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Father Fay’s Section Archive

EASTER VIGIL HOMILY

TOWARD A HOMILY AT THE EASTER VIGIL [IN THE HOME]

 

Rejoice, let Mother Church rejoice with Heaven and Earth

 

It is nighttime but a time of joy. Christ’s light dispels the darkness. The Church has great reason to rejoice in praising God with this thanksgiving celebration. Because this ritual is extensive some have shied away. But those who have made it a tradition to participate in the Church’s liturgy on this night have been well rewarded for the many gifts and blessings we, the body of Christ, receives here.

The church is empty this year because of an unexpected virus traveling our land and through most parts of the world. The risen Christ, however, is present in our parish and in the hearts of those who reverence the Lord in their homes. Since it takes some preparation to draw deeply of the springs of salvation from the Church at liturgy with Christ, I recommend spending some time with the word of God — which is given us in the scriptures, in the Mass prayers, in Easter Proclamation (the Exsultet) and in the Easter hymns many of which you know by heart (or refresh your memory from missalettes or prayer books or over the Internet). Today the Church sings Alleluia and the Easter melodies of faith.

I will begin with the word of God in the Exsultet which describes so marvelously what we are all about at Easter:

It is truly right and just,
with ardent love of mind and heart
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.
Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,
and, pouring out his own dear Blood,
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

Notice that Easter is not just about Jesus but about his Father and as Jesus breathed his Spirit upon his disciples the very first Easter and does so today.

The scriptures go from beginning to end and the fulfillment of God’s covenant plan in his Son’s glorification. To show this there are 9 readings and psalms 75% of which are Old Testament to be true to he risen Lord saying that he was raised from the dead according to the scriptures, i.e. according to the overall plan of God which is spelled out both in the Old Testament and in the New. Christ’s Paschal Mystery is the fulfillment of God’s promise from the beginning. [You can find links to these scriptures on the homepage of this website.]

The first Christians came to understand the scriptures from the Christ risen. This is testimony of the New Testament and in the sign in our times that our progress in understanding the scriptures, as Jesus said, will show us and the world that the Father has raised him. Easter is a renewal of the covenant which we do publicly with the renewal of our Baptismal Promises. This should be done, even at home, together and out loud.

 

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.

Our cherished Church liturgy remains in our hearts even at home.
The risen Lord is with us everywhere we go, whatever we do.
His presence is in his faithful people. I am with you always ’til the end of time.

 

HAPPY EASTER, ALLELUIA!

 

Archives
Servant_Part One
Servant_Part Two
Servant_Part Three
Servant_Part-Four

Holy Thursday Homily
Good Friday Homily
Easter Vigil Homily

Second Station
Third Station
Fourth Station
Fifth Station
Sixth Station
Stations Seven, Eight, Nine
Tenth Station
Eleventh Station
Twelfth Station
Stations_Thirteen & Fourteen

Alternate forms of Stations

Sixth (Palm) Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Palm Sunday 2020

TOWARD A HOMILY FOR GOOD FRIDAY

A major portion of the Church’s Good Friday Liturgy is the word of God. Hopefully you have read it again, Old Testament and New. We listen to God speak in a changed world. He providentially speaks to us through the many kinds of people affected by what is happening. They are also the word of God to us — brothers and sisters in Christ. So let us put these two together. I will give you a start with examples of how they are listening to the word of God on this day. Remember there is a link to the Good Friday scriptures on this home page on the left, below the Tweet. What they hear in their need can also be advantage to us as we apply the readings to our own lives and give a Good Friday response to the God who speaks to us.

First comes to mind are families grieving love ones who have died in the pandemic. Jesus bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. And the psalm prayer: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. This makes the family death so personal.

Doctors, nurses, medical personnel, and first responders are in the midst of this. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus came to the rescue of Jesus’ family when Jesus died. From the psalm: Take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the LORD. They provide hope. When the soldier thrust his lance into Jesus’ side blood and water flowed out — something medical personnel know well.

We have seen a lot of government officials on TV. They, too, are affected, especially when the passages about Pilate are read. My kingdom does not belong to this world. Or when Pilate said: Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law. They are setting down laws for the people. Or when Jesus said to Pilate: You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. They sensed their own responsibility before God.

For those confined to the house it is a comfort to hear Jesus ask John to welcome his mother into his home. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. Jesus promised to be with us — he did not specify in what places, it means everywhere.

School students might find their own condition mirrored in the Servant Song: Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.

What about us? But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity from Isaiah. It is the Lord’s will. We please him by uniting ourselves to the crucified and risen Lord. From the same passage: See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. The outcome of what is happening will be a reward from God. There lies the hope. The psalmist wrote for us as well: Take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the LORD. I cannot forget Jesus words earlier: Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners (Matthew 9:13). Jesus is citing Hosea 6:6. It may seem that our sacrifice has been taken away (for a while). I believe it is becoming more clear that what is the source of a sacrifice pleasing to God is the covenant love of Jesus Christ which we are being called to stir up at home through the word of God and our response to it. He has not taken the faith from us. Rather he is deepening that faith by challenging us at home to love him more from our hearts day in and day out and bring that back with us when we are able to return to Mass. This is the secret blessing of God.

 

Archives
Servant_Part One
Servant_Part Two
Servant_Part Three
Servant_Part-Four

Holy Thursday Homily
Good Friday Homily

First Station
Second Station
Third Station
Fourth Station
Fifth Station
Sixth Station
Stations Seven, Eight, Nine
Tenth Station
Eleventh Station
Twelfth Station
Stations_Thirteen & Fourteen

Alternate forms of Stations

Sixth (Palm) Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Palm Sunday 2020

TOWARD A HOMILY FOR HOLY THURSDAY

 

SOME THOUGHTS TOWARD A HOMILY FOR HOLY THURSDAY

 

If you have not done so already, I believe you will find it helpful to reread the scriptures assigned for the Mass of the Supper of the Lord, easily available earlier on this homepage. First, we hear again of the Passover Meal in Egypt and the command to keep this as an annual biblical memorial. The psalm response contains a refrain from the New Testament and the faith and worship of our Old Testament ancestors — the cup of salvation in sacrificial thanksgiving to God. We gladly listen to Saint Paul tell us that the Eucharist is a tradition which was handed on to him from the early Christians and now he hands on to us. Finally, the Gospel surprisingly calls us back in the washing of the feet to the bond that Jesus established between him and us and the love that flows from it in both directions. All of this comes together in our celebration of what the Father continues to do for us through the Easter Mystery which we begin on Holy Thursday.

 

The present crisis facing us in these days highlights the fact that the Passover Meal was celebrated in the home. Jesus loved his Father’s house, the Temple, but gave instructions for the disciples to prepare the Passover in the Upper Room. In a remarkable way this setting for the Passover brings the Temple and our daily lives together. This sacred meal takes place over a rather lengthy period of time combining eating and drinking sacred foods, the recounting of what God has done for us, praise and thanksgiving of God in a community setting, and a deepening of faith and mutual love at the table of the Lord. From the Last Supper accounts we know that they sang certain psalms together in praise of God — The Hallel [Halleluia] Psalms 114-118, (Matthew 26:30)

 

Even though the Seder Service followed a definite ritual, it was for the participants an actual and new experiencing of God in their midst, Emmanuel. This presence of the Lord expressed itself so strongly by the bond of mutual love of those gathered — the shalom. Let us reflect a moment how this took place at the Last Supper in the washing of the feet and the discourse and prayers of Jesus with his disciples. The way Jesus put it to his disciples: I am the vine, you are the branches (John 15:5). It becomes even clearer in his exchange with Peter when Jesus approached him to wash his feet, during which Jesus said to Peter: Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me (John 13:8). The bond that underlies the love is there and must remain. If this is the way of thinking and acting on Jesus’ part, we can understand how the Lord could and would forgive him the denial.

 

A new lesson this year from all of this is that Jesus wants us to be close to him in the midst of the brotherhood. This is the reason for gathering at Mass. We can watch a video of a Mass from afar but the intimacy with Christ and the Church suffers. I wonder what will be the long range consequences of social distancing. God did not make us that way nor save us that way. We are in a temporary situation and look forward to better times in the faith. The vine and the branches need to spend time together. He is calling us to a deeper bond with him and his people.

 

Archives
Servant_Part One
Servant_Part Two
Servant_Part Three
Servant_Part-Four

Holy Thursday Homily

First Station
Second Station
Third Station
Fourth Station
Fifth Station
Sixth Station
Stations Seven, Eight, Nine
Tenth Station
Eleventh Station
Twelfth Station

Alternate forms of Stations

Sixth (Palm) Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Palm Sunday 2020

Fifth Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Lent V 2020

SUFFERING SERVANT – PART 4

 

Isaiah 52:13–53:12

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him–
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man–
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

This describes what Jesus did for us with so a remarkable clarity that it is hard to believe this was composed at least six hundred years before Christ. So every line has meaning on the Jesus level. But what I want you to realize that this being Old Testament what happened to Jesus was according to the scriptures. God’s plan was from the beginning which means his love was from the beginning. This is the whole reason behind his making a covenant with man. It is merciful covenant love through and through. So a meditation on this and the other Suffering Servant Songs is not just for Holy Week but the whole Christian faith. The early Christians picked this up from the start and frequently refer to it. Considering the sufferings of Christ on a worldly level is not enough. The reasons behind it as just as much if not more important. That is our task this year under the unusual circumstances. This will also give deeper meaning to the resurrection of Christ. The same Father who led him to crucifixion, raised him from the dead. The first Christians recognized this. So must we.
Remember the Servant is the body of Christ, Head and members.

THE SUFFERING SERVANT— Part 3

Isaiah 50:4-11

Third Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to answer the weary
a word that will waken them.
Morning after morning
he wakens my ear to hear as disciples do;

The Lord GOD opened my ear;
I did not refuse,
did not turn away.

I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who tore out my beard;
My face I did not hide
from insults and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
Therefore I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

He who declares my innocence is near.
Who will oppose me?
Let us appear together.
Who will dispute my right?
Let them confront me.

See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will declare me guilty?
See, they will all wear out like a garment,
consumed by moths.

Who among you fears the LORD,
heeds his servant’s voice?
Whoever walk in darkness,
without any light,
Yet trust in the name of the LORD
and rely upon their God!f

All you who kindle flames
and set flares alight,
Walk by the light of your own fire
and by the flares you have burnt!
This is your fate from my hand:
you shall lie down in a place of torment.

Note that we meditate on these Suffering Servant Songs on two levels: 1) as originally written by Isaiah about 600 B.C. at the time of the Babylonian Exile and the return of God’s people; 2) at the time of the first Christians who witnessed the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ Jesus, the Servant.

Isaiah has to give us the word of God more than once. God is persistent — so much does he love us. The people of Isaiah’s time were not responding so the prophet gives them the word again, what God is doing and telling them what they must do. There is a hint in these lines that Isaiah is a servant of God to the servant people. He is tempted to give up but remains faithful, knowing it was not God’s fault that put them in their predicament. In the verses just before this Song Isaiah says outright that it was their sins that caused the Exile. But the prophet servant does not give up. He sets his face like flint (Luke will also use this phrase.) He remains faithful to God who is still faithful to his people (he will not divorce her — verses 1- 2). Perhaps the most enduring teaching about Christ that emanates from this passage is Christ Jesus set his face like flint for the final journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). As Servant of the Lord he accepts his calling and does not turn away from it, even against threats from outside. This must be true of the Church, the body of Christ, Head and members. The Easter renewal of faith is a sign that we are responding to God’s call, even at a price.

The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has several versions of the Stations of the Cross
http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/index.cfm. Go to Prayers and Devotions
There you will find the a series of meditations by Saint Pope John Paul II from 1991

Archives
Servant_Part One
Servant_Part Two
Servant_Part Three

First Station
Second Station
Third Station
Fourth Station
Fifth Station
Sixth Station
Stations Seven, Eight, Nine
Tenth Station

Alternate forms of Stations

Sixth (Palm) Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Palm Sunday 2020

Fifth Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Lent V 2020

THE SUFFERING SERVANT – PART 2

Isaiah 49:1-7

Hear me, coastlands,
listen, distant peoples.
Before birth the LORD called me,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.

He made my mouth like a sharp-edged sword,
concealed me, shielded by his hand.
He made me a sharpened arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.

He said to me, You are my servant,
in you, Israel, I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
for nothing and for naught spent my strength,
Yet my right is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.

For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
I am honored in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!

It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Thus says the LORD,
the redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
To the one despised, abhorred by the nations,
the slave of rulers:
When kings see you, they shall stand up,
and princes shall bow down
Because of the LORD who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.

Note that we meditate on these Suffering Servant Songs on two levels: 1) as originally written by Isaiah about 600 B.C. at the time of the Babylonian Exile and the return of God’s people; 2) at the time of the first Christians who witnessed the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ Jesus, the Servant.

Keep in mind the historical setting for the composition by Isaiah — he is speaking to a people, humiliated and taken into a foreign land where it was challenging to remain true to the faith. It had been a long time, close to 50 years. Would the faithful God come to their rescue and restore them to their previous glory of his presence? Some similarities to today. In this Song the prophet mentions a faith fact that we may tend to overlook — God speaks to his people. He is not silent and his servant is not to be silent. He made my mouth like a sharp edged sword. In the Exile the word of God took on more prominence. The servant is to “listen”, take to heart God’s promise/word and put it into practice for all the world to see — to show the world that God is in our midst with his saving power. Isaiah states outright that the servant is Israel, the people of God as a whole. This has been his plan from the beginning — from my mother’s womb he has given me my name. Now what do we see here that resonates with the saving action of Christ Jesus, cross and resurrection? Jesus himself is the Word, who speaks to us through the centuries, gathering us into the intimate bond and relationship with the God of the Covenant. He gathers the flock as a Shepherd. Being raised on the cross he gathers all people to himself in union with the Father. He makes us Church. The Church is the living sign of his Father’s covenant love and mercy. In this way the risen Lord, Servant that he is, reveals the glory of God in our time.

The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has several versions of the Stations of the Cross
http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/index.cfm. Go to Prayers and Devotions
There you will find the a series of meditations by Saint Pope John Paul II from 1991

Archives
Servant_Part One
Servant_Part Two

First Station
Second Station
Third Station
Fourth Station
Fifth Station
Sixth Station
Stations Seven, Eight, Nine
Tenth Station

Alternate forms of Stations

Sixth (Palm) Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Palm Sunday 2020

Fifth Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Lent V 2020

THE SUFFERING SERVANT – PART I

The early Christians including the Gospel writers immediately identified Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection with the Servant of the Lord in the Prophet Isaiah (about 600 B.C.). You will agree with them. The Church uses these four Songs in her liturgy of Holy Week.

Isaiah 42: 1-7

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
Upon whom I have put my Spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
Not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
Until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spreads out the earth with its crops,
Who gives breath to its people
and spirit to those who walk on it:
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Note that we meditate on these Suffering Servant Songs on two levels: 1) as originally written by Isaiah about 600 B.C. at the time of the Babylonian Exile and the return of God’s people; 2) at the time of the first Christians who witnessed the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ Jesus, the Servant.

This servant of the Lord has a mission, given by the Lord God for which he has been chosen. In choosing and calling the servant the Lord promises his divine assistance so that this mission will not fail. At Isaiah’s time the mission was to return from the Exile and be a sign of God’s presence (glory) through a victory of justice, i.e. showing the world that our God is a holy God, whose goodness is revealed in his merciful love to his people in the form of a Covenant of eternal communion with their God. The Lord is faithful to his people time after time and does not cease to bless them (forgive) even though they slip into unfaithfulness and sinfulness to his Covenant laws. Thus the servant is the holy people of God who are a light for the nations.
On the second level, as the early Christians saw it, Christ Jesus fit this description perfectly. He has God’s Spirit, he is the reconciler of the Covenant, he is the conqueror of sin and death (victor of justice), he has been chosen by the Father, he is the Perfect Servant (Son) of the heavenly Father. In addition, Jesus the Son of God is one with God’s people (the body of Christ, the Church). So the servant of Isaiah’s time, who is the people of Israel — as will be stated later — now in Jesus has the dimension of the body of Christ, Head (Servant) and members (the people of the Church). Together we are sign of God’s holiness and goodness for the world.

The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has several versions of the Stations of the Cross
http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/index.cfm. Go to Prayers and Devotions

There you will find the a series of meditations by Saint Pope John Paul II from 1991

Archives
Servant_Part One

First Station
Second Station
Third Station
Fourth Station
Fifth Station
Sixth Station
Stations Seven, Eight, Nine

Alternate forms of Stations

Sixth (Palm) Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Palm Sunday 2020

Fifth Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Lent V 2020

ALTERNATE FORM OF STATIONS OF THE CROSS

The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has several versions of the Stations of the Cross
http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/index.cfm. Go to Prayers and Devotions

We shall follow the one based on the a series of meditations by Saint Pope John Paul II from 1991

Sixth & Seventh Stations:
 

Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly.
(John 19: 1-3)

Prayer:
Lord,
grant us patience in times of suffering
that we may offer our lives as a sacrifice of praise.

Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross
When the chief priests and the guards saw Jesus they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.” … They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.
(John 19: 6, 15-17)

Prayer:
Lord,
grant us strength of purpose
that we may faithfully bear our crosses each day.

 

Archives
First Station
Second Station
Third Station
Fourth Station
Fifth Station

Sixth (Palm) Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Palm Sunday 2020

Fifth Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Lent V 2020

SCRIPTURE COMMENTARY

Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name

I do not believe I need to remind you of the importance of the word of God this week — I think God is speaking to us continually, even whenwe are not at Mass. During our whole life it has been that way.
For each and every one of us there are scripture phrases that resound to this very day. One that I will never forget is from John’s account of the passion where he recorded the response of Pilate to Jewish leaders who complain to him about what he had written on the placard above the head of Jesus: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. They wanted him to rewrite it to say: Jesus said, I am the King of the Jews. What sticks in my memory is my pastor in Middletown, who had a wonderful booming voice, singing in Latin: Quod scripsi, scripsiWhat I have written, I have written. It is more memorable with the Latin melody. (If this were a live presentation I would sing it for you.)
We cannot have Holy Week without the scriptures. This year we have to rely upon them all the more. Remember it is the booming voice of God singing his word to us. Take what he says to heart all the more.

Matthew 21:1-11 (Procession Gospel)
This additional Gospel passage is not part of what we consider the Gospel Passion Accounts which generally begin with the Last Supper and the foreboding suffering that is coming Jesus’ way. But the tradition of the Church shows its wisdom in connecting the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, with its splendor and glory, together with the suffering of Jesus and then the delight of his resurrection within a short time. Actually, the procession with palms is a resurrection account which reveals the victory of Christ, the chosen King, who outlived death for us. We listen to it with that in mind.

Another eye opener is to listen to what pilgrims entering Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover were singing. It sheds quite a bit of light on the events and why we sing them, too.

Psalm 118:19-29 (the title THE LORD = Yahweh, appearing 10 times in these 11 verses.)

Open for me the gates of saving justice,
I shall go in and give thanks to THE LORD.

This is the gate of THE LORD,
where the upright go in.

I thank you for hearing me,
and making yourself my Saviour.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;

This is THE LORD’s doing,
and we marvel at it.

This is the day which THE LORD has made,
a day for us to rejoice and be glad.

We beg you, THE LORD, save us [=Hosanna], we beg you,
THE LORD, give us victory!

Blessed in the name of THE LORD is he who is coming!
We bless you from the house of THE LORD.

THE LORD is God, he gives us light.
Link your processions, branches in hand, up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, I thank you, all praise to you, my God.
I thank you for hearing me, and making yourself my Saviour.

Give thanks to THE LORD for he is good,
for his faithful love endures for ever.

Just a few words. The gates of saving justice or gates of righteousness are the gates to the City Jerusalem and also the gates to the Temple, God’s dwelling. We enter to praise THE LORD.
This is the day the Lord has made is our frequent song of Easter.
Lord, save us is the meaning of the shout Hosanna.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of THE LORD is our song at the Holy, holy  at Mass.
They go to the altar in the Temple with branches in their hands
Give thanks to THE LORD for his faithful merciful love endures forever.

I hope that this gives you a better grasp of the richness of the crowds and richness of our Church celebration of Palm Sunday next year in church.

Isaiah 50:4-7 (Servant Song 3, see Isaiah 42:1 and footnote)
All of these readings today contain so much that we cannot deal with them at length here. But that is what Holy Week is for, namely, to delve into the riches of God’s word. Time spent on them will reward you greatly.

For this Servant Song let me just say that the Servant has multiple layers of meaning. The Servant is singular and easily refers to the one person Jesus Christ as an individual. As singular, as so often in the psalms, it can refer to the one people of God taken together — the community aspect of the Church. This all comes together that the one saving Servant Jesus Christ and the one Church, his body, are together and therefore refers to all of us joined in Christ, our Servant and King. The one characteristic for the whole body of Christ, Head and members, is that the Lord gives his servant an ear to listen to him speak and the servant in turn speaks to the weary. Fits Jesus perfectly and through his grace is what we are diligently working on.

Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24  (2a) 
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Just remember this psalm begins with a cry for help and ends up with a praise and thanksgiving to God who comes to his assistance. It is an uplifting psalm, so typical of Christ and his whole life dedicated entirely to his heavenly Father. Do not get lost in the details of the suffering of Christ during his passion.

All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him.”

Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.

They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.

I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
“You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
 revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”

Do not forget the meekness of the King who entered Jerusalem in victory but also humbly before his Father. He submitted himself to the suffering of the Cross, no one forced him to do it against his will. This prayer of the Church is a plea before God that we not only learn this lesson from his Son but also have his gift of the Spirit to practice what we learned. This will assure us of sharing in Christ’s risen glory for all eternity.

Philippians 2:6-11 (Early Christian Hymn)

As much as we appreciate the wisdom and faith of Saint Paul we have to admit that he probably did not compose this wonderful hymn. We believe that it already was part of the early Church’s liturgy — composer unknown. This does not detract from the teaching and power of what Saint Paul wrote for us. We find it hard to express this mystery of the suffering and glorification of Christ in a more adequate way. Just remember that from the beginning of the Christian era our brothers and sisters in the faith did not isolate the passion of Christ from his manifestation of glory. The Paschal Mystery is the death, resurrection and glorification of Jesus the Christ. Everything God speaks to us this Holy Week is one action of the heavenly Father.

Matthew 26:14—27:66 (Passion Account)

Remember, everything here comes from God’s love and Christ’s love. Jesus had supreme confidence that the Father loved him and therefore and would not be put to shame. Jesus, just as his Father, did not have to do anything for us. It is all freely given and therefore must be freely received by us. The passion, death and resurrection of Christ the Son of God is a free gift to mankind. So as Saint Paul said above: The Christ received a name above every other name, the name of God himself. This is why we can say that the resurrection of Jesus has revealed to the world that he is truly both God and man.

Alternate version of the Collect/Gathering Prayer
No one else, O Lord, is as powerful as you or whose life is from eternity to eternity. The power and effectiveness of your love brought you to offer mankind the greatest example for imitation of total submission to your will that we find in our Savior, your Son, who became man and obediently underwent death on the cross for us. In your great desire to be close to us so that we be close to you grant that we have your gifts of grace to receive lovingly during these days the recorded testimony of his suffering and death and a share in his resurrection that flows from it.

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Fifth Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Lent V 2020

ALTERNATE FORM OF STATIONS OF THE CROSS

The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has several versions of the Stations of the Cross
http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/index.cfm. Go to Prayers and Devotions

We shall follow the one based on the a series of meditations by Saint Pope John Paul II from 1991

Fifth Station: Jesus is Judge by Pilate
The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of.” Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed…. Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barrabas… [and] handed [Jesus] over to be crucified.
(Mark 15: 1-5, 15)

Prayer:
Lord,
grant us discernment
that we may see as you see, not as the world sees.

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Fifth Sunday of Lent 2020
Commentaries Lent V 2020