Sunday, March 25, 2018

Keeping the week Holy

With the celebration of Passion/Palm Sunday the Church begins the period traditionally called Holy Week. Thursday through Sunday we will celebrate the events that form the core of the Christian faith, the passion (suffering), death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In Catholic Churches this is also the time of year when we celebrate the Chrism Mass where the bishop blesses the oils used in the Sacraments of the Church throughout the year, and the priests come together with their bishop to renew the promises made at ordination. 

In times past in Christian nations Holy Week was a time when business halted to prepare for and celebrate the holy days. Now, even many organizations with “Catholic” in their title keep operating in a “business as usual” fashion throughout most, if not all, of Holy Week.  Without the cultural assistance, the individual Christian must make a concerted effort to keep this week holy. We must each decide those actions we will take to set this week apart from the other 51 weeks of the year. 

We can begin with an increase in daily prayer and a commitment to attend the liturgies Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday. Here in the Diocese of Richmond the Chrism Mass will be held at the Cathedral on Monday evening. 

In his first general audience on March 27, 2013 Pope Francis spoke of what it means to live Holy Week

Living Holy Week, following Jesus not only with the emotion of the heart; living Holy Week, following Jesus means learning to come out of ourselves in order to go to meet others, to go towards the outskirts of existence, to be the first to take a step towards our brothers and our sisters, especially those who are the most distant, those who are forgotten, those who are most in need of understanding, comfort and help. There is such a great need to bring the living presence of Jesus, merciful and full of love!

Living Holy Week means entering ever more deeply into the logic of God, into the logic of the Cross, which is not primarily that of suffering and death, but rather that of love and of the gift of self which brings life. It means entering into the logic of the Gospel. Following and accompanying Christ, staying with him, demands “coming out of ourselves”, requires us to be outgoing; to come out of ourselves, out of a dreary way of living faith that has become a habit, out of the temptation to withdraw into our own plans which end by shutting out God’s creative action.

Today each of us must decide what we will do each day of the week so that we may be drawn more fully into the Holiness of Holy Week. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The deafness of preconception

In today’s Gospel we have the story of Jesus curing the man at the pool at Bethesda. The part of the story that we can easily overlook is what happens next. As the man is walking along, he  is spotted by some people. We don’t know how many. They are  simply referred to as “the Jews“.

They see a man walking with mat on the Sabbath, a clear violation of the law. Fascinating part of the story is what happens next. And remind him that is unlawful to carry his mat on the Sabbath. And he responds, 

The man who made me well told me,’ Pick up your mat and walk.’“

What is most interesting is the fact that they skip over the first part of the settings and, only hear the second half.

Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?

They skip over “the man who made me well.” They miss the miracle. 

They are so fixated on their agenda they can’t hear what is being said. Someone has just told them the Good News, a miracle and all they can do is obsess over a violation of the Sabbath. 

How often are we those people, so driven by our own agenda and judgements that we cannot truly listen.