Easter Sunday

Gospel JN 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

Reflection

Christ has Risen!

Truly, He has Risen!

Christos Anesti!

Alithos Anesti!

Happy Easter!

The line “for they did not yet understand…” from today’s Gospel account to the Resurrection might reflect the state of all of us celebrating the joy of the Resurrection in these troubling times of the global pandemic. We, too, do not yet fully understand the plan of God for us, and like the disciples we may need this Eastertide to experience the meaning of the Resurrection in our lives, that “suffering, pain, and sighs have now fled away.”

The joy we experience at Easter, the central mystery of our faith is in fact the belief in the Spirit of God calling Jesus and us from death to life. We embrace Easter like we never have before, let us keep this close to our hearts “He has Risen” and so shall we. Easter is the promise that we will pass through this time of death to new life. Not the life we had before, but one transformed by the experience of being raised to new life by the love of God.

The words of Hesychius of Jerusalem, a priest in the fifth century, who lived at a time of great turmoil asks us to remember what it is that we celebrate today:

For who has known the mind of God, or who has been his counselor if not the Word made flesh, who was nailed to the cross, who rose from the dead, and who was taken up into heaven?

“This day brings a message of joy: it is the day of the Lord’s resurrection when, with himself, he raised up the race of Adam. Born for the sake of human beings, he rose from the dead with them.

On this day paradise is opened by the risen one, Adam is restored to life and Eve is consoled.

On this day the divine call is heard, the kingdom is prepared, we are saved and Christ is adored.

On this day, when he had trampled death under foot, made the tyrant a prisoner, and despoiled the underworld, Christ ascended into heaven as a king in victory, as a ruler in glory, as an invincible charioteer.

He said to the Father: here am I, O God, with the children you have given me and he heard the Father’s reply: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” To him be glory, now and for ever, through endless ages, amen.”

Easter Homily: Source chrétiennes 187, 66-69

Happy Easter! Let us rise in our faith, let us rise in our hearts, let us rise together in these changing times and forge a new path…Just as Jesus did.

Action

During this time of social distancing and sheltering in place, we can use the current technology to stay connected with each other and share the joy of Easter with each other.

Join in “participating” in the liturgical celebrations of Easter via the live streaming, where available.

Join in spiritual communion with the Church universal:

Because of the tangible and enduring real presence of Jesus Christ In the Eucharist, it is “unlike any other sacrament. The mystery of communion is so perfect that it brings us to the heights of every good thing: Here is the ultimate goal of every human desire, because here we attain God and God joins himself to us in the most perfect union.”

Spiritual Communion is an expression of one’s passionate desire to receive Jesus in the Eucharist and is a loving embrace as though one had already received Him. It is used by many as a preparation for Mass and is also used by individuals who cannot receive Holy Communion. For some, Spiritual Communion has become part of their frequent daily prayer. when one is unable to receive the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion.

Most Rev. George R. Lucey, FCM

Presiding Bishop, American National Catholic Church

Published in: on April 12, 2020 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Holy Saturday

Romans 6:3-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his,
we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
We know that our old self was crucified with him,
so that our sinful body might be done away with,
that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Reflection

If we can look beyond all of the talk of sin and death, Saint Paul has a beautiful message for us: because of Christ’s resurrection, we have eternal life.  His great sacrifice made it possible for us to focus on the radiant light of Easter Sunday rather than the darkness of Good Friday.  Now this eternal life does not begin with our death, but rather it began the moment the waters of baptism graced our heads and the priest said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  At that moment, our lives became all about living for Christ and not ourselves.  At that moment, God called us to be part of something greater than ourselves.  He called us to be focused on living out our Catholic faith rather than only looking out for number one.  At our baptism, we became part of the Christian community and as members of that community we must always remember that we are to see Christ in everyone.  We must not build walls, but rather build bridges that allow us all to come together as one in the Body of Christ. As members in this community, we must always love and care and look out for each other.  We must be a beacon of light to the world and show the love of Christ by loving others.  Now it’s not always easy to love everyone and God does not call us to be perfect.  He does, however, call us to seek forgiveness when we have wronged others and also forgive those who have wronged us.  So as we approach the glory of Easter, let us always remember that we are called by Christ to bring the light of His resurrection to all those who are in darkness and show our love for Him by truly loving and caring for others.

Action

So how can be put our baptismal promises into action? There are countless ways, but perhaps visiting with an elderly neighbor, volunteering at a soup kitchen, praying for those who are sick, doing something kind and unexpected for a family member, or being patient with those who might anger us.  Being baptized by water wasn’t the end of our baptism, but rather it was the beginning of our lives as members of a Christian community and as such we are called by God to do everything we can to bring his love to everyone we meet.

Rev. Dcn. Shaun Ake-Little

Deacon, St. Thomas More ANCC

Published in: on April 11, 2020 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Good Friday

Gospel JN 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.

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

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord…”

This hymn is emblematic of worship on Good Friday. We sing it with gusto. We sing it with sadness.  Today, I use it to guide our meditation.  A simple powerful text, hymn from the Old Plantation Hymnal, that grounds us in hope.

“Were you there when they crucified, my Lord?”

We say, “Yes!  We were there.”  Not only were we there but we share in this crucifixion.   By baptism, we are part of this ultimate expression of love. It is the life fully given for the salvation of others that gives life.  It is the will shaped to the will of God that shapes our heart.  With Jesus, we say yes, “Not my will but yours be done.”

Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?”

We say, “Yes! We were there.”  Holding out arms wide and embracing the world bring nails in our hands and our feet.  We are hung with Jesus on the cross stretching wide our arms and our hearts to hold and love the brokenness of the world.  This is our work through baptism, to embrace and love the world around us.  Love it into hope.  With Jesus we say, “This day you will be with me in paradise?”

Were you there when they pierced him in the side?”

We say, “Yes! We are there.”  Our death is a certainty.  Loving on this earth is not the end.  It is our beginning. We die with Jesus in our baptism and are commissioned to be the living water that flows from his pierced side, to build the church on earth to the glory of the God whose love is released each time our side is pieced by a lance.

“Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

We say, “Yes! We are there.”  Darkness surrounds us in these days of disease and fear.  Darkness holds us in the tomb of sadness and loneliness.  Here we rest in confidence that the resurrection promised us in baptism will break open the tombs of our hearts and bring us new life. 

“O, Sometimes is causes me to tremble…tremble….tremble….

Oh, we do tremble.  We tremble because we, in our humanness, cannot hold all the awe and wonder of these promises.  We know that on the third day Jesus will rise, that we will rise.  We tremble because every day we die and rise again in all we do. We tremble that we are one with Jesus in this amazing gift of love.

Action

Sit and be still.  Allow yourself to enter into the trembling and wonder of this moment.  You are loved  by the One who loved fully. Make a list of the ways the Love opens shatters the tombs of fear the you hold dear.  Keep building that list, day after day.

Prayer

Abba,
You look to us and bless us again and again through the mysteries of grace that are our baptism.  I baptism we died with Jesus today and everyday as we die to our self to embrace your will.  Teach us your love. Transform us into the people you call us to be.  We make our prayer in union with the One who died for us on Calvary, Jesus, the Lord.  Amen.

Rev. Fr. Owen Borda, OPA, PhD

Pastor, St. Dominic de Guzman ANCC

Published in: on April 10, 2020 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Holy Thursday

Gospel    JN 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
     for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’  and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Reflection

Jesus continues to be humble despite his upcoming crucifixion.  He displays his servitude to the disciples through word and action.  He engages in the actions of a servant or one who is welcoming someone of prestige to his home.  Jesus welcomes everyone.  And he shows through his actions that we need to “pay it forward”.  What Jesus did for his disciples, they should do for each other and we should all do for our neighbors.

Imagine how it might have felt to have Jesus, your master and teacher, the Son of God, to rise from the table, wrap a towel around his waist and begin to wash your feet.  We are all disciples of Jesus, so our response to this action would likely be varied depending on how well connected we are feeling to God.  Simon Peter’s discomfort was evident through his questioning, yet Jesus continues to lead him.  To accept him for who he is, knowing that he would be betrayed, yet showing his love and care for him despite Simon Peter’s actions.  Let’s put ourselves in that situation.  Would we sit and go through our feet washing with awe?  Would we be wriggling with discomfort?  Would we be grateful and accept the love of Jesus and join in his servitude?  Spend some time today reflecting on how you might react to Jesus washing your feet, showing is love, even as he neared the cross.

A Prayer for Holy Thursday

Lord God, you sent your only Son to us as both human and divine and before his death, he knelt to the floor to wash the feet of his disciples.  Although both their master and teacher, he humbled himself in this act of unconditional love. God, give us strength in these difficult times, to learn from the example of Jesus.  Help us to keep the vision of your Son before our eyes, in our hearts and our minds.  Guide us with the Holy Spirit to be in service to those who need us.  All glory be to him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.  Amen.

Mthr. Cheryl Smith

Associate Pastor, St. Joseph of Arimathea ANCC

Published in: on April 9, 2020 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday of Holy Week

Gospel MT 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

Judas has always been the greatest villain of the disciples, for he was the one who betrayed Jesus. It is certainly easy to hate him or turn him into a two dimensional evil mastermind, always scheming and stealing from the company pocket. But some scholars have tried to view Judas in a different way.

Some have suggested Judas was a Zionist. He may have believed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, but one who would become a physical king with a throne room and government in Jerusalem. In this reading, he thought he was a catalyst of change for Jesus. After all, there they were in Jerusalem, with a great gathering of Jews. A perfect time to stir up the crowds and become a united people once again! Perhaps Judas thought himself clever to even get the Sanhedrin to give “money to the cause” without their knowing.

In 2005 a play was written called The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, by Stephen Adley Guirgis (ISBN-13: 9780822220824) and attempted to explore this idea. The scene is a purgatory courtroom, with Judas on the defendant seat. The prosecution is the devil, and the defense is Jesus Christ.

A quick synopsis from StageAgent.com:

Judas was the disciple of Jesus who betrayed his friend and teacher to the authorities. He is seen as the man responsible for Jesus’s death; afterwards, Judas fell into despair and hung himself from an olive tree; since then, he has been suffering for his deeds deep in Hell, and will continue to do so for all eternity. Is that really fair? Was Judas the duplicitous master of his own fate, a much-suffering pawn used for Jesus’s ends, or just a man who made a mistake? Set in a courtroom in Purgatory, The Last Days puts Judas’ case to a hilarious, riotous, piercing trial, the results of which are sure to make the inhabitants of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory — and the audience — reconsider what each thought they knew about forgiveness, faith, and the human inside one of the history’s most infamous figures.

Action

Meditate about Judas. Can you think of any other scenarios that are more complicated than “Judas was evil so of course he did it?” Do you have pity for him as a pawn and tool in the great plan, or was he a free acting agent who just made bad choices? What would you do in the same scenario?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we thank you for working creation so that even our bad decisions can work towards your great plan for the world and bring great goodness. We pray that you give mercy to your child Judas Iscariot, and ask that you grant us the humility and wisdom to follow your plan rather than bend it towards our will. Praise be to you great Trinity for all ages. Amen.

William Weightman

ANCC Seminarian, St. Katharine Drexel ANCC

Published in: on April 8, 2020 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday of Holy Week

Gospel 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

The gospel account of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas Iscariot in the gospel according to John  shows an ordinary Passover meal turned into a confusing situation for the dinner guests, culminating in St. Peter promising Jesus that he would lay down his life for Him only to have Jesus remind Peter that before the “cock crows three times you will disown me”.

As Jesus went to leave, Peter became frantic. How odd must it have seemed for the Rabbi to be leaving the Passover meal suddenly, after having sent a disciple away to do whatever it was, he had to do. When Peter asked Jesus where He was going, the Lord’s reply was “Now you cannot follow me where I am going, but later you shall follow me”.  Perhaps Peter thought he had already been following, he went everywhere Jesus went but suddenly, now he had to wait?

Peter and the other apostles may have felt like they were losing their spiritual direction. Where was He going, would He be gone forever? Why can’t they be with Him now, forever? Why is everything changing so fast, how frightening! What does it mean to follow Jesus during confusing and chaotic times, when He seems to be leaving or has seemingly left completely?

Action Step

We cannot see God in human form today, however Jesus is still with us, He never left us.

During this time of social distancing through the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are unable to get to Mass in person. Instead, Mass is being recorded for online viewing.  If you do not already have a sacred space in your home, consider creating one to attend online Mass from. Place some candles in that area, light incense.  Print icons that recall the love of God or draw an icon that brings to mind God’s loving mercy and place them in your sacred space.  Care for this space as you would the sanctuary, for this space is your sanctuary. When you feel fear, uncertainty, helplessness, go to your sanctuary space, your home church, light the candles and invite Christ to be there with you. As you watch mass online, respond as if you were in your parish sanctuary. Know that you are part of the Body of Christ during this isolation, and that today, though the priests are celebrating mass online, be reminded and comforted that it is Christ Himself, our great High Priest who is personally celebrating Mass in the hearts of His beloved creation. He is closer to us than our very breath, we will never be left orphaned, we are never truly alone, the creator of all things “seen and unseen” is still on the throne and invites each of us to a personal audience.

Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

Br. Caleb Oeming, FCM

Holy Family American National Catholic Church

Seminarian

Published in: on April 7, 2020 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday of Holy Week

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.
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.

Reflection

Is money our top priority?

Money was always on the mind of Judas and the love of money is evident here and in the fact that he sold Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver.  Perhaps if Judas had not been so preoccupied with money and the real emptiness of having it, he may not have experienced such a gruesome death.  He chose to be a slave to money.

Martha did not choose money over Jesus, but instead preferred to serve Jesus.  The same is true with Mary and Lazarus.  Mary preferred to anoint Jesus with her expensive perfume, while Lazarus helped to serve Jesus at the table.

If we want our lives to be truly serene and peaceful, we should strive to always prefer Jesus over the desire for money. Money is necessary to be able to live, but it’s a detriment to our relationship with Jesus when money becomes more important.  For example, would you choose to attend Sunday Mass or go somewhere else to earn money?  Money will never satisfy us like Jesus does. 

Is Jesus number one on your priority list?

Prayer

Good and gentle, loving God, help us to focus on what is really important in our lives.  Help us to eschew those things that might block our relationship with you and help us to make you the top priority in our lives.  Keep us from being distracted from The Truth, and focused on your Son Jesus and being the Gospel the world needs today.  We ask this through your Son Jesus, Amen.

Action

Strive to make Jesus your priority today and every day.  Preach the Gospel of Jesus in action every single day.

Jim Jakubowski

ANCC Seminarian, St. Francis of Assisi ANCC

Published in: on April 6, 2020 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Reading

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.”
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 the 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.”

(Matthew 21:1-11)


Reflection

This is the gospel passage that is read at the start of today’s liturgy when the faithful gather, the palms are blessed, and the faithful recall Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. He arrived not on a majestic horse, but on a humble donkey. As he often does, Christ confounds our expectations and surprises us.

This year, most of us will not gather in the traditional way today as we continue to face the pandemic of COVID-19. Some may watch mass online, others may have a “drive thru” Palm Sunday option. Or perhaps it is just another quiet day at home alone. Perhaps this change will afford you the opportunity to sit a little longer, think a little deeper and reflect upon how it is that you can invite Christ to enter into your home and your life.

Perhaps in the midst of all this upheaval, you have found “unexpected” opportunities to embrace a relationship with your Lord. Maybe it is reading the Psalms or praying the rosary. It could be studying the life of the saints. Maybe when you “binge” watching television shows and movies you embrace options to inspire your spirit. “Romero” is on Amazon Prime! This Palm Sunday will be different than any Palm Sunday we have experienced in our lives – let’s embrace the opportunity to make it different in a way that welcomes Christ into our homes more than ever before.

Action step

Explore a new devotion, prayer or habit that you can incorporate into your live that will enrich your relationship with Christ.

Fr. Matthew R. Bailey, FCM

Vicar General, American National Catholic Church

Pastor, St. Joseph of Arimathea ANCC

Published in: on April 5, 2020 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Ezekiel 37:21-28

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will take the children of Israel from among the nations
to which they have come,
and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land.
I will make them one nation upon the land,
in the mountains of Israel,
and there shall be one prince for them all.
Never again shall they be two nations,
and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.

No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols,
their abominations, and all their transgressions.
I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy,
and cleanse them so that they may be my people
and I may be their God.
My servant David shall be prince over them,
and there shall be one shepherd for them all;
they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees.
They shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob,
the land where their fathers lived;
they shall live on it forever,
they, and their children, and their children’s children,
with my servant David their prince forever.
I will make with them a covenant of peace;
it shall be an everlasting covenant with them,
and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.
My dwelling shall be with them;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD,
who make Israel holy,
when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.

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 reading from Ezekiel illustrates God’s intent for the Israelites on Earth – a physical coming together, a gathering, a formation of one nation, in the land promised to them. John’s Gospel reading also speaks of a gathering, but a gathering of like souls, coming together for all eternity by the power of Jesus’ sacrifice. Ezekiel’s Israel referred to the earthly nation. John’s referred to what the word “Isra’el” really means – loosely translated, “those who are empowered by God.” That includes us, grafted onto the olive tree.

Even Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin who in today’s Gospel is seen as planting the first idea that Jesus should be executed, prophesied this gathering of not only the Israelites, but also all “dispersed children of God.”  Though they may be separate physically, they were (or would become) one, united, spiritually.

This message resonates powerfully in these times. Even though we are separated from one another physically, we are united spiritually. It’s hard to see it sometimes, but it is there, and always will be. We are united, we are one, through Jesus’ sacrifice – and as Paul wrote to the Romans, if God is with us, who can be against us?

Action Step

There are thousands out there who are feeling alone, dispersed, scattered – especially now. Pray for them, and for each other. The smallest gestures can help break through the isolation. Going for a walk and passing someone you don’t know on the street (remaining six feet apart, of course)? Even if you are an introvert, force yourself to wave and call out a greeting. A simple “Good morning! Please stay well!” could make someone’s day. Been meaning to reach out to an old friend or settle a dispute? Now would be a great time.

These simple gestures cost you nothing and take little of your time. In making them part of your daily routine, you not only make someone feel good, but you are also gathering the dispersed and reminding them that we are all children of God. And you don’t have to preach a word – your actions are preaching for you. Stay well, stay safe, and God bless you and yours.

James Hammill

ANCC Seminarian, St. Francis of Assisi ANCC

Published in: on April 4, 2020 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Gospel 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

They were going to stone Jesus because of his words and did not consider his works.  Then Jesus tells them to believe the works and not the words as proof that the Father, our God, is in Jesus.  Can you believe what you see? Can you believe what you hear?  Can you trust your senses to tell you what is true and right?  Where does faith come into play with what you believe?

Action

In two days we will celebrate Palm Sunday, the beginning of Christ’s passion.   Let’s take a solemn look at our lives; how will you receive Christ on Palm Sunday?  Take time today to list what you see and what you hear.  Add a column to each of these events and ask yourself if you believe in them.  Do you believe what you do not see? Do you believe what you cannot hear?  Tell Jesus what you believe.

Fr John Bye-Torre, FCM
Pastor, St Stephen’s Parish, Seattle WA

Published in: on April 3, 2020 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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