Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Palm Sunday

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Palm Sunday
March 29, 2015
Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47

            Palm Sunday ushers in a period of contrasts that is challenging to balance. It marks a rapid concluding period to a lengthy Lenten time of devotion, when we carefully choose devotional ways to express our discipleship; during Palm Sunday and Holy Week, choices are far beyond our control. Good spirits combat evil ones that vie for the souls of the faithful ones. Triumph becomes failure. Darkness encroaches upon the forces of light as the Prince of this world claims momentary victory. The orderliness and the planning of the Passover meal erupt into disorder when Jesus changes the meal’s rituals. Promises of enduring, steadfast fidelity are broken soon after the dinner ends. Most notably, the jubilation of the entry of Jesus into the Holy City is squashed into a solemn quietude. These contrasts cause our imbalance – a perfect way to enter into Holy Week.

            We have to give ourselves permission to be weak enough to enter into Holy Week. Stop pretending that you can hold everything together. No one is telling you that you have to be strong. Instead, you need to be real. You do not need to put on a special face to others to show you are a Christian. Stop perpetuating illusions about the way others tell you to be. This week is about your relationship with Jesus Christ and what he needs most is for you to be a real person – just as you are – even if you are weak, vulnerable, filled with chaos, and bombarded by a variety of conflicting emotions. If this is who you are, then this is the “you” Jesus wants to meet on this journey to the cross.

            Do not be surprised if you meet unkindness and hatred this week. It might come from a very surprising place – a trusted friend, a loving family member, a usually attentive priest. Our senses are heightened and we may see a great deal of badness in one another and it might throw us off-balance. It is important to speak our feelings to Jesus during his arrest, betrayal, mocking, and the way of the cross. Although he experiences great angst and we try to focus upon his needs, all of our chaotic stuff will rush forward. We think he does not want to hear about our petty concerns as he is suffering, but it is precisely what he wants to do. He specifically wants us to describe to him how we are feeling and how the badness of others is affecting us because he wants to heap our turbulent brokenness onto the cross with him as he carries our humanity forwards to God. He wants to show us God’s compassion. Only compassion can reconnect us to God in our suffering.

            Hold yourself steady as you encounter the drama. Accept your drama, but do not let it define your life because these swirling events will soon be transformed. If we go into Holy Week knowing that ugly forces will accost us, we are better able to endure their assaults. Jesus will have the last word over them. Just accept them as part of the plan and remember that all will work out in the end. If everything is not all right, then it is not the end. Jesus will give meaning to your chaos in due time. Be patient with yourself.

            Holy Week is about giving ourselves over to Jesus so that his death can mean something for us. He tries year after year for us to let go of the rigid ways we control events and behaviors. These are illusions. Let go of those reigns so you can develop a deepening trust in Jesus. He beckons us year after year to get more real and to rely upon him. For the moment, he goes to his death for your sake – for you alone - because he wants to liberate you for real joy. He wants to give you a new life, but you must learn to accept his offer. He is ready to suffer for us again and we cannot be so stubborn. We have to learn we are powerless in the face of so many events. When accept our powerlessness, we allow Christ’s mercy to increase. It is time for us to let his death make meaning of our chaos. Give him all our brokenness, frustrations, and anger. Now is the time of our liberation.
Themes for this Week’s Masses

Monday of Holy Week: We hear from Isaiah 42 in the First Oracle of the Servant of the Lord in which God’s servant will suffer silently, but will bring justice to the world. In the Gospel, Lazarus’ sister, Mary, anoints Jesus’ feet with costly oil in preparation for his funeral.

Tuesday of Holy Week: In the Second Oracle of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 49), he cries out that I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth. In deep hurt, distress and grief, Jesus tells his closest friends at supper that one of them will betray him and another will deny him three times before the cock crows.

(Spy) Wednesday of Holy Week: In the Third Oracle of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 50), the suffering servant does not turn away from the ridicule and torture of his persecutors and tormentors. The time has come.
Matthew’s account shows Judas eating during the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread with Jesus and their good friends after he had already arranged to hand him over to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. The Son of Man will be handed over by Judas, one of the Twelve, who sets the terms of Jesus’ arrest.

Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday: Only an evening Mass can be said today and we let our bells ring freely during the Gloria that has been absent all Lent. In Exodus, we hear the laws and customs about eating the Passover meal prior to God’s deliverance of the people through Moses from the Egyptians. Paul tells us of the custom by early Christians that as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. In John’s Gospel, Jesus loves us to the end giving us a mandate to wash one another’s feet.

Good Friday: No Mass is celebrated today though there may be a service of veneration of the cross and a Stations of the Cross service. In Isaiah, we hear the Fourth Oracle of the Servant of the Lord who was wounded for our sins. In Hebrews, we are told that Jesus learned obedience through his faith and thus became the source of salvation for all. The Passion of our Lord is proclaimed from John’s Gospel.

Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil: No Mass, baptisms, or confirmations can be celebrated before the Vigil to honor the Lord who has been buried in the tomb. The Old Testament readings point to God’s vision of the world and the deliverance of the people from sin and death. All of Scripture points to the coming of the Righteous One who will bring about salvation for all. The Old Testament is relished during the Vigil of the Word as God’s story of salvation is told to us again. The New Testament epistle from Romans tells us that Christ, who was raised from the dead, dies no more. Matthew's Gospel finds Mary Magdalene and the other Mary at dawn arriving at the tomb only to find it empty. After a great earthquake that made the guards tremble, and angel appears telling the women, "Do not be afraid." The angel instructs them to go to the Twelve to tell them, "Jesus has been raised from the dead, and is going before you to Galilee."

Saints of the Week

No saints are remembered on the calendar during this solemn week of our Lord's Passion.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      March 29, 1523: Ignatius' first visit to Rome on his way from Manresa to Palestine.
·      March 30, 1545: At Meliapore, Francis Xavier came on pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle.
·      March 31, 1548: Fr. Anthony Corduba, rector of the College of Salamanca, begged Ignatius to admit him into the Society so as to escape the cardinalate which Charles V intended to procure for him.
·      Apr 1, 1941. The death of Hippolyte Delehaye in Brussels. He was an eminent hagiographer and in charge of the Bollandists from 1912 to 1941.
·      Apr 2, 1767. Charles III ordered the arrest of all the Jesuits in Spain and the confiscation of all their property.
·      Apr 3, 1583. The death of Jeronimo Nadal, one of the original companions of Ignatius who later entrusted him with publishing and distributing the Jesuit Constitutions to the various regions of the early Society.

·      Apr 4, 1534. Peter Faber (Pierre Favre) ordained a deacon in Paris.