Easter Sunday – April 17, 2022

Easter Sunday – April 17, 2022

EasterC22.     Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43.     “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.”  Jesus, who to the naked-eye seemed to be just another human being was given a ministry that showed he was “Lord of all.” (AA 10:36c)  The Apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and so were commissioned “to preach and testify” that Jesus was “appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.”  Jesus is the Messiah, our Savior.

Psalm 118: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.”  What human beings build will one day crumble.  What God builds lasts forever.

John 20:1-9.   When Mary of Magdala saw the tombstone removed, she assumed someone had taken Jesus’ body away.  When she told Peter and John, they ran to see but did not find the body but only the burial cloths with the head cloth “rolled up in a separate place.”  Apparently what John saw and believed was that the body was not there, since “they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”   Although Jesus had told them before that he was to suffer, die and rise from the dead, they were not able to grasp what he had said to them.  To fully take in the reality of the risen Christ is to live so that Christ may be risen in us, giving us his life as the source of our daily life.  “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” (John 15:4a)

Colossians 3:1-4.   To embrace Christianity means to die to everything that is not of Christ so to rise to a life that lives in Christ.  To be Christian, that is, ‘of Christ’ means to belong to him from the depths of our being.  Outwardly we look like anyone else; inwardly, we are totally new and different.  While we are here on earth we do not belong to this world but to God.  Jesus said in John 17:16a, “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” “Jesus also said in John 18:36a: “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”  We are his now and forever.

Easter Sunday – 2019

East1C19.   Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43.  God commissioned the apostles to preach and testify that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.” “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.  This man God raised on the third day.”  “He is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.”  “Everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”  The man who died on the cross was Jesus in his humanity, not Jesus in his divinity.  Divinity cannot die.  If it could, divinity would not be divine.  Nevertheless the humanity and divinity of Jesus were so intimately bound together that we can say that in Christ God the Son sacrificed himself through his humanity to God the Father to give the only divine level of sacrifice that would be the adequate sacrifice for our sins, since the One offended by our sins is divine.  Only a sacrifice that was divine could satisfy for sins against divinity.

John 20:1-9. Mary of Magdala “saw the stone removed from the tomb.” She told Peter and John who went into the tomb.  John and more than likely Peter also, “saw and believed.  For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” What did they believe from what they saw?  I understand that what they believed was what Mary said, “They have taken from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”  Before Jesus’ appearance after the resurrection, they, as with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “did not yet understand that he had to rise from the dead.”  Jesus had to actually to appear to them bodily and humanly so that he could, as it says in our first reading, make them witnesses, “who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”  Jesus was truly dead and truly came back to life here in this world. He was not present to them just as a memory from the past but actually physically returned to be with them as the Jesus, once dead but now risen back to life in this world.  Our Jesus has conquered sin through his sacrifice of himself on the cross.  He also conquered the death that came from sin.  He has given his victory to us so that we may be former sinners come to a new life, as saints.

Colossians 3:1-4. “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”  Paul calls to mind what Jesus said, “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” (John 17:16)   And once again, when Peter rejected Jesus’ prophesy that he had to die on the cross, Jesus said, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Matthew 17:23c)  As human beings from birth we become imbued with the ways of this world.   Jesus and Paul call upon us to be like fish out of water, being more heavenly than earthly while we are still here on earth.  In Luke 18:27 Jesus said, “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God.”  God enables us to die to the ways of this world even while we are in this world, since he replaces our inner earthly life with a share of life from his divine life.  We refer to that divine life within us as sanctifying grace.  In a sense we die to a worldly life so to rise to a heavenly life.  “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.”  We are sinners redeemed from our sins by his redeeming sacrifice on the cross.

Palm Sunday – April 10, 2022

PalmC22.      Isaiah 50:4-7.   God gave Isaiah the capacity to speak God’s message to God’s People.  However, the people abused him badly, spitting on him, beating him, plucking his beard.  Yet Isaiah kept on preaching what God wanted him to say, never stopping, setting his “face like flint.”

Luke 22:14 – 23:56.  The scene is of eating and drinking at the table.  Jesus continues that he will not eat or drink until the fulfillment of God’s kingdom comes but that one day his Apostles will eat and drink at his table in the kingdom.  The Last Supper is the first meal of a supper that is being repeated endlessly.  As Jesus commanded us, we eat the bread that is his body and drink the wine that is his blood “in memory of” Jesus that the love by which he gave himself on the cross may be the sustenance that is the life we live in him.  Jesus is the life which enables us to “bear much fruit,” love and holiness.  (John 15: 5c)    Jesus reminds his Apostles that there was a time when their goodness would bring out goodness from others and so others would provide for their physical needs. However, now is a time “for the power of darkness,” when one must take along money, provisions and a means of self-defense.  Jesus’ excruciating suffering that he willing undertook to redeem us from our sins shows the spectacular enormity of his love for us that enabled him to give himself up as a redemptive sacrifice.  Pilate and Herod and Jewish authorities were blind to the spiritual and could only recognize worldly physical force.  The mob that called for the crucifixion of Jesus sought to murder Jesus who only showed love and kindness.   Yet they released Barabbas, who was imprisoned for rebellion and murder.  It was a show of the strength of his love by which Jesus rendered himself weak in the hands of the forces of darkness. He showed he was powerfully in charge when he lovingly sent the good Thief off to paradise.  Evil was allowed to have its day but not eternity.

Philippians 2:6-11.   John 1:14a says “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  God became flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit in Mary.  God became one of us by the cooperation of Mary, who was God’s creation or creature, one of us.  God allowed himself to become human, without relinquishing his divinity, so that he could become an excruciatingly bloody sacrifice in order to redeem us from our sins.  It was out of the strength of his love for us that Jesus chose to submit himself to the brutality of the evil forces that confronted him. That humility was out of love for us, so almighty was his love for us.  Jesus’ divinity did not shield him from the horror he was to suffer but delivered him in obedience to it.  “Because of this, God greatly exalted him” so that “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  We are loved more than we can possibly fathom.

Palm Sunday – 2019

PalmC19.   Isaiah 50:4-7.  This is the prophecy of the Suffering Servant, probably Isaiah speaking of himself but in Holy Week transferred to Jesus.  “My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.”

Psalm 22.    Jesus repeats the first verse: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” while on the cross as if to start saying the whole psalm.  “All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: ‘He relied on the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him.’”  Jesus genuinely feels the excruciating pain of his body and the insults.  This is not a sham sacrifice to the Father for our sins; this is the real thing wholly and completely.  By this genuine sacrifice of himself to His Father, we are redeemed.  It could be nothing less.  How great is his love for us!  In spite of the unfathomable horror he is enduring, he never losses faith in the Father, saying to him, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Luke 22:14 – 23:56.  Jesus, referring to the sacrifice he was about to make, offers up in the Eucharistic form his own body, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”  Although the bread visually appears to be only bread, it now comes in substance to be his body which he himself offers up and commands us to do likewise in our Mass.  Jesus continues the tradition of the Old Testament Law of consuming the flesh of the sacrifice by those who offer it up.  Leviticus 7:6 reads, “All the males of the priestly line may partake of it; but it must be eaten in a sacred place, since it is most sacred.”  Leviticus 7:15a says, “The flesh of the thanksgiving sacrifice shall be eaten on the day it is offered.”  The sacrifice on the cross happened then once and for all; the Mass re-presents that same sacrifice over and over again.  Please read John 6:53-57.  Jesus becomes the food and indeed the spiritual life itself of our being.  “Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.  Jesus makes it clear to them that service, love in action, is the measure of greatness.  He proclaims to them they will have a special place in his kingdom in heaven.  In the Our Father prayer Jesus teaches to pray, “Thy kingdom come” to God the Father, which I believe calls upon the Father to establish his kingdom here in the hearts of those who believe in his Son Jesus.  Both Pilate and the ‘good thief’ find that Jesus is not guilty of any crime.  Nevertheless Pilate allow Jesus to be put to death, since it was politically expedient not to have news of a big riot get back to the emperor.  On the other hand, the ‘good thief’ rebukes the other crucified thief out of respect for what is righteous.  As with the Apostles, Jesus rewards him with a place in heaven.  That is the same reward that we seek because of our loyalty to Christ our King.  We want to live eternally in the love of the Christ who loved us so deeply and dearly that he died for us on the cross.

Philippians 2:6-11.   God, though magnificently almighty, out the depths of his love for the human beings he created, became a creature of his own creation, a helpless fetus and then infant, genuinely and totally dependent upon another creature, his mother Mary.  “He emptied himself,” taking on humanity so that one day he could offer himself as the redemptive sacrifice on the cross.  “Because of this, God greatly exalted him” so that “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

5th Sunday of Lent – April 3, 2022

5LC22.     Isaiah 43:16-21.    The Lord did wondrous things for the Hebrews in the past.  However he says, “Remember not of the events of the past.” “See, I am doing something new!”  “For I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink.”  God in his love for us wants us to always look forward to what more he has for us.

John 8:1-11.  The scribes and the Pharisees were trying to entrap Jesus by making him choose to obey the Jewish Law and so go against the Roman law that forbid the Jews from putting people to death.  Of course, Jesus chose neither but rather forgiveness.  So he challenged the adulterous woman to live a new sinless life.  When we sin, Jesus calls us to repent and to begin again anew, “forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13b)

Philippians 3:8-14.  Paul wrote, “For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” “Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.”  Our journey through this life to heaven is leaving behind all that is not of Christ so that we grow more in Christ.

5th Sunday of Lent – 2019

5LC19.   Isaiah 43:16-21 & Psalm 126.   The almighty God has done wondrous things for his people, parting the sea and destroying the army that set out to destroy his people.  To form a people for himself he led them through the desert, giving them water to drink and food to eat.  His people praise him for the great things he did for them by leading them out of captivity from both Egypt and Babylon.  They come back rejoicing. God saved his People!

John 8:1-11.  The Pharisees and scribes brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery so that they could test him.  If he agreed that she should be stoned, then he could be brought before the Roman authorities who forbade executions without their permission.  On the other hand, if Jesus refused to allow her to be stoned to death, he could be brought before the Jewish authorities for disobeying what Moses had prescribed.  The genius of Jesus is that he put the decision right back into their hands with the stipulation that “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  That put the onus on each individual to declare by his action that he was without sin.  That community of Jews knew one another well enough so as to know who was innocent and who was not among them.  What Jesus wrote on the ground is not stated but I think we can guess that he wrote things that challenged their innocence.  So they all left one by one.  John the Evangelist often uses language on two levels of meaning, literally and figuratively or metaphorically.  Here perhaps he is using the phrase “Jesus bent down” to say he went down to the lower level to deal with sin and then “Jesus straightened up” to say he went up to a higher level to raise the standards to a higher level that is virtue.  The adulterous woman is sent off to live at that higher level.  Jesus said in John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

Philippians 3:8-14.  Paul’s expression of his personal faith is a wonderful summary of what we should all be living for.  Paul has come to know the invisible Jesus both personally and spiritually.  Now living his life in Christ, anything else in this world that is not in tune with that relationship with Jesus feels to him to be just “so much rubbish.”  Paul seems to me to be saying: ‘I am nothing if Christ is not my life; I have everything’ “since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.”  In many of his epistles Paul reflects a rejection of the kind of religious life that many of the Jews seem to have had in his day that made the rituals and regulations of the Law to be as a god for them without actively having God himself as the supreme ruler of their lives.  However, as long as we are in this world, the struggle is not finished.   Paul writes, ‘I am’ “straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, Christ Jesus.” Let us join him!  As for the adulterous woman and Paul, Christ Jesus is our eternal salvation.

4th Sunday of Lent – March 27, 2022

4LC22.    Joshua 5:9a, 10-12.    “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.’”  God is saying that he has removed the dishonor, disgrace or shame from the Hebrews that was theirs since they were used as work horses by the Egyptians.  Now God made them a new creation, having their own land and eating the produce of that land.

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.    In this parable Jesus answers the complaint of the Pharisees and scribes that he “welcomes sinners and eats with them.” The father rejoices that his prodigal son has come “to his senses” in recognizing the disgrace of his gross sinfulness.  His son has become a new creation, rejecting his old ways and seeking reconciliation with his father.  The elder son, who is similar to and is as a parallel to the scribes and Pharisees, is offended that so much positive attention is being given to the scoundrel son, while he, who has been always loyal to his father, seems to be just taken for granted by his father.  The father responds, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.”  The father is calling upon the son to live daily in the joy and delight that his father has for him.  God is love.  Being fully a son or daughter of God should be a joyful, life-giving daily experience.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21.   Paul writes, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” To be ‘in Christ’ is to be reconciled by Jesus who no longer holds our trespasses or sins against us but unites us to the Father.  Having been entrusted to deliver ‘the message of reconciliation’, Paul and his fellow missionaries encouraged everyone to recognize their sinfulness and seek to be united wholly and fully to God the Father.

4th Sunday of Lent – 2019

4LC19.   Joshua 5:9a, 10-12.    God has led the Israelite people across the Jordan.  Then “the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.’”  I understand the ‘reproach’ that God has removed to be the shame, disgrace or dishonor of their subjection to a state of slavery to the Egyptians.  God’s promise to give them a land overflowing with milk and honey is now in the process of being fulfilled. Their exodus from Egypt began with the celebration of the Passover and now ends outside Jericho with that same celebration.  God’s loving mercy has powerfully delivered what was tragically lost to become something whole, holy and new: the Israelite People in possession of their own land.

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.   Jesus answers the complaint of the Pharisees and scribes that “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” in this 15th chapter of Luke with three parables.  The first two parables in Luke 15:4-10 of the ‘Lost Coin’ and the ‘Lost Sheep’ (which are not included in this Sunday’s reading) come to the same conclusion as the third parable of the ‘Prodigal or Lost Son’: God rejoices that those who were lost to sin are now found so that they can return to a proper relationship with God, holiness.  The younger son on demanding that he now get his inheritance without having to wait until his father dies is in effect saying to his father ‘as far as I am concerned I now consider you dead’.  He then leaves to squander his part of his family’s hard earned fortune on a period of dissipation with prostitutes.  Penniless, with nothing to eat, he decides to return to his father, no longer as his son since he had considered his father as dead to get his inheritance, but as a hired hand.  On his return, “while he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.”  Although the younger son just tries to get a job from his father, the father will have nothing of that since he loves his son so deeply.  He welcomes his son with the finest robe, a ring, sandals and a spectacular feast, since his son “was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.”  It struck me that this will be the kind of celebration that there will be when a repentant sinner gets to heaven.  In Jesus’ three parables in Luke 15 those who were lost but whom Jesus is now seeking to have returned to a state of holiness are analogous to the sinners that the Pharisees and the scribes are complaining about.  In turn the older son is analogous to the Pharisees and the scribes who have always been obedient to the Law.  Jesus is saying that they should be of the same mind as the father in the parable who rejoices at the return of the sinner to be reconciled to God, the Father.  As God’s love is merciful, so should we be.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21.   “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation.”  The question is what does it mean to be “in Christ.”  1 John 4:16 says, “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.  God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” Whoever remains in God’s love for us remains in God.  1 John 5:12 says, “Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.”  I have God; God has me.  Without God, life is as material life is, that ends in rot.  In John 6:53b, Jesus says “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”  In John 6:56, Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”  To be “in Christ,” means that Christ is our life; neither we nor anything or anyone is our life but Christ.  Christ is everything for us;  anything or anyone else is nothing to us, except to the degree that we relate to it or them out of our relationship to Christ.  Carrying that a step further is to say, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” Since we have found such peace, joy and truth from our life in Christ, we ought to strive to bring everyone into that same relationship with Christ.  As we are in Christ, everyone should also be in Christ.  We are ambassadors from a spiritual world to a people who belong in heart and mind to an earthly world that does not relate to spiritual reality.  We have the ministry of reconciliation, i.e. to reconcile or re-establish the proper relationship between God and ourselves and others around us, to bring, not only ourselves but, all to be in Christ.

3rd Sunday of Lent – March 20, 2022

3LC22.   Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15.     “An angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in fire out of a bush.”  When Moses approached, God said, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your fathers.”  Seeing the affliction of his people in Egypt, God announces that he has come to rescue his people from the hands of the Egyptians.  God reveals that he is “I am who am” or Yahweh.  He is to be remembered as the God who is kind and merciful, always thinking of and pouring out his goodness on his people.

Luke 13: 1-9.  Jesus points out that failure to repent for our sins leads to the destruction of our souls.  The Holy Spirit has been given to us in our baptism.  Daily he pours his divine grace into us so that we are enabled to become a holy people.  If we fail to cooperate with that grace so to grow in holiness, we will be like the tree that was cultivated and fertilized but did not bear fruit.  We will be cut down and perish.  God, because he loves us dearly, pours his grace into us but he demands fruitful results.

1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12.  Paul uses the example of the Hebrews in their exodus from Egypt to point out that God was with them but, since they were not always with God, few of them who left Egypt reached the Promised Land.  Paul is warning us not to be complacent and think that we are doing all there is to be done.  We must live in the hands of the Lord and not our own.  On our own we can never become a holy people.

3rd Sunday of Lent – 2019

3LC19.   As Moses was tending a flock, he saw that a “bush, though on fire, was not consumed.  Approaching the burning bush, God called out to Moses, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.  I am the God of your fathers.”  Speaking to Moses, God said that he came to rescue the Israelites from their afflictions at the hands of the Egyptians “and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”  First, Moses was to tell the Israelites: “I AM sent me to you.”  God lives not where time progresses from the past through the present to the future but in the eternal now without any progression in time because he is always infinitely the same who can never gain or lose anything.  He is absolutely perfect always. Secondly, he uses his infinite power to rescue his loved ones from danger.  He is not a god who is aloft and distant but a God who is present and involved because he is love.

Luke 13:1-9.  Jesus says, “If you do repent, you will all perish as they did!”  Lent is the time to be deeply aware of the horrible peril of hell.  We are the fig tree in the parable.  Produce the fruit that is holiness or be cut down and cast into the fire of hell.  The Lord will fertilize us with his grace but he demands results.  He will not accept any excuses.

1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12.  Paul tells the Corinthians that those who went through the desert exodus with Moses “all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink;” “yet God was not pleased with most of them.” Going through a past that had many spiritual connections, does not mean necessarily that we learned to give our hearts over to God.  Evil befell them and “they were struck down in the desert,” “examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things as they did.”  They are “as a warning to us.” “Whoever is thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.”  Both Apostles Peter and Judas fell.  One repented; the other perished.  Human nature of itself cannot save us.  It will lead us naturally to be dependent on our own resources and be led by our human nature to do what we want.  James and John, the sons of Zebedee, and their mother asked for the sons to take the places of greatest honor in Jesus’ kingdom.  It is human nature to get ahead and leave the others behind.  However Jesus said in Matthew 20: 27-28, “and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” It is human nature to desire to be in control.  To follow Christ means to let God be in control.  That is the cross that Jesus demands that we carry.  One moment being filled with God’s grace and so desiring that we belong to God’s Will only; the next, being naturally who we are and so wanting to run things our self.