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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

God’s Silence Palm Sunday 2020

   God’s Silence
Palm Sunday 2020
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April 5, 2020
Isaiah 50:1-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14-27, 66

Normally, we begin Passion Sunday with a festive tone as we watch Jesus triumphantly enter into Jerusalem. However, today, we are not in a joyful space because of our worldwide pandemic. We still need a savior, but we will not gather like the throngs did to welcome Jesus, their Messiah, to Jerusalem and its Temple. We skip right to the Garden of Gethsemane with him when we pour out our tears of fear and ask that this burden be removed from us.

As we hear the Passion, we see the many injustices done to Jesus by the religious and civic leaders, the Romans, and by the people he healed. His disciples abandoned him, while one betrayed him and another denied him. In times of fear, his friends fled from him, and he stood alone and defenseless. In our times, people are afraid, they are lonely, they are hurting and confused, and there does not seem to be enough help or sufficient solutions on the horizon.

We are almost echoing the words of Jesus on the cross when he cries out, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabactani,” “My God, My God, why have you forgotten me.?” Without receiving an answer from God, Jesus died. He died without knowing if God heard him or responded to him, and that creates deep psychic suffering in one’s soul. This is a similar type of terror we have to go through as we deal with our suffering without knowing anything about our fate. We have to grasp God’s silence during this terror. All we have are our questions piled on top of our pain.

This week, we have to enter more deeply into the silence. Holy Week will be a time of increased anxiety, stillness, uncertainty, and dread. Stay with it. We have to go through it. Our saving grace is that we do not enter into it alone, as Jesus did, because he is with us. We know, in the long run, God did hear his pleas and prayers and his death became the greatest moment of intimacy between the two. Jesus hears our pleas, and we have to watch him go to his death, and he is taking our concerns with him so we can offer them to God at this place of intimacy. God will abide by us because the final word is not yet spoken.

Scripture for Daily Mass

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

·      Apr 5, 1635. The death of Louis Lallemant, writer and spiritual teacher.
·      Apr 6, 1850. The first edition of La Civilta Cattolica appeared. It was the first journal of the restored Society.
·      Apr 7, 1541. Ignatius was unanimously elected general, but he declined to accept the results.
·      Apr 8, 1762. The French Parliament issued a decree of expulsion of the Jesuits from all their colleges and houses.
·      Apr 9, 1615. The death of William Weston, minister to persecuted Catholics in England and later an author who wrote about his interior life during that period.
·      Apr 10, 1585. At Rome, the death of Pope Gregory XIII, founder of the Gregorian University and the German College, whose memory will ever be cherished as that of one of the Society's greatest benefactors.
·      Apr 11, 1573. Pope Gregory XIII suggested to the Fathers who were assembling for the Third General Congregation that it might be well for them to choose a General of some nationality other than Spanish. Later he expressed his satisfaction that they had elected Everard Mercurian, a Belgian.

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