Happy Easter to you. May this day be filled with the joy and hope and love of knowing that because Jesus has risen from the dead, you and I have the assurance that our sins can be forgiven. Death no longer has its fearful threat. Because of the resurrection we know that we will spend eternity in heaven with God and those we love.
Today is March 30th Saturday when we celebrate the Easter vigil. Easter night makes everything new, sets everything free, bandages every wound and wipes away every tear. It raises the dead and destroys the darkness of sin, restoring us to friendship with God.
"Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." (John 18: 25-27)
"Take and eat. This is my Body. Do this in memory of me."
Here Jesus is about to be put to the test big time and sets again an example. The 11th step of the well known 12 step program is laid before us here in stark example if we want to see it.
In our reading from the gospel of John, we see a very enthusiastic Peter. Jesus will soon complete his mission here on earth…his death and resurrection, and has told his disciples that he will only be with them a little longer, and where he is going, they cannot come.
Do you ever struggle with who Jesus really was---IS!? You accepted him as your ultimate guide in life somewhere in the unfolding of your past, grateful for the salvation you claim to enjoy and pass on to others, perhaps to your own children. You experience Jesus as comforting at times, but challenging at other times when you even call out his name in anger or resentment at an unfavorable outcome or happening.
After five weeks of preparation we now enter the climax of the Lenten season, what we call Holy Week. In a way, the whole week from today until Easter Sunday should be seen as one unit - the presentation of what we call the Paschal Mystery. This Paschal Mystery includes the suffering, death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus into glory and the sending of the Spirit on the disciples to continue the work Jesus began.
There is a right time for everything. At the end of John’s reading today it states that, “Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews.” How could He, unless He was going to die before His proscribed time? This made me think about just that, time.
I hear the whisperings of many:
“Terror on every side!
Denounce! let us denounce him!”
All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
“Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,
and take our vengeance on him.” (Jeremiah 20:10)
The Saint of the Day is St. Serapion of Egypt. The Church is so very blessed by having such saints but more importantly, preserving the examples of those who have gone before us. Some people tend to think that the Church worships and prays to such people, their statutes, etc. But not so. These early Christians had a better grasp of Jesus and the gospels in so far as they were living not so long after the Gospel events; at least in comparison to us, living thousands of years later.
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8: 31)
"For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home." (Matthew 1: 20-24)
The Jews have been defeated and made slaves. They were transported to present day Iraq to a nation then called Babylon. It seems that the Babylonians had given significant freedom and independence to the Jewish community. They were able to set up businesses and even a form of self government.
I think that in the course of our lives at some point or another most of us have someone made us a promise that they haven’t kept, and perhaps we have also made promises to people that we haven’t kept ourselves. Do you remember the feeling? It was not good… and I’d like to speculate that it’s not only our conscience that lets us know that it’s wrong, but also the conviction of the Holy Spirit telling us that we should not take the breaking of promises lightly.
As I was praying over this reading, I thought of all the people who have been unjustly condemned. How comforting it must be for them to realize that this also happened to Jesus. I read that since 1973 over 130 people have been released from death rows throughout the US due to evidence of their wrongful convictions. Sometimes DNA solves it. Someimes confessions are coerced...there are many reasons for this injustice.
“You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” (John 7: 25-26)
Do we think about sin often enough? In this season of Lent I ask you to look at sin a little deeper than you normally do. According to our Catholic belief there is venial sin which, basically, strains our relationship with God.
“Can a mother forget her infant…? Even if she should forget, I will never forget you.” (Is 49: 15)
Our gospel reading tells us the story of a man who had been sick for almost 40 years. He was a man no one cared about. When Jesus asked “Do you want to be well?” the man didn’t even answer Yes. Instead he explains to Jesus why he hasn’t been healed.
Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” (John 4:48)
"My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found." (Luke 15: 31-32)
Fifty years ago, at the time of the Second Vatican Council, I was stationed in Rome. One day Father Hunter and I were out in the streets of that ancient city and passed by a very old church set back from the banks of the Tiber river. He suggested we go in and make a visit. The church was named for St. Francis of Rome.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 28-30)
Today’s passage from Jeremiah gives a very bleak picture of God’s chosen people. Although God has commanded them to listen to him and walk in the ways he has commanded, they continue to disobey him.