Tag Archives: Sacred Heart Cathedral

The Passion of Jesus

sacred heart mission

This evening at our mission at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Raleigh, North  Carolina, I recommended reading the gospels for the rich spirituality each of them offers.

Tonight we read St Luke’s passion narrative, the focal point of his gospel. All the narratives  before it, from the infancy narrative, to the accounts of Jesus’ baptism, his initial mission in Galilee, and his journey to Jerusalem lead to his passion, death and resurrection.

Jesus does not journey alone, nor does he suffer and die and rise again alone. He does not enter paradise alone.  From Galilee to Jerusalem followers join him, interesting followers, like Zacchaeus the publican and the blind man on the Jericho road whom some might find questionable followers. Jesus embraces them.

In Luke’s gospel the mercy of Jesus seems to increase as he journeys to Calvary and his death on the Cross. He does not turn his face away from Peter who denies him. He reaches out to those who crucify him: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Calvary, a place of death, becomes a shining place of mercy. A thief who simply asks for remembrance is promised paradise. “Today, you will be with me in paradise.

The thief finds a companion in death. He does not die alone or without hope. Reading Luke’s gospel we hear this same promise made to us. The thief is sinful humanity.

Reading the Scriptures


I began a mission at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh, NC tonight with some suggestions. First, get a good bible, like the New American Bible, Revised Edition–  a good translation, good notes and it’s the bible we read in church in our liturgies.

More and more, the bible is becoming our ordinary catechism, prayer book and spiritual reading. At the Second Vatican Council our church embraced the scriptures and the tools of modern scriptural scholarship for understanding the bible. We are becoming a more biblically based church. Some of Pope Francis’ most important reflections, for example, come from the scriptures he’s reading at daily Mass.

My second suggestion it to read the bible with the church. Follow the scripture readings read on Sundays and throughout the year. Each Sunday through the year we read one gospel consecutively. This year we’re reading from the Gospel of Luke.

The church’s lectionary is an opportunity for all of us to hear and reflect on the scriptures together. Reading the scriptures is not only for our personal enrichment, it can build up a parish community and families that hear the word of God together.

I recommend some online resources. The US Bishops’ site http://www.usccb.org/nab/y offers the New American Bible, the lectionary of readings for the year, as well as commentaries on the scriptures. The Passionists have daily reflections on the scripture readings at www.thepassionists.org. I comment mostly on the lectionary readings in this blog. vhoagland.wordpress.com

Today it’s important to learn about the bible from good sources. Not all the programs on the biblr on television from The History Channel and National Geographic and others are reliable.  Sometimes the programs are fundamentalist and simplistic, or sometimes use sensationalism to attract viewers.

Finally, don’t be afraid to meditate on the gospels. Some of the most beautiful insights into the gospels come from ordinary people praying from the scriptures. I think of Brigid of Sweden, whose reflections on the Passion of Jesus gave us the Pieta, the image of the dead body of Jesus cradled in his mother’s arms beneath the cross. The gospels say nothing of that scene, but Brigid said it had to be.

Meditation on the scriptures can also take place in a traditional prayer like the rosary. Pope John Paul II recommended this form of meditation in which we join Mary, who “treasured all these things and kept them in her heart.

If we meditate on the scriptures, we will meet Jesus, not only Jesus of the gospels or the the Risen Jesus who promise to be with us all days. It will lead us to meet the Lord in the least, the Lord in disguise, the Lord of the poor who calls us to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy