Memphis, TN Today’s reading is a story that tells us how Judas and Mary experienced same encounter with Jesus and had different perception of the event. This reading reminds us that our actions and behavior have different effects with our relationships. We are a creature of habits, and our thinking also follows a pattern. That pattern was influence by our upbringing, environment, culture, and information we learned as we get older. Its greatest influence is how much we appreciate ourselves in terms of the blessings we had. The more we appreciate ourselves the less judgmental we become. As sinners, we are all, at times we think that others also think the way we are thinking. Where is his/her common sense? As Judas said that the oil can be sold and given to the poor. Remember every action has an intention. Our intention is most important in the eyes of our Lord. He knows what we are trying to prove. We must be cognizant of our intentions that it is not self-serving or self-gratifying to show off. Virtue of humility, we have to practice. We practice humility to improve our relationships. We must work on being a better person of ourselves one day at a time. Better than yesterday.
Today we welcome and hail Jesus as he enters Jerusalem; on Thursday evening, we will dine with him one final time; on Friday we will nail him to a tree, lifting him up for the world to see; and on Saturday night, he will repay us by walking out of the tomb, destroying our death along with his own…
We hear a lot in today’s readings about land, nation, and inheritance. GOD revealed to the prophet Ezekiel His plan to restore the people of Israel to their land as one nation with one prince over them all. If we read this only literally, we will miss the prophecy of Christ and the purpose of His death and resurrection to open the gates of heaven to all.
Jeremiah hears his countrymen, even his friends, plan to denounce him for "treason". Jesus sees his countrymen pick up stones to kill Him for "blasphemy". Both threats pass for now, but both come to pass in due time.
In the first reading, God describes the covenant He has made with Abram: he will have a long line of children and land that is their own. The reading ends with a somewhat ominous expectation that God expects the newly renamed Abraham and his descendants to be faithful to this covenant.
Jesus is teaching in the temple and being misunderstood once again by the Jews. What he says is for us as much as for them and so we believe him when he says, “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.”
At this late point in Lent, it's likely that whatever Lenten practices we had prepared for we have either failed, or we are desperately looking forward to Easter so we can go back to the way things were. It seems to be part of our human nature that we struggle with real and enduring change. Sure, we can pray a rosary a day - for a while, we can promise to be on time - for a bit, we can give up cursing, complaining, and gossip - till we can't. It's almost as though these kinds of changes require grace. We can't do it on our own.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important part of the Lenten season, as we contemplate our sins that led Jesus to the Cross. In today's reading, Susanna demonstrated to us how a clean heart can enable God to do great things for us. The devil attempted to accuse her using wicked men as false witnesses. Sound familiar? Has this ever happened to you? The devil often holds our sins up in judgement before our God. He points his nasty finger at us, spewing his false lies through wisps of smoke and glass circus mirrors, distorting truth. "Aren't you terrible? God doesn't love you," he lies. We stand daily in his court, waiting for our sentence like Susanna.
Temple Guards Become Preachers Temple guards were among the many Jews listening to Jesus Christ that day. These guards were good men, men of prayer who hungered and thirsted for God. Their usual place to pray was the temple where they served. Today, God himself was speaking back to them. They were being fed the Word of God straight from Jesus’ lips. The Lord, the Living Water himself, satiated their thirst. They listened, and were convinced, that Jesus was the prophet and that he very well could be the long-awaited Messiah.
Today the Scriptures reveal a paradox that just and good people in society and the church can be persecuted for doing good. They are perceived as a threat by those who don’t want to change. We read, ‘Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us.’ In the Gospel the people say of Jesus, ‘Is this not the one they want to kill? They say this because he healed a man on the sabbath and violated strict Jewish law. Jesus puts the dignity of the human person over the Law.
The linkages among today's Mass readings offer opportunities for contemplation on several levels. Intercessory prayer is one of them. In the first reading from Exodus, the Lord tells Moses that the Hebrew people have made for themselves a molten calf that they are worshiping, "sacrificing to it and crying out, 'This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!'" (Exodus 32:8). These actions by God's People, whom He has just saved from their 400-plus year bondage by the Egyptians, seem unthinkable to us. How could they so easily and quickly forget what God has just done for them?
“Do you want to be well?” Scary question. But Jesus is good at asking scary questions. Like “who do you say that I am?” and “can you not stay awake with me for one hour?” What's scary about the question Jesus asks the man at the Bethesda Pool is that the answer should be obvious to any right-thinking person: “Yes! I want to be well!” That another answer is even possible seems, well, scary. To respond – “No, I don't want to be well” – points to a disease and a dis-ease deeper than anything physical. To fail to recognize that this response reveals a fundamental dis-ease is even scarier.
Like so many stories from the Scripture, this one is so familiar that we sort of ‘take it for granted’. That seems to be the way Jesus is feeling in this reading: “A prophet is not welcome in his hometown.” He is familiar and the locals from his town don’t see beyond the carpenter’s son. Perhaps, it’s short sightedness or jealousy (he’s getting too much attention/recognition). At any rate, they seem to take him for granted.
Where St. Paul says that Christ became sin, he does not mean that he was a sinner. “Sin” describes the unsettledness of the human condition. Women and men can live holy lives, much like angels whose only desire is to serve the Lord. Unfortunately, many choose the opposite. They focus on selfish pursuits. They do not think of God, much less of others. The second son in the parable of today’s gospel opts for the egotistical road.
This passage from today’s Gospel reminds me of an experience I had in my early days in Religious life. As I crossed the threshold into the convent, I wanted to mark the moment with a special prayer. Under my breath I prayed, “Holy Spirit, help me to love others as you love them.” This prayer would be answered time and time again throughout my Novitiate. I was entering in the 7th group of a burgeoning Dominican community. There were 48 women all under one roof. You can imagine the clashes with the various personalities. But why do personalities clash? Is it because we are all women? Or is it because we, in our fallen human nature, tend to make ourselves greater than those around us? Isn’t it true if someone rubs us the wrong way, we are quick to place the blame on them without a thought to our own devices?
In the midst of daily routine, the Holy Spirit of God invites Mary, in some mysterious way to bear Jesus, the savior of the world. Mary’s strength of body is matched only by her sense of logic and inquisitiveness as she engages God actively with her questions, “How can this be…” (LK 1:34). After hearing the answer, Mary responds to the invitation with her whole being, “Yes!”
It is no news for me to mention the great divides that exist in our lives these days. We know that division exists in just about every corner of our lives. Starting in our own homes, or communities, we see divisions in our church, our society, our government, our country, and our world. Unfortunately, these divisions spill over into violence and death at times to often.
Today’s Gospel contains an interesting element if a person is receptive to it. Jesus tells his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.” “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” Jesus is talking about the Mosaic law. In our modern time cafeteria Christians are not uncommon. They chose to believe this and not that. According to some scholars, there was 1600 years between Moses, the Passover and the birth of Christ. The Mosaic law was still being practiced from the First Covenant at Mount Sinai, and he is telling the disciples something important about change.