A plan from God

Tuesday of Holy Week

Isaiah 49: 1-6

John 13: 21-33, 36-38

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together just as you planned it? Don’t you love it even more when something happens out of the blue that is a pure gift that you had no idea was coming? Such was the case for me on Sunday, when I was really thinking about family and a family member showed up for morning mass from out of town that I did not expect. Today and all this week there is a plan for Jesus Christ but was it expected or out of the blue? 

In our first reading from Isaiah, we hear from the song of the Suffering Servant. Earlier in the book of Isaiah, God has a plan for Israel to bring a blessing to the Gentiles, but they fail miserably. God comes up with another plan, and that is to have his Servant be that blessing as this Servant will call everyone to himself for he will speak with great authority. This plan was conceived as the Servant was in his mother’s womb. The plan for this Servant will look like a failure in the end because he suffer and die. However, God reassures the Servant that he did not toil in vain as it all was part of God’s plan. 

In our gospel, we hear John’s version of the Last Supper. We hear once again of Judas handing Jesus over, and when Judas leaves to do what he must do, Jesus says, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God glorified.” How can Jesus say this? Because it was all part of God’s great plan that all would be redeemed in Christ’s death. Yes, the Jewish leaders did want him dead; he was stirring up way to much controversy, but this is not why he died. He died because it was all of God’s holy plan for our salvation. 

May we celebrate the Passion of Christ by walking with him through this week we call holy. May we live our lives knowing it is all part of God’s great plan and discover Him in our lives.

 

 

 

 

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Have we abandoned Him?

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion 

Isaiah 50:4-7

Philippians 2:6-11

Mark 14:1 – 15:47

 We just heard the Proclamation of the Passion of Christ as told by the Gospel writer Mark. In Mark’s presentation of this story, there is very little suffering on the part of Jesus. All Mark says is, “They crucified him.” Mark is writing to Christians who are being persecuted so he holds Jesus up in his divinity and says, “This is the one we are to follow in our suffering.” Mark invites his audience to choose fidelity to Him and to eternal life. 

What Mark does speak a lot about is abandonment. Jesus knowing he is going to his death, needs to spend some time in prayer, and he takes the apostles up to the Mount of Olives. He asks, Peter, James and John to go further with him to pray. He leaves them and goes a short distance from them to pray. Twice he comes back to check on them, and they are all asleep. They could not stay awake and pray with him. Judas hands him over, when he is arrested, they all left him, and Peter denies him. Have we abandoned Jesus? Will we abandon him this week? 

Come to Holy Thursday and experience the washing of feet and let this be an example of what we are to do for others. 

Come to Good Friday and venerate a cross that Jesus gave his life on. 

Come experience the Easter Vigil and be a part of the new light that will light the way to Christ. 

Come on Sunday and celebrate the risen Christ. 

Come and be with the Lord and do not abandoned the Him!

 

Returning to the beginning

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Jeremiah 20:10-13

John 10:31-42 

What is one of the first things we do as enter the church and one of the last things we do as we exist the church? Answer: We put dip our hand into the bowls, that are at each of the doors, and we bless ourselves with the holy water. 

Why do we do this? Answer: To remind ourselves of our own baptism and to what we are, and to what we are doing, and to what we are called to be in Christ. We do not ever want to take this for granted.   

In our Gospel, Jesus is being challenged and questioned by a group of people of who he is and what is he called to be. They have stones in their hands as he answers their questions, but they only get madder and want to stone him to death. Jesus has had enough, and he returns to a place of peace a place of solitude as he returns to the very place where it all began, the Jordon River, where he was baptized by John. Jesus needs to reconnect to this place so that he will be reminded of who he is and what he has been called to do. He needs to be at peace to do what he knows he needs to do by his Father, which is to go to Jerusalem and die. 

We gather this day on the eve of the week we call “Holy Week.” To enter into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Jesus began this journey at the place where he began his public ministry, may we too always remember our beginning when at our baptism, we were signed with the cross on our foreheads, and holy water was poured over our heads as we came to belong to Christ. May this beginning strengthen us to walk with Christ this day.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is God in our struggle?

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Genesis 17: 3-9

John 8:51-59

 What do we do when we struggle with life? You know, the times when something is said or done, and we struggle to make sense of it. Our readings today give spiritual insight of what to do when struggles come our way. 

In our first reading, Abraham is trying to figure some things out as God makes a powerful promise to him and tells him he will be the father of many nations. This promise might make perfect sense if Abraham and Sarah were a lot younger, but Abraham is 99 years old and Sarah is 88. What kind of future can they possible have? Luckily, the future does not belong to them but to God. God makes a covenant with Abraham and Sarah, and despite their age, makes a nation come from them. 

In our Gospel, there are some people who are trying to figure out who Jesus is as they ask, “Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus says, “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.” This was very hard for them to understand as he is saying he existed before the great patriarch Abraham. By using the term “I AM” he is using a term only reserved for Yahweh the Almighty God. This claim made them so mad they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area. 

Our readings remind us that we are in a safe place because God has been with us since the beginning of time. God has never changed the past, as much as we might like him to. Our job is to reflect on the past and to try to see how God acted in our life. By knowing our past, we can know the present that God is acting and leading us to a new understanding in faith. All of this can help us be to be at peace knowing that right now God’s will is unfolding in our lives. As we draw closer to Holy Week, and the readings may seem like it is all falling apart may we know that God is still in control.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s will unfolding

The Annunciation of the Lord

Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10

Hebrews 10:4-10

Luke: 26-38

In the last few years, during the last two weeks of Lent, I like to listen while driving, to the 1970’s Rock Opera Musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar. I know I am dating myself, but I love the music, as it tells the story of the last week of Jesus’s life. It helps me prepare and to celebrate the holiest of weeks to come. We are all so focused on these last days of Christ as we prepare for Holy Week. 

It might seem a bit odd then to celebrate the Annunciation of the Lord. Just so you know there is only nine months before Christmas. The Annunciation takes us all the way back to the beginning of Christ’s life. Perhaps, after some reflection and prayer it is the perfect feast day to have during this time of Lent. 

In our Gospel, Mary is a very young woman, and when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have been chosen to conceive and bear a son, by the Holy Spirit.” She responds with, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” 

What we have today is a set of bookends, where we can see the beginning of salvation and look forward to celebrating the life, death and resurrection of Christ. All of this was God’s plan. It is all of God’s doing! May we come to know the love of God and know that all of our ups and downs, our twists and turns are all part of God’s plan for us. May we participate in his will for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding the cross in our life

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Numbers 21:4-9

John 8:21-30

When we sin and are filled with guilt and shame, what do we normally do? Do we see the cross as the saving blessing that we need or do we run the other way? Our readings bring us to a fuller understanding of the cross in our life.

In our first reading the Israelites have sinned by once again complaining to God for having Moses lead them into the desert without food and water. God is angry with them and has snakes come and bite them. How strange it must have been for the Israelites who had been bitten by a snake to be told to look upon a bronze serpent if they wanted to be healed! But it worked. The venom that most certainly would have killed them lost its power, and they were delivered. They had to gaze at the thing that caused their pain, the very consequence of their unbelief, if they wanted to be healed. They had to confront their sin head-on if they wanted to be delivered from it.

Now fast-forward to the time of Jesus. He too was expressing a contradiction when he said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.” Jesus knew that he had to be lifted up on the cross in order for us to be set free from the sting of sin and death. Jesus knew that the instrument of death would be our source of life.

We too have to face the poison more of sin in our lives. Sin can creep up on us when we least expect it and can take us over. Apart from Christ, this could be a dire situation.

Remember before Easter is a good time to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Today would be a good day to sit before a crucifix and meditate on our own sinfulness, and how much we are in need of God’s mercy. We do not need to worry about what to say, just gaze at him and know of his wonder and love.

What are we filled up with?

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 5:7-9, John 12: 20-33

Ask a volunteer to hold an empty glass. Ask, “How much water should I pour in?” Should I pour more? Fill it right up to the brim. Now spill a small amount over the brim. Now taking the glass from the volunteer and giving them the picture of water, say: 

Most of the time this is what we do, we fill our glass with worries, doubt and fear and leave no room for Christ. What our readings are calling us to first empty ourselves, (pour water back into the picture) so that it may be filled with Christ. 

In our Lenten readings, we have been hearing about covenants, we have heard about the covenant of Noah, Abraham, Moses and now a new covenant from Jeremiah. What makes this a new covenant is that it is not a covenant written on paper or stone it is covenant written upon our very hearts. We have to look inward to discover it. The other part of this covenant is it is a covenant to sinful people. There is no prior repentance or reform required. It is all about searching for God in our hearts as he promises us that is where he is going to be.

With our Gospel, what we need to keep in mind with the Gospel writer John, is Jesus is always in control, because he is doing his Father’s will. So, when Philip and Andrew bring to Jesus some Greeks during the celebration of the Passover, because they desire to see Jesus. What John is saying is “See how the whole known world seeks Jesus.” Jesus responds with, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Jesus makes it clear why he must suffer as he makes the analogy of a grain of wheat must fall to the ground, and die, to bear much fruit. If it does not it only remains a grain of wheat.” Jesus gives the perfect answer, because what he is saying is my crucifixion will not be a defeat, when viewed with the resurrection. It is a victory a glorification of Christ’s divinity. Jesus is completely aware of what lies ahead and the purpose for suffering, and Jesus is ready to do whatever the Father asks of him. Then Jesus makes it very clear that all of us must also suffer at times as he says, “Whoever loves their life will lose it, and whoever hates their life in this world will preserve it until eternal life.”

Lent is about knowing God is in control, and if we just allow up cup to be filled with Christ and not all our worries and our pains. Christ will lead us to where he wants us to be. Our souls are happiest when we do what God wants us to do. May we come to know that this week!