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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

March 25, 2018
Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33

In times of crises, most people want to know, “Where were you, O God? Why did you let his happen to one of your loved ones?” We enter into church with a sense of jubilation. With Jesus, we enter into his triumph as he is well received in Jerusalem, but it all goes wrong along the way. We hear the story of his Passion and we are sobered up. Triumph is turned into defeat in the death of Jesus. If God is all knowing and all powerful, how could he let this happen to his beloved Son?

The celebration of the Passover is designed to be a solemn, but joyful remembering of God’s deliverance of the Jews from bondage in Egypt. During this feast, God’s abiding presence is called to mind as God pledges to never be far from the people. God is remembered for striking down the firstborn of every male human and animal but sparing the Hebrews who were marked by the lamb’s blood. God stood by those who stood vigil during this period. God’s steadfast presence is the defining mark of the feast.

In the face of tragedy, it is easy to only see the brutality and the horror of injustice. Through it all, we see the goodness of Jesus as he remains faithful to his mission. He knows he has to face the cross and go to his death. In God’s mind, somehow the death of Jesus will save the people from their sins and they will be brought closer to God.

For those who suffer, the passage of time is a challenge. The cumulative effects of suffering grows and while the pain is intense, we wonder, “When will we get some relief? Just show me that I’ve been through the worst of it. When will this ordeal end.” The pain would be tolerable if someone could understand what we are experiencing so that we do not feel alone. Jesus, near his death, cries out to God, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabbactani?,” that is, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus goes to his death without a response from God, but he believed God’s abiding presence remained.

This week, let us be God’s response to one another. Because Jesus is alive to us and remains steadfast, let us bring his responses to others who are suffering or in pain. Let us learn how to deal with another person’s pain. Just be with them. Ask them, “What do you need to hear from me?” Avoid the impulse to make things right, to try to control a person’s environment, to do things for a person they did not ask to be done. Simply ask, “What do you need? Is there a way I can be helpful to you?”

In times of suffering, we can bring the abiding presence of God to others through our presence. We simply stay close by. We pray for the person, we lighten their day with a note of cheer or words like, “You have a beautiful face.” The person is more than his or her suffering and wants to feel whole. We simply sit near them doing our own activities, but we stay close so the person knows that you are not fleeing from their suffering.

Offer that gift to Jesus this week. Each day, stay near him through your prayer. Allow him to move forward with his Passion, but stay near to him to give him comfort and encouragement. Give him your compassion and mercy, and let him know that he has a beautiful face. Your words will give him courage and your acts of mercy will be what he remembers.

Scripture for Daily Mass

The Annunciation falls on March 25th unless the Lord’s Day or other major feast preempts it. It is transferred to the next available day.

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 25, 1563: The first Sodality of Our Lady, Prima Primaria, was begun in the Roman College by a young Belgian Jesuit named John Leunis (Leonius).
·      March 26, 1553: Ignatius of Loyola's letter on obedience was sent to the Jesuits of Portugal.
·      March 27, 1587: At Messina died Fr. Thomas Evans, an Englishman at 29. He had suffered imprisonment for his defense of the Catholic faith in England.
·      March 28, 1606: At the Guildhall, London, the trial of Fr. Henry Garnet, falsely accused of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot.
·      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.

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