Posts Tagged ‘Holy Week’

Philippines — Editorial: Sayyaf in the Visayas

April 12, 2017

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As of last night, five Abu Sayyaf bandits, three soldiers and a policeman had died in heavy fighting in Bohol. Central Visayas is a long way from the terrorist group’s lairs in Sulu and Basilan, raising concern that the bandits are expanding their areas of operation. The clashes occurred as the United States and Australia, with the United Kingdom joining them yesterday, warned their citizens about the threat of being kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf.

The group is still holding foreign hostages after beheading a German captive in February and two Canadians last year for failure to pay ransom. The threat of kidnapping more foreigners is already inflicting damage on the economy of Bohol.

As described by foreign media reports yesterday, Bohol is a known travel destination, and Holy Week is peak season for tourism. The province has unique attractions – the endangered tarsier and the Chocolate Hills, among others – but local and foreign travelers alike will readily skip the sights if there’s a threat of being kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf.

This threat cannot be contained by the military alone; the local government must take the lead and mobilize community action to confront troublemakers. Palawan, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism, suffered heavily from Abu Sayyaf raids and kidnapping of tourists. Residents of the province later banded together to help protect their communities and improve responses to terrorist threats.

The situation is different in certain conflict zones in Mindanao, where local authorities themselves are suspected of coddling the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups for personal gain. Other provinces must not allow a similar situation to develop. Lives, property, jobs and livelihoods are at stake, and the military and police perform their tasks best with public support.

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/04/12/1690022/editorial-sayyaf-visayas

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Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP): Bohol ‘safest place on earth’ after foiled terror threat

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said that Bohol is “now the safest place on earth.” File photo

MANILA, Philippines — After a clash with the Abu Sayyaf in a village there, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that Bohol is “now the safest place on earth.”

“As of now because of this incident I could say that Bohol is the safest place on earth…Whatever na plans nila dito, it was disrupted and degraded,” AFP Central Command Commander Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao said in a televised press briefing.

On Tuesday, militant group Abu Sayyaf and Philippine security forces clashed in Inabanga town, Bohol , where six militants and four government troops died. The number of militants killed include its leader, Muammar Askali, also known as Abu Rami.

Due to this, the AFP considered its operation against the bandits a “very successful” one and praised the cooperation and leadership of the Philippine National Police, local government unit of Bohol and its communities.

Lactao assured the public that there is no imminent attack since that was already thwarted but he said the security sector will remain vigilant for threats. The AFP said it is still going after remnants of the group that arrived in Bohol on pump boats Tuesday morning.

The general encouraged the public to live normally and warned that terrorism does not happen only in the Philippines and so the citizens must learn to live with it.

For Lactao, the antidote to terrorism is not showing  panic and living normally to avoid giving terrorists the benefit of victory without firing a single shot.

“It’s (terrorism) there but our country and government is resilient,” Lactao said.

“Talo na nga sila dito, sila namatayan dito, ‘di nila nagawa dapat nilang gawin, back to normal tayo,” he said.

‘Safe to travel to Bohol’

For his part, Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto assured the public and potential tourists that everything is back to normal in Inabanga town. He said the rest of the province was not affected by the clash.

“We want international community to be aware that situation was contained Inabanga and did not affect the rest of Bohol or rest of the country,” Chatto said in a separate televised interview.

Chatto also urged those who are planning to cancel their bookings not to worry. “Wag nila i-cancel mamimiss nila ang Bohol,” he concluded.

The governor said that Bohol only had heightened security because of the Lenten season and the ASEAN 2017, where there is expected influx of tourists and guests in the province but their vigilance paid off.

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2017/04/12/1690181/afp-bohol-safest-place-earth-after-foiled-terror-threat

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Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Rami killed in Bohol

Abu Rami, the leader of the group of Abu Sayyaf terrorists the figured in a gun fight with Philippine security forces in Bohol, has been killed. Twitter/Freeman

MANILA, Philippines — The leader of the group of Abu Sayyaf bandits that figured in a gun fight with Philippine security forces Tuesday has been killed, pushing the number of militants killed to six, according to the Philippine National Police and the governor of the province of Bohol.

The death of Muammar Askali, who is also known as Abu Rami, the leader of the group of terrorists who engaged the military and the police in Inabanga town, was confirmed by Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 Director Noli Taliño, The Freeman reported.

LATEST: Abu Sayyaf’s Muamar Askali alias Abu Rami dead in Bohol clash, PRO-7 Director Noli Taliño confirms | via @clydylavilaTF pic.twitter.com/iyYOd8nYGu

A separate confirmation of Abu Rami’s death was also made by Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto in a radio interview with DZRH.

Abu Rami’s death put the number of terrorists killed to six while four soldiers perished in the group’s foray into the Visayas region, far from their traditional strongholds in Jolo and Basilan in Mindanao.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Chatto said in the radio interview that the group had already been neutralized and individuals and establishments were slowly returning to normalcy. The governor added that intensified security measures would be put in place especially this Holy Week.

Palace: Be calm but alert

Malacañang meanwhile assured the public that there was no cause for alarm as the situation was already contained by security forces.

“The public should have no cause for alarm as the situation is contained and our security forces are in control. The government is exerting all efforts to maintain peace and order,” Ernesto Abella, the presidential spokesperson, said in a statement.

The Palace also called on the public to be calm but alert and vigilant and to report to authorities information on possible threats to public safety.

Abella also paid tribute to the members of the security force who were killed in Bohol as he assured their families that the government would extend all the necessary assistance to them.

“One officer, two soldiers, and a policeman paid the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of their duty to serve and protect our people. They are true heroes,” Abella said. “We salute their gallantry as we also assure their families that they will be provided all the necessary assistance from the government.”

Malacañang also commended the security forces and the local communities for their timely action and cooperation.

Abella said that the response of the police and military thwarted the “evil plans of some armed lawless elements to sow fear and terror” in Bohol.

“We also laud the vigilance and cooperation of local communities that led to the rapid deployment of security forces against these bandits,” he said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/12/1690173/abu-sayyaf-leader-abu-rami-killed-bohol

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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, April 10, 2017 — “The coastlands will wait for his teaching.”

April 9, 2017

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Serenity by Natt Mus

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Monday of Holy Week
Lectionary: 257

Reading 1  IS 42:1-7

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
Upon whom I have put my Spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
Not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
Until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spreads out the earth with its crops,
Who gives breath to its people
and spirit to those who walk on it:
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Responsorial Psalm PS 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14

R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
When evildoers come at me
to devour my flesh,
My foes and my enemies
themselves stumble and fall.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
even then will I trust.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Verse Before The Gospel

Hail to you, our King;
you alone are compassionate with our faults.

Gospel JN 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

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Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages
and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him.

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Image result for she washed his feet and dried them with her hair , art

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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THE COST OF LOVE
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ IS 42:1-7; JN 12:1-11]

Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor?”  That seems to be a reasonable and logical criticism of what Mary did when she “brought in a pound of very costly ointment, pure nard, and with it anointed the feet of Jesus.”  How many of us would agree with Judas that it was a waste of money?  Furthermore, when you think of the many poor and suffering people in the world, it would seem that Mary had committed a great sin of wastefulness.  If we go by this reasoning, then perhaps, all the Churches’ treasures should be sold and given to the poor.  All the expensive and fine vestments, sacred vessels, including the chalice, should be made of wood or metal.  Then all churches should be built with the basic practical needs, without any frills or concern for aesthetics.  Then again, if the Lord were to dwell in such a temple, so too, all our homes must be stripped of all unnecessary items.  And we should save the money spent on expensive wedding gowns, which are used once only and then set aside, and not hold any grand dinners too because most of the time, much food is thrown away, especially at buffets! Such reasoning can go on and on.  We will have divided opinions and never come to any consensus.

What was the response of Jesus?  “Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial. You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.”  Indeed, we are all obliged to help the poor and the suffering.  But we need to see things in perspective.  Some things cannot be measured by money and time. Actions of love cannot be quantified or calculated like a mathematical problem.  True love does not count the cost because it is not logical.  Daily life examples should convince us. There are many mothers who are professionals and busy career women. Yet they would wake up early in the morning to prepare breakfast for their children rather than let the domestic helper do it.  Why?  Because they love their children and want them to have a proper breakfast and also to pack for them a healthy and sumptuous lunch.  For the same reason, they would rush home from work to pick up their children or chauffeur them to school and for their activities.  Some of them are old enough to take public transport on their own.  Yet they do it because they love their children and cannot bear to see them suffer the inconvenience.  Logically, it is also economical for them to go home on their own than to waste the precious time of their parents.  Furthermore, it is good for discipline and formation as well, lest they become too demanding and take their comforts for granted.

The truth is that when we love, we do not act rationally but we allow the heart to express itself spontaneously.  We do not really think of the trouble and inconvenience when we reach out to someone we love.  The immediate and spontaneous response is to make our beloved feel loved and comfortable.  We do not count the cost because the heart only knows that love is all that matters.  We are always lavish and generous with people we love.  We cannot say ‘No’ to our loved ones even though we know at times that it is not good to pamper them.  But love is such.

Conversely, if we act and think like Judas, it is because we are not sincere in love.  Judas had no real love for Jesus.  He was more concerned about his interest than that of Jesus’, and lesser still for the poor. The evangelist commented, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions.” Clearly, such objections do not hold water for those who harbor selfish motives.  We must therefore ask ourselves when speaking against such extravagance; whether it is because our pockets are hurt. Of course, not all are motivated by selfishness when they speak out against such apparent extravagance.

When we take a logical and financial stance, it is more likely because we are detached from the person concerned.  In other words, when we have no personal relationship, that person becomes just a case, and we use pure objectivity in assessing our response to the needs of the person.  In public decisions affecting the interests of everyone, as in an organization or society, we need to be transparent, objective and impartial in making decisions, without fear or favor.  This is to ensure that justice and fair play prevail.  We cannot allow our emotional ties or vested interests to influence us in the way we make decisions.  When we are not emotionally related to a person, we can of course think and act logically.

But when we are speaking about love and relationship, it is a different ball game.  Does a judge in the court behave like a judge at home, analyzing the needs of the family according to pure logic alone?  Does not a judge also have compassion for his or her son even if he commits a crime?  Surely, he or she will get the best lawyer to defend him.  This is not to say that he or she will hide the guilt, but he or she will find the best defence so that the son would not be punished too harshly. So often, we have those in authority protecting their loved ones by covering up for their mistakes.

So with our loved ones, we use the heart rather than the head.  This is inevitable!  Isn’t that the way God acts?  Because He loves us, His way of rendering justice to sinners and evil people is to forgive us and to save us; not to punish us!   As our loving Father, He has no heart to punish us because it grieves Him as much to see us suffer.  When God saw the world in sin, during the time of Noah, He grieved.  “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”  (Gn 6:5f)

So like God, we love and care for our loved ones in this manner.  Whether your darling is your spouse, friend or even a dog or cat, you act in the same manner.  When your dog is old and sickly, why do you spend so much money bringing it to the vet?  Isn’t it better to let the dog die and get a new one, which is much cheaper?  But you cannot buy emotional ties and happy memories.   You cannot buy love and affection.  There is no price for that!  This explains why animal lovers would do anything for stray animals, cats, dogs, birds, etc.  They would tend to them especially when they are sick or wounded and feed them when they are hungry.  They feel for and with the hurting and hungry animals.  When we see them scavanging for food, we feel sorry for them.

So the reality is that we do not feel for what we do not see.  If we do not see something with our own eyes, we are not emotionally moved.  When we do not see them hungry and without shelter, we think such stray animals are a nuisance.  St Teresa of Calcutta started to reach out to the poorest of the poor only because she came into contact with the suffering in India.  To see them suffering grieved her heart like God who grieves for us.  When you see someone on the road, thin to the bones, won’t you be moved by the sufferings of your fellowman?  Unless you have hardened your heart like Judas, you will stretch out to help.  The priests had no compassion for Lazarus and even wanted to kill him because “it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.” What if Lazarus was one of their children, or their loved one? Would they see Jesus differently?  Of course!  They would be grateful to Jesus.  But because of selfish interests, they saw Jesus and even Lazarus as a threat to their status quo and greed.

Jesus is our exemplar in love.  He is the model of the suffering servant, giving without reservation, as expressed in the first reading. He was endowed with the Spirit of God to bring justice, hope, healing, enlightenment and freedom to the poor, the discouraged, the sick, the prisoners and those who live in darkness.  We too must follow Jesus in the way of love.  Let us use our heart to love and not our head so that we can feel the heart of God.

In the final analysis, to love the way Jesus loved, and how God loves us, we need His Spirit to “bring true justice to the nations.”  The strength and capacity of His love came from His Father.  He was full of compassion even towards His enemies.  His sense of justice and passion for His mission came from the Father’s love in Him.  He lived and died for His Father. Even when persecuted, condemned and crucified, He never failed to cling to His Father; “The Lord is my light and my help; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; before whom shall I shrink? I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.  Hope in the Lord!”  Both Father and Son, because of their deep love for us, emptied themselves of each other for the sake of us all so that we will never doubt their unconditional and total love for us.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
 
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Bible; Jesus Christ; Revealing Himself; Resurrection; Mary Magdalene Painting - Jesus Revealing Himself To Mary Magdalene by William Brassey Hole
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Commentary on John 12:1-11 from Living Space

Today’s Gospel serves as a lovely prelude to the Passion of Jesus.

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Jesus is back in the house of his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, recently brought back from the dead. Perhaps these are his last moments of companionship before the horrors that are to come. True to character, Martha is the active hostess. Mary, the contemplative, brings in a jar of an expensive perfumed unguent and pours it all over the feet of Jesus, filling the house with its fragrance. It is a sign of great love and echoes what the “sinful” woman in Luke’s gospel also did.

.This account is probably the same as that described in Mark 14:3-9 and Matthew 26:6-13 but is distinct from the story of the woman in Luke 7:36-50.

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While the “Beloved Disciple” is a nameless character in John’s gospel, he can be matched by this beloved disciple.

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Judas, the spiritually blind materialist, only sees what he regards as terrible waste. Hypocritically he suggests the money would have been better spent helping the poor. John suggests Judas was more interested in getting the money for himself than sharing it with those in need.

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Jesus sees an altogether different meaning in Mary’s action. He sees the tremendous love behind the action and interprets it as a symbolical anointing for his burial. Dying as a common criminal, Jesus would normally not have been anointed. (And, in fact, he was not anointed after his burial; when the women went to do the act on Sunday morning, Jesus was already risen.)

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“You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.” This is not to be understood any cynical way. The poor cannot be truly loved except in God and in Jesus.

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“As often as you do it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do it to me.” Only those who truly love God (whatever name they call him) are able truly to love the poor and all those in need. And vice versa. Also, in Jewish tradition there was disagreement as to whether giving alms to the poor or burying the dead (which would include anointing) was the greater act of mercy. Those in favour of burial thought it an essential condition for sharing in the final resurrection.

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Finally, we are told Lazarus’ own life is in danger as well as Jesus’. Lazarus is seen as the living sign of Jesus’ divine power and so they both must be wiped out. Many of the Church’s martyrs died for the same reason. The word ‘martyr’ means ‘witness’, witnessing to the truth, love and power of Christ.

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Am I willing to be a martyr-witness for Christ, to stand beside him on the cross as he is mocked and insulted? This is the week for me to find the answer to that question.

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Source http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/l1062g/

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Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue to proceed into the Holy Week, and in a few days’ time we shall be commemorating the three days of Easter Triduum, the heart of our faith, when we commemorate the time when our Lord instituted the Eucharist, and giving up His Body and Blood, He suffered and died for us, so that by His resurrection from the dead, He gave us a new life and a new hope that sin and death can be overcome.

Today we heard the hypocrisy of Judas, who criticised Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who had poured a whole jar of very expensive perfume made of pure spikenard on the feet of Jesus and wiped it dry with her hair. In another account, the woman who anointed Jesus with perfume also anointed His head with the same perfume, and she was criticised all the same.

As mentioned, Judas did not do so because he cared for the poor in any way, and he did it because he was a thief and a cheater, who stole the money from the common fund of the Apostles, which was meant for the poor and the needy. Thus, he spoke a lie and brought about calumny and injustice to another. His inability to resist the temptation of money, desire and the impurities in his heart led him to do what he had done, that is to betray his own Lord and Master, for a mere thirty pieces of silver.

Just for your knowledge, that when Joseph, the son of Jacob was sold by his brothers out of jealousy into slavery, he was priced at about the same price. And at that price, they were valued at even lower than animals. A good quality animal would have fetched far higher prices than those which Judas received for betraying his Lord and which the brothers sold Joseph with.

Thus we value so low the Lord who had loved us all completely and sincerely with all of His heart, we looked down on He who was tortured, mocked and rejected for our sake, who died for us on the cross, so that we might be saved. We did not appreciate the things which He had done for us, and all the hard works which He had undertaken for our own good.

We are often tempted and our minds and hearts clouded with worldly things such as greed, pride, pleasures of the flesh and many others. The Pharisees, the elders and the chief priests were all infected with the disease of greed and jealousy, as well as fear and insecurity. They were all concerned only with preserving themselves and their own livelihoods. This is why, even though they were supposed to be the ones with wisdom and knowledge of the Scriptures, they refused to believe in Jesus and instead trying to undermine His works by plotting against Lazarus whom Jesus had resurrected from the dead.

They were manipulated by the wickedness and malice that Satan had planted in their hearts, which also exist in all of us. They were afraid of losing their position of honour and the respect which they have been accorded with by the society. They did not want to take a risk with the Romans, whom they were afraid that they would destroy all of their livelihood. And similarly with Judas, Satan manipulated his greed and desire for money, and in the end they destroyed and condemned only themselves.

It is a lesson for all of us that we cannot be hypocrites in our faith. Instead, we truly have to live out our faith, through our own actions. And we cannot be divided in our faith, just as we cannot have two masters. We cannot both serve God and worldly things, and as Jesus mentioned, that we will either despise one and love the other or we will not be sincere in our faith as a whole.

Therefore, let us all reflect on this occasion, and take steps to change our lives for the better. We can make a difference by committing ourselves more and more to the cause of the Lord. Now the choice is in our hands to make that difference. Let us therefore emerge from this Lenten observation, a better, more dedicated and more faithful servant of God. God bless us all. Amen.

Source http://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2015/03/30/monday-30-march-2015-monday-of-the-holy-week-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection
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• We have entered into Holy Week, the week of the Passover of Jesus, of his passing from this world to the Father (Jn 13, 1). Liturgy today places before us the beginning of chapter 12 of the Gospel of John, which serves as a link between the Book of the Signs (cc 1-11) and the Book of the Glorification (cc 13-21). At the end of the “Book of Signs” there appears, very clearly the tension between Jesus and the religious authority of the time (Jn 10, 19-21.39) and the danger which Jesus was facing. Several times they had tried to kill him (Jn 10, 31; 11, 8. 53; 12, 10).
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So much it was like this that Jesus was obliged to lead a clandestine life, because he could be arrested at any moment (Jn 10, 40; 11, 54).
• John 12, 1-2: Jesus persecuted by the Jews, goes to Bethany. Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany to the house of his friends Martha and Mary and of Lazarus. Bethany means, House of Poverty. The police was looking for him (Jn 11, 57). They wanted to kill him (Jn 11, 50). But even now that the police was looking for Jesus, Mary, Martha and Lazarus received him in their house and offered him something to eat. Because love overcomes fear.
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• John 12, 3: Mary anoints Jesus. During the meal, Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with a pound of perfume of pure spikenard (cf. Lk 7, 36-50). It was a very costly perfume, so very expensive that it cost three hundred denarii. Then she dried his feet with her hair. The whole house was filled with the scent of the ointment. Mary does not speak during this whole episode. She only acts. The gesture filled with symbolism speaks for itself. In washing the feet, Mary becomes a servant. Jesus will repeat the gesture at the Last Supper (Jn 13, 5).
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• John 12, 4-6: Reaction of Judas. Judas criticizes the gesture of Mary. He thinks that it is a waste. In fact, three hundred denarii were the wages of three hundred days! The wages of almost a whole year spent in one time alone! Judas thinks that the money should have been given to the poor. The Evangelist comments and says that Judas had no concern at all for the poor, but that he was a thief. They had a common fund and he stole the money. A strong judgment which condemns Judas.
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It does not condemn the concern for the poor, but the hypocrisy which uses the poor for self promotion and to enrich oneself. Judas, in his own egoistic interests, thought only about money. This is why he was not aware of what Mary kept in her heart. Jesus reads in the heart and defends Mary.
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• John 12, 7-8: Jesus defends the woman, Judas thinks only of the waste and criticizes the woman. Jesus thinks of the gesture and defends the woman: “Leave her alone; so that she can keep it for the day of my burial!” And immediately Jesus says: “You have the poor with you always; you will not always have me!” Which of the two lived closer to Jesus: Judas or Mary? Judas, the disciple, lived together with Jesus for almost three years, twenty-four hours a day. He was part of the group.
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Mary saw him once or twice a year, on the occasion of some feast, when Jesus went to Jerusalem and visited her in her house. But to live together with, not having any love does not help us to know others. Rather it blinds people. Judas was blind. Many people live together with Jesus and praise him even with many hymns, but do not truly know him and do not reveal him (cf. Mt 7, 21). Two affirmations of Jesus merit a more detailed comment: (a) “You have the poor with you always” and (b) let her keep it for the day of my burial”.
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(a) “You have the poor with you always “. Is it perhaps that Jesus wants to say that we should not be concerned about the poor, given the fact that there will always be poor? Or does he want to say that poverty is the destiny imposed by God? How is this phrase to be understood? At that time, persons knew the Old Testament by heart. It sufficed for Jesus to begin quoting a phrase of the Old Testament and persons already knew the rest.
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The beginning of the phrase said: “There will never cease to be poor people in the country” (Dt 15, 11ª). The rest of the phrase which people already knew and which Jesus wants to remind is the following: “And this is why I am giving you this command: always be open handed with your brother, and with anyone in your country who is in need and is poor!” (Dt 15, 11b).
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According to this Law, the community should accept the poor and share its goods with them. But, Judas instead of “opening his hand to help the poor” and to share his goods with them, wanted to do charity with the money of others! He wanted to sell the perfume of Mary for three hundred denarii and use it to help the poor. Jesus quotes the Law of God which taught the contrary. Anyone who, like Judas, carries out a campaign with the money of the sale of the goods of other does not disturb or trouble. But, the one who, like Jesus, insists on the obligation to accept the poor and to share with them one’s own goods, this one disturbs, troubles and runs the risk of being condemned.
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(b) John 12, 9-11: The crowds and the authority. To be the friend of Jesus could be dangerous. Lazarus is in danger of death because of the new life received from Jesus. The Jews had decided to kill him. Lazarus alive was a living proof that Jesus was the Messiah. This is why the crowd was looking for him, because people wanted to experience closely the living proof of the power of Jesus. A living community runs the risk of its life because it is the living proof of the Good News of God!
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Personal questions
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• Mary was misinterpreted by Judas. Have you been misinterpreted sometimes?
• What does this text of Mary teach us? What does the reaction of Judas say to us?
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Concluding Prayer
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Yahweh is my light and my salvation,
whom should I fear?
Yahweh is the fortress of my life,
whom should I dread? (Ps 27,1)
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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21 MARCH 2016, Monday of Holy Week
ENTERING INTO THE PASSION OF OUR LORD THROUGH UNDERSTANDING AND LOVE IN ACTION
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ IS 42:1-7; JN 12:1-11 ]

As we enter into Holy Week, the Church invites us to contemplate more deeply on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For this reason, Holy Week begins with the celebration of Palm Sunday, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to face His death.  At the same time, the reading of the passion prepares us for what is ahead for Christ.  It therefore calls for a deeper reflection of His passion for us.   How can this be done?

Firstly, we must deepen our understanding of His passion through knowledge.  In the first reading, we are told that Jesus, who is the suffering servant, brings justice to the nations by gently inviting us to reflect on our own lives.  As the light of the nations, “he does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets. He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame.”

But more importantly, the understanding of His passion cannot stop at mere intellectual appreciation.   We must feel with Jesus in our hearts, for that is what common passion is all about.  Instead of words alone, Jesus acted decisively through deeds of love and works of wonders, for as God said, “I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.”  Indeed, Jesus was able to show that God is our light and our salvation not only through His words, but also by His actions and miracles.  And as the psalmist wonderfully declared, “The Lord is my light and my salvation. When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies themselves stumble and fall. Though an army encamps against me, my heart will not fear; though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust.”

This is what Mary in the gospel teaches us as well.  She loved Jesus so passionately that she even anointed His feet with expensive ointment and wiped them with her hair shamelessly.  Mary understood the true meaning of hospitality and making space for God in prayer.  In the earlier episode when Jesus visited her, she gave full attention to Jesus by listening to Him instead of being distracted by doing things for Him.  On this occasion she knew, unlike her elder sister, that faith and love in action was also necessary.  She anointed the body of Jesus for burial, and most of all, worshipped Him as the Christ by washing His feet and wiping them with her hair.  Not only did she love Jesus, but she also recognized Him and worshipped Him.

Of course, Judas could not understand because his love for Jesus was not from the heart but from the head.  Indeed, without love, we tend to think and reason only from the head.  Logically, what Judas said about saving the money for the poor was not wrong.  Yet, love goes beyond mere logic alone.   Jesus understood this truth when He said, “’Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial. You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.’”   So too the Jewish leaders as well!  They were too full of hatred and jealousy to see the good works that Jesus did.  Ironically, the evangelist says that “the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus as well, since it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.”

When we love someone we do not think in terms of logic, and definitely not in terms of money.  Love does not count the cost.  That is why parents would do anything for their children, even if they have to sell their assets or borrow money for their sake.   When we love, we will do anything and everything within our capacity for our loved ones.  When love is lacking, then we tend to act on the rational level and become calculative.  True love is never calculative.

Today, let us follow  Mary and Martha in preparing for the passion of Christ.  Let us wait on Jesus as Martha did, in serving Him through good works and sacrifices.  But more importantly, let us follow the path of Mary who shared the passion of Jesus by being one with Him in His moment of anxiety and aloneness in His sufferings.  Through our common passion with Jesus in prayer and in love, we will be able to appreciate His love for us even more.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh

Islamic State claims bombings on 2 Egypt Coptic churches that killed 36, wounded dozens — “There was blood all over the floor and body parts scattered” — “Civilized people don’t act this way.” — “Coptic Christians face regular attacks by Muslim neighbours”

April 9, 2017
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Reuters and AFP
Sunday, April 9, 2017

Egypt: Alexandria Christian church bombing death toll rises to 11 — Coptic Pope Tawadros II had been attending a Palm Sunday Mass

April 9, 2017

AFP

© AFP

CAIRO (AFP) – At least 11 people were killed in an Alexandria church bombing on Sunday, hours after a blast killed 25 worshippers in another church in Egypt, the health ministry said.Thirty-five people were wounded in the Alexandria blast at Saint Mark’s church where Coptic Pope Tawadros II had been attending a Palm Sunday Mass.

A Coptic Church official said that Tawadros had left the church before the blast.

An earlier blast at a church in Tanta, north of Cairo, killed 25 people and wounded dozens, the health ministry said, in an apparent attack on Coptic worshippers.

Copts, who make up about one tenth of Egypt’s population of more than 92 million and who celebrate Easter next weekend, have been targeted by several attacks in recent months.

Pope Francis is due to visit Cairo on April 28-29 to show solidarity with Egypt’s Christian community.

Related:

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11 killed, 40 injured by ISIS suicide bomb attack at Coptic church in Alexandria

11 killed, 40 injured by ISIS suicide bomb attack at Coptic church in Alexandria
Up to 11 people have been killed and 40 injured following a suicide bomb attack at a Coptic Christian Cathedral in Alexandria, according to Egypt’s Health Ministry as cited by state media.

This follows another suicide bomb attack in Tanta, Egypt earlier Sunday morning. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) have claimed responsibility for both bomb attacks in Egypt.

 

Islamic State claims Egypt church bombings in Alexandria and Tanta per Amaq

Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria, had finished celebrating Palm Sunday mass at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral and had left the scene when the explosion took place. He is reported unhurt.

The Egypt Independent reported a heightened security presence and that authorities had been placed on alert in anticipation of such attacks on Palm Sunday.

At least 11 killed, 66 injured in explosion at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria:http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/262586.aspx 

The attack earlier this morning at St. George’s Coptic church in Tanta, approximately 130 km (80 miles) southeast of Alexandria killed at least 21 people and injured a further 38.

READ MORE: At least 21 dead after church bombing in Egyptian city 90km from Cairo

An image uploaded to Twitter corroborated by RT shows the scene at Al Akbat, a street adjacent to the Cathedral, following the blast.

الشارع اللى فيه الكنسيه اللى انفجرت فيها القنبله ف اسكندرية

No group has claimed responsibility for either blast so far and no relation between the two has been established but these appear to be coordinated attacks, local media have reported.

The US Embassy in Cairo has expressed its condolences while condemning the blasts as “heinous, reprehensible terrorist attacks”on Twitter.

The U.S. Embassy condemns the heinous, reprehensible terrorist attack…(1/5)

No group has claimed responsibility for either blast so far and no relation between the two has been established.

Violence against Coptic christians has risen in recent years following the military coup in 2013. A bomb attack outside a Coptic cathedral in Cairo killed 25 and wounded 49 people in December of last year.

Crowds can be seen gathered at Al Akbat Church street in video corroborated by RT uploaded to YouTube following the blast.

https://www.rt.com/news/384103-egypt-explosion-coptic-alexandria/

Palm Sunday in Egypt: 27 killed in blasts in, near Coptic churches

April 9, 2017

Pope Francis Prepares The Faithful for Palm Sunday, Holy Week — God tells Abraham that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the seashore — Today we are able to say, “I am one of those stars. I am a grain of sand.”

April 9, 2017

2017-04-06 Vatican Radio

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ GN 17:3-9; PS 104:4-9; JN 8:51-59]

(Vatican Radio) God is always faithful to His Covenant: He kept faith with Abraham and He is faithful to the salvation promised in His Son. That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope called on those present to pause during the day to reflect on their own life story, in order to discover the beauty of the love of God, even in the midst of difficulties, which afflict everyone in this life.

Pope Francis’ homily revolved around the figure of Abraham, who is at the centre of the day’s liturgy. The first Reading narrates the story of the Covenant God made with Abraham; while in the Gospel, both Jesus and the Pharisees refer to “Father” Abraham, because he is the father of “this people that today is the Church.” Abraham trusted and obeyed when he was called to go to a new land that he would receive as an inheritance.

Abraham, a man of faith, knew by experience that God had not deceived him

A man of faith and of hope, Abraham believed when he was told that he would have a child although he was 100 years old, and his wife was sterile – “he believed against every hope.” “If anyone wanted to give a description of the life of Abraham, he could say, ‘This guy is a dreamer,’” the Pope said. He explained that Abraham had something of the dreamer in him, but it was “that dream of hope”; he wasn’t crazy:

“Put to the test, after having had a child, a boy, a young child, he was asked to offer him in sacrifice: he obeyed, and went forward against all hope. And this is our father Abraham, who goes forward, forward, forward; and when Jesus says Abraham saw his day, saw Jesus, he was full of joy. He saw Him in promise, he saw that joy of seeing the fullness of the promise of the covenant, the joy of seeing that God had not deceived him, that God – as we prayed in the responsorial psalm – is always faithful to His covenant.”

The psalm also invites us to call to mind the wonders God performs. For us, the descendants of Abraham, it’s like thinking of our father who has passed away, and yet we remember the good things about him and we think: “He was a great father!”

Abraham obeys and believes against all hope

The Covenant, on Abraham’s part, consists in having always obeyed, the Pope said. On God’s part, He has promised to make Abraham “the father of a multitude of nations.” “No longer shall you be called Abram, but Abraham,” the Lord says. And Abraham believed. Then, in another dialogue, God tells him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the seashore. And today we are able to say, “I am one of those stars. I am a grain of sand.”

Looking to history: we are a people

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Between Abraham and us, there is another Story, the Pope said, the story of the heavenly Father and of Jesus. This is why Jesus told the Pharisees that Abraham exulted in the hope of seeing “my day” – “he saw it, and was glad.” This is the great message; and the Church today invites us to pause and to look to “our roots,” “our father,” who “has made us a people, a heaven full of stars, a beach full of grains of sand”:

“Looking to history: I am not alone, I am a people. We go together. The Church is a people. But a people dreamed of by God, a people He has given a father on Earth who obeyed; and we have a Brother who has given His life for us, to make us a people. And so we are able to look upon the Father, to give thanks; to look upon Jesus, to give thanks; to look upon Abraham and ourselves, who are part of the journey.”

God is faithful: we should pause in order to discover, even amid the difficulties of this life, the beauty of the love of God

The Holy Father then invited us to make today “a day of memory,” pointing out that “in this great Story, in the framework of God and Jesus, there is the little story of each one of us”:

“I invite you today to take five minutes, ten minutes, to sit down – without the radio, without the television – to sit down and reflect on your own story: the blessings and the troubles, everything. The graces and the sins, everything. And to see there the faithfulness of that God who remained faithful to His Covenant, remained faithful to the promise He made to Abraham, remained faithful to the salvation He promised in His Son, Jesus. I’m certain that in the midst of all of the perhaps ugly things – because we all have them, so many ugly things in this life – if we do this today, we will discover the beauty of the love of God, the beauty of His mercy, the beauty of hope. And I am sure that we will all be full of joy.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Related:

Palm Sunday, 2017 — Part II

April 8, 2017

April 9, 2017, Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Reflection by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ MT 21:1-11IS 50:4-7PHIL 2:6-11; MT 26:14-27:66]

“And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil. ‘Who is this?’ people asked.”  Today, as we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the place where He His ministry wpuld culminate, we cannot but also ask this question, “Who is this?”  Undeniably, the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was meant to be Jesus’ challenge to the people regarding His real identity.  He had been healing the sick, teaching them about the love and mercy of God, exorcising evil spirits, performing miracles, multiplying loaves and calming the storms.  In every miracle, the question needed to be asked of the bystander is, “Who is this?”  The clarity and understanding of the truth of this declaration will determine our salvation.  This explains why Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is seen as the judgment of God on the people and also the day of salvation.  Our answer to the identity of Jesus will determine whether we will be saved or not. Our profession of faith in Jesus will define the way we live our lives accordingly.

So, “Who is this?” For the ordinary people, Jesus was just a miracle worker.  He performed many spectacular signs.  Most of all, He was a great healer.  He healed many people with all kinds of infirmities.  So they went to Him for healing.  But did they see that His healing miracles were meant to be signs of His true identity?  We too come to Jesus often. Again, many come for their prayers to be answered, their petitions to be heard and for healing of all kinds of affliction.  But beyond seeing Jesus as our healer, do we see Him as anything more than that?  Is Jesus simply our dispensing machine? Is He simply a great performer, like how Herod was so desperate to see Jesus perform some spectacular miracles for him to see?  But that is what many of us do.  We keep going for visions and apparitions and miracles, one after another.

Image result for Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, James Tissot

Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, James Tissot (1836-1902)

In truth, in the understanding of the evangelist, in confessing that Jesus is the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee, it means that He is not just any other prophet but He is the Word of God that delivers God’s message to us.  He is the last emissary of God bringing to us the definitive Word.  In Jesus, the word of God has been spoken.   Jesus was not just a teacher, a philosopher, a good man, a miracle worker, a social reformer or a revolutionary, but He brought us God’s final and decisive word.  In Jesus, in His miracles, in His life, and in His death, He mediates to us the Word of God.  This final word was given at His death on the cross and His resurrection.  In Christ, God had said all that could be said.  He is the definitive Word of God in person.

Those who were without faith saw Him as their opponent and competitor, a nuisance who caused social disorder and religious confusion.  In the passion story, we read how Jesus was accused of blasphemy, insulting the name of God.  He was also accused of staging a rebellion to overthrow the political powers.  He was condemned as a political criminal.  Indeed, the offence was listed as, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Ironically, this title given to Jesus is correct but wrongly understood.  All throughout the trial, St Matthew portrayed Jesus as a king. The royal characteristic of Jesus was brought out in the triumphal entry, the discourse between Pilate and Jesus about kingship and power, the wearing of the scarlet clothes which is a symbol of royalty, the mocking of the Roman soldiers, the bystanders, and finally in the title given to Him on the cross.   Nevertheless, all these were presented in a paradoxical manner because the royalty of Jesus is not that of the world but of service in humiliation and death.   It is a servant and suffering King.  He is the King of kings because Jesus was faithful to Himself and His mission right to the end.  Unlike Pilate and the religious leaders, He was faithful to the truth.  Truly, He is worthy to be greeted as we do now also at mass, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heavens!”  He was exercising the Kingship of Yahweh as He was the Son of David who was to bring about the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

Image result for Good samaritan by Walter Rane

The Good Samaritan By Walter Rane

Only at the cross, was this truth about His identity revealed. In the first place, on the cross, Jesus identified Himself with every man.  He suffered like any man and more.  He had been tempted in every way like us all, with glory, power and self-indulgence.  He carried all our illnesses in Him.  He suffered humiliation, betrayal, rejection, slander, insults and disappointment.  Above all, He suffered the death of a sinner who was alienated from God.   At the cross, He experienced what it meant to be separated from the author and origin of life and love.  That separation between the source of His life resulted in death, not just in the biological sense but in the theological sense of darkness, meaninglessness and emptiness.  Isn’t this what most people go through when they live a sinful life, of anger, restlessness, dissatisfaction, separation from people, depression and self centredness?

But He died not just for us but for God, His Father.  For the love of His Father, Jesus endured the most bitter consequences of sins.   By suffering with us in our sins and pain including death, Jesus overcame sin and the power of death.  That is why it is said that the cry of Jesus on the cross is the central redemptive event.  “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?’”  This cry enhances the scandal of the cross.  In these words, He revealed the Father’s love and mercy for us.  God emptied Himself by crossing to the side of sinners, to experience what the sinner is going through so that He could save them by being identified with them in their struggles and pain.  This is what St Paul said, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  (2 Cor 5:21)  By His death, Jesus liberates us from eternal death because in Christ, God forgives us all our sins, for He knows our weakness and our folly.

Most of all, the passion did not end up simply with His death but with the resurrection.  The letter of St Paul to the Philippians situates the death of Jesus in context.  Christ emptied Himself twice, first of His divinity at the incarnation and then of His life in death.  But this passage of self-emptying will lead to final exaltation. Christ ultimately triumphed over sin and death.  He is exalted above all creation.  The cross truly exemplifies the culmination of the self-emptying of God in humiliation, beginning with the incarnation, and continuing throughout His life in obedience to His Father’s will even unto death.   The final conclusion that we will need to arrive at is that Jesus exalted above all is now acclaimed and worshipped “as Lord to the glory of God the Father.”   With the centurion, we say, “In truth this was a son of God.”

Having heard the Passion Story, what about us? Are we ready to profess that Jesus is our King and our Lord?  Are our hearts converted?  The gauntlet is thrown at us. “Who is this?”  If He were the Son of God and our Saviour, then are we to stand by Him?  Or will we be like the apostles who betrayed Jesus.  One sold Him for material gain.  Another denied Him before a maid and some servants.  Many abandoned Him in His time of loneliness and need.  Many even put Him down by slandering Him, accusing Him of being helpless and useless.   Are we fair weather friends of Jesus, like the crowd, coming to Him only when He can give us what we need?

If we say that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, then we must follow Him in His passion of self-emptying and humility. We must be ready to forgive our enemies, die to our sins, live in the truth and be faithful to the gospel values taught by our Lord.  It means also being ready to do His will, whThe Good Samaritan By Walter Raneich would entail carrying the cross of service, being misunderstood and unappreciated.  Like the suffering servant, are we ready to proclaim the truth in and out of season, even when people no longer wish to believe in us or hear us?

Today, we must show that Jesus is our king by pledging our loyalty to Him, not just by carrying palms but by living out His life of self-emptying and identifying with the sufferings and struggles of our fellowmen.  With Christ, we are called to give hope and courage to those who are hopeless and helpless in their lives.  We have no excuse, unlike the apostles, because then they had not seen the resurrection. We have the benefit of the hindsight of His resurrection.  So we must now make up our mind and choose to be with Jesus our king, in His death and in His resurrection.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

https://www.catholic.sg/09-april-2017-palm-sunday-lords-passion/#

Simon of Cyrene ….

004POC_James_Caviezel_053

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”  Matthew 11:29-30

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Homily for Palm Sunday

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Who would have thought that the crowd which welcomed Jesus with such enthusiasm during his entry into Jerusalem would turn against him so quickly within days and demand his crucifixion and the release of Barabbas who had been condemned for murder? Their welcome and shouts for Jesus were superficial. Their support for him was only skin deep. It was easy to be part of a crowd that welcomed Jesus and it was easy to be part of a crowd that condemned him to death. It is easy to be part of the crowd that receives First Holy Communion. It is easy to be part of the crowd that receives Confirmation. How many of that crowd come to meet Jesus during Mass every Sunday? It is easy to be part of the crowd that puts on an impressive display for a funeral or wedding or a baptism. How many of that crowd come to meet Jesus on Sunday? It is easy to be part of the crowd. But in the account of the Passion the crowd was not there for Jesus when he needed them most. The crowd did not go to the cross. The crowd abandoned Jesus. Only a few women and John went to the cross. So much for the crowd!

During the Last Supper in Luke’s account which we heard today (Year C) Peter said he would be willing to go to prison with Jesus, even to death with him (Luke 22:33). Yet a few hours later that same evening he denied Jesus (Luke 22:56-62). How quickly he changed. How quickly he turned when the pressure was on him. He could make fine promises during the Last Supper but when the crunch came he decided to save his skin. We make fine promises to Jesus here and the crunch for us comes when temptation comes our way. How do react? Do we cave in to the pressure like Peter or do we stand by Jesus like the women and John and go right to the cross? Peter heard the cock crowing after he denied Jesus (Luke 22:60) but our world is so addicted to sin that maybe we don’t even hear our conscience crowing any more when we sin.

How can we not hear the account of Jesus’ Passion and not be moved by it? Recently I heard of someone asking a young person “What would you think of someone who didn’t cry while watching the movie The Passion of the Christ?” The young person responded, “He would be evil.” That young person was so moved by watching the movie that he could not understand why anybody could not be moved by watching the film. The Passion of Jesus moves us. It moves us because Jesus suffered. In the first reading today we heard what we could describe as a prophecy of Jesus’ passion,

For my part, I made no resistance,
Neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
My cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
Against insult and spittle.” (Isa 50:5-6)

The Psalm today is also in many ways a prophecy of the Passion of Jesus,

All who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
‘He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend.’
Many dogs have surrounded me,
A band of the wicked beset me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet.
I can count every one of my bones.
They divide my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my robe.” (Ps 22:7-8, 16-18)

The Passion of Jesus moves us because it is we who have inflicted this suffering on Jesus. It was not just the chief priests and it was not just the cruel Roman soldiers who brought this suffering on Jesus; it was our sins that inflicted this suffering on Jesus. There is no past, present or future for Jesus, he is outside of time. Remember the Jubilee motto, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8) and when we sin we crucify Jesus. We nail him again. So then the account of the Passion of Jesus moves us to flee from sin, to leave sin behind. That is why we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Holy Week. The Passion of Jesus shows us up for what we are – sinners who have crucified Jesus – and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation we turn to Jesus again and ask for his mercy. And through the Passion of Jesus we receive forgiveness, “through his wounds we are healed.” (Isa 53:5)

When we are hurt by things in our own life and hurt by what we see happening in the world around us and need answers and healing and reassurance let us turn to meditating on the Passion of Jesus and find the answer there, “through his wounds we are healed.” (Isa 53:5) In fact, in Luke’s account of the Passion which we heard today (Year C) there were two occurrences of healing that are recorded only by Luke: Jesus healed the ear of the high priest’s servant which was wounded during the fray in Gethsemane (Luke 22:51) and secondly the enmity between Herod and Pilate was healed (Luke 23:12). During the week ahead meditate on the Passion of Jesus, let it become a source of healing for you also. Do not waste this week. Spend this week with Jesus meditating on his Passion. Come to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday and Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. The crowd which welcomed Jesus with palms turned against him just as quickly and abandoned Jesus. Peter too turned from Jesus to save himself. Do we hear our conscience crowing any more when we sin? See what we have done to Jesus. Flee from sin, and be healed, “through his wounds we are healed.”

http://www.frtommylane.com/homilies/year_c/palm_sunday.htm

Related:

Part I is at:

mary-magdalene

Mary finds the tomb empty

Image result for mary goes to the tomb and finds it empty, art

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, April 9, 2017 — Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

April 8, 2017

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Lectionary: 37 and 38

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Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin 1842

At The Procession With Palms —  Gospel  MT 21:1-11

When Jesus and the disciples drew near Jerusalem
and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately you will find an ass tethered,
and a colt with her.
Untie them and bring them here to me.
And if anyone should say anything to you, reply,
‘The master has need of them.’
Then he will send them at once.”

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This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Say to daughter Zion,
“Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.
They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them,
and he sat upon them.
The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
And when he entered Jerusalem
the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”
And the crowds replied,
“This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
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Triumphant Entry — 2002 by Tom duBois

At The Mass — Reading 1 IS 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

R. (2a) My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him.”
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
“You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Reading 2 PHIL 2:6-11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Verse Before The Gospel  PHIL 2:8-9

Christ became obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.

Gospel MT 26:14—27:66

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity
to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”‘”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

While they were eating,
Jesus took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and giving it to his disciples said,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink from it, all of you,
for this is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed on behalf of many
for the forgiveness of sins.

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Image may contain: 5 people, indoor
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Last Supper by Jon McNaughton
I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it with you new
in the kingdom of my Father.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them,
“This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken,
for it is written:
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed;

but after I have been raised up,
I shall go before you to Galilee.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Though all may have their faith in you shaken,
mine will never be.”
Jesus said to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
this very night before the cock crows,
you will deny me three times.”
Peter said to him,
“Even though I should have to die with you,
I will not deny you.”
And all the disciples spoke likewise.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,
and he said to his disciples,
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee,
and began to feel sorrow and distress.
Then he said to them,
“My soul is sorrowful even to death.
Remain here and keep watch with me.”
He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying,
“My Father, if it is possible,
let this cup pass from me;
yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep.
He said to Peter,
“So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again,
“My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass
without my drinking it, your will be done!”
Then he returned once more and found them asleep,
for they could not keep their eyes open.
He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time,
saying the same thing again.
Then he returned to his disciples and said to them,
“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
Behold, the hour is at hand
when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go.
Look, my betrayer is at hand.”

While he was still speaking,
Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived,
accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs,
who had come from the chief priests and the elders
of the people.
His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying,
“The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.”
Immediately he went over to Jesus and said,
“Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.
Jesus answered him,
“Friend, do what you have come for.”
Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.
And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus
put his hand to his sword, drew it,
and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him,
“Put your sword back into its sheath,
for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father
and he will not provide me at this moment
with more than twelve legions of angels?
But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled
which say that it must come to pass in this way?”
At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,
“Have you come out as against a robber,
with swords and clubs to seize me?
Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area,
yet you did not arrest me.
But all this has come to pass
that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.”
Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Those who had arrested Jesus led him away
to Caiaphas the high priest,
where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
Peter was following him at a distance
as far as the high priest’s courtyard,
and going inside he sat down with the servants
to see the outcome.
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin
kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus
in order to put him to death,
but they found none,
though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward who stated,
“This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God
and within three days rebuild it.'”
The high priest rose and addressed him,
“Have you no answer?
What are these men testifying against you?”
But Jesus was silent.
Then the high priest said to him,
“I order you to tell us under oath before the living God
whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“You have said so.
But I tell you:
From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power’
and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.'”
Then the high priest tore his robes and said,
“He has blasphemed!
What further need have we of witnesses?
You have now heard the blasphemy;
what is your opinion?”
They said in reply,
“He deserves to die!”
Then they spat in his face and struck him,
while some slapped him, saying,
“Prophesy for us, Christ: who is it that struck you?”

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard.
One of the maids came over to him and said,
“You too were with Jesus the Galilean.”
But he denied it in front of everyone, saying,
“I do not know what you are talking about!”
As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him
and said to those who were there,
“This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.”
Again he denied it with an oath,
“I do not know the man!”
A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter,
“Surely you too are one of them;
even your speech gives you away.”
At that he began to curse and to swear,
“I do not know the man.”
And immediately a cock crowed.
Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken:
“Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.”
He went out and began to weep bitterly.

When it was morning,
all the chief priests and the elders of the people
took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
They bound him, led him away,
and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned,
deeply regretted what he had done.
He returned the thirty pieces of silver
to the chief priests and elders, saying,
“I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.”
They said,
“What is that to us?
Look to it yourself.”
Flinging the money into the temple,
he departed and went off and hanged himself.
The chief priests gathered up the money, but said,
“It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury,
for it is the price of blood.”
After consultation, they used it to buy the potter’s field
as a burial place for foreigners.
That is why that field even today is called the Field of Blood.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah
the prophet,
And they took the thirty pieces of silver,
the value of a man with a price on his head,
a price set by some of the Israelites,
and they paid it out for the potter’s field
just as the Lord had commanded me.

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha
—which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
“Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus
feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”
There were many women there, looking on from a distance,
who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.
Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph,
and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening,
there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph,
who was himself a disciple of Jesus.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus;
then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.
Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in clean linen
and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock.
Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb
and departed.
But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
remained sitting there, facing the tomb.

The next day, the one following the day of preparation,
the chief priests and the Pharisees
gathered before Pilate and said,
“Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said,
‘After three days I will be raised up.’
Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day,
lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people,
‘He has been raised from the dead.’
This last imposture would be worse than the first.”
Pilate said to them,
“The guard is yours;
go, secure it as best you can.”
So they went and secured the tomb
by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.

Or MT 27:11-54

Jesus stood before the governor, Pontius Pilate, who questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”

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Image result for Barabbas, art, photos
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Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd, with Barabbas at right; still from the movie ‘Passion of the Christ’
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For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha
— which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
‘Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus
feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”

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From The Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico

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My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

“Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit.”  These words from the account of the Passion of Jesus Christ according to Matthew are so strong.  The Passion ends with death and darkness and the disciples in total confusion.  Palm Sunday always gives us the story of the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus.

Still we must listen to the other readings.  Isaiah tell us today that the Prophets could see this death but also could see the Messiah with these words:  “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”  Jesus knows the Prophet Isaiah and lives out these words.  Jesus is able to embrace suffering and death with a confidence that God Himself, God the Father, will not let Him be put to shame, but will vindicate Him.  Jesus’ confidence in the Father was surely tested in the last hours of His life, but Jesus clings to His Father.

The second reading, from the Letter to the Philippians, also speaks of the plans of the Father for Jesus:  “Jesus humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Jesus dies for us.  In the midst of incredible sufferings, Jesus clings to His love for all people and clings to His will to save all.  We who suffer smaller pains in this life often find it difficult to offer our sufferings for anyone.

And so we come to the Passion once more.  We can listen to the struggle of Jesus and the struggle of His followers.  All of them knew the Scriptures, but only Jesus had a full understanding of what was about to happen.  The followers really could not believe that He would be put to death.  We are called to recognize that we are part of His followers.  Like them, we find it difficult to believe that He will die.  Even more difficult for us is to recognize that it is we who help put Him to death by our sin and our lack of love.  We must walk with Him today and in this Holy Week, acknowledging our sins and our lack of love and praying that He will raise us up with Him.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Homily From The Abbot (2015)
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My sisters and brothers in Christ, This Palm Sunday we can focus our hearts and our minds once more on Jesus, our Savior. We come to celebrate this suffering and death because we know that through this life, suffering and death of Jesus, we have been saved from sin and death.
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The second reading today, from the Letter to the Philippians, reflects this reality in one of the first Christian hymns. This hymn tells us that Jesus was willing to stoop down to us, God becoming human, in order to reach to the very heart of our human condition, becoming even a slave for us. Having taken on our flesh, our very humanity, He redeems all of us by His death and resurrection.
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The images for this in Christian art show us Christ descending to hell in order to free all who had died without Him. Then He ascends to heaven and takes us all with Him–and yet leaves us free to choose Him.
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The account of Christ’s Passion today, from the Gospel of Mark, gives us the human details of the final part of the life of Jesus, the details of His death. This death reflects the prophesy of Isaiah in the first reading: The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
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Come, let us worship the Lord, who has died so that we might live.
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Palm Sunday Sermon From José Antonio Pagola

A “crucified God” constitutes a revolution and a scandal that obliges us to question all the ideas we humans make about a God that we supposedly know. The Crucified doesn’t have the face or the appearance that religions attribute to the Supreme Being.

The “crucified God” isn’t an almighty and majestic being, unchangeable and happy, far from human suffering, but a powerless and humiliated God who suffers the pain, the anguish, and even the same death as we do. With the Cross, either our faith in God ends, or we open ourselves to a new and surprising understanding of a God who is incarnate in our suffering and who loves us in an incredible way.

In the face of the Crucified, we begin to intuit that God, in God’s ultimate mystery, is someone who suffers with us. Our misery affects God. Our suffering washes over God. There doesn’t exist a God whose life passes, as it were, outside the margins of our pains, tears and misfortunes. God is in all the Calvaries of our world.

This “crucified God” won’t permit a frivolous and selfish faith in an almighty God who serves our fickleness and pretentions. This God puts us face to face with the suffering, abandonment, and helplessness of so many victims of injustice and misfortune. We meet this God when we come close to the suffering of any crucified person.

We Christians put ourselves through all kinds of twists and turns to avoid running into the “crucified God.” We have learned to even raise our eyes toward the Lord’s Cross, blocking our sight from seeing those who are crucified right before our eyes. However the most authentic way to celebrate the Lord’s Passion is to revive our compassion. Without this, our faith in the “crucified God” gets watered down and the door gets opened to all kinds of manipulations. May our kissing of Jesus on the Cross place us always in sight of those, near or far, who are suffering. (José Antonio Pagola)

From: http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2016/03/203-2016-palm-sunday-of-the-lords-passion/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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20 MARCH 2016, Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
GOING ALL THE WAY TO THE CROSS
FROM LAST YEAR

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ISA 50:4-7; PHIL 2:6-11; LK 23:1-49 ]

Today we commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entry into the Holy City Jerusalem to complete His mission of bringing about the establishment of the kingdom of God.  It would be naïve to think that Jesus deliberately entered Jerusalem in order to die.  Rather, it was because of His conviction that He had to lay down the final challenge to His people to accept the message of the coming of the kingdom.  At the same time, He was fully aware that such an action would cost Him His life.

To say that He gave Himself to the very end means that He followedthe cross as the culmination of the path of humiliation that began with His Incarnation as the Son of God and continued throughout His whole life of obedience.  Indeed, the Christological hymn forms the theological basis for humility and selflessness in love and service.

We are told in Luke’s gospel that Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a colt.  He came in as a humble and lowly king to bring about the kingdom.  Indeed, this is the expression of the second reading.  In the Christological hymn, St Paul speaks of Christ’s self-emptying of His divinity in order to assume our humanity and be a slave for us all unto death.  Indeed, “His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.”

Indeed, it is through His martyrdom, His witnessing to the love of the Father until the end that the kingdom was realized.  That Luke intends His gospel to be presented as a witness to the kingdom, that is, the unconditional love of the Father until the very end is brought out in his gospel and in the Acts.  For in Part two of the gospel in the Acts, the response of Jesus to His disciples’ question as to when the kingdom of Israel would be restored, He told them that when they received the Holy Spirit, they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth.

So how did Jesus witness to the kingdom and the Father’s love to the very end?  By being the Compassion, the Good News of the Father.  This is even more clearly brought out in the Passion Story when Luke described how Jesus, even in His sufferings, was more concerned for others than Himself.  When He was arrested and one of His disciples “struck out at the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear”, Jesus healed him.  Then on the way to His crucifixion, when the women lamented and wept for Him, He reassured them instead saying, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children.”  On the cross too, He showed mercy to the Thief who asked for forgiveness when He said, “Indeed, I promise you, and today you will be with me in paradise.”  He also prayed for the forgiveness of His enemies instead of seeking revenge.

Finally, it is important to pay attention to the serenity of Christ’s death.  He surrendered Himself to the Father saying, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  Hence, we can conclude that the passion story as told by Luke is truly the Good News.  We find in Jesus as the One who went to the very end for our sake.  Christ’s sensitivity to the needs of others and His compassion is the good news of the story of the cross.

Having understood this, would we follow Jesus all the way to the cross in love and service?  Would we be like the Jews who welcomed Christ with great enthusiasm only to reject Him when they realized that Jesus did not live up to their expectations of a political messiah?  Their great enthusiasm was followed by rejection when they realized that the kingdom He came to bring was not that of political liberation, material satisfaction and earthly power and glory.  The kingdom of Jesus was that of humble service, even unto death.

For five weeks, the Church had prepared us for the day of His passion and resurrection.  For five weeks, we were invited to love and give ourselves in selfless service to others.   Now that we have come almost to the end or the last lap in the season of Lent, we are called to follow Jesus to Jerusalem, the place of His death and glory.  To follow Jesus to Calvary is to give ourselves completely even unto death, bearing our sufferings for the good and salvation of others.  In other words, we are called to give all.  We are called to give ourselves fully to death so that we can share in the glory of His resurrection.  Death is of course total.  No one can die halfway.  Death is the summary of all that we live for.  Hence, it is said that the way we live is the way we die.  So our participation in the death of Jesus must be total and complete.

But there is a danger that we might go only half way when Jesus went all the way.  We might place certain limits in our willingness to carry the cross.  We might not be willing to sacrifice ourselves for love, for truth and for the kingdom.  Unlike Jesus, we might be like the disciples who ran away when their master needed them most.  Indeed, the greatest sin is the sin of infidelity.  When we sin, not only do we hurt ourselves because we are not faithful to our calling and identity as the children of God, but we become counter witnesses to the gospel.

It is notable that Luke says the people welcomed Jesus saying, “Blessings on the King who comes … Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!”  Luke wants us to remember that the Good News of peace that was promised to us at the birth of Jesus, uttered by the angels will be realized only at His death and resurrection.  His passion and resurrection is therefore the fulfillment of the promise made at Christmas.  Indeed, Christmas cannot be separated from Good Friday and Easter because the Christmas story can only be told in light of the Passion and resurrection of Jesus.

Thus, we are called to be like Jesus to be faithful to God’s will to the end.  Like Jesus, we are called to surrender ourselves to God.  Jesus was confident like the suffering servant that God would vindicate him.  He said, “The Lord Yahweh comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults. So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.”  For this to be realized, we must wake up “to hear, to listen like a disciple” so that the Lord can open our ears to receive the Good News of salvation.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh

Easter Is Not The End Point of Holy Week, But The Beginning a Deeper Understanding of Our Spiritual Life Leading Us Into Eternity

March 30, 2016

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Many have just finished celebrating Easter, which is often seen as the end point of Lent and Holy Week.

If we end Easter just with chocolate eggs and good memories, we may have missed the point.

Actually, one might hope that the end point of Lent, Holy Week and Easter is a better way of living that leads us toward eternal life.

Karl Rahner in his classic,  “On The Theology of Death,” writes:

The real liberty in the courage  to die has to be a submissive liberty, a liberty which says “yes” not only to death itself, but also to its meaning, [and] to the meaning of human existence.  Man should not hurry towards his death as toward the finite end of his existence, but as towards an infinite end.  Not towards death which is the consummation of vacuity, a final emptying of life into meaninglessness, but toward a death which is the valid fulfilment of his existence. This, however, can be only done in faith. The eternally valid fulfilment in death cannot be grasped by mortal men, who is to posit death freely, as something that is simply there; for death as the pitch of evanescence, of all that is transitory, which is all that is perceptable in it, does not fulfil existence but seems finally to annihilate it.

What this means to me, as I grow older, is that death gets closer each day. And, as Jesus and others often say in the gospels, “Do Not Be Afraid.”

So after experiencing again Lent, Holy Week, the passion and suffering of Christ and the fact of Resurrection, I (WE) are challenged anew each year to contemplate our own readiness to meet The Lord On His Terms. Without fear. In fact, if we obey the commandments, listen to The Word of God, follow the life Jesus modeled for us, eat his body and drink his blood as he commanded, whenever death comes we will be ready. And we’ll be joyfully ready — despite the pain and suffering which often becomes a part of the human end of us.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Related:

The essay below “On the Theology of Death” further maps out the thought process Karl Rahner, a Jesuit priest, left for us to consider.

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“On the Theology of Death”

I found the essay, “On the Theology of Death” by Karl Rahner at a garage sale last weekend, where it was given to me, gratis. I couldn’t resist the title, even though Rahner—though admittedly a brilliant theologian—was a peritas at Vatican II (that confusing but valid, non-dogmatic council of policies; instead of formulating doctrine and house-cleaning, as most councils are intended to do, VII opened the Church’s windows and invited the world to dirty the house some more). Rahner is a golden-boy of the Catholic left. He was admonished by the Vatican to quit advocating for interfaith services. So, I entered this book with some trepidation, even though the title was alluring enough for me, and, as an ex-firefighter, who used to deal with death on a daily basis, I felt compelled to read it.

At the outset, before looking at this book, let’s make very plain the concept of death, since many in our culture seem to forget about its true reality. We live in a materialistic age where matter becomes more significant to the average person than the maker. We all fancy nice cars and i-phones, even while the average person in the world lives in abject poverty. Christ said, “blessed are the poor.” Last Sunday’s reading was on-point, Luke 12: 16 – 21:

The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits. 17 And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and will build greater; and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years take thy rest; eat, drink, make good cheer. 20 But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?

If any of us love this life, we will “lose it.”

In the context of the modern world, man forgets about his final end. Let’s realign ourselves: Everyone reading this shall die. We all will end in the grave; our bodies will corrupt until they become bones or dust, until the general resurrection at the end of time, which is a dogma of our faith. Your soul will leave your body, our God will draw your soul. Your body will corrupt. Your skin will “leather”, your eyes will shrink, first into pea pods, but then they will crumble. Your hair will matte, and begin to fall out, until all falls away. Your skeleton will remain for a time longer, as it is of stronger substance, but it too will crumble and fall away. Only your soul will live on, and that is for eternity. Eternity is a long, long time. Imagine all of the particles of sand on all of the sea shores on earth, trillions of pieces of sand, to say the least, and pretend that each piece of sand equals a billion years, and pretend that you spend this amount of time in eternity. That, of course, does not equal even one day of your life in eternity; not even one second of eternity’s time, but of course God is outside of time.

I am not illustrating anything new here–even a child can understand that point—but meditating upon this is beneficial in the context of situating our souls to face eternity. Death is the beginning of our eternity either in union or separated from God.

Like I said, I approached Rahner’s essay with great caution. Although Rahner flirts with the heterodox notion that God might have saved humanity in a perfectly non-violent, unbloody, manner, he nevertheless comes to the Orthodox conclusion that Christ’s bloody Sacrifice was not only salvific, but that God could not have saved us by any other means:

“His life redeems, inasmuch as his death is axiologically present in his entire life. And in so far as any moral act of man is to be considered as a disposing over his entire person with regard to his interior destiny, and in so far as such a disposition receives its final character only in death, it is clear (on the supposition that Christ assumed the flesh of sin and death) that we cannot really say that Christ could have redeemed us through any other moral act than his death, even had God been disposed to accept some other act.” (Herder, New York, 1961, pg. 63.)

Rahner is a notoriously hard read, and you can almost see him strain to say the words, but he did: even God, according to Rahner, could not have saved us through any other means then through the death of Christ, His Son, the Second Person of the Trinity. Some Christians tend to meditate exclusively on Christ risen (even some Bishops do this). It’s much “cleaner” to think of Christ this way. It’s more happy-clappy, feel-good. They think of Christ’s earthly ministry, His miracles, and on the periphery acknowledge that Christ’s blood washes away our sins. But, strangely, they steer from the Passion Narratives in the Bible, even though this is the summit, the apex of why Christ came among us. We don’t like to think of bloody death, but Christ and the martyrs teach us otherwise. Even Rahner dedicates the last forty pages or so of his essay to the Christian martyrs, because they were the perfect embodiment of what it means to be Christian: giving up one’s life on earth in a Christ-like sacrifice:

“[A] martyr is one who freely accepting his death in faith, is killed by powers inimical to Christ, and bears a noble testimony as a ‘witness’ to faith in Jesus Christ…Martyrdom has to do with death. In order to understand martyrdom, death must be understood. And so the mystery of death enters into martyrdom, and makes martyrdom itself a mystery. One only dares approach the subject of death hesitantly. For the hidden incomprehensibility of death is also concealed from the average everyday mind, by the fact that death happens daily, and the dullard thinks that what happens every day must be understandable.” (pg. 82-83).

But the average Christian must, too, die in Christ to attain everlasting life. Every action that we make has everlasting impart:

“But the affirmation of faith concerning the definitive ending by death of the state of pilgrimage means, as well as the survival of man’s conscious personal existence, that the fundamental moral decision made by man in the mundane temporality of his bodily existence, is rendered definite and final by death. This doctrine of the faith involves taking this earthly life with radical seriousness. It is truly historical, this is, unique, unrepeatable, of inalienable and irrevocable significance.” (pt. 27.)

Rahner doesn’t shrink from the concept of original sin; what else explains the often absurd dimension of sin and suffering on earth?

“[D]eath is a visible expression of the disharmony between God and man in man’s very being which supervened at the beginning of his spiritual and moral history. Because man has lost the divine life in union with God by grace, his earthly existence also disintegrates. Man’s subjection to death is the manifestation of his disharmony with God.” (pg. 34).

“The end of man, considered only from man’s point of view, presents an inseparable and irreducible unity an ontologically dialectical opposition of elements…with no assurance that it [death] will strike him at the moment in which interiorly he has completed his life. Death is a blow of fate, a thief in the night, an emptying and reducing of man to powerlessness, in fact, the end.” (pg. 40).

“It [death] will always, therefore, include the character of a divine judgment among its notes. But it is sin that is manifested in death. The emptiness, hopelessness, the transitoriness, indeterminateness, the inextricable confusion of noblest action and most humiliating passivity, of plain meaning and ultimate ambiguity, all these characteristics of the death which we must actually die are nothing but the manifestations of sin, to which in some higher and hidden dimension these characteristics analogically belong. Because a creature belonging to God, it shrinks back, by a movement of its very essence, from this last mystery of emptiness, of finality, of nothingness, form the mystery of iniquity. Because this same creature, whether holy or sinful, is driven as long as he lives by the power of the divine life which calls him and works in him, he will always experience a mysterious horror of death, which can never be explained by himself, or from what he can observe in himself. In this horror of death, there emerges on the visible surface of human life, the horror of that death which alone is true death. If men try effectively to hide the reality of this horror from themselves by explaining it away by their manner of life, by taking refuge either in frivolity, despair or tragic heroism, then by this very act they make of it what they will not admit terrifies him in it, the beginning of eternal death. Death and man’s attitude towards it, which of course is really part of its very nature, is not abolished or extinguished by is permanently transformed only when in the light and power of Jesus Christ who died and rose again, it is seen and borne as what is can be, the darkness of that night of the Cross in which eternal life penetrated in death the very depths of the world, in order to give life to the world.” (pg. 55).

The Bible is full of passages concerning death, and the Christian’s relation to it. (Cf. Rom 1:32; 7:9-10; 6:16, 21, 23; 7:5; 8:2; James 1:15 and much of St. John, etc.) But it’s Christ’s death, and dying in Christ, which is the refuge, the final hope of the Christian:

“A Christian in the state of grace dies a different death from that of the sinner…the Council of Trent…states…that the death of the Christian in the state of grace no longer has the mark of a punishment for sin, but, like concupiscence in the justified man, has the character of a mere consequence of sin (poenalitas sed non poena)” (pg. 67).

To die in a state of grace we must frequent the Bread of Life. In John 6:54-59 Christ tells us:

Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. 55 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. 56 For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. 57 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. 58 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. 59 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

St. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 24-26:

24 And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. 25 In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.

Catholic priest celebrates mass at the South Cathedral in Beijing

26 For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.This is why the traditional Latin Mass is so important, and has been the source and training-ground of so many Catholic Saints. In it, we “shew the death of the Lord.”

Rahner writes:

“The second sacrament which repeatedly and visibly reveals and deepens this companionship in suffering and death with our Lord, by grace throughout the whole course of the Christian life, is the sacred mystery of the Eucharist. This is the continuously renewed celebration of the death of the Lord, making that death present here and now in our lives.

In the Eucharist, according to his command, we announce his death, which is our death and our life, again and again until he comes once more and it is no longer revealed in ritual sign but in the radiance of his visibly manifested glory, that in his death our death is swallowed up by the victory of life. What is done in this mystery is the sacramental enactment of Christ’s death, and what we receive in this mystery is the grace which became ours, n his death…In this sacrifice and sacrament, not only is the mystery of the Cross brought near to us in a spatio-temporal relation, but it actually produces its effect on our own lives, drawing us into itself, subjecting us to its own unfathomable laws and communicating its strength to us. Of necessity, therefore, anyone who takes part in this mystery in divine worship, announcing in it the death of the Lord, must also announce this death in his own life, by experiencing it in himself in the reality of his life…For we must consider as the effect of this sacrament all that Scripture means by our communion in the passion and death of Christ: that we must suffer with him, in order to be glorified with him (Rom 8:17; that though participation in his passion we are conformed to his death (Phil 3:10); that he has to be glorified in our bodies in life and in death (Phil 1:20); that for Christ’s sake we are constantly delivered into the power of death (2 Cor 4:10f.); that with him who was crucified in infirmity, we also are weak (2 Cor 13:4); that it is a grace, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for him (Phil 1:29; that only if we have died with him shall we live with him (2 Tim 2:11). We share his death because we daily celebrate and receive the sacrament of his death.” (Pg. 76-77)

I will end by quoting that beautiful passage in the Bible of the raising of the twelve year old daughter of Jairus Luke 8:41-55:

41 And behold there came a man whose name was Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at the feet of Jesus, beseeching him that he would come into his house: 42 For he had an only daughter, almost twelve years old, and she was dying. And it happened as he went, that he was thronged by the multitudes.
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49 As he was yet speaking, there cometh one to the ruler of the synagogue, saying to him: Thy daughter is dead, trouble him not. 50 And Jesus hearing this word, answered the father of the maid: Fear not; believe only, and she shall be safe.

51 And when he was come to the house, he suffered not any man to go in with him, but Peter and James and John, and the father and mother of the maiden. 52 And all wept and mourned for her. But he said: Weep not; the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. 53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he taking her by the hand, cried out, saying: Maid, arise. 55 And her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And he bid them give her to eat.
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http://hospitallers.blogspot.com/2007/08/on-theology-of-death_08.html

Good Friday: In The Philippines Some Get Nailed To The Cross To Experience The Suffering of Christ

April 3, 2015

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The Associated Press

A Filipino penitent grimaces as he is nailed to the cross during Good Friday rituals on April 3, 2015 at Cutud, Pampanga province, northern Philippines. Several Filipino devotees had themselves nailed to crosses Friday to remember Jesus Christ’s suffering and death, an annual rite frowned upon by church leaders in this predominantly Roman Catholic country. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

By JOEAL CALUPITAN

The Associated Press

SAN PEDRO CUTUD, Philippines — Screaming in pain, Filipino devotees had themselves nailed to wooden crosses to mimic the suffering of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation.

Church leaders have spoken against the annual practice mixing Catholic devotion with folk belief, but it continues to draw big crowds, particularly in northern Pampanga province.

Painter Ruben Enaje, 54, was among half a dozen men whose hands and feet were rubbed with alcohol before locals dressed as Roman soldiers hammered sterilized nails into his flesh.

He has repeated the same act for the last 29 years as part of giving thanks after surviving a fall from a building. This year, he added a gadget— a small microphone near his mouth, although a technical glitch made it difficult to hear him utter Christ’s last words.

The reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion at a dusty mound in San Pedro Cutud village drew at least 4,000 spectators and tourists, dozens of them foreigners. Unlike in the past, organizers this year banned foreigners from being nailed to crosses to prevent the event from “becoming a circus,” said Councilor Harvey Quiwa.

After they were lowered from the crosses, medical workers carried the devotees on a stretcher and made sure there were no complications from their injuries.

“I think it takes an incredible amount of dedication and commitment to really go through something like that,” said American tourist Tracy Sengillo. “It’s really fascinating.”

Devotees undergo the crucifixions in the belief that such extreme sacrifices are a way to atone for their sins, attain miracle cures for illnesses or give thanks to God.

Similar reenactments were held in other villages around Pampanga and in other provinces, but San Pedro Cutud attracts most crowds.

Before the crucifixions, hundreds of barefoot devotees walked the streets whipping their bare backs with bamboo sticks dangling from a rope.

“I started doing this when my mother got sick, kidney problem. I vowed and prayed to God so that she could be cured,” said electrician Marvin Tao, 25, who has been a flagellant for nine years.

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Associated Press writer Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

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Authorities are expecting 20,000 to 60,000 people at this year’s crucifixion rites in San Pedro, Cutud.

Cutud tourists told: Pray and reflect 

By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) 

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – Don’t just watch. Pray and reflect.

That is the message of Ruben Enaje, the man who will be crucified to the cross for the 29th time today, to the spectators of the annual lenten rites in Barangay San Pedro Cutud.

Enaje hopes that the tourists won’t leave at once after the real-life cruxifixion reenactment and remember the sufferings of Christ.

He said the people should reflect and join him in prayer.

“Sana naman, hindi lang panonood yung ating pupuntahan dito. Alalahanin din po natin na yung ating pang hesus, siya ay namatay dahil sa pag-ako sa ating mga kasalanan,” Enaje told Philstar.com

“Sana po sa araw ng biyernes santo ngayon, gunitain natin iyon nang may pagmamahal sa ating mga kababayan,” he added.

For his “panata” this year, Enaje will be praying for world peace, for the country, for President Aquino, and for the relatives of the 44 slain Special Action Force commandos.

RELATED: The man who will be crucified for 29th time

Authorities are expecting 20,000 to 60,000 people at this year’s crucifixion rites in San Pedro, Cutud.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/04/03/1440209/cutud-tourists-told-pray-and-reflect

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Reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion at a dusty mound in San Pedro Cutud drew at least 4,000 spectators and tourists, dozens of them foreigners. Jonathan Asuncion for philstar.com

 

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – Signboard maker Ruben Enaje of Barangay San Pedro Cutud will be nailed to the cross for the 29th time this afternoon.

Enaje will continue reenacting the crucifixion of Christ since he still has no qualified successor.

He said portraying the Lord in the yearly Lenten rites here entails a responsibility to their community.

“Kapag gumaganap ka ng Kristo, may responsibilidad ka sa ating barangay. Kailangan ‘yung portrayal mo sa ating panginoong Hesus, kailangan hindi ka gagawa ng anumang masama sa iyong kapwa,” Enaje said in an interview.

Read more and see video:

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/04/03/1440208/watch-man-who-will-be-crucified-29th-time

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