Tag Archives: Passionists

Friday, 5th Week of Lent

Lent 1


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.

Wednesday, 5th Week of Lent

Lent 1

Those listening to Jesus teaching in the temple area claim they’re “descendants of Abraham.”(John 8,31-42) The splendid temple buildings, its well-ordered worship, its ancient tradition which they know so well, tempt them to ask: “Why listen to this man? We have what God promised to Abraham; it’s automatically ours”.

But God’s promises are not automatic, Jesus says. “If you were the children of Abraham you would be doing the works of Abraham.” The great patriarch, a nomad, found God’s promises revealed from place to place. He discovered the works of God in time. And so must we.

John’s gospel was written well after the temple and Jerusalem itself were destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The Jews and Jewish Christians in his time, “descendants of Abraham” may have longed for the restoration of ancient structures now gone,

This gospel would remind them that Abraham, “our father in faith,” ventured on paths unknown.

Does that sound like our times? We’re called to have Abraham’s faith, a mystic faith. Our first reading today from the Book of Daniel tells of the three children thrown into the fiery furnace in Babylon. They sang in the flames.

Is God telling us to do that today? Sing in the flames and God will lead us on.

Two centuries ago, St. Paul of the Cross faced his times urging those who sought his advice to hold on to the Unchanging One we meet “in spirit and truth.” God will be our guide..

“Jesus will teach you. I don’t want you to indulge in vain imagery over this. Freely take flight and rest in the Supreme Good, in God’s consuming fire. Rest in God’s divine perfections, especially in the Infinite Goodness which made itself so small within our humanity.” (Letter 18)

O God, you are my God,
For you I long.
My body pines for you,
Like a dry, weary land without water. (Ps 63)

You guide our steps into the unknown. Lead us on.

Tuesday, 5th Week of Lent

Lent 1

Once again our gospel today (John 8:21-39) reports what Jesus said in the temple area during the Feast of Tabernacles. He speaks with urgency to those opposing him. The time is short; the Light guiding the world has appeared, but he “is going away” and those who reject him will die in their sins.

Are we detached observers as we listen to this gospel, watching others challenged long ago? We’re also challenged to answer the question: Who is Jesus Christ?

He is “I AM,” a divine title his enemies find blasphemous, but believers find true. In Hebrew it means “He who is always there.” Later in John’s gospel, Thomas bows before Jesus and says “My Lord and my God,” as he recognizes that the One lifted up on the cross is indeed “I AM.”

Our graphic above shows us the Cross as a place of healing. In our first reading for today Moses places a serpent on a pole to heal the people on their desert journey.We reverence the One lifted up on the Cross.. He is “I AM,” true God, sent by the Father, “who so loved the world that he sent his only Son.” He was lifted up on a Cross, and he will always be there as a sign God is with us in our wounds, our suffering and death..

In an early letter to Bishop Count Peter Garangi, who worked to establish the Passionists as a new congregation in the church, St. Paul of the Cross emphasized the importance of the mystery of the passion and death of Jesus as a revelation of God.

“So many believers live in forgetfulness of how much our Divine Savior did and suffered; they sleep in a swamp of evil. We need zealous workers to awaken them from their sleep in darkness and the shadow of death by the trumpet of God’s word and by meditating on the Passion of Jesus Christ, so that God be glorified by many who will be converted and pray and lead a holy life.” (Letter 266)

Lord Jesus Christ,
Draw me to your cross
And show me your wounds, your bitter death, your triumph over the tomb.
God with us, always there,
God who shares our humanity,
God who loves us so much
help me keep you in mind,
save me from forgetfulness.

Monday, 5th Week of Lent

Lent 1

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.

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

Lent 1

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.

Saturday, 3rd Week of Lent

Lent 1

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.”

Wednesday, 3rd Week of Lent

Lent 1

In Matthew’s gospel, chapters 5-7, Jesus speaks to his disciples from a mountain, a place Moses once chose to speak to the Jews. From a mountain Jesus now speaks God’s revelation to a wider world. Yet, the words he speaks from here are loyal to Jewish traditions and laws that Moses taught. He’s not abolishing them. Jesus came “not to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

First, remember them. That’s what the Jewish scriptures tell us to do. “Take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”

Second, practice them, from the greatest of the commandments to the least. Lent leads us to great thoughts and great visions of faith, but this season reminds us to remember small things as well. “A cup of cold water,” a prisoner, someone sick visited, someone naked clothed, someone hungry fed, “a word to the weary to rouse them.”

The law of God often comes down to small things like these. They’re always at hand, readily available. They’re within our power to do, and the greatest in the kingdom of God are best at doing them.