We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death. - Romans 6:4
Today we experience the painful waiting between the death of one ideal and the rebirth into something new. The Scriptures have little to say about the thoughts of the disciples that day, but I imagine they were confused and disillusioned. They had ideas of what the Messiah would do, but Jesus was killed before accomplishing them. On this day I see all my shattered expectations and doubts about God. It is my Holy Saturday today. Like the disciples, I am fearful and lonely.
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
Much has been said about what is ‘good’ about this day, I believe we each can personalize the ‘good’ for what it means to us. For me the ‘goodness’ of this day is to be able to reflect on Jesus’ compassion in his passion. We can begin with his agony in the garden “My soul is sorrowful even to death.” (Mt 26:38, Mk 14:34, Lk 22:44). Despite his sorrow and distress he is very patient with Peter James and John, whom he has asked to pray with him, but they cannot stay awake. Jesus also shows compassion for Judas. Jesus addresses him as “friend” even as he kisses him and turns him over to the authorities (Mt 26:50). Luke even records that Jesus heals the ear of a person that a disciple cuts off with a sword (Lk 22:51).
Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
At the Last Supper and in every liturgy we hear the words that tell us Jesus took bread - blessed, broke and gave it to his disciples. In the same way we have been 'taken', that is, chosen to BE. From the billions of possible humans, God from all eternity affectionately chose me to BE.
Isaiah 50:4-9a; Matthew 26:14-25
We find it easy to place ourselves in Jesus’ presence in the holy three days about to start. But we also see how Jesus is fulfilling the Israelite prophecies.
The first reading is Isaiah’s Third Suffering Servant Song. The following psalm reminds us that God constantly forgives us even as we selfishly sin again and again. The scene in the upper room is where Jesus identifies Judas as the one who will betray him. Even at this tragic moment Jesus seeks a conversion. His response, “You say so!” has the meaning that “yes, since you asked”, leaving space for Judas to be reconciled.
Isaiah 49:1-6; John 13:21-33, 36-38
The early days of Holy Week are such a combination of anticipation and fearfulness of what is to come. We’ve had the weeks of Lent to prepare and we’re ready for Easter, yet we’re not. I’ve tried to live up to my Lenten resolutions – on some days with more enthusiasm than others. Today’s reading from Isaiah reminds me that God knows of my struggles: “Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength. Yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense with God.” The beautiful words and images in that reading help me feel protected and loved, help to reduce my own fearfulness at falling short.
▪ The post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christus vivit (Christ is alive), by Pope Francis, was signed on Monday 25 March in the Holy House of Loreto. The document is addressed to young people, and to the entire People of God. The document is based on the rich reflections and conversations of the Synod on Young People, celebrated in the Vatican in October 2018. ▪ Pope Francis also made several changes to ecclesial canons concerning the dismissal of consecrated persons from the religious institutes to which they belong. The new regulations were promulgated and will go into effect on 10 April 2019.
Psalm 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14
Two thousand years ago Christ said “You always have the poor with you.” And so we do. What examples did He give us for dealing with these poor among us? He healed the sick, and fed the hungry, and clothed the naked, and stood in solidarity with those whom society least respected in His days and times. He held up for all to see what was just and unjust in His society.
Luke 19:28-40|Isaiah 50:4-7|Philippians 2:6-11|Luke 22:14-23:56
I don’t think I have ever heard a sermon on Palm Sunday, so it is rather odd preparing one. Palm Sunday has the longest liturgy of any Sunday of the year apart from the Easter Vigil. The procession with palms and the devout listening to the passion of our Lord both preach most eloquently. But I will try to say something by concentrating on a single episode told only by Luke, for this year we read Luke’s account of the passion.
Ezekiel 37:21-28; John 11:45-56
On the cusp of Holy Week, today’s readings give us some hint of what the new creation, which we’ll celebrate at the Easter Vigil, actually looks like. We will be one. In the readings from Ezekiel and the psalm from Jeremiah, we hear God promising to gather the scattered remnants of Israel, and in the Gospel, John, interpreting the high priest’s comments, sees Jesus gathering “into one the dispersed children of God”. In both readings it is God who acts. Plainly we can’t do it ourselves. Humans divide. It is God who unifies. What we need to hear and understand is that unity is what God wants. Though we can’t do it ourselves, we certainly can impede it, and we desperately need to understand how doing that would be completely contrary to God’s will.