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MONDAY WEEK TWO EASTER — APRIL 20, 2020

Nicodemus

 

The Church, during the Easter days, has been concentrating on the sacred scriptures of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We have been picking out the names of those who appear in that part of the Bible to see the change that took place in their lives because of the resurrection. The name of Nicodemus has come up with regard to the burial of Jesus.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by. (John 19:38-42)

The name Nicodemus pops up who shows himself faithful to the Jewish tradition in lovingly caring for the burial of Jesus. We know we have heard his name before — actually twice more in the Gospel of John. John 3 where Jesus and he have a lengthy dialogue and in John 7:45-52 where Nicodemus defends Jesus before the Jewish Council (Sanhedrin) with little effect because they said no prophet can come from Galilee according to the scriptures. So let us go back to these earlier passages in the Gospel of John and see what kind of man was Nicodemus so that we realize better what effect the resurrection of Christ had on the believers.

Chapter 3, and I must say the famous Chapter 3 (God so loved the world…), is placed at Passover time, immediately following Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple during which John refers to a better understanding of things after the resurrection. So, too, with Nicodemus. We have reached a point in our Easter journey that the Church directs us to pay attention to the Holy Spirit in God’s work. Back in Chapter 3 in his conversation with Nicodemus Jesus teaches about being born of the Holy Spirit. And to the credit of Nicodemus the passage shows that he already was being born from above without realizing the Holy Spirit was at work in him. Through the Holy Spirit Nicodemus was able to recognize the presence of God in Jesus. This is why he came to him at night. Nicodemus already sensed that he was at odds with some of the other Jewish leaders. He was afraid to follow Jesus openly at that time. Such was not the case at the death and burial of Jesus. The power of the risen Lord had matured his faith and removed the fear by giving him Easter peace. The faith journey of Nicodemus not only makes us think of the work of God’s Spirit in us but also how long that Spirit has been working. We were born from above for a long time ago.

 

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SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER — APRIL 19, 2020

SAMPLE OF HOME PRAYER FOR SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

INTRODUCTION

[Before entering into the sample Sunday prayers, you may wish to familiarize yourself with the scripture commentary which is provided on this homepage in the Blog, just beneath this opening Tweet, on the right.
Today’s homily is a quasi homily because the ideal homily takes much of its meaning from its actual setting in a “live” liturgy in which the Holy Spirit is at work uniting the body of Christ. This communion together is part of the reality of a homily within the action of the liturgy itself. It is offered here to bind together your small group of prayer on this Lord’s Day. The scripture commentary is meant to give some background to what God is saying and doing at this particular time.]

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Peace be with you.

 

PENTENTIAL RITE to let the Lord prepare our hearts for pure worship

Heavenly Father, infinite in merciful love — Have mercy
Lord Jesus, ;your love is everlasting — Have mercy
Spirit of the Holy God , renew your Covenant love within us — Have mercy

Let us pray:
Lord, our God, whose merciful covenant love never ceases, every year as the Paschal feasts and celebrations recur you inflame the faith of the people dedicated to you. We pray you, increase the grace you have already bestowed on us that we all grasp with adequate understanding
by what baptismal washing we have been cleansed,
by what spirit we have been confirmed in our rebirth,
by whose blood we are being given redemption at the table of the Lord Jesus.

 

Listen to the sacred scriptures:
[Go to the Today’s Readings section below on this webpage and the commentary in the Blog.]

Silent Reflection and/or share comments.

Homily Written for the Web —May it enhance your prayer and worship of God this day.

TOWARD A HOMILY FOR SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER

Blessed are you, Thomas, because you believe.
Why do we go to church on Sunday?

Of all things on a Sunday when we cannot gather in church because of the danger of spreading the rampant virus the word of God speaks to us about the significance of Sundays in the life of Christians. The tradition of gathering on the first day of the week has been handed on to us. Now we are being called this day to revisit the reason for coming together to celebrate the Eucharist in the presence of our risen Lord.

What gets us started in this direction is the simple fact that John the Gospel writer makes mention of events which occurred on the evening of the first day of the week immediately following the death of Jesus and what occurred one week later on first day of the next week. He certainly had in mind the practice of Christians coming together for worship on Sundays.

What makes this so meaningful for us is that traditional practice of the faith this way has been temporarily suspended. So two questions arise: why is this practice so important — really vital — and how are we to make this practice of our faith more a part of our lives once we are able to return to this tradition?

Surprisingly the person in the Gospel that opens our eyes to what God did then and is doing now is the Apostle Thomas. Doubting Thomas not only shows his weakness and lack of faith but makes manifest the merciful love of Christ toward him and how Thomas accepted pardon and forgiveness. He is a saint to remember.

The great difference between the two Sundays for Thomas was his absence (or non-presence) with the new community and the presence of the risen Christ both times. What changed the heart of Thomas to be a believing disciple was the encounter he had with Jesus on the second Sunday was his exchange in person with the risen Lord. Christ himself offered Thomas mercy and he accepted it. Christ let Thomas touch him and his wounds and spoke so gently and lovingly Believe. We can picture Thomas for his part as falling to his knees and saying directly face to face to Christ My Lord and my God. As best we know Thomas never again missed the liturgical assembly of God’s people on the newly named Lord’s Day.

So how are we going to respond to my two questions above when this crisis is all over — hopefully soon in the coming weeks? Am I going to spend some time reflecting on the origin and background of our Christian Sunday tradition of Mass? Secondly, am I going to observe the Lord’s Day with greater conscious and loving participation at Mass?

Briefly now, do I know the history of God’s people from ancient times involving the first three Commandments of the Covenant regarding worship of God as he wants its? Am I familiar with the place of the Last Supper in Jesus’s renewal of the Covenant through his death and resurrection? Do I understand the transition of the early Christians and all Christians thereafter from Saturday worship to Sunday worship? Do I realize and teach my children that Sunday Eucharist is a “must” in living the Christian way of life and reaching eternal life? That it is not just an option according to our wishes?

To the second question what is my resolution regarding my participation in the Eucharistic celebration on Sundays? Am I going to prepare myself to listen more closely to the word of God by reviewing the Sunday scriptures before going to Mass? Am I going to teach myself to know that it is the real living Christ present at Mass in his word, in his priest, in his Body and Blood, and in his assembly of believers? Am I going to make a greater effort to “take home from Mass” the effects of encountering Christ there and putting it into practice in my daily life so I can return the next Sunday in greater praise of God?

This is God’s word to us this day. Is it going to make a difference as it did in the life of Thomas the Apostle?

Blessed be God! Blessed be his Easter people!

 

I believe in God the Father almighty…

 

We conclude with this prayer together:

Let us pray
for the Church in the United States, looking forward to the lifting of the restrictions.
for our bishops, near and far, to lead us in the name of Christ the Shepherd
for all our faithful departed, especially those taken from us in recent days
for those developing remedies for the virus
for first responders and all those caring for the sick in medical facilities and at home
for those who in one way or another take care of our essential needs
for family and friends who have been supportive during these trying times

In Jesus’ name we pray for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Our Father, who art in heaven…

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

 

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EASTER SATURDAY – APRIL 18, 2020

Mary Magdalene and the Resurrection

The scripture writers have not told us everything about Mary Magdalene that we would like to hear, e.g. her former life. What they have told us is that she plays a significant role in the Easter event. In his wisdom God has not revealed everything about her so that we focus on what is most important — her relation to the risen Christ. To highlight her given role in life and in the life of the Church let us take a brief look at that first Easter morning and the days thereafter. It is from the Gospel of John, Chapter 20: 1-2.11-18

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. 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.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her.

The risen Jesus compares the past with what the future will be. We know from other passages in the Gospels that others did homage to Jesus by clasping his feet, e.g. John 12:3. Mary Magdalene is said to have done this herself (Matthew 28:9). Here in John’s Gospel Jesus says: stop holding on to me. This is generally taken to mean that things have changed in the life of Mary Magdalene and in the lives of all believers. These words to Mary was Jesus’ way of telling us that now, following his resurrection, we must lead a “new” life and that the old way of clasping Jesus’ feet in a worldly way has been replaced by homage to the heavenly Christ with emphasis on his divine power and glory. An example of the change can be detected when we break bread together with him. We did not have the Mass as such before.

So I believe this shows that what is important about Mary Magdalene is not her past but how the merciful love of Jesus changed her life preparing her for eternal communion with him in heavenly glory. The Resurrection does make a difference.

 

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Easter Friday — APRIL 17, 2020

The Sadducees and the Resurrection

Thanks once more to the loyal opposition to Jesus and his disciples and the questions they proposed to Jesus, whose responses clarified much of our faith in the resurrection. The scripture at Mass today (see below) tells of the arrest of Peter and John because they were teaching that the resurrection is due to Christ Jesus whom the Father raised from the dead. The Sadducees strenuously denied the resurrection of the dead and just days before Jesus’ death and resurrection confronted him with the outlandish case of seven brothers-in law marrying the widow of a brother who had died. This scenario they used to ask who would be married to her in heaven and thus denying the resurrection. Keep in mind the difference between resurrection of the dead and the resurrection of Christ, although the two are connected. The resurrection of the dead is our resurrection brought about by the Father raising his Messiah to glory — the Eastern Icon of Victory touches on this. You will find he scripture account in the first three Gospels as occurring after Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem that last week (Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, Luke 20:27-40).

So how do the Sadducees help us with our Easter faith?

Follow Jesus’ responses:
1) From the burning bush at the time of Moses we know ours is a living God and we are joined to him in covenant. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus’ added comment was that they did not understand the scriptures (as they thought they did) nor the power of his Father. As Easter people we, too, need to understand the scriptures more as Jesus insisted upon.

2) The risen life will be different than life here on the earth. Jesus said: At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven. The risen life is by the power of God, not the power of human generation. To this John expressed it in his Prologue: But to those who did accept him [Word made flesh] he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. This corroborates the scriptures which state that God raised his Son from the dead.

 

3) In the Acts of the Apostles the Sadducees saw the connection between Jesus’ resurrection and our own. The Apostles’ preaching clearly revealed this, e.g. see Peter’s discourse on Pentecost and his call to be baptized and joined to the risen Christ. So the necessity to arrest the Apostles and try to stop their preaching resurrection (both of Jesus and his followers) show how important is our faith in the risen glory of Jesus. So when we celebrate Easter we are not just praising God for raising Jesus from among the dead, but also that we are destined to share in our Lord’s resurrection. That is our faith, too.

4) The Sadducees asked about the seven husbands’ case during Jesus’ final days. This gives us the opportunity to understand what was going on in our Lord’s mind and heart as he knowingly approached his own death to be followed by being raised by the Father. He trusted his Father completely and evidently from his human side came to understand the Father through the sacred scriptures and Israel’s heritage. This is why he wants us to follow him in that regard and put our trust in him and his Father’s covenant love.

God helps us and teaches us in many ways — even from those who oppose us.

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EASTER THURSDAY — APRIL 16, 2020

Role of Peter in the Manifestation of Jesus’ Resurrection

A couple of days ago I directed your attention to the prominent role of John the Apostle on the First Easter and the ensuing days. His deep faith and love enabled him to grasp quickly that Jesus was alive and that this fulfilled the scriptures of old.

Today we want to take a look at Peter and his faith and role among the first Christians. He has from day one enlightened the Church in witnessing and explaining what God has done and expects of us. Peter was the first one to enter the empty tomb. Mary Magdalen had been there outside and then got Peter and John to come and see. John got there first but waited until Peter arrived to let him enter first. This shows Peter’s place which the others knew Christ had given him. When the pilgrim disciples from Emmaus returned to Jerusalem that First Easter evening they were immediately told that they knew Christ had risen because he had appeared to Simon. They trusted him and his authority. The Church has also been listening to the Acts of the Apostles and the early days of Pentecost and the following ones. Here Peter is the one who speaks out and gives the first of his discourses telling the others who Jesus was and is since the Father had raise him from among the dead. (We usually hear that Jesus was raised from the dead and I think most people consider this as revivication or resuscitation, i.e. he is brought back to life, something like we can experience happening in a hospital. See today’s blog on the Eastern Rites’ icons which present the resurrection of Jesus from the perspective of his going down to Hades/Hell, the underworld of our deceased ancestors.) So I think better to speak of Jesus being raised from among those in the realm of the dead. Jesus joined the dead persons to become like them in order to raise them to new life. Peter speaks this way at Pentecost citing the psalm of David: you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld and in curing the crippled man: The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead [the mass of humanity who died before Christ]. In addition to these two discourses, Peter adds three more such explanations of the faith that the Father raised Jesus from among the dead.

 

Probably the most memorable of the resurrection accounts was that of the appearance of Jesus on the seashore for breakfast, when he asked Peter three times Do you love me and showed him mercy by giving the command that Peter feed his sheep.

Our grasp of the meaning for us of the resurrection of Jesus would have been much less without Peter and his leadership role. In practical terms we might say: If we did not have the witness of Peter’s grasp of the Father’s raising his Son our Easter faith would be less rich. His fellow Christians could say the same. We are grateful to Peter to be forward looking as far as the resurrection of Christ is concerned. Easter is about the future. It is a rebirth. Peter knew how to answer the question what are we to do from his listeners. The same holds true today.

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EASTER WEDNESDAY — APRIL 15, 2020

Disciples at Emmaus with Jesus

Today the Church gives us again the famous Gospel passage from Luke in which he records the incident of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus and how they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. We shall hear this again in a couple of Sundays. It is a rather long citation, longer than we are usually used to. But to get the whole picture we need to keep the whole event in mind. It offers what the risen Lord taught his disciples but we wish there was more. The part I want you to focus on today is the part where Jesus explained the scriptures to the two. It really does not tell us chapter and verse of the Old Testament. And when our curiosity gets the better of us we come away puzzled even more when we cannot find a specific verse that says: The Messiah must suffer. Scripture scholars cannot find one either. This leaves us with the great desire to find exactly what Jesus did and what he talked about regarding the scriptures because in some of our Eucharistic Prayers it is explicitly stated that at Mass Jesus opens the scriptures for us. What did he do on the way toe Emmaus right away on Easter? (There are other time that he did the same.)

So we turn to our experts in the Old Testament — our Jewish friends. We ask: If you had to sum up in a sentence or two what best expresses what the whole of the scriptures is about? What is it that runs through Moses and the prophets? What do you sing of in your psalms the most? They would say: Yahweh loves his people. The love of God for us is supreme and we sing: Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his faithful covenant love endures for ever. Jesus sang this the night before he died. Jesus lived this every day. His entire life — everything he said and did — revealed his Father’s love. So it is fair to say that Jesus’ death and resurrection tells us that according to the Father’s love he has conquered death for us in the face of great human hatred and revenge. Jesus himself explicitly said this at the Last Supper: You are my friends, the ones I love. If you love me my Father and I will love you and abide in you. You will see this when I die and rise because there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for those he loves. This is the scriptures Old and New. We will come back to this shortly. The disciples at Emmaus caught on to this that very first Easter.

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EASTER TUESDAY — APRIL 14, 2020

 

Do not forget John the Apostle at the tomb

Easter is moving along swiftly — too swiftly — as we follow the Church’s liturgical practice of the scripture passages relative to the Resurrection of the Christ.  We have already heard of Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, etc. and we shall hear of them more in the future, but today let us go back to Easter morning and the account of the empty tomb from the Gospel of John and take a second look at the faith of John himself.

So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

John may be the forgotten believer in all this. He is the disciple whom Jesus loved. He is the author of this Gospel passage. He is the one who received the gift of the Holy Spirit for close to 70 years to grow in the Christian faith and handed it on to us. He is well worth listening to. Even though the words are few, his message can have a profound influence on our faith lives. His faith and love gave him an understanding of the God’s plan, brought to perfection through Jesus Christ and his Paschal Mystery.

John gave us two comments: 1) he saw and believed; 2) the disciples as yet did not understand that the Messiah had to rise from the dead.  What did he see? A tomb without a body and the burial cloths in an unusual pattern. Remember his intense love of Christ. He spent three years in close company with Jesus. John was privileged to be called along with Peter and James to witness the Transfiguration and the final prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. John was bound to sense things that others missed. There is something there in the empty tomb that John recognized as peculiarly Jesus. I offer this possibility. John tells us of the face cloth was in a neatly rolled up fashion (strange?). Was this something Jesus did on other occasions, e.g. rolling up his dinner napkin in this way? Recall that the disciples on the Road to Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread — they knew it was Jesus’ habit. So with John here at the tomb. It would go something like this. John right away picked out that the face cloth was rolled up by Jesus, who must have been alive to do it. Dead men cannot do such a thing. It was signature of the living Christ. Only God’s power could nullify the effects of dying. So the power and plan of the Father was at work here or as the scriptures say: the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Peter put it that way in his Pentecost sermon: God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death (Acts 2:24).

John was quick to realize what the Father had done in fulfilling his plan of salvation in Christ Jesus. It came to him so soon because he had accepted the love and mercy of Christ, who called him and us: Come, follow me.

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EASTER MONDAY — APRIL 13, 2020

Easter is More Than One Day

 

One of the blessings of this Easter in the pandemic is that we have more time to contemplate what we celebrate at Easter. God is making us stay in place and look for something to do. The early Christians and for centuries took much time to fathom the depths of what Easter means for us. God wants it that way. The scriptures testify that it took time to grasp all that was happening. Mary Magdalene returned from the empty tomb not knowing what to think of things and she told Peter: We don’t know where they have taken him. So the Easter Mystery is a mystery — something to be investigated further. We find the answer in recognizing and accepting what the heavenly Father is doing in our day so that we encounter the risen Lord again in our time and bear witness to our meeting him by changing our ways which the merciful grace of God is offering us.

The Holy Spirit is with us anew enabling us to see with our eyes of Christian faith that Jesus is very much present and alive in what we are undergoing today. See the first reading of Mass for Easter Monday and Peter’s explanation of what was happening to the disciples on the First Pentecost. It is all due to the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. We, too, have been blessed with the presence of the risen Lord — albeit in a new way we never expected.

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EASTER SUNDAY – APRIL 12, 2020

 

SAMPLE OF HOME PRAYER FOR EASTER DAY

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Peace be with you.

 

Our Penitential Rite will take place later on when we renew our Baptismal Promises

 

Let us pray:
O God, who on this day, through your Only Begotten Son, have conquered death and unlocked for us the path to eternity, grant, we pray, that we who keep the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit, rise up in the light of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN

Listen to the sacred scriptures:
[Go to the Today’s Readings section below on this webpage.]

Silent Reflection and/or share comments.

Homily Written for the Web —May it enhance your prayer and worship of God this day.

John, the Apostle and Gospel writer, entered the empty tomb. He saw the burial cloths arranged in an unusual and unexpected way. He saw and believed. Up to this time the disciples had not realized that according to the Scriptures the Christ would rise from the dead.

Life does not consist of just one Easter celebration but many. One Easter observance does not make or break us. This one, though, not only will be remembered but I believe cherished for the special blessings of God this year.

The Lord has shaken us a bit and forced us to pay attention to what he is doing this year and how his word has opened up to us leading us to a greater faith. The word of God comes to us in several forms. It is not only the sacred scriptures but in the prayers and sacred texts of the liturgy, the homilies, and in the events impinging on our lives, such as this pandemic. We really have spent a lifetime coming to understand better what God is saying through the scripture writers and what he is saying through liturgical practice and his inspired authors and teachers. Sometimes customs that have grown up, e.g. Easter eggs, have taken over and caused us to give more attention to them than they deserve. This has hidden the greater and essential meaning of the Easter Mystery. This year some of the less important things have been taken away from us, leaving us to contemplate the essential realities of faith, e.g. merciful covenant love behind the Father’s raising his Son from the dead.

So we continue our life’s journey and education in the faith testimony of those who have gone before us.

Today I want to turn your attention to a major teaching from the scriptures of Easter Mass. It comes from Peter’s “homily” at the house of the Roman centurion Cornelius.
To him [Jesus of Nazareth raised from the dead] all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.
Together with this we place the words of John in the Gospel at seeing the burial cloths and empty tomb:
And he [John] saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he [Jesus] had to rise from the dead.
Peter points the fact that Easter for believers means that God has been merciful and taken away our sins. Secondly, Peter says this was part of the Old Testament tradition. John tells us that he and the other followers of Jesus did not realize until after the resurrection that the raising of Jesus from the dead was the Father’s way of removing the obstacles of sin within believers. So double result of the Easter celebrations: understanding better that God has been merciful to us.

Much more could be said along this line and you must continue to meditate on this. So can you say that you recognize that this year God has been merciful and forgiving to us and made us aware of it through the pandemic and the quarantine. God has made us realize that we have neglected others, e.g. family members, and moved us through his grace to do something about it by reaching out to them with our assistance and more frequent contacts. That is forgiveness coming from God. He has changed our lives. For this we give him thanks. Something similar might be said with regard to our study and praying of the scriptures. Through his merciful love we spend more time on his written word. For this we give him praise, and so on. Christ’s resurrection has brought us pardon for our sins as Peter said. We have grown in our knowledge of what the prophets of old have taught about the merciful God who sent us the Messiah to complete his saving plan.

So after a period of silence let us renew our Baptismal vows.

Leader: Do you renounce sin,
so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
All: I do.
Leader: Do you renounce the lure of evil,
so that sin may have no mastery over you?
All: I do.
Leader: Do you renounce Satan,
the author and prince of sin?
All: I do.

Leader: Do you believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth?
All: I do.
Leader: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
All: I do.
Leader: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting?
All: I do.

All: This is the faith of the Church, we are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

 

 

We conclude with this prayer together:

Let us pray
for the Church today in celebrating Easter in this different way.
for Pope Francis, Archbishop Schnurr, and the other bishops called to lead us in these days
for all our faithful departed, especially those taken from us in recent days
for those developing remedies for the virus
for first responders and all those caring for the sick in medical facilities and at home
for those who in one way or another take care of our essential needs

for those who do not know how to pray

In Jesus’ name we pray for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Our Father, who art in heaven…

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

 

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HOLY SATURDAY — APRIL 11, 2020

Thirteenth Station – Body of Jesus is Removed from Cross with Pietà
Fourteenth Station – Body of Jesus is Placed in the Tomb with Jewish Burial Customs

 

It is best to consider these last two Stations together. In turning to the scriptures here you will find first the Gospel account of the caring for the body of Jesus; then an earlier Gospel account of Mary holding Jesus in her arms. They both open the scriptures to what took place immediately following the death of Jesus on the cross.

 

John 19:28-31.38-42
After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down….
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.

Luke 2:1-7
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there, the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

All these actions and events were determined according to the scriptures, i.e. according to God’s covenant love and plan. It was Jewish preparation day and they did not want the bodies to remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one [Passover]. This also explains why there was a providential pause in the burial rite — sunset on Friday to Easter dawn. The burial was not complete and the finding of the empty tomb and resurrection appearances of Jesus happened before his followers could do all they intended in a human way. Their weeping at the empty tomb on Sunday morning were partially perhaps because they were stopped from completing the traditional rituals. This attests to the depth and strength of their faith. They rigorously observed the Sabbath out of reverence for God and his ways — their faithfulness to his covenant. So look at the people involved and their love of God and love of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea saw God’s presence in Jesus and his work. The puzzle of why he, though innocent, was crucified was not yet solved. He still trusted in God. He truly loved Jesus and took the responsibility to care for him at his death. Nicodemus, cautiously a disciple for fear of the Jews, now willingly steps forward and puts his reputation on the line in the Council by getting involved in the burial — he put money into the project, a large sum out of love and respect. Mary Magdalene was right there and made sure she knew where he was being entombed. John stayed close to Jesus’ mother in faithfulness to promise to take care of her. All of this stems from loving Jesus in God’s name, the God of unmatchable covenant love and mercy.

Mary, Jesus’ mother, had made a promise to God, too, when she answered his call by saying: I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. Then Elizabeth confirmed the holiness of Mary when at the Visitation she told Mary: Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. Mary then praised God in the Magnificat: The Almighty’s faithful [merciful covenant] love extends age after age to those who fear him (Luke 1). Mary had a good memory, she kept all these things in her heart, and as she embraced the body of her son Jesus there on Calvary all these events and all these words came back to her. She certainly thought: The Lord has something more to reveal about this, it is not the end. She had pietà — loving compassion for the son of her womb given her by God. Michelangelo and other artists captured this in stone and entitled their works Pietà. This expresses very well Mary’s love of Jesus and love of God.

 

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