Archive for April, 2012

Easter Sunday

Easter is the greatest feast in the Christian liturgical calendar. The feast of all feasts. The night of all nights and the day of all days. “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad” because the Lord is risen from the dead.

On this Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For us Catholics, Easter Sunday comes at the end of 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving known as Lent. Through spiritual struggle and self-denial, we have prepared ourselves to die spiritually with Christ on Good Friday, the day of His Crucifixion, so that we can rise again with Him in new life on Easter.

Easter is a day of celebration because it represents the fulfillment of our faith as Christians. St. Paul wrote that, unless Christ rose from the dead, our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:17). Without Christ risen from the dead we remain in our slavery to sin, we remain under the dominion and oppression of Satan and the evil ones, we remain blinded by ignorance, we remain alienated from God whose wrath awaits us on the day of judgment.  Without Christ risen from the dead, there is no Church, there is no sacrament, there is no priest, there is no Mass,  and  there is no reason for us to gather today with great rejoicing and gladness.

Through his death, Christ saved mankind from bondage to sin, and He destroyed the hold that death has on all of us; but it is His Resurrection that gives us the promise of new life, both in this world and the next.

That new life began on Easter Sunday. In the Our Father, we pray that “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven.” And Christ told His disciples that some of them would not die until they saw the Kingdom of God “coming in power” (Mark 9:1). The early Christian Fathers saw Easter as the fulfillment of that promise. With the resurrection of Christ, God’s Kingdom is established on earth, in the form of the Church.

That is why people who are converting to Catholicism traditionally are baptized at the Easter Vigil service, which takes place on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter), starting sometime after sunset. They have usually undergone a long process of study and preparation known as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Their baptism parallels Christ’s own Death and Resurrection, as they die to sin and rise to new life in the Kingdom of God.

Because of the central importance of Easter to the Christian faith, the Catholic Church requires that all Catholics who have made their First Communion receive the Holy Eucharist sometime during the Easter season, which lasts through Pentecost, 50 days after Easter. (The Church also urges us to take part in the Sacrament of Confession before receiving this Easter communion.) This reception of the Eucharist is a visible sign of our faith and our participation in the Kingdom of God. Of course, we should receive Communion as frequently as possible; this “Easter Duty” is simply the minimum requirement set by the Church.

Allow me to end my homily with this story:

Patt Barnes came upon an old lady selling flowers on a busy city street.

Her face was old and wrinkled, but radiant with an Easter smile.

Patt took a flower, paid her, and said:

“How happy you are this morning.” The flower lady replied, “Why not? Everything is beautiful.” Patt was
startled by her reply, because she was dressed so shabbily and looked so frail.

Patt said:  “You surely wear your troubles well!

Again, her reply startled Patt: “When Jesus died Good Friday,” she said, “that was the worst of days. Then, 3 days later–Easter!  So when troubles come my way, I simply wait three days. Then and everything gets all right again.”

How do I handled my troubles?

How might I better handle them?

We are Easter people; and Alleluia is our song!
Saint Augustine

 

Easter Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, who upon this day did conquer death and rise from the dead, and who are alive for ever more, help us never to forget your Risen Presence forever with us.

Help us to remember,

That you are with us in every time of perplexity to guide and to direct;
That you are with us in every time of sorrow to comfort and console;
That you are with us in every time of temptation to strengthen and to inspire; That you are with us in every time of loneliness to cheer and befriend; That you are with us even in death to bring us to the glory of your side.

Make us to be certain that there is nothing in time or in eternity which can separate us from you,so that in your presence we may meet life with gallantry and death without fear.

You turn our darkness into light, in your light we shall see light.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. Christ the Lord is risen today!
ALLELUIA

— Adapted from ThisIsChurch.com

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John 18:1—19:42 The crucifixion of Jesus

Today, allow me to share with you a catechetical homily based on Catechism of Catholic Church (CCC) that will be of help in enlightening every one and prevent or  free us from judging harshly and blaming only the Jews, Judas, Pilate or even the demons  whom we thought the sole responsible individuals and  groups for the passion and death of Jesus.

From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy Jesus because of his  certain acts like expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners.

Some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.

In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:

– submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition;

– the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God’s presence dwells in a special way;

– faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.

Were the Jewish leaders unanimous in their position towards Jesus?  The religious authorities in Jerusalem were not unanimous about what stance to take towards Jesus. But one thing is for sure. Some were vocal and aggressive in their conviction and in their attempts to eliminate him.

The Pharisees threatened to excommunicate his followers.

To those who feared that “everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation”, the high priest Caiaphas replied by prophesying: “It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.”

The Sanhedrin, having declared Jesus deserving of death as a blasphemer, hands him over to the Romans, accusing him of political revolt, a charge that puts him in the same category as Barabbas who had been accused of sedition.

The chief priests also threatened Pilate politically so that he would condemn Jesus to death.

Are the Jews collectively responsible for Jesus’ death? The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd.

Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept “the ignorance” of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders.

Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd’s cry: “His blood be on us and on our children!”

Neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion. . . The Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture.

Who, then, were the authors of Jesus’ passion and death on the Cross? “Sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.”

Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself, the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone:

We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins.

Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts and hold him up to contempt.

And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him.

“Nor did demons crucify him; it is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.”

Jesus’ violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God’s plan of salvation.

Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. This Biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by God.

For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness and wickedness.

So when you see a figure of Jesus crucified, remember this. It was not nails or ropes that fixed him to the cross but LOVE. God’s love for us!

To end my homily, allow me again to ask this fundamental question:

Who, then, were the authors of Jesus’ passion and death on the Cross?

“Sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.”  “It is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.”

Prayer:

A man of extraordinary religious insight.
A man who did die – a cruel death.

On this day we look at the cross, and we remember…
the betrayal of friendship and its consequences,
the casual cruelty of Roman authority and execution,
and how unreliable others proved to be in a crisis.

On this day may we also remember
that religious bigotry, cruelty and unreliability
are still a part of our everyday lives.

On this day, then, may we learn some new precepts for living…
do not avoid contact with suffering,
or close your eyes before suffering;
do not maintain anger or hatred;
do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest, or to impress people;
do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature

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John 13:1-15 The Washing of the Disciples’ Feet

You call me Master and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also must wash one another’s feet. I have just given you an example that as I have done, you also may do.”

A few nights ago, The History Channel showed a documentary in which  scientists attempted to create what may be the most realistic 3-D image of the  face of Christ.

They spent many months on the project, using sophisticated computer  technology to craft the image from the Shroud of Turin.

The result is the face of a young man with long hair, and a beard, and scars,  and blood stains around his brow.  The computer estimates that he’d be about  5’8″.  He looks heavier, more muscular than most may think.  But he otherwise  looks very much the way any of us might imagine Jesus looked at the time of his  death.

What Jesus really looked like has fascinated us for centuries – and it’s  informed how he’s been portrayed in art.  And it’s not just what he looked like,  but what he did.  We see him depicted so often in art as a crucified victim, or  a good shepherd, or a teacher preaching to his followers.

But tonight, on one of the holiest nights of the year, we are given a very  different picture of Jesus.  And it may be more surprising than anything you’d  see on the History Channel.

We see him on his knees, wiping away dirt, washing feet.

This is truly what it means to be Christ.    He said so himself.

“I have given you a model to follow,” he tells his apostles.  “So that as I  have done for you, you should also do.”

For all those who ask the perennial question, “What would Jesus do?,” here is  your answer.

And it comes at a surprising moment: on this night when we celebrate the  institution of the Eucharist, and the institution of the priesthood.  But the  church does not offer us a gospel reading about Christ giving us himself in the  form of bread and wine.  Instead, it gives us this gospel reading.

But the message, I think, is the same.  Tonight, God gets down on his knees  for us.  Tonight, He lowers himself.  Tonight, He becomes a servant to the world — as humble as a slave, as meager and plain as a crumb of bread.

From this, we learn what it means to be like Christ.

The overwhelming impression is surprising, and challenging.  It is God  becoming less…so that we can become more.

One of his last acts on earth, the last communal moment with his friends, is  spent taking care of them, purifying them, removing the dust of the day. Perhaps  he is anticipating the roads they will travel in the hours ahead.  Maybe he is  somehow getting them ready for the long journey ahead — missions they will  undertake after he has gone, traveling by foot to bring the gospel to the  world.

I also think it is also a beautiful representation of the priesthood, and the  sacrament of reconciliation.  We all walk the earth carrying the debris of our  lives – our failings, our sins, our weaknesses.  They cling to us.  But here,  they are washed away.  We are made new; we can begin again.

And this, too, is what it means to be like Christ.

“As I have done for you, you should also do.”

The Imitation of Christ begins with this moment. It is in the selfless  service, doing what others won’t do, or can’t.

It is people like Fr. Rick Frechette, in Haiti, performing surgery on the  poorest people of the Western hemisphere’s poorest country, and caring for those  who cannot care for themselves, and quietly going to mass graves to pray for the  dead when no one else will.

It’s aid workers in Sri Lanka and Sisters of Charity in the Bronx and  missionaries in Nepal.

And it is priests like those here tonight, and thousands around the world,  who anoint our sick and offer absolution for our sins, and celebrate mass with  one simple goal in mind – to save souls.

At a moment when the priesthood is under attack, we can’t forget those who  are quietly, prayerfully, persistently doing God’s work in our world – the great  majority of good priests whose work often goes unnoticed.  You won’t see  headlines about them in the New York Times.

Years ago, when the AIDS crisis first broke, protestors showed up regularly  at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to throw condoms and protest the church’s teachings  about sex.  But every week, Cardinal O’Connor left his residence and went to St.  Claire’s Hospital in midtown to visit AIDS patients — to bathe them and empty  their bedpans.  No one ever knew about it.  It wasn’t reported until after he  died.  But that kind of work goes on today, in every corner of the world.  I  think of Bishop Daily, who rises early almost every Saturday, in every kind of  weather, and puts on his coat and goes to the abortion clinic down on Austin  Street, and stands outside, and simply prays the rosary.  A humble, simple act  that can change hearts and, maybe, save lives.

That is what it means to be like Christ.

That is what it means to wash feet.

“As I have done for you, you should also do.”

That is Christ’s message to his followers – and to us.

And so, this night, confronted with this challenging gospel reading, it’s  worth asking ourselves: what have we done?  How many feet have we  washed?

How have I tried to imitate Christ?

Science and technology can only tell us so much.  The fact remains: if  you want to really know what Jesus looked like, you won’t find it on the History  Channel.  You won’t even find it on the Shroud of Turin.

Look, instead, to tonight’s gospel.

Because here – on his knees before others, his head lowered in humility and  in love, doing the work of a slave – here is where you see the true image of  Christ.

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2010/04/homily-for-holy-thursday-mass-of-the-lords-supper.html#ixzz1rBDAMby5

Prayers:

Pope Paul VI. Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow-men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy.

Ignatius of Loyola. O Dearly beloved Word of God, teach me to be generous, to serve Thee as Thou dost deserve, to give without counting the cost, to fight without fretting at my wounds, to labor without seeking rest, to spend myself without looking for any reward other than that of knowing that I do Thy holy will. Amen.

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Matthew 26:14-25 The Betrayal of Judas

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went off to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on he kept looking for the best way to hand him over to them.

As material for reflection for our Holy Wednesday celebration, let me share with you an inspiring article from Inquirer:

This came to me from Enid Sevilla. She worked in my office for five years, then went to the United States, where she became the right hand of Father Bud Kieser, CSP, the producer of Paulist Productions in Hollywood. Bud died recently, and now Enid is the director of Paulist Productions. This is the story that she sent to me:

Several years ago, a priest from out-of-state accepted an assignment to a church in Houston, Texas.

Soon after he arrived he had an occasion to ride the bus to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had given him a quarter too much change.

As he considered what to do, he thought to himself: “You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.”

Then he thought: “Oh, forget it! It’s only 25 cents. Who would worry about this little amount?. . . . Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare. They will never miss it. Accept it is a gift from God and keep quiet!”

When his stop came, he paused for a moment at the door. Then he handed the quarter to the driver and said: “Here. . . . . .You gave me too much change.”

The driver smiled and said: “Aren’t you the new priest at Sacred Heart Parish?. . . . I have been away from the Sacraments for a long time. . . . But I have been thinking a lot lately about going back to God. . . I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. . . . I’ll see you at Mass on Sunday.”

When the priest stepped off the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said: “Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter!”

Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is an example of how much people watch us as Christians, and put us to the test. You carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself “Christian”.

– James B. Reuter, They did it right! Inquirer, Saturday, March 29, 2008

Prayer

God our Father, until the time of the printing press, people copied the Gospel, writing it by hand.

Slowly the Gospel took shape – both on the page and deep within themselves.

I ask that the Gospel – the Good News of your love – may be written in me not with ink but with the Spirit of God (2 Cor 3: 3)

Only then will I grow as a credible witness of the wealth of your love. Day by day, as the pages of my own life turn over, remind me that you write my name on the palm of your hand (Is 49:16).

I ask this prayer through Jesus, who is your Word, living amongst us. Amen

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John 13:21-33, 36-38 Judas Betrayal Announced and Peter’s Denial Predicted

Today’s gospel reading confronts us with announcement of the betrayal of Judas and the prediction of the denial of Peter.  Let this  articles help us in our meditation for Holy Tuesday.

John 13:21 Jesus…was troubled in spirit…and said…one of you shall betray me

Hugh Brown:

“I think one of the greatest pictures ever painted is by Da Vinci, ‘The Last Supper.’ I was studying, this morning, the expressions on the faces of those twelve men. Sometimes that occasion is called, ‘the picture of the hands,’ for as Christ announced, ‘. . . One of you shall betray me,’ every man moved forward, and each man gestured ‘Is it I?’ ‘Who is it?’ And if you look at the picture carefully you see the hands in the forefront all the way. Then Jesus said, ‘. . . He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. . .’ (“John 13:26John 13:26.) And Judas was there. Can you imagine the pathos, the heartache, the heartbreak, to know that Judas had been with Him, had partaken of His spirit to a degree, had seen His miracles, had testified of Him, and then was about to betray Him?

“There is little more poignant in the suffering of life than that which comes from betrayal, when our friends turn against us. We can fight our enemies on the outside, but there is nothing we look upon with such distaste as a traitor, a traitor to our country, a traitor to the truth, a traitor to the Church. So Christ at this crucial hour said, ‘One of you will betray me.’ And He knew that during that very night He would be betrayed into the hands of His enemies, go through a mock trial, be condemned without any evidence against Him, and crucified. He knew all that.” (The Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965], 295.)

John 13:38  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice

 All of us know what it is like to have a bad day. In this respect we can sympathize with Peter, for the Passover unequivocally becomes the worst day in Peter’s life. First, he impetuously demonstrates his misguided understanding when Christ washes his feet (v. 6-10). Second, he vows to lay down his life for Jesus’ sake and is told he will deny him thrice. Third, Peter comfortably sleeps while Christ suffers the pains of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:40-43). Fourth, he misguidedly tries to defend Christ by cutting off the ear of Malchus (Jn. 18:10-11). Finally, he fulfills Jesus’ prophecy by denying him three times (Mark 14:66-72). All of this occurred within a 24-hour time period—truly Peter had a bad day!

The great message of Peter’s bad day is that all of us make terrible mistakes. In our actions and disobedience we have denied Christ three times and then some. We don’t accuse Peter for his mistakes, for we are guilty of worse. But we are encouraged by the Lord’s forgiveness. If the Lord could make this man Peter into the greatest apostle ever, he can certainly work some magic with us as well. So, next time you have a really, really bad day, remember Peter’s brilliant comeback. It is possible for all of us.

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John 12:1-11 The anointing at Bethany

When Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume, Judas the Iscariot vehemently protested for he was enslaved by his greed for money.

Are we not sometimes enslaved by our greed for money? How many family relationships have been broken because of our greed for money? How many government officials have sold their souls to the devil simply because of their greed for money? Countless already and we never learn for we continue with our greed for money!

Money will buy us a house but not a home; money will buy us material things but not happiness and money will buy us sex but not true love. Let us not be greedy with money because it will not do us any good it will in fact make our lives more chaotic and problematic.

Saint Paul in his letter to timothy has said: “The love of money is the root of all evils.” (1st Timothy 6:10)

Posted by: Marino J. Dasmarinas

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Passion Sunday

Today is Passion Sunday, popularly known also in the Philippines as Palm Sunday.  Why Palm Sunday becomes popular for Filipinos? It is for the simple reason that we Filipinos give more emphasis on the triumphant entry of Jesus to the city of Jerusalem where he was welcomed by his people as KING with their leafy branches while shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David, the king of Israel. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

The celebration of the Passion Sunday signals the beginning of our celebration of the Holy Week in which we commemorate with great solemnity the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus as the Messiah. What Messiah? A Suffering Messiah as prophesied by prophet Isaiah. Why a suffering Messiah? Because God wills that it is only through his passion, death and resurrection that he can gain for us forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, redemption, salvation and fullness of life.

There was a girl who never saw the light of dawn. From birth she never had her sight. One day her mother asked: “Lucia, what do you want to receive as a gift on your eighteenth birthday?”

She replied, “I want to see God. I want to see you mom. And I want to see myself.”

This I promise you,” the mother replied,” Your wish will come true.”

The mother went to the doctor and asked, “How can my daughter Lucia receive her sight?”

The doctor replied,” If you want to make her happy give her your eyes.”

And the mother said, “Yes.”

Finally, the doctor performed the eye transplant for Lucia. She immediately received her sight through the successful eye operation. Now her mother was very happy to hear Lucia’s dream came true.

Do you want to be happy? Then, make others happy.

Do you want to be successful? Then, make the other’s dream come true.

Do you want to enjoy your life? Then, invest in making people’s lives enjoyable

This is also what Jesus did for us and for our salvation. He suffered and died for  us so that we may have life to its fullness (John 10:10).

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