We will be sending out regular updates of the happenings at our 10th Provincial Chapter taking place at the Archdiocesan Retreat Center in New Orleans. We hope that this keeps you updated as we move along in this process. Please keep us in your prayers.
Today we are celebrating the Ascension of the Lord. We are nearing the completion of The Great Fifty Days, the annual celebration of the Pascal Mystery, containing its four integral parts: Passion/Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost. Read more...
Today’s first Scripture reading from the Acts of the Apostles concludes with this sentence. All day long, both at the Temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.
After the Resurrection of Jesus, his disciples were together in a house behind closed doors because they had great fear of the authorities. To their surprise, the Risen Lord comes in … unexpectedly and unannounced.
As the youngest of a family of twelve, I grew up in a very large house. Because of this, when a small child, if ever I became sick in the middle of the night, I had to take a long, dark, creepy trek down a long hallway, through the playroom, down the stairs, past the kitchen and down yet an even longer second hallway to my parents' room to receive the help I needed from them. Braving my fear of the dark, once I arrived there, I would be allowed to climb in their bed. I would spend the rest of the night sleeping cozily between my mother and father so they could keep a watchful eye on me and take care of me.
As preachers, we should perhaps have a special attachment to the Acts of the Apostles. Is there a better guidebook for us? In Acts 4: 1-12 we find Peter and John causing a scene in the temple. Their actions of healing a crippled man in the name of Jesus has attracted the attention of the religious authorities. The apostles were teaching the gathered crowd and preaching about the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees, a religious sect within Judaism, did not believe in life after death, and were also what one could call “sola scriptura” adherents. And despite being a smaller sect, many were in positions of power and authority.
My first job after graduating from college was working as a residential counselor in a community-based rehabilitation program run by Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton, PA. The program was designed to provide supportive care for both chronically mentally ill homeless as well as drug and alcohol offenders. They needed a supportive environment to become clean and sober. Their hope was of securing not only their sobriety but also gainful employment and an independent living situation and become productive members of the community upon discharge from the program.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”
The earliest reported news of the Risen Christ was from Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who ran to announce the news to Jesus’ disciples. They were “fearful and overjoyed.” Meanwhile, the chief priests cooked up a cover-up story saying that the disciples stole Jesus’ body while the Roman guards were asleep.
We can only wonder what was left of the apostles and disciples’ faith during that longest of Sabbaths. Nature seemed to have run its course. Mary of Magdala was there at his place of burial on the first day of the week, still in grief and shock.
One of my favorite readings of the year is in today's Office of Readings. It's from an ancient homily on Holy Saturday. Centuries ago, an unknown homilist perfectly captured the mood of this day: "Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep."
On this day of the cross, Christians all over the world are invited to observe and listen to the Passion of Jesus through the eyes of the beloved disciple. Jesus does not suffer the passion because of his fragile human nature but through the violence perpetrated against him by concrete human beings. The crucified Jesus is the image of the suffering caused by the violence of human beings against other human beings. This violence is carried by Jesus upon himself, responding to it not with more violence but with radical love. His attitude and gestures give us clues on how to deal with violence and hatred.
The Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus “came to serve, not to be served.” Nothing exemplifies this better than the washing of the feet that we both hear in the Gospel reading today and we celebrate during the Holy Thursday Mass. Jesus says, “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow…”
Spy Wednesday refers to today’s Gospel of Matt. 26:14-25 in which we and the twelve disciples learn of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Matthew turns the transaction into a dialogue. Judas bargains away his Messiah with the chief priests. He agrees to hand him over for thirty pieces of silver. Judas provides the catalyst for the plot to go into action.
Lent is a season of preparation for Easter, for the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. But before the resurrection, comes the passion and death of Jesus. We’re in the last week of Lent and Jesus is telling us that things are going to ramp up quickly with a betrayal.