Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Friday, 5th Week of Lent

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Readings

John’s gospel, read most these final days of Lent and into Easter, says that Jesus went regularly to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feasts. In this gospel, Jesus says that the feasts are signs that say who he is and what he does.

For example, in Jerusalem Jesus heals a paralyzed man at the pool at Bethsaida on a Sabbath feast (Chapter 5); The Son does not rest from giving life as the Father never rests from giving life. At the Passover (Chapter 6), Jesus teaches he is the true Bread from heaven, the manna that feeds multitudes. On the Feast of Tabernacles (chapter 7-9) he reveals himself as the light of the world and living water. On the Feast of the Dedication, which celebrates the rededication of the temple after its desecration Jesus claims to be the true temple, dwelling among us and making God’s glory known.

The feasts are signs that what Jesus says and does is from God. On the feasts he claims “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” But listeners in Jerusalem seem blind to the signs and accuse him of blasphemy. They try to stone him and have him arrested. Jerusalem rejects him. In today’s gospel, Jesus has to leave the place and go to a place across the Jordan where John baptized. “Many there began to believe in him.”

Now , God gives a new sign. Not a temple, or its feasts or it worship, but One who is lifted up on a cross. John’s gospel, more than the others, finds glorious signs in the sufferings of Jesus. Realists that we are, we find it hard to believe suffering reveals God’s glory and power. We find it hard to see soldiers falling to the ground in the garden before him, Pilate shrinking before him on the judgment seat, Jesus speaking so calmly from the cross. We find it hard to see glory in suffering.

We find it hard to see anything but absurdity in the pandemic we’re experiencing today. But John’s gospel says “Look for the signs.” If we believe God is with us, there are signs of glory and a promise of resurrection.

Lead me on, O Lord,
through your holy signs, to Show me the glory I don’t see,
and through the One lifted up, let me come to you. Amen.

Monday, 5th Week of Lent

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Readings
Jesus meets the woman accused of adultery in the temple area during the Feast of the Tabernacles. He is the light of the world and living water. His enemies fiercely dispute his claims. It’s likely they brought the woman to discredit him. Earlier, he said, “As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just…” (John 5:30) Here was a test.

Moses, according to the woman’s accusers, commanded she be stoned. What is his judgment?

Adultery–which is still wrong–-is not the only issue here. Gender injustice is also on the table. The woman was treated badly by men. Where is the man in the case?

Jewish religious law then said that if a woman were caught in the act of adultery and two men witnessed it, she could be stoned to death or strangled. The system led to abuse, historians say; two witnesses paid by a vengeful husband who wanted to get rid of his wife, might give false testimony and have her stoned to death.

Jesus brings a lens of justice and mercy to every age; in the temple that day the woman received life and light from him. Her accusers met the judgment of Jesus. We believe he offers that same light for knowing what is right and just today for us.

Lord,
let me judge others with your eyes, your heart and your mind.
Help me work for a world that is right and just.
Give me the grace to know myself.

Friday, 4th Week of Lent

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Readings
Jesus went from Galilee up to Jerusalem for the feast of the Tabernacles where “the Jews were trying to kill him” . (John 7, 1-39) It was a popular Autumn feast drawing crowds of visitors to the city. The “inhabitants of the city” notice him. Who are they?

They’re not the leaders who will later put him to death. They’re the ordinary people who watch the leaders, who know what’s happening in the city, who follow the trends and pass the gossip. They watch Jesus with curiosity as he enters the temple area and begins to teach.

“Do our leaders now believe he’s the Messiah?” “How can he be, because he’s from Galilee and no one will know where the Messiah is from?” They go back and forth– they’re the undecided who wait to see who wins before they take sides.

Jesus cried out against them, because they think they know what’s going on but know nothing. They’re blind to the Word in their midst.

When we think about those responsible for the death of Jesus, we shouldn’t leave out “the inhabitants of the city.” Terrible things happen because  the undecided choose to stay on the sidelines and become uninvolved.

The reading from the Book of Wisdom for today talks about people like that–the people who wait and see. “Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him.” (Wisdom 2,12-24)

Prayer helps us to see what is real, the spiritual masters teach. To see what is real we have to put aside the ordinary ways we see and judge and act. The way we think often blinds us to the truth. Then, we have to act. Whether we’re learned theologians, practiced priests, informed church-goers, or “inhabitants of Jerusalem” we need to humble ourselves before God.

We are the inhabitants of the city,

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Monday, 4th Week of Lent

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Readings
From now to Holy Week our gospel readings at daily Mass are mostly from the Gospel of John, which also provides us with the story of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday and many of the readings during Easter time, as we celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection.

In John’s Gospel what Jesus says and does are continuing signs revealing God  through his Son.

“Your son will live,” Jesus tells the government official from Capernaum, who in today’s reading comes to Cana in Galilee where Jesus is staying to plead for his son near death.

“Your son will live” Jesus tells him and the official returns to Capernaum “believing” until his servants meet him on the way announcing his son’s cure. “Your son will live,” Jesus tells him and the deadly fever left his son.. But the official did not see it at once, he must believe till he sees it himself.

God is not heartless before the mystery of death, our story says. He’s not less loving than the father from Galilee, the official who pleads for his son. The Father of Jesus, our Father, never wavers; he brings life to the world through his own Son.

But God’s mercy doesn’t appear immediately, our story reminds us. The official leaves Jesus “believing” not seeing. He has to wait. We see this also in the Lazarus story read this coming Sunday. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died,” Martha says to Jesus.She too has to wait, believing.

O God, let me rest in you
even now, before my earthly journey’s done.
For you bring me life even in death.
May I live believing
through the merits of Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.

Saturday, 3rd Week of Lent

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Readings
In Luke’s gospel Jesus often sides with those so let down by life that they hardly dream of anything better– tax collectors, widows, sinners like the prodigal son. Jesus was criticized frequently by others for associating with people like that, so he must have done it often enough.

The tax collector in the parable we read today (Luke 18, 9-14), praying in the back of the temple, is an example. Luke recalls earlier in his gospel that Jesus sat down at table with Matthew and some of his tax collector friends in Capernaum. Was Jesus telling their story in this parable?

Staying at a distance, eyes down, the tax collector says only a few words:“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

The Pharisee’s prayer is so different, so full of himself; he seems to ask only for applause and approval. The tax collector asks only for mercy.

His prayer is heard so shouldn’t we make it our own? Tax-collectors,  widows and sinners stand closest to where all humanity stands. We all need God’s mercy. We come to God empty-handed.
“O God come to my assistance. O Lord make haste to help me.”

“I wish that you to remain in your horrible nothingness, knowing that you have nothing, can do nothing and know nothing. God doesn’t do anything for those who wish to be something; but one who is aware of his nothingness in truth, is ready. ‘If anyone thinks himself to be something, he deceives himself,’ said the Apostle, whose name I bear unworthily. (St. Paul of the Cross, Letter 1033)

“O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

Friday, 3rd Week of Lent

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Readings
Love God and love your neighbor, Jesus says in today’s gospel.(Mark 12, 28-34) We would expect to hear about love on a lenten Friday since every Friday of the year is associated with the Friday called Good. The lenten fridays especially prepare us for that great day of love.

The gospels dwell on what took place that day in great detail. On their part, historians, scholars, artists approach the mystery of Jesus’ passion and death in different ways. What political or religious factors were behind it? Who were the people involved? What was crucifixion like? The day is a fascinating conclusion to a fascinating life. But, above all, it’s a day about love.

Why did Jesus suffer such a death, we ask? As God’s Son, no one could take his life from him. The only answer we can give is that Jesus gave himself up to death and he accepted death on the Cross out of love for his Father and out of love for us. Love caused him to say in the Garden, “Your will be done.” Love called words of forgiveness from the cross:”Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The cross was not something Jesus endured; he embraced  it with his whole heart, his whole mind and all his strength. Before his cross, we stand before Love.

“When you experience dryness in your prayer, gently stir your spirit with loving acts then rest in God. Softly say to him, ‘How bruised your face, how swollen, how disfigured with spit. I see your bones laid bare. What suffering, what blows, what grief. Love is one great wound. Sweet are your wounds, sweet is your suffering. I want to keep you always close to my heart.” (Paul of the Cross:Letter 23)

Lord Jesus Christ,
the scribe in today’s gospel repeated the command to love
and you praised him for it.
May I keep before me the great commandment
to love God and my neighbor
and live it as you did.
Give me that grace. Amen.

St. Joseph

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Readings

“Each year Jesus’ parents went up to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, and when he was twelve years old they went up according to festival custom.” Luke 2,41

At twelve, Jesus entered a new stage in life – his “Bar Mitzvah,” when he took on the responsibilities of the law, which later he summarized as: “Love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart…Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Who led him to that new stage? It had to be Joseph and Mary. Matthew’s Gospel gives Joseph a major role in Jesus’ birth. He provides Jesus with a genealogy going back to Abraham. He’s told by the angel not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife; he shouldn’t divorce her as Jewish law called for, and he should name the child, Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins.”

After the visit of the Magi, Joseph was directed to take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Then, the angel tells him to return to Israel with them after Herod’s death. Finally, he makes a home in Nazareth in Galilee, where his family would be safer away from Herod’s heir, Archelaus, who ruled in Judea.

Clearly, according to Matthew’s gospel, Joseph is an important figure in the birth and early life of Jesus Christ. Then, he silently disappears from the gospels. There’s no record of his role at Nazareth or his death.

The gospel calls Joseph an “upright” man. He was upright because, like his neighbors at Nazareth, he observed all the Jewish laws. But not from lip service. Joseph firmly believed in his heart in the God of Israel, who loved all things great and small, yes, even Nazareth and a humble carpenter.

An inward man, Joseph saw in the simple, ordinary world about him more than others saw. His neighbor casting seed on the family field he loved – wasn’t God’s passionate love for the land of Israel like that? Even as he built a village house or a table, his thoughts sometimes turned to another world: was not God building a kingdom for his people?

An inward man, Joseph saw beyond the fields and mountains of the small town of Nazareth, but he said little about his inmost dreams to others. A quiet man, he kept his own counsel.

Jesus, the Son of God, was known through his earthly life as Jesus, the son of Joseph, “the carpenter’s son.” Growing up as children do, he naturally would acquire some of Joseph’s traits, perhaps the way he walked and spoke.

From Joseph, Jesus first learned about the people of the village, their sorrows and their joys. He saw his love for Mary and the people of his village. As a child Jesus learned from him how to use a carpenter’s tools and began to work at his side. The rabbis said: A father who does not teach his son a trade teaches him to steal.

The two were constant companions at the synagogue in Nazareth. Together they celebrated regularly the great Jewish feasts, listened to the Scriptures, and journeyed as pilgrims to Jerusalem.

Jesus must have seen in Joseph a simple, holy man who trusted God with all his heart. Someone like Joseph, so unassuming, so steady, so quietly attentive to God, was like a treasure hidden in a field. He could easily go unrecognized.

Later, would Jesus remember lessons and tell stories he learned earlier at Nazareth from Joseph, the carpenter?