of you, I ask that you pray for me an d for all priests. Pray that we may be truly holy, truly Christ-like in every way so that we can be proper pastors and shepherds of souls.
  • It can be a frightening thing to stand at the altar and call down our Lord from Heaven, holding Him, Who is our Creator, in my hands. It’s an awesome responsibility to stand in His place and bless, heal, counsel, teach, and forgive sins. So we need your prayers.
  • Pray that we may be always fervent, chaste, prudent and charitable. Pray that we have the courage to live our vocations with reverence and integrity. Pray most of all that we be effective in helping you on the path to salvation.
  • Looking back over the last 4 years that I’ve been at St. Ann’s, I am so very grateful for your prayers, support, and love. Truly, it’s hard for me to imagine a parish that I’d rather be serving than this one.
  • I am most grateful for your willingness to bear with me as we’ve made so many changes, especially to our church and to our liturgy. I’m quite conscious of the fact that I’ve asked a lot of this parish.
  • The guiding principles I’ve followed in making these changes have been fidelity to Church law, teaching and tradition, and fidelity to what I believe the Lord has asked of me in prayer. My hope in making these changes has been to help you grow in holiness.
  • Specifically, I’ve hoped to increase your reverence and devotion to the Eucharist, and to increase your love and appreciation for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because this is the very heart of our beautiful Catholic faith.
  • It is through the Eucharist that we receive in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that our Lord gives Himself to us most profoundly. It is here that He gives us every grace we need to be saved. It is here that we are most closely united to Him.
  • As we honor our Lord tonight for the twin gifts of the Eucharist and the priesthood, let us show our gratitude by giving ourselves to Him whole-heartedly and without reserve.
  • Let us show our love for Jesus by always honoring the Eucharist and the priesthood, by which Christ is made present to us.

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Palm Sunday

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2013/03/22 at 12:00 AM
  • With today’s Mass we enter once again in that most solemn of weeks for us Christians: Holy Week. Today’s Mass provides us with a prelude to all that we will experience in the coming week so that we can be fully prepared for the joys of Easter.
  • While we call today Palm Sunday, the primary focus of today’s Mass is not the blessing of palms we had at the beginning of the Mass, but the reading of the Passion narrative.
  • The Passion narrative gives the entire story of our Lord’s suffering and death, which we will experience in fuller measure through the Passion Liturgy on Good Friday.
  • Indeed, suffering is the main theme of our readings today, most especially the suffering of our Blessed Lord. But if we restrict our reflections this week to only our Lord’s sufferings, we will fail to fully realize the graces being held out to us.
  • You see, my brothers and sisters, as Christians we are called to imitate our Lord in every way. To be Christian means to be Christ­like.
  • And if we are going to live lives that are authentically and fully Christian, we must be willing to imitate Christ in the most important thing that He did for mankind: we must be willing to embrace suffering, just as Jesus embraced His sufferings, even unto death.
  • Jesus accomplished many things during His 33 years on earth: He was a teacher, a healer, a man of both gentle kindness and bold conviction. But most importantly, He was a Savior, a Savior who chose to suffer and die for His people.
  • It was His suffering that made Jesus the Christ, and if we are going to be Christians in the truest sense of the word, then we must be willing to embrace our sufferings too.
  • This is precisely what Jesus meant when He said that His followers must be willing to take up their crosses.
  • So as we meditate on our Lord’s passion and death this week, let us seek to imitate Him. Let us learn not simply to endure our sufferings, but to embrace our sufferings so that we do not become bitter and hard‐hearted, but more loving and gentle.
  • So many Christians today have the mistaken notion that if we lead virtuous lives and follow Christ, then we shouldn’t have to suffer. We have this mistaken notion that if we give our lives to God, that He should protect us from all evil and suffering.
  • We numb ourselves with the lie that if we’re leading “good” lives, then we don’t deserve to suffer. We mistakenly believe that suffering is always some sort of payback for sin.
  • But in reality, when we decide to live our lives for Christ, we promise to take up our crosses – whatever they may be. And we do this because by faith we know that doing this is the path of redemption. This is the narrow road that leads to Heaven.
  • If we look to the example of the saints, we learn that as we grow in holiness, we begin to see suffering as a most valuable gift from our Lord, because suffering is one of the most powerful ways that our Lord draws us into union with Him.
  • It is through our sufferings, borne with faith, hope, and charity and offered in union with our Lord’s suffering on the cross, that our Lord enables us to make reparation for our sins, grow in virtue, and participate in the redemption of all of mankind.
  • Moreover, the saints teach us that if we love God in a disinterested way that excludes all selfishness, we will be able to endure any suffering life may bring.

As we enter into this Holy Week, let us ask ourselves: How willing am I to suffer? How willing am I to be like Christ in every way? And let us pray that our Lord will enable us to suffer all that is necessary to fulfill His divine plan for our life.

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Palm Sunday by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/03/31 at 9:11 AM

“Because of this, God greatly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

• My dear friends in Christ, in listening to the Gospel story of our Lord’s Passion and death, we have heard the most important story told in the history of man, for we have just heard the story of our redemption – and the price our Lord paid for it.

• And we read it today on Palm Sunday as a preparation for Holy Week, which we now enter, and during which we will see the mysteries of our faith writ large upon the canvas of our liturgies.

• Today we witnessed Jesus enter triumphantly into Jerusalem amidst a chorus of hosannas and the waving of palms. Today we see Him heralded as a king, but we also call to mind today all that Jesus will suffer for us.

• Jesus is our King, but He is a king who suffers for His people.

• While we herald Him today, over the course of this week, we will see the conspiracy that leads to our Lord’s betrayal.

• On Thursday evening we will sit with Jesus and His apostles at His last supper, at which He will institute the holy priesthood and give us the incomparable gift of the Eucharist.

• We will follow Him to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with Him as He suffers His most bitter agony.

• Through our liturgies we will watch as our Lord is arrested, imprisoned, unjustly judged and condemned. He will be mercilessly scourged and crowned with thorns amidst bitter mockery. Every imaginable ignominy will be heaped upon Him.

• Our Lord will be stripped of every human comfort, even His clothing, and ultimately Jesus will suffer the humiliation of crucifixion like a common criminal, hanging upon the cross for three agonizing hours until He can breathe no more and expires.

• And all this He does for our sake. All this He does so that we might be freed from our sins and made worthy to take the places with Him in Heaven that God the Father has prepared for us as His sons and daughters.

• In our second reading we hear St. Paul write to the Philippians that Jesus “emptied Himself.” Jesus literally poured forth His blood, His very self, out of His deep love for us. And we are called to have this same type of love for one another. His is a love that is completely selfgiving – as should be our love.

• My dear friends in Christ, as we once again enter into this most holy of weeks, let us bend our knees and confess with our tongues that Jesus Christ is Lord.

• And as we do so, let us pray for the grace to empty ourselves of all that is not of Christ so that we may love as Jesus loves.

• Let us take the time to meditate deeply on all the mysteries of our faith that are about to unfold for us this week, and let us pray that we may be able to give ourselves completely to Jesus, just as He gave Himself to us.

• And lastly, let us pray for the strength and courage to endure whatever suffering we must for the sake of our own salvation and for the salvation of others. Have a blessed Holy Week.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Evanglistic Prophets

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/04/23 at 3:39 PM

If one acts as a historian or Biblical scholar and views the Old Testament prophets analytically, one can conclude that all the prophets spoke, in a way, as evangelists.  Three powerful examples:

ISAIAH 53: 1 Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 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.

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer; and by night, but find no rest. 3 Yet thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In thee our fathers trusted; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them .5 To thee they cried, and were saved; in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed. 6 But I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads; 8 “He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 9 Yet thou art he who took me from the womb; thou didst keep me safe upon my mother’s breasts. 10 Upon thee was I cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help. 12 Many bulls encompass me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; thou dost lay me in the dust of death .16 Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet –17 I can count all my bones — they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots . 19 But thou, O LORD, be not far off! O thou my help, hasten to my aid! 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion, my afflicted soul from the horns of the wild oxen! 22 I will tell of thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee: 23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! all you sons of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. 25 From thee comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him. 26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live for ever! 27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. 28 For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. 29 Yea, to him shall all the proud of the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and he who cannot keep himself alive. 30 Posterity shall serve him; men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation…

 Psalm 69:1 Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. 3 I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. 4 More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore? 5 O God, thou knowest my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from thee. 6 Let not those who hope in thee be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek thee be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. 7 For it is for thy sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face. 8 I have become a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother’s sons. 9 For zeal for thy house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult thee have fallen on me.10 When I humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. 11 When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. 12 I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me. 13 But as for me, my prayer is to thee, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of thy steadfast love answer me. With thy faithful help 14 rescue me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. 15 Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. 16 Answer me, O LORD, for thy steadfast love is good; according to thy abundant mercy, turn to me.  17 Hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in distress, make haste to answer me. 18 Draw near to me, redeem me, set me free because of my enemies! 19 Thou knowest my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to thee. 20 Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. 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. 23 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see; and make their loins tremble continually. 24 Pour out thy indignation upon them, and let thy burning anger overtake them.  25 May their camp be a desolation, let no one dwell in their tents. 26 For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten, and him whom thou hast wounded, they afflict still more. 27 Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from thee. 28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous. 29 But I am afflicted and in pain; let thy salvation, O God, set me on high! 30 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. 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. 35 For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; and his servants shall dwell there and possess it; 36 the children of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

Three Crosses

In 07 Observations on 2011/04/22 at 3:38 PM

In his Vol. 2 of IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD, Francis Fernandez present the picture of a recently arrived spectator on the first Good Friday.  The visitor see three men, each heading for death on the cross he carries.  Each carried his cross in a different way just as we today can carry ours in one of their three ways:

One can carry his cross complaining, filled with anger, and even cursing God.  That cross has no meaning and is as useless as it was to the “bad” thief.

Another way to carry our cross is with resignation or acceptance (because there is no alternative).  Here there is the possibility of change by conversion as in the case of the “good” thief.

The third way is embracing our cross with love for the love of God, and discovering that sorrow, suffering and contradictions cease to be merely negative as soon as the cross is seen to be not just one’s own but that of Jesus.  Jesus is an image of hope; he is beside the sufferer and actually will carry our cross.

Mount of Olives Psalms

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/04/22 at 3:35 PM

The early church began to recite the Psalms with new insight, having recognized Jesus as the new David.  They heard Christ speaking through the Psalms.  They recognized the unity between the two Testaments which Jesus had consistently demonstrated.

On the Mount of Olives, Jesus prayed the Psalms of which he was the subject.  “Jesus’ utterly personal prayer and his praying in the words of faithful, suffering Israel are here seamlessly united.” J. Ratzinger

Sweet Nails, Sweet Tree

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/04/22 at 3:34 PM

“Sweet nails, sweet tree, where life begins.”  Hymn, Crux Fidelis

St. Augustine, as he ponds the Psalms 21, 11, 8  considers the question of: “Why, so much suffering?” and concludes that all was done in order to redeem us; we have been ransomed.

If you gaze at a crucifix, you will be moved to begin to understand.  The redeeming act of Christ was for you, and you can truly say: Jesus Christ “loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

Pascal  heard him say to him: “Those drops of blood I shed for you.” (Pensees, VII)

All through history, people look upon the disfigured face of Christ, and there they recognize the glory of God.”  J. Ratzinger

Holy Week

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/04/21 at 1:52 AM

During this week which Christians traditionally call holy week, we are given another chance to reflect on and to re‑live the last hours of Jesus’ life. All the things brought to our mind by the different expressions of piety which characterize these days are of course directed to the resurrection, which is, as St Paul says, the basis of our faith. But we should not tread this path too hastily, lest we lose sight of a very simple fact which we might easily overlook. We will not be able to share in our Lord’s resurrection unless we unite ourselves with him in his passion and death. If we are to accompany Christ in his glory at the end of Holy Week, we must first enter into his holocaust and be truly united to him, as he lies dead on Calvary.

Let us meditate on our Lord, wounded from head to foot out of love for us. Using a phrase which approaches the truth, although it does not express its full reality, we can repeat the words of an ancient writer: “The body of Christ is a portrait in pain.” At the sight of Christ bruised and broken — just a lifeless body taken down from the cross and given to his Mother — at the sight of Jesus destroyed in this way, we might have thought he had failed utterly. Where are the crowds that once followed him, where is the kingdom he foretold? But this is victory, not defeat. We are nearer the resurrection than ever before; we are going to see the triumph which he has won with his obedience.  J Escriva