Easter Sunday

John 20:1-18

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Reflection

I have seen the Lord,” she told the disciples. It is the shortest Easter homily ever. Mary Magdalen is the first person to announce the good news to the disciples.

Her exclamation echos through time and history and is as real today as it was on that first Resurrection morning.Mary went early in the morning, probably as soon as the Sabbath was over. She went expecting to anoint Jesus with spices, her last act of devotion to the person who had lifted her oppression with a single loving look.  She found the tomb empty and thought that someone had stolen the body of Jesus. Finally she recognizes Jesus when she calls her by her name.

Mary’s recognition of Jesus at the mention of her name on that first Easter morning  is not a third person confession of faith, rather it is a first person encounter, a first person witness. It is a description of how we all encounter Christ, recognizing him when he calls us each by name. The author of the gospel account of Mary’s story is  stating that the Resurrection is intensely personal and our faith is relational. That moment in the garden with Mary is for us a reminder that Jesus’ love for us is stronger than death, and our celebration of Easter invites us to recognize that the cause of our joy is the realization of how much we are loved by God, in Christ. Our redemption is accomplished because each and every one of us is called by name into an intimate relationship with a God whose love for us is made present to us in Christ living, still among us.

Our challenge, like Mary’s and the Apostles’ is to continue to exclaim, with living our faith in the Resurrection, that we have seen the Lord and he is risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Action

How can we be a living witness to Jesus who has risen? What concrete actions can we do to proclaim the our faith in Jesus?

Most Rev. George R. Lucey, FCM

Presiding Bishop of the American National Catholic Church

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Published in: on April 21, 2019 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Holy Saturday

Luke 24: 1-12

At daybreak on the first day of the week 
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus 
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. 
They said to them,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, 
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners
and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”
And they remembered his words.
Then they returned from the tomb
and announced all these things to the eleven
and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James;
the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense
and they did not believe them.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, 
bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone;
then he went home amazed at what had happened.

Reflection

Women discovered the empty tomb and encountered the risen Lord.  All four gospels are quite clear about this.  The synoptics tell us that several women were involved, while John focuses on Mary Magdalene.  But the point remains:  the first of Jesus’ followers to discover his resurrection were women.

Why?  It’s easy enough to suppose that preparing corpses for proper burials was women’s work.  But this wasn’t always true.  The 3rd-century AD Jewish tractate Semahot expressly states that only men may tend to a male body.

No, the real reason is this:  the male disciples had all fled, and they were frightened to visit the tomb lest they be captured by the authorities.  Only the women disciples dared.

The Resurrection of the Lord, which we’ll celebrate in the Paschal Vigil at sundown tonight, is a glorious event for more reasons than I can recount here.  But one of its many glories, revealed in today’s gospel reading, is that its saving truth is revealed to those who are ready to receive it.  The women who followed Jesus were intensely loyal to him and his message.  They took care of the everyday tasks of finding shelter and food.  They, along with but one of his male disciples, stood at the foot of the Cross as he hung dying.  They were the first to see that he had risen because they were eminently ready to receive that special grace.

Throughout the 2,000-year history of the Church, women have been loyal and perceptive disciples whose steady devotion too often has been underplayed or taken for granted.  They are some of the most valuable spiritual members of the Church.  I pray that the day comes soon when they’re finally recognized as the stalwarts in the Body of Christ they are.

Action

Spend time today in prayerful gratitude for the women who dared to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry and who were courageous enough to visit his tomb.  Ask that, through the intercession of the entire assembly of women saints, you may be given their faith and their courage.

Fr. Kerry Walters

Pastor, Holy Spirit ANCC

Published in: on April 20, 2019 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

John 18:1-19:42

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley 
to where there was a garden, 
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place, 
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards 
from the chief priests and the Pharisees 
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, 
went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”
They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
He said to them, “I AM.”
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, “I AM, ” 
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them,
“Whom are you looking for?”
They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
Jesus answered,
“I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”
This was to fulfill what he had said, 
“I have not lost any of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, 
struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave’s name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter,
“Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, 
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews 
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, 
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, 
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, 
“You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

The high priest questioned Jesus 
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
“I have spoken publicly to the world.
I have always taught in a synagogue 
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, 
and in secret I have said nothing.  Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them.
They know what I said.”
When he had said this, 
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, 
“Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him,
“If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; 
but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
“You are not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said,
“I am not.”
One of the slaves of the high priest, 
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, 
“Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, 
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said, 
“What charge do you bring against this man?”
They answered and said to him,
“If he were not a criminal, 
we would not have handed him over to you.”
At this, Pilate said to them, 
“Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.”
The Jews answered him, 
“We do not have the right to execute anyone, ” 
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium 
and summoned Jesus and said to him, 
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered,
“Do you say this on your own 
or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered,
“I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered,
“My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world, 
my attendants would be fighting 
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him,
“Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered,
“You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world, 
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
“I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
They cried out again,
“Not this one but Barabbas!”
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, 
and clothed him in a purple cloak, 
and they came to him and said,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them, 
“Look, I am bringing him out to you, 
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out, 
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, 
“Crucify him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered, 
“We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, 
because he made himself the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid, 
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, 
“Where are you from?”
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
“Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you 
and I have power to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him,
“You would have no power over me 
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin.”
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, 
“If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out 
and seated him on the judge’s bench 
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
“Behold, your king!”
They cried out,
“Take him away, take him away!  Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself, 
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, 
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others, 
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read,
“Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription, 
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; 
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, 
“Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’
but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
Pilate answered,
“What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, 
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, 
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, 
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another, 
“Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, ” 
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.

This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished, 
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, 
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop 
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, 
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken 
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first 
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, 
they did not break his legs, 
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, 
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; 
he knows that he is speaking the truth, 
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, 
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, 
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, 
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes 
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus 
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, 
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, 
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; 
for the tomb was close by.

Reflection

So many times we’ve heard the story of Christ’s passion, so many times that it is easy to see the proclamation of the St. John’s Passion as something to be gotten through. We listen and after a while our legs and feet start to hurt and we wonder how much longer it is. Is the Gospel almost done? Despite our best efforts we start to fidget, our minds start to wander and then we feel guilty for the fidgeting and the mind wandering that invariably happens and then we resolve to listen in earnest, really listen to the story of the death of the Son of God. As we listen, we can almost see the “players” in this drama of our redemption. Before our eyes, we see Judas, the mob, the High Priest, Pilate, Peter, the women at the foot of the cross, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who claim Christ’s body after Rome had done its worst.

When we let the story of our redemption in, we are changed. When we see Jesus who endured all that could be endured for us faith tells us that this one death changed everything for every single one of us. Jesus embraced our humanity, and all that it means to be human—including death. In faith we believe that death is not the end, neither for Jesus nor for us. The life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus is borne out in each of us, written in the depths of our being, in our very souls. This Paschal mystery enfolds us with our every breath and it is today above all days we need to embrace that mystery even as we are embraced by it.

Action

Today is a day for reflection. Let us be still now and allow the mystery, misery and glory that is Good Friday seep into us. Even as we remember and mourn the suffering of Jesus, let us rejoice that we have been loved so very much.

Mthr. Phyllis McHugh

Pastor of St. Thomas More American National Catholic Church

Published in: on April 19, 2019 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Holy Thursday

Luke 4:16-21

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, 
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
 and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them, 
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”


Reflection

Today is the historical day of the Chrism Mass when priests renew their vows.  I have chosen to write about the readings from the Chrism Mass, specifically about the first reading.  Jesus reads the reading from Isaiah and pronounces it fulfilled in him having proclaimed the Word and the people having heard the word.  In the past I focused on the messenger, Jesus spoke so it was fulfilled.  In the past few months, God has put the message on my heart, the good news.

 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,
to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
To announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God,
to comfort all who mourn;
To place on those who mourn in Zion
a diadem instead of ashes,
To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning,
a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit.”

The lowly, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners, those who mourn.  It is to these that Jesus was sent.  In our baptism the following words were spoken to us, our parents and Godparents, “just as Jesus was anointed priest, prophet, and king, so may you live always as a member of his body sharing everlasting life.”

In virtue of our baptism, each of us is united with Christ as priest, prophet and king.  I would like to focus on the first two.  We are called to be priests.  One of our jobs is to pray, to intercede for others.  We often pray for our loved ones, for the sick and for the hurting.  But how often do we pray for our enemies, for the rich, or for the powerful?  What do we pray?  In the liturgy of the hours there are beautiful prayers such as that legislators and governments work for the common good and that wealthier nations help nations that are in need.  It is not communist or socialist that we share in one another’s burdens, it is Christian.  We need to remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar.  In my lifetime, I have never witnessed the love of money to the degree that I do today.  The love of money truly is dehumanizing.  The desire to make another dollar at the expense of the future of the world is sinful.  The choice to make another buck instead of addressing climate change is a choice that harms billions of people for who knows how long.  The rich and powerful need our prayers, not for more prosperity, but perhaps conversion, for their humanity lest they become like the rich man in the story.

How about our enemies?  I know that it is far easier to cry out to God for vengeance or justice than it is to pray “forgive them for they know not what they do.”  But the latter needs to be our prayer.  We can and should pray for conversion, not only for those who hurt us, but also for ourselves.  None of us have arrived at the heavenly Jerusalem.  The journey is more pleasant when we travel together.

The other role is that of prophet.  A prophet speaks for God.  There is one message from God that I believe we can speak without hesitation.  God loves people.  We should spread that message to the best of our ability.  Primarily that means we must be people of hope and of joy.  It is possible to be joyful and hopeful even in bad times.  It is hard to receive the message that God loves you from a person filled with bitterness.  How many times have you heard that the person who just committed a violent or hateful act was filled with love?  This world needs to know that it is loved.  Each person needs to know that they are loved.  We can only genuinely spread that word if we believe it. Our eyes need to be on the prize.  The prize is not of this world.  I believe that if we are overly attached to the things of this world it undermines the message of Jesus. For the sake of what was ahead, Jesus despised the shame of the cross.  Remember that we too are royalty.  If the world does not recognize us, it is because it did not recognize the Son.  If we truly recognize the Son, then we too, should recognize our own royalty.  If we recognize our destiny, we too should be able to despise the shame of the cross.  We, too, can pray for our enemies, for the rich, for the powerful.  We, too, can spread the message of love.  We can endure our cross for the advancement of God’s kingdom.

Action

How can we be priest, prophet in king in today’s world? Let’s think about what we can do to uphold or baptismal promises.

Rev. Fr. Louie Amezaga

Associate Pastor at Holy Family American National Catholic Church

Published in: on April 18, 2019 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday of Holy Week

Matthew 26:14-25

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.”

Reflection

Well, BETRAYAL seems to be the key word today.  It is used 5 times.

This makes me reflect on times I have been ‘betrayed’ whether by a friend, political institutions, or even the Church itself.  How have I reacted?  Did I retaliate, walk away or do my best to forgive?

Poor Judas!  Forever known as the betrayer of Jesus, his greatest error was in not having any confidence in the Lord’s mercy let alone his own ability to recover as Peter did after his betrayals.

Upon reflecting on the characters in today’s readings, I see myself among them.  Sometimes I do as I am asked; sometimes I ‘follow the crowd’ and do what they do and sometimes I disappear during times of crisis.

Dear Jesus, please give us the strength that we need to give witness to the Lord during the difficult times we will face.  As you have stayed by our sides during this journey towards your death and resurrection, please give us the strength to stay by your side during your time of trial.

Action

Have you felt betrayed by someone? How can we forgive those who have betrayed our trust?

Rev. Fr. Patrick Kane

Associate Pastor at St. Francis of Assisi American National Catholic Church

Published in: on April 17, 2019 at 3:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday of Holy Week

JN 13:21-33, 36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,”Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side.So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,”Master, who is it?”Jesus answered,”It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot.After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,”Buy what we need for the feast,”or to give something to the poor.So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.
When he had left, Jesus said,”Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once.My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,’Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”Jesus answered him,”Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.”Peter said to him,”Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”

Reflection

Has anyone every betrayed you? Not like the Judas Iscariot type of betrayal, perhaps, but a betrayal nonetheless? Perhaps a close associate at work found out about a promotion opportunity before you, one that you would have loved and that was perfect for you. And rather than tell you and encourage you, this co-worker friend actually badmouthed you and built themselves up at your expense.

Whatever way it might come, betrayal deeply hurts because it is done by someone who is close to you. When trusted people – a best friend, a business partner, a confidant, a parent, an adult child, a life partner – do or say things you would never expect from such close, trusted, even deeply loved people, the pain cuts very deep indeed.

In today’s Gospel Jesus predicts both betrayal and denial from two in his inner most circle of disciples. How sad it must have been for him. How hurtful. We would not think of doing anything like that. And yet….
Whenever we fail to live out the inclusive love of Jesus, are we not betraying him? Whenever we allow anger, prejudice, evil forces, etc., to workin our lives, do we not deny him?

Activity

During this week we call “holy,” reflect on any ways you betray Jesus. And exam how you deny Jesus. In all things, repent of your sins and follow Jesus anew. And then go on through the rest of the week celebrating the loving sacrifice of Jesus.

Rev. Fr. Vincent McTighe

Pastor Emeritus of Sacred Heart American National Catholic Church

Published in: on April 16, 2019 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday of Holy Week

John 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. 
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.

Mediation

Mary of Bethany was extravagant in anointing Jesus with expensive nard.  Extravagance is not usually considered a Christian virtue but in this instance Jesus rebukes Judas Iscariot for criticizing Mary’s actions.  It’s not the time for practicality and following the normal rules of Christian ethics.  Jesus is facing certain death within days and is sharing a meal with his dear friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus whom Jesus had recently resuscitated from the dead.   Did Mary know that Jesus would be crucified and in need of anointing?  Was she expressing her gratitude for Jesus’ raising Lazarus?  Did the nard put a big dent in her budget or not?  We just don’t know.  What we do know is that she could have had no other motivation than an extravagant love for Jesus.  It wasn’t only the cost of the nard that showed her love.  She knelt at his feet and dried them with her own hair.  She honored him in her generosity, her actions, and her posture.  In every way possible she communicated her deep love for Jesus without ever uttering a word. 

Actions

Today is tax day.  If you are fortunate enough to receive a refund, perhaps you might spend extravagantly on someone you love.  Even if you don’t get a refund, take an opportunity to show your great love for someone without using words.  Listen, comfort, share a burden.  Whatever you choose to do, be extravagant!

Juli Corrigan

Parishioner at Holy Spirit American National Catholic Church

Published in: on April 15, 2019 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Luke 22:14-23:56

The elders of the people, chief priests and scribes,
arose and brought Jesus before Pilate.
They brought charges against him, saying,
“We found this man misleading our people; 
he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar 
and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.”
Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.”
Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds, 
“I find this man not guilty.”
But they were adamant and said, 
“He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea,
from Galilee where he began even to here.”

On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean; 
and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction,
he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.
Herod was very glad to see Jesus; 
he had been wanting to see him for a long time,
for he had heard about him 
and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.
He questioned him at length,
but he gave him no answer.
The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile,
stood by accusing him harshly.
Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him,
and after clothing him in resplendent garb, 
he sent him back to Pilate.
Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, 
even though they had been enemies formerly.
Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people 
and said to them, “You brought this man to me
and accused him of inciting the people to revolt.
I have conducted my investigation in your presence 
and have not found this man guilty 
of the charges you have brought against him, 
nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us.
So no capital crime has been committed by him.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”

But all together they shouted out, 
“Away with this man!
Release Barabbas to us.”
— Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion 
that had taken place in the city and for murder. —
Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus,
but they continued their shouting,
“Crucify him!  Crucify him!”
Pilate addressed them a third time,
“What evil has this man done?
I found him guilty of no capital crime.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”
With loud shouts, however,
they persisted in calling for his crucifixion,
and their voices prevailed.
The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.
So he released the man who had been imprisoned
for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked,
and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.

As they led him away
they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, 
who was coming in from the country; 
and after laying the cross on him, 
they made him carry it behind Jesus.
A large crowd of people followed Jesus, 
including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Jesus turned to them and said, 
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep instead for yourselves and for your children 
for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 
‘Blessed are the barren,
the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed.’
At that time people will say to the mountains,
‘Fall upon us!’
and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’
for if these things are done when the wood is green 
what will happen when it is dry?”
Now two others, both criminals,
were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull, 
they crucified him and the criminals there, 
one on his right, the other on his left.
Then Jesus said,
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
They divided his garments by casting lots.
The people stood by and watched; 
the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, 
“He saved others, let him save himself 
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read, 
“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, 
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you, 
today you will be with me in Paradise.”

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon
because of an eclipse of the sun.
Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; 
and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said,
“This man was innocent beyond doubt.”
When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle
saw what had happened,
they returned home beating their breasts;
but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, 
including the women who had followed him from Galilee 
and saw these events.

Reflection

What has always struck me in the most powerful way has been the sudden shift in public opinion when it comes to Jesus.  At his initial entrance into Jerusalem he was welcomed like a king and his arrival was celebrated.  A few moments later we see that same crowd chanting “crucify him! Crucify him!.”  Why the change?  What happened in the hearts of those in the crowd who changed their mind and now wanted Jesus dead when initially they celebrated his arrival into town.  Surely not everyone was excited about Jesus’ entry and perhaps those individuals were of strong influence on the local residents.  Maybe those with weak hearts were fearful of retribution had they spoken how they truly felt about Jesus.  The crowd mentality is strong in any situation and this is no different.  I reflect on this because in my daily life I need to remind myself that it’s important to stand for what I believe in and demonstrate my faith, even if there are consequences to those actions and life choices.  Strengthening my weak heart to stand strong in the face of adversity and living my life in such a way that my actions boldly proclaim a triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, mirroring His abundant love, forgiveness, and mercy particularly on those who I find most difficult to love and forgive, despite the pressures around me to act and live in a different way.

Action Item

On this holy day, pray for a strong heart so that that today your life may mirror Christ’s and boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Lord and King.

Rev. Fr. Jason Lody, FCM

Pastor at St. Anthony of Padua American National Catholic Church

Published in: on April 14, 2019 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

John 11:45-56

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.
But some of them went to the Pharisees
and told them what Jesus had done. 
So the chief priests and the Pharisees
convened the Sanhedrin and said,
“What are we going to do? 
This man is performing many signs.
If we leave him alone, all will believe in him,
and the Romans will come
and take away both our land and our nation.”
But one of them, Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year, said to them,
“You know nothing,
nor do you consider that it is better for you
that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish.”
He did not say this on his own,
but since he was high priest for that year,
he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not only for the nation,
but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
So from that day on they planned to kill him.

So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews,
but he left for the region near the desert,
to a town called Ephraim,
and there he remained with his disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near,
and many went up from the country to Jerusalem
before Passover to purify themselves.
They looked for Jesus and said to one another
as they were in the temple area, “What do you think?
That he will not come to the feast?”

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is after the raising of Lazarus, the seventh sign. But I fear that the world has become dead, sleeping without consciousness to the Spirit of Christ. I see this in the violence, the death of so many whether by guns or bombs, the fear that the dead are simply without hope which has driven people to extremes of violence in their religion and in their belief systems. It is those who have taken it upon themselves to impose what they call the “Will of God,” no matter the cost and no matter the consequences upon the innocents.

This may be a paradigm shift and we may yet spring forward, and the start is with the belief in one human godhead, Jesus Christ, that he will truly rise, and will come again but until then we pray our Lenten prayers to have the strength and courage to believe in the words of the Gospel.  

As we begin the transcendence into Holy week, I pray the Spirit of Christ awakens in you and fills you with God’s love so that you are the beacon of light, you are the one who gives hope and joy that those you meet.

I pray that the Triduum transforms the world into a world where love knows no bounds, where the disenfranchised are celebrated in the community, and where the act of love so powerful it raised Lazarus from the dead permeates your whole being.

May the love of God through the touch of the Son and the words of she who is the Holy Spirit lead you to experience the epiphany of the seventh sign both in it and in the act of love which happens through our Easter celebration! 

St. Mary’s will pray for you at Mass, but most especially during Holy Week. May God Bless each of you!

Action

As we enter Holy Week, let us reflect upon this great act of love that God has shown us through the cross. How should we show our deep gratitude to God?

Fr. Michael Lalone

Pastor at St. Marys American National Catholic Church

Published in: on April 13, 2019 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

John 10:31-42

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.
Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father.
For which of these are you trying to stone me?”
The Jews answered him,
“We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy.
You, a man, are making yourself God.”
Jesus answered them,
“Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, ‘You are gods”‘? 
If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came,
and Scripture cannot be set aside,
can you say that the one
whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world
blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 
If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,
believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Then they tried again to arrest him;
but he escaped from their power.

He went back across the Jordan
to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. 
Many came to him and said,
“John performed no sign,
but everything John said about this man was true.”
And many there began to believe in him.

Reflection

What hypocrites are these chosen ones! Are we hypocrites, too?

How many times have we been ready to attack vehemently someone’s words,  without any consideration of their actions or good works? How many times have we seen charitable acts of kindness and goodness from a person, but we dismiss all that because we don’t agree with their worldview or perspective?

What is Jesus asking of us here? Is He asking us to look at G-d’s will being done more than the person through whom those acts are performed? Is He asking us to put greater importance on the Message than the messenger? Greater importance on the acts and less on the actor?

Words may be misunderstood. Jesus asks us to look more to the acts or works of the Divine One, performed here on this earth by the corporeal servants of the Most High.

No one needs to believe us or our words, but may they come to know through our works the One who resides deep in our souls, whose will we follow to bring G-d’s Kingdom into this world for others to come to know as we know G-d in our midst.

While we followers of Christ are not divine but human, we are still G-d’s sons and daughters. We have been entrusted with power- to forgive sins, heal the sick, preach the Gospel; to follow in Christ’s footsteps, to be sons and daughters of a Living G-d.

Action

May we talk less and act more, just as our Lord does. May we speak less & love more, in the footsteps of Jesus, as the sons  and daughters of our Divine Parent.

Pam Catalano

Parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus American National Catholic Church

Published in: on April 12, 2019 at 3:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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