Hebrews 4:14-16; 5: 7-9
“It is finished!” Those last words of Christ we have said as sometime in our lives. When we have been rejected, laughed at, embarrassed, or found guilty, we may have said, “It is finished!”
There are those who say Jesus had to suffer and die on the cross because we have been bad. Well yes, but there is so much more than this. Jesus suffered and died on the cross because we suffer and die. Jesus is more real to us on the cross than any other time in his life because the cross is not just for Jesus, we also have our crosses.
Almost everyone that day ran away from Jesus as he hung on the cross. I do not think it was because they were weak or unfaithful. It is because the cross that Jesus hung on was so painful to look at. Our first response to pain and suffering is to run away, to have it taken away from us. We cannot get around the cross of suffering; we have to go through it. Today offers no answers and no escape from our sufferings.
We venerate the cross to know what Jesus offers us. He does not take us down from our cross, he simply hangs himself on our cross. This day is not called Easy Friday, Happy Friday, or painless Friday. Today is called Good Friday! May we come and venerate the cross of Christ.
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
I Corinthians 11:23-26
Most days it is pretty easy to come to church we know the routine fairly well. We sing we pray; we receive communion, we leave with the words, “Go in peace, to give God glory in your lives” we live our lives, and we return. It is so easy to forget the challenge the Eucharist asks of us, but it will not be that way with tonight’s liturgy. The Triduum is not an ordinary liturgy. It is not easy because Jesus shows us exactly tonight exactly what he wants us to do. We are going to have to choose to make ourselves vulnerable to God and others or to reject what God is offering us.
It is obvious; Peter is assuming that this Passover dinner will be like all the rest. He sees the bowl and the basin of water; he sees the servants setting the table, and he sees all the food. However, when Jesus begins to wash the feet of the disciples, Peter becomes upset because he knows that a Master would never wash the feet of his servants. The washing of feet was reserved for the servants to wash the Master’s feet. Peter’s whole world is being turned upside down; he does not understand; he may be thinking, “Am I going to be asked to do this? I do not want to change, I do not want to leave, and I do not want you to change Jesus!” Peter says, “Lord, you will never wash my feet!”
Our liturgy demands a response from us. Jesus has set before us an example of what he wants us to do. The choice is not just to love those whom we like, whom we deem deserving, but to love those whom we have no feelings for at all. It is also simply not about their toes, ankles, and heels; it is about loving their whole self.
The choice of this evening to follow Christ does not come without the grace to do so. The Eucharist is our “source and our summit” of everything we do. When we gather in His name, we are given the strength to do what he wants of us. My priesthood began a long time ago, as a small boy. I had no idea about being a priest, but the grace was given. I have all of you to thank, for shaping and molding me and not giving up on me. May we live in this grace and learn to wash feet well.
Wednesday of Holy Week
Many of us know the pain of being betrayed and how it can have a lasting effect on our lives. Our readings today have us reflecting on the betrayal of Judas to Jesus.
To understand the severity of the betrayal of Judas we need to understand the cultures of first-century Jewish people. The Jewish people have a more group-oriented understanding then we do. We are more individual based. An example of this is the Jewish people would often have great-grandparents, parents, and children all living in one house. We encourage children to move out as a sign of their independence. To share a meal with someone in the Jewish culture is a sign of oneness and it celebrates a deep cohesiveness and intimacy. We eat on the run and in our vehicles all the time and have lost the sense of what a meal can mean.
In our Gospel, Jesus says, “One of you will betray me, the one I dip my bread into the dish and give it to this person.” The act of dipping bread into a cup and sharing that with someone was done to say, “I honor you and my good friend, and I think the best of you.” So when Judas accepted the morsel of food from Jesus, I wonder how Judas must have felt. Jesus is saying to him, “Do what you want to do, but know that my love for you is unwavering.” It is no wonder Judas got up and left in a hurry.
I wonder how Jesus felt after doing this with Judas. Did his heartbreak? What was more hurtful, the nails to be driven into his hands and his feet or being betrayed by a friend? To be betrayed is described as something like the worst pain possible because it cuts so deep.
Many of us know the pain of betrayal from a friend, and it stinks. What we are to examine in our lives is how we have betrayed others and hurt them? As we draw closer to celebrating the Triduum, the “Holiest” of Days, may we not turn our backs, but be reconciled with those who oppose us.
Tuesday of Holy Week
Isaiah 49: 1-6
John 13: 21-33, 36-38
Preface II of the Passion of the Lord pg. 408
How are we to answer God’s call? Our readings show us how three people responded.
In our Gospel Judas took advantage of his vocation; he used the common funds for his personal gain. We can only speculate about why he betrayed Jesus; he may have been thinking he was helping Jesus, or he may have just given up on Jesus. Whatever his motive, Judas gave up on being a follower of Jesus, and he decided to do things his way.
Peter was boastful and instead of following the path of Jesus he and his pride went another way. Relying too much on himself, thinking he was taking the high road, Peter protested that he could protect Jesus from harm even if he had to die to do it!
The suffering servant of the first reading, however, recognized both the origin of his call and the source of his strength. He judged his role not in terms of success but in terms of fidelity. Though he had known he had toiled in vain, he knew his dedication to doing things God’s was the surest way to go.
As we prepare to walk with Jesus toward Calvary, we are reminded that we are servants that we do not always understand the Master’s intention that our duty is to follow, not lead. Judas rejected the plan of Jesus; Peter tried to change it; the suffering servant looked to God for strength through the whole journey.
How will we respond?
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Procession with Palms
Readings for Mass
Mark 14:1 – 15:47
What we celebrate today the doorway into Holy Week. However, each year as this day comes I do not know how to feel. I always feel so inadequate, because I cannot pray enough, I always feel I cannot be holy enough because what Jesus does this week is so much more than I can do. I know the palms we wave will become the ashes on our foreheads next year. I know for every victorious entrance into Jerusalem there will be a sad exit on Friday. If we truly understand what it means for Jesus to be the Messiah and where this parade is going to end, it will raise many questions. So, this week challenges us not to try and explain things but to experience things with our whole selves.
The closing line of the Gospel we read before the procession said, “Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple, and he looked around.” What a strange ending to a powerful entrance into Jerusalem. Maybe it is what is needed, no words, just for us to look around and to take it all in.
Come and look around on Holy Thursday and look and see what God is asking us to do.
Come and look around on to Good Friday and venerate the cross of glory.
Come and look around at the Easter Vigil and see for your selves the Light of Christ piercing the darkness.
Come and look around to Easter Sunday and look and see the joy of the Risen Lord.
Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Pick two students, one to be a pitcher and the other to be the batter. Explain it is a three-pitch game, and the goal is to swing for the fences.
The job of the person at the plate during a baseball game is to end where they began by touching home plate.
In our Gospel, Jesus is feeling a bit down as the people reject who he is and they even try to have him arrested. So what does Jesus do? Jesus goes back to the Jordon River where it all began for him in his ministry. It was at the Jordon River where the voice from heaven said to him, “This is my beloved Son, with who I am well pleased.” Jesus returns to where it all began, and he feels better, as many people come to believe in him.
As we return here to the Eucharist to end our school week, we need to be reminded of where God is calling us. As we once again return to Holy Week, we are challenged to believe in Jesus Christ. Returning to where it all began means putting away all the name calling of our fellow students, all the words spoken in anger and the threats to others.
Swinging for the fences with Jesus is remembering who we are in him and that is always to love understanding and peace.
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Genesis 17: 3-9
What are things that are hard to believe? All the Eight Wonders of the world are pretty amazing and hard to believe! Sidney Crosby’s sick goal last night is hard to believe! I think it hard to believe that I became a priest as I think of my life’s journey. There are lots of things hard to believe, but we are called to believe!
In our first reading, God is telling Abram something that is very hard to believe. Abram and Sarah do not have any children and Abram are 99 years old. God tells Abram, he will be a father to a great nation and they will possess the land of Canaan. Remember the land of Canaan is the land filled with giants. The wife of Abram laughs at this news but they would soon after this bear a son Isaac.
In our Gospel, Jesus says something that is hard to believe when he says, “Whoever keeps my word will never see death.” The Jews point out, reasonably, that the greatest people they have ever known, Abraham, and all the prophets, have all died.
He continues that with another hard to believe the statement when he says, “Before Abraham was, I am.” The people respond, “You are not even 50 years old, and you have seen Abraham?”
As we Gather this day, there will be many things that will happen that will be hard to believe. How will we respond? Simple bread and wine will be changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, will we believe that will happen? Let us come to believe in a God who makes things happen and believe!