As we mark and celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, the saying, ‘all good things come to an end’ never sounded more suitable or appropriate.
John says today, “Wherever there is love, there is God”. He does not say, “Wherever there are Christians, there is God” or “Wherever there is a Christian church, there is God”. But, wherever there is a person filled with real agape-love for others, God is there.
When Jesus calls God the vinedresser, he is describing God in terms of his relationships and attitude as well as his actions in the lives of his followers and disciples. Just as the vinedresser his totally committed to the vine and the grapes, God is totally committed and dedicated to each of us.
TODAY IS KNOWN AS GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY because, in each year of the liturgical cycle on this 4th Sunday, the Gospel is always taken from the 10th chapter of John where Jesus speaks of himself as the “good shepherd”.
The announcement of the resurrection of Christ is effective and credible only if the disciples can, like the Master, show people their hands and their feet marked by works of love.
I must live out the daily drudge and the day that is yours as one reality. As I turn outward to the world, I must turn inward toward you, and possess you, the only One, in everything. But how does my daily drudge become the day that is yours? My God, only through you. Only through you can I be an ‘inward’ person.
It is often said of one who shows some distrust “You’re unbelieving as Thomas.” Yet, in hindsight, he seems to have done nothing wrong: he only asked to see what others had seen. Why demand only from him a faith based on word?
Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!
What does the Church tell us today before so many tragedies? Simply this: the discarded stone is not really discarded. The pebbles which believe and stick to that stone are not discarded. They have meaning and it is with this sentiment that the Church repeats from the bottom of Her heart: “Christ is Risen”.
All four evangelists devote two chapters to the story of the passion and death of Jesus. They refer to the same dramatic events and, although their versions of events are not identical and cannot be put together into one perfectly consistent story from the historical point of view, they essentially agree.
In lieu of the institution of the Eucharist, John inserted the washing of feet, which the other evangelists ignore, but which for him is of paramount importance. With this substitution, he wanted to make it clear to the Christians of his community that the Eucharist and the washing of the feet, to some extent, are interchangeable.
Just as Sunday is the high point of the week, Easter is the high point of the year. The meaning of the great feast is revealed and anticipated throughout the Triduum, which brings the people of God into contact — through liturgy, symbol, and sacrament — with the central events of the life of Christ
Here then is Judas, the balancer of the books, the “hander over” of Christ to his Passion, the tragic man of despair. Look on him. For this is Judas’s night. And so it is also our night, the night of misplaced desire for control, the night of misguided despair of mercy, which only God’s Son can cure and heal.
As we start to follow the gospels into the heart of this unfolding story, that question of costliness and loss of control becomes our first focus in the most striking fashion, and it comes in the form of an excessive and “costly” gift by a woman: a whole jar of expensive ointment wasted, and an exuberant expression of human love and gratitude.
There is, in a sense, only one thing that matters as we stand at beginning of Holy Week: it is a question of invitation. Think of it first, perhaps, as an invitation to a drama. Shall I this year attend this drama of love and betrayal? Shall I bring to it all the anguish and ecstasy of my own loves and betrayals, or shall I stand at a distance…
We need to ask ourselves a serious question: what is Jesus for me? Is he a person or a character? There is a big difference between the two. The character – such as Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon – is someone you can write and talk about as much as you like, but it is impossible to talk to. Unfortunately, for the great majority of Christians, Jesus is a character, not a person.
Karl Rahner’s thoughts on a theology of sleeping, which includes prayer, letting go, and dreaming.
We sleep away a good third of our lives. Hence, sleep belongs very much to our everyday life. Sleep is an act of trusting one’s deepest inner conviction, one’s own certainty, and the goodness of the human world.
Generally, when we read the story of the passion and death, we look at Jesus and the suffering he had to endure. But it is worthwhile, at least once, to also look at the disciples and see how they reacted to the cross and how the cross impacted on their lives, for the cross is the measure for comparison!
O Lord God, I don’t wonder that my prayers fall so short of you – even I myself often fail to pay the least attention to what I’m praying about. So often I consder my prayer as just a job I have to do, a duty to be performed.
I should like to speak with you, my God, yet what else can I speak of but you?
Could anything exist unless present with you eternally, finding its true home and most intimate explanation
in your mind and heart?
Just as a sample of hair or saliva is enough to reconstruct a person’s DNA, so too only one line of the Gospel, if it is read without biases, is enough to reconstruct the DNA of Jesus, to discover what he thought of himself. Every page of the Gospel literally exudes the divine transcendence of Christ.
The Church runs the lethal risk of living “etsi Christus non daretur”, as if Christ did not exist. It is the assumption on which the world and its media talk about the Church all the time. Jesus as a person is mentioned once in a while if at all.
In the New Testament, conversion is mentioned in three different moments and contexts, each highlighting a new component of the process. They give us a complete idea of what the Gospel metanoia is about… A different kind of conversion is provided for in each season of life. It is important for each of us to identify the one that suits them right now.
He was a “just” man. He was chosen to educate a man who was true man, but who was also God. Only a man-God could have educated such a person, but there wasn’t someone like that. The Lord chose a just man, a man of faith, a man who was capable of being a man, and also capable of speaking with God, of entering into God’s mystery.
Jesus told us: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). The lives of the saints too are examples to be imitated. Saint Paul explicitly says this: “Be imitators of me!” (1 Cor 4:16). By his eloquent silence, Saint Joseph says the same.
In a sense, this Fifth Sunday of Lent is a synthesis of all the motifs we will see during the celebrations of Holy Week. The text from Jeremiah sums up the results of the New Covenant signed by the blood of the new and final Paschal Lamb.
We ask you, God of grace and eternal life, to increase and strengthen hope in us. Give us this virtue of the strong, this power of the confident, this courage of the unshakable. Make us always have a longing for you, the infinite plenitude of being.
O God, whenever I think of Your Infinity, I am racked with anxiety, wondering how You are disposed to me. You must adapt Your word to my smallness, so that it can enter into this tiny dwelling of my finiteness—the only dwelling in which I can live—without destroying it.
Can people really recognize You in me? Or can they at least grasp the fact that You have sent me as the ambassador of Your truth, the bearer of Your mercy? When this question occurs to me, it seems that Your Gospel of joy and for my brethren is to me, the messenger, only a crushing burden.
Oscar Romero (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980), archbishop of San Salvador, was assassinated by gunshot while consecrating the Eucharist during mass. His death provoked international outcry for human rights reform in El Salvador. He was canonized by Pope Francis on the 14th of October 2018.
You breathe on my attempts to be a person of kindness.
You touch my soiled efforts to reach out in forgiveness.
You hold carefully my desire to offer comfort and care.
Today’s Gospel reading is taken from the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus as reported in the first chapters of John’s Gospel. Jesus takes Nicodemus where he is on his journey and leads him further. Exactly what He does with us when we come to Him in our own darkness.
Before You, all multiplicity becomes one; in You, all that has been scattered is reunited; in Your Love all that has been merely external is made again true and genuine.
I must learn to have both “everyday” and Your day in the same exercise. In devoting myself to the works of the world, I must learn to give myself to You, to possess You, the One and Only Thing, in everything. But how? Only through You, O God.
God comes to us continually, both directly and indirectly. He demands of us both work and pleasure, and wills that each should not be hindered, but rather strengthened, by the other. Thus the interior man possesses his life in both these ways, in activity and in rest
In our fragment from John’s Gospel, the context is different from that of the Synoptics. Although it is set at the time of Passover, it does not take place in Jesus’ “last week,” just before his death, but at the very beginning of his ministry.
If You have given me no single place to which I can flee and be sure of finding You, if anything I do can mean the loss of You, then I must be able to find You in every place, in each and every thing I do. Otherwise I couldn’t find You at all, and this cannot be since I can’t possibly exist without You.
Is a tired and disillusioned heart any closer to You than a young and happy one? Where can we ever hope to find You, if neither our simple joys nor ordinary sorrows succeed in revealing You to us?
I now see clearly that, if there is any path at all on which I can approach You, it must lead through the very middle of my ordinary daily life. If I should try to flee to You by any other way, I’d actually be leaving myself behind, and that, aside from being quite impossible, would accomplish nothing at all.
This Sunday is extremely rich, enabling us to discover hidden nuances of past celebrations and glimpse the end and purpose of Jesus’ mission. Just in case we are frightened by Lenten penance, Jesus’ shining face will provide us with a bit of solace
Even if I should try to escape from my routine by becoming a Carthusian, so that I’d have nothing more to do but spend my days in silent adoration of Your holy presence, would that solve my problem? Would that really lift me out of my rut?
Woe to my sinful soul,
for I have angered my creator.
Woe to this son of perdition,
for I have forgotten the gift of life.
Woe to this debtor of untold thousands of talents,
for I haven’t the means to repay.
Woe to this porter heavy laden with vile sins,
for I cannot lay down my burden to rest.
Woe to this debtor of the Lord,
for I cannot face the Almighty.
Woe to this heap of dried up reeds,
for I am consumed in Gehenna.
How can I turn myself toward the one thing necessary, toward You? How can I escape from the prison of this routine? Haven’t You Yourself committed me to it? And didn’t I find myself already in exile, from the very first moment I began to realize that my true life must be directed toward You?
For although small things mount up
as sands on the shore,
nevertheless, they are unique and distinct in their
origin and increase,
and like my transgressions, so countless that
they are impossible to comprehend:
one with its kith,
the other with its kin,
Prayer (5 B-C)
B You made me in your glorious image,1
favoring a weak being like me
with your sublime likeness,
adorning me with speech,
and burnishing me with your breath,
enriching me with thought,
cultivating me with wisdom…
And what will I myself be at that hour, when I am only myself and nothing else? But when the heavy weight of death one day presses down upon my life and squeezes the true and lasting content out of all those many days and long years, what will be the final yield?
Prayer 3 (A)
Lord, my Lord, grantor of gifts, root of goodness,
ruler of all equally, creator of all from nothing,
glorified, awesome, awe inspiring,
dreadful, mighty, stern…
My soul has become a huge warehouse where day after day the trucks unload their crates without any plan or discrimination, to be piled helterskelter in every available corner and cranny, until it is crammed full from top to bottom with the trite, the commonplace, the insignificant, the routine.
Prayer 2 – Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart.
Will you, I wonder:
Forget to be charitable, my expectation?
Neglect to be compassionate, caring Lord?
Regret your charity toward humankind, constant Lord?
I have not checked the entire list, but I am sure this is the Sunday with the shortest Gospel in the whole Lectionary, just four verses. And although it is traditionally known as the “Sunday of Jesus’ Temptations,” the subject is dealt with in just two verses! T
Lent opens with a piercing sound, that of a trumpet that does not please the ears, but instead proclaims a fast. It is a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life, which is so fast-paced, yet often directionless. It is a summons to stop – a “halt!” –, to focus on what is essential. It is a wake-up call for the soul.
Contrary to what many think or feel, Lent is a time of joy. It is a time when we come back to life. It is a time when we shake off what is bad and dead in us in order to become able to live, to live with all the vastness, all the depth, and all the intensity to which we are called. Unless we understand this quality of joy in Lent, we will make of it a monstrous caricature, a time when in God’s own name we make our life a misery.
Prayer 2 – Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart.
Grant me life, compassionate Lord.
Hear me, merciful Lord.
Be charitable to me, forgiving Lord.
Save me, long-suffering Lord.
Protect me, defender Lord.
Be generous, all-giving Lord.
Free me, all-powerful Lord.
Revive me, restoring Lord.
Raise me again, awe-inspiring Lord.
Enlighten me, heavenly Lord.
Cure me, omnipotent Lord.
Grant pardon, inscrutable Lord.
Bestow gifts, bountiful Lord.
Adorn me with grace, generous Lord.
Let us be reconciled, healing Lord.
Be accepting, unvengeful Lord.
Prayer 1 – Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart.
The voice of a sighing heart, its sobs and mournful cries,
I offer up to you, O Seer of Secrets…
When it stands before You and Your infallible Truthfulness, doesn’t my soul look just like a market place where the second-hand dealers from all comers of the globe have assembled to sell the shabby riches of this world? Isn’t it just like a noisy bazaar, where I and the rest of mankind display our cheap trinkets to the restless, milling crowds?
A man asked abbot Antony, “What shall I keep, that I may please God?” Anthony said: “Wherever you go, have God ever before your eyes. In whatever you do, hold by the example of the holy Scriptures; and in whatever place you abide, don’t be swift to leave [out of restlessness]. These three things keep, and you will be saved.”
The remarkable, unusual, but obvious thing about my spiritual life was that all the new situations somehow revealed and brought home the one same ancient and genuine future—by pointing ever and again toward God and His life
Eighteen years and did not change her old clothes. At a press conference, a female journalist asked Merkel: We notice that your suit is repeated, don’t you have another? She replied: I am a government employee and not a model. Mrs. Merkel lives in a normal apartment like any other citizen.
Mark’s chapter 1 and the first section of Ordinary time each end with another sign of Jesus’ authority over sickness and the power of evil. To be more precise, the cleansing of the leper is the last of a series of Jesus’ transgressions.
“I think I am the only one in the whole Institute who does not have to think of the work to be done tomorrow! My days are spent in the company of my African brothers; I talk to them of the Goodness of God. What makes me extremely happy is the presence of the Eucharist. Every day a priest comes from Wau to celebrate the Mass. What can I desire more? Who can claim to be happier than I?”
In last Sunday’s Gospel Mark announced, right at the beginning of his Gospel, what would be two of the important aspects of Jesus’ activity: healing and preaching of the Good News. Today, he mentions them again, but add another ingredient of Jesus’ life: his long hours in prayer.
This struggle is the rebellion of the forces of evil, demons that are in a person, in society, in the ideologies, even religious and civil institutions. They dominate and when they are harassed, they rebel. Preaching that does not cast out demons, leaving things as they are, that does not change the person and the world, is not the word of Jesus.