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GOOD FRIDAY — APRIL 10, 2020

 

The Twelfth Station — Jesus Dies on the Cross

It was not on the day of Jesus’ death on Calvary that Saint John, who was there, wrote his Gospel. It was much later after many years of living the faith. Let us listen to a passage from this Apostle earlier in his Gospel in which Jesus himself explains the meaning of the cross. After all, as Jesus told Saint Peter at the washing of the feet during the Last Supper: You do not understand now but you will later.

John 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.

History tells us that the Christians of the early centuries honored the cross of Jesus by placing precious jewels on it and even decorated their depictions of it in their mosaics with gold against a rich blue sky background (such as at Ravenna). This is quite a difference from the cinematic pictures of the crucifixion in the Jesus movies, where the horrible details of Jesus’ suffering and death are shown. The sad tears of Calvary have turned into the joy and hope once the eyes of faith have looked deeply into what really happened that first Good Friday — God’s love has conquered all for us through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This is why it is our custom of kissing the feet of Jesus on the cross as we venerate the “glorious” instrument of our salvation in the Good Friday Liturgy.

So as we, too, stand beneath the cross today with Mary and John we see something more than a wounded and dying Jesus. The cruelty of the executioners gives way to the merciful covenant love of the Father and his Son who gather us into his everlasting company where there is no more death but eternal joy. This is the day of the great hope for which we yearn. Be sure to venerate the cross of Christ in your Good Friday worship, even it is at home. Embrace the crucified Lord by holding an image of the cross in your hands (perhaps the cross on your rosary) and reverently kiss his feet. His is the Cross of Glory (as Mary of Bethany reverenced him for his love and suffering by anointing his feet just prior to his death, John 21:1-7; see also Luke 7:38.)

 

We adore; you, O Christ, and we praise you,
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

 

[Other Stations of the Cross can be found in the Archives on the Blog page.]

HOLY THURSDAY — APRIL 9, 2020

Eleventh Station — Jesus Stretches Out His Hands to be Nailed to the Cross

Prayer was very much a part of the Passover Meal. Listen to part of the prayer of Jesus recorded by the Apostle John (17).

 

When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you …
They [disciples] do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.
I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one,
I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,
but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.

Just hours separate this prayer of Jesus from his meeting of his executioners on Calvary. The sentiments he expressed in this prayer certainly continue in his mind and now the prayer goes on as they nailed him to the cross: Father, forgive them know not what they do (Luke 23:34). The mercy of God is at work throughout the whole of the Passion accounts. This is the merciful love in the prayer of Jesus above. Jesus is totally immersed in the Father’s love for him since the foundation of the world. Jesus prays that we accept the love of the Father for us and he prays that his executioners accept that forgiving love as well. So the whole event of nailing Jesus to the cross is a lesson in mercy. Jesus learned from his Father to regard people not by appearances alone but to look into the depths of their reality. So here Jesus does not gaze upon the soldiers merely as soldiers doing their duty but as sons of God, called by him to eternal covenant union in his loving presence. That is where his prayer comes from. This is the truth for which he prays in the passage from John above. The amazing thing — to the glory of God — that runs throughout Jesus’ passion is that his commitment to his Father in the depths of his soul directs his words and actions even under these unusual circumstances. He forgives his executioners; he prays to his loving Father while on the cross; he shows a heavenly love for his mother; he hands over his spirit to the Father. He never forgets who he is in the sight of his Father. The nailing to the cross is not separate from all that is going on. There is a consistency in God’s plan and a consistency of love in all that Jesus does, including offering his hands to be nailed — from the depths of his soul he freely and lovingly accepts the cross according to the Father’s will. It is all for the glory of God and our salvation, just as Jesus had prayed.

 

[Be sure to check the Archives of previous stations
which can be found at the bottom of the Blog Page.]

 

WEDNESDAY — APRIL 8, 2020

 

Tenth Station — On Calvary Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

Let us listen to Jesus at another time and another mountain when his glory was displayed in a different way.
Matthew 17:1-8

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents* here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

Now we find Jesus on “Mount” Calvary and exposed for the world to see. This takes us back to the Mount of Transfiguration. He wants us to remember his glory even under these different conditions. That is why the incident of the Transfiguration came at a time immediately after his foretelling of his suffering and death. We can even see a connection with the same three disciples who would be given special closeness to Jesus in Gethsemane. He calls us this day to gaze upon his human weakness and disfigurement and at the same time to see with eyes of faith his glory as the risen Son of God. When he is stripped of his earthly garments we see his wounds all the more clearly, even more than just his wounded face. The humanness and the divinity are together. He is the Son of God made man. But why? For our salvation, reconciled eternally to the Father of the Covenant, everlasting communion of man with God. The Lord wants us to see that today and reaffirm our faith in Jesus the Suffering Servant of God and man.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you,
Because by your cross you have redeemed the world.

[Be sure to consult the Archives at the bottom of the Blog on this homepage.]

TUESDAY — APRIL 7, 2020

Blessed Palm is still available at the entrance to church.
Feel free to take enough for your whole family
to remind you and your family of the victory of Christ crucified.

 Stations Seventh, Eighth, Ninth


Seventh Station ٳ Jesus Falls the Second Time
Listen once again to the divine power in Jesus in raising Lazarus from the dead. John 11:35-46

And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
 “Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

The crowds raised the question: Couldn’t he do something? He did before. God is in charge. His ways are not man’s ways. Notice, too, that Jesus ordered that Lazarus be untied so he could stand up. Jesus stood up again even after human weakness caused him to fall to the ground. Pay attention particularly to the last line: Many came to believe in him. Jesus’ fall is to lead us to believe in him more deeply.

 

Eighth Station — Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

Luke 23:27-31

A large crowd of people followed Jesus,
including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Jesus turned to them and said,
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep instead for yourselves and for your children,
for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,
‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed.’
At that time people will say to the mountains,
‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’
for if these things are done when the wood is green
what will happen when it is dry?”

These women are not those who had followed Jesus for a long time from Galilee. They were newcomers in a sense, who spontaneously joined the crowd for the event. They were like mourners at a funeral procession. They were weeping. Jesus speaks to them, in spite of his torment. His love shows even then. He was not just thinking of himself. His teaching here is that they are to be faithful to their responsibilities as parents to their children in raising them in the faith (covenant). Divine assistance will be needed and given to them when the wood is dry.

 

Ninth Station — Jesus Falls the Third Time
Peter’s Denial and Reconciliation — three times for both.

John 13: 36-38

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him, “Master, why can’t I follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”

John 21:15-19
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to him a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?”
and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

The scripture writer explains much in the mercy passage after the Resurrection. First of all, Peter was an overachiever and a good one. He thought he could do more than he was capable of doing. Jesus set him straight. It was going to take the merciful love of God to make him what he was supposed to be. Jesus draws the love out of Peter in asking the triple question on the seashore. Jesus wants us to tell him out loud that we love him. Jesus’ reply: Feed my sheep, shows that with the gift of mercy comes a mission. Forgiveness is not just for ourselves but to help others. Finally, the whole reason for these scenes is to glorify God. Jesus’ falls on the road to Calvary is also to give glory to God — God’s mysterious will and power will win out.

We adore you, O Christ, and praise you.
Because by  your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

 

 

MONDAY OF HOLY WEEK — April 6, 2020

Blessed Palm is still available at the entrance to church.
Feel free to take enough for your whole family
to remind you and your family of the victory of Christ crucified.

 

 

Sixth Station — Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

John 14:1-9
At the Last Supper Jesus said:
 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.
Where [I] am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

The Passion accounts of our Lord in the scriptures do not mention Veronica. But this singular act of kindness toward Jesus on his way to Calvary is very plausible. There was crowd all along the way and knowing the innocence of Jesus they could easily be moved to pity for him in his suffering, even to the point of pushing oneself through the barrier of the soldiers and refreshing Jesus a bit by wiping his bloody face quickly before the guard would push her back. The tradition that his face was imprinted on her veil is a way of indicating that Veronica herself was changed and drawn closer to God by this experience. She treasured this all her life. Pope Francis has said: Jesus is the face of the loving and merciful God. This is teaching for us in our time. Even the disfigured face of Christ shows us that he is forgiving and wants us to be in his saving presence. The psalms in various places uses the expression of seeking the face of the Lord, i.e. entering God’s presence as in the Temple and gazing his beauty and goodness. King David in his “act of contrition” pleaded that God would not remove him from his presence. We contemplate the face of the suffering Jesus whose love for us is greater than everything else.

Psalm 51: 11-13  King David
Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my iniquities.
A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from before your face,
nor take from me your holy spirit.

Psalm 27:4, 8
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty, to visit his temple.

“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;
your face, LORD, do I seek!

[See the ARCHIVES at the bottom of the BLOG page below]

 

SUNDAY — APRIL 5, 2020

Blessed Palm can be found at the entrance to church today
You may take enough for the whole family
and your Palm Sunday prayer at home.

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.]

SAMPLE OF HOME PRAYER FOR THE LORD’S DAY

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

Peace be with you.

 

Let us seek the merciful love of God:

Have mercy on us, O Lord
For we have sinned against you.

Lord, show us your mercy
And grant us your salvation.

 

Let us pray:

Almighty ever-living God, who as an example of humility for the human race to follow caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross, graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering and so merit a share in his Resurrection.

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.

We Have Never Had This Before

 

Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think that there would an Easter without Mass or Holy Week. It is the highlight of the year for us. We have grown to love it and look forward to coming to church during these days. But we still have these sacred times and, I believe, God wants us to grow in his love by paying more attention to certain aspects of our faith life, not just to the Eucharistic Species.

 So we ask ourselves this question: Have we, or our ancestors, ever had anything like this before? If so, what did they do about it in their prayer and worship of God?

 As our knowledge of salvation history has grown we have come to know in former times of what is called the Babylonian Exile in the Old Testament — about 700 – 600 B.C. The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and many were deported to the eastern kingdom of Babylon. Their normal worship ceased. What did they take with them? Scriptures and memories of their history and what God had done for them. Some of it was edited or written down new for future generations. They returned from the Exile and to rebuilding the Temple and never lost sight again of what God had spoken to them over the centuries. Through this gift of a Bible they renewed their relationship with God by renewing the Covenant. They returned to Temple rituals and his word became more important to them, realizing that the living God demands that they live according to his word. Their sacrifices would be empty without adherence in their daily lives to God’s word. All their prayer would have to be that way.

 I firmly believe that God in his love for us is calling us to do the same. He wants his love to dwell within us so that it will show forth in our community gatherings in church. So do not forget Jesus said: Do this in memory of me. He will bring us back enriched by his holy word and his word will be more active and effective in our Eucharists.

 So do not take the Sunday’s opening the word at home. Everything we do along this line, e.g. resolve to spend my time learning the scriptures, will make our return to Mass a more deep and joyful experience. Hopefully this will encourage our young brothers and sisters how worthwhile the Mass actually is.

 So God is calling us to pay more attention to his word — not just printed or written words on paper but the power of his living word as spoken. It is a creative word. It does something within us at the very time it is spoken. And God said Let there be light…and it was done.  So Jesus said: In all truth I tell you, whoever listens to my words, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life [and will never die]. To Martha he also said: I am the resurrection. Anyone who believes in me, even though that person dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (John l5:24 and 11:25). Christ’s word leads to faith. God wants our faith to grow during this critical time. Christ’s word is the bread of life (see John 6).

 As we say at the conclusion of our scripture: The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

 

Period of Silence

 

Sample Prayer of the Faithful
Let us pray
for the Church entrusted with preserving and spreading the faith
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
especially for Steven Clarke, also the brother of Jennifer Pearce
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

 

[See the ARCHIVES at the bottom of the BLOG page below]

SATURDAY — April 4, 2020

Blessed Palm can be found at the entrance to church
You may take enough for the whole family
and your Palm Sunday prayer at home.

The Fifth Station
Simon of Cyrene Forcibly Enlisted to Help Carry the Cross

Of the many people witnessing the process of Jesus’ crucifixion the scriptures single out Simon from northern Africa. He was not a local but one of God’s people from afar to share in the Mystery of Salvation, fulfilling the prophecy of old.

Matthew 27:27-32
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him.

28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet cloak round him,
29 and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’
30 And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it.
31 And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucifixion.
32 On their way out, they came across a man from Cyrene, called Simon, and enlisted him to carry his cross.

Ezekiel 37:21-28
21 “The Lord Yahweh says this: I shall take the Israelites from the nations where they have gone. I shall gather them together from everywhere and bring them home to their own soil.
22 I shall make them into one nation in the country, on the mountains of Israel, and one king is to be king of them all; they will no longer form two nations, nor be two separate kingdoms.
23 They will no longer defile themselves with their foul idols, their horrors and any of their crimes. I shall save them from the acts of infidelity which they have committed and shall cleanse them; they will be my people and I shall be their God.
24 My servant David will reign over them, one shepherd for all; they will follow my judgements, respect my laws and practise them.
25 They will live in the country which I gave to my servant Jacob, the country in which your ancestors lived. They will live in it, they, their children, their children’s children, for ever. David my servant is to be their prince for ever.
26 I shall make a covenant of peace with them, an eternal covenant with them. I shall resettle them and make them grow; I shall set my sanctuary among them for ever.
27 I shall make my home above them; I shall be their God, and they will be my people.
28 And the nations will know that I am Yahweh the sanctifier of Israel, when my sanctuary is with them for ever.”

The Roman soldiers did not ask Simon his name when they grabbed him to help with the cross of Jesus, but the Gospel writers did know him and knew him by name. There is more to the story then, following the crucifixion. Saint Mark even tells us Simon was the father of Rufus and Alexander (Mark 15:21). Simon’s carrying the cross changed his life. We believe that he was in Jerusalem at the time to celebrate the Jewish Passover. But he came a distance to do so as did many others. He was not a resident of Jerusalem but gathered with God’s people as the prophet Ezekiel spoke centuries before. In that prophecy God’s chosen king of the house of David would reign as the sovereign of God’s people. Walking behind Jesus Simon was following the King who was to establish an eternal covenant between God and his people. From the events which followed Jesus’ crucifixion we know that Simon entered into that covenant/communion and evidently lived it for all his years. This was due to the love and providence of God. Our obeying Christ to carry the cross and follow him will do the same for us. These days have brought unexpected realities into our lives. We are being called to “follow” the Word and all the word of God dealing with the passion, death and resurrection of Christ the King.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you;
for by your cross and resurrection you have redeemed the world.

[See the Archives at the end of the Blog on this homepage.]

Friday — April 3, 2020

 

The Fourth Station
Jesus and his Mother Meet on the Road to Calvary

To understand better this sacred encounter between Jesus and Mary we turn to the time when Mary and Joseph found the young Jesus in the Temple and the mystery of their son unfolds even further (Luke 2:41-52).

Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

We must not forget that Jesus dies and rises at Passover time. Mary was faithful in making a religious pilgrimage to Jerusalem to join God’s people of Israel in celebration of the freedom and covenant with which God had joined his chosen people to himself. The surroundings and familiarity with the rituals (e.g. the Passover meal), hymns and prayers were not lost on her. She brought all this with her to this famous encounter with her Son. Included in her sacred memories was the startling words of the twelve year old Jesus when they found him in the Temple: I must be in my Father’s house. She knew that the same applied to what Jesus was undergoing at that very moment. She also realized that the mysterious will of the Father was for a good purpose for mankind. The deep meaning would be revealed in the near future. So on Mary’s lips this time was also “why?” She knew she would find the answer in the tradition of the Feast of Passover and its celebration of the Covenant. Soon the Apostles would tell her when she was with them in the Upper Room that Jesus the night before his crucifixion had said: Take and drink from this, all of you, this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. Her cherished meeting with Jesus on the road to Calvary made a lasting impression on her for the rest of her life.

Check the Archives at the bottom of the Blog on this homepage.

Thursday — April 3, 2020

The Third Station
Jesus Falls the First Time

We recall the incident when Jesus healed the paralytic who had been lowered through the roof. When cured through the merciful love of Jesus the man walked home, giving praise to God (Luke 5:17-26)

17 Now it happened that he was teaching one day, and Pharisees and teachers of the Law, who had come from every village in Galilee, from Judaea and from Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was there so that he should heal.
18 And now some men appeared, bringing on a bed a paralysed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him.
19 But as they could find no way of getting the man through the crowd, they went up onto the top of the house and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus.
20 Seeing their faith he said, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven you.’
21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. ‘Who is this man, talking blasphemy? Who but God alone can forgive sins?’
22 But Jesus, aware of their thoughts, made them this reply, ‘What are these thoughts you have in your hearts?
23 Which of these is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Get up and walk”?
24 But to prove to you that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ — he said to the paralysed man-‘I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.’
25 And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
26 They were all astounded and praised God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’

The Gospels present Jesus as walking about freely through Palestine preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing the people by his presence and his word. Now on his journey to Calvary Jesus is forced to walk on the way determined by the Roman soldiers — not just walking but carrying the burden of the cross. Jesus stumbles at first at the extra weight and finds it hard to get his balance. All of this was part of the crucifixion process to show that that the prisoner was being punished for some crime. The placard eventually placed above Jesus’ head would read: Jesus Nazareth King of the Jews. This was all done as human beings saw it. Jesus is the Son of God sharing our humanity. He gives added dimension to his actions, including carrying the cross. When Jesus cured the paralytic above from his sins and weakness the man was able to walk again and thereby give praise to God. Here Jesus gets up — struggle though it was — and heads to Calvary giving praise to this heavenly Father. He offers that divine power to us and strengthens us for our journey. He already has done this and will continue to do so.
We walk by faith.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you;
for by your cross and resurrection you have redeemed the world.

[See the Archives at the end of the Blog on this homepage.]

 

Wednesday — April 1, 2020

 

The Second Station
Jesus Willingly Accepts the Cross Which the Father had Given Him

From the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 26

30 After the psalms had been sung [at the Last Supper] they left for the Mount of Olives.
31 Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away from me tonight, for the scripture says: I shall strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered,
32 but after my resurrection I shall go ahead of you to Galilee.’
33 At this, Peter said to him, ‘Even if all fall away from you, I will never fall away.’
34 Jesus answered him, ‘In truth I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will have disowned me three times.’
35 Peter said to him, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the disciples said the same.
36 Then Jesus came with them to a plot of land called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Stay here while I go over there to pray.’
37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. And he began to feel sadness and anguish.
38 Then he said to them, ‘My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and stay awake with me.’
39 And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed. ‘My Father,’ he said, ‘if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.’
40 He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘So you had not the strength to stay awake with me for one hour?
41 Stay awake, and pray not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing enough, but human nature is weak.’
42 Again, a second time, he went away and prayed: ‘My Father,’ he said, ‘if this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done!’
43 And he came back again and found them sleeping, their eyes were so heavy.
44 Leaving them there, he went away again and prayed for the third time, repeating the same words.
45 Then he came back to the disciples and said to them, ‘You can sleep on now and have your rest. Look, the hour has come when the Son of man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Get up! Let us go! Look, my betrayer is not far away.’
47 And suddenly while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared, and with him a large number of men armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people.
48 Now the traitor had arranged a sign with them saying, ‘The one I kiss, he is the man. Arrest him.’
49 So he went up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi,’ and kissed him.
50 Jesus said to him, ‘My friend, do what you are here for.’ Then they came forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.
51 And suddenly, one of the followers of Jesus grasped his sword and drew it; he struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his ear.
52 Jesus then said, ‘Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
53 Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, who would promptly send more than twelve legions of angels to my defence?
54 But then, how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say this is the way it must be?’
55 It was at this time that Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Am I a bandit, that you had to set out to capture me with swords and clubs? I sat teaching in the Temple day after day and you never laid a hand on me.’
56 Now all this happened to fulfil the prophecies in scripture.

The cross of Christ has become the great symbol of our faith. Saint Paul made the statement: I glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14). There is much more to the cross than the wooden beams. Jesus told us at the first prediction of his passion: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me (Mark 8:34) to which Luke adds: take up your cross daily (Luke 9:23). So when did Jesus “accept” the cross which his Father had given him? Was it at the time of physically carrying the cross or earlier? The scripture above concludes with the frequent statement of Matthew that the Jesus’ events were all part of God’s overall plan. Jesus accepted his mission from the Father long before the Roman soldiers placed the wooden cross on his shoulders. Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane wonderfully expressed his embrace of the call given him by the Father. This is the glory of his cross. It is ours as well.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you;
for by your cross and resurrection you have redeemed the world.