April 1 : Holy Thursday : The Day of Love

March 31st, 2021

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First Reading  Ex 12:1-8, 11-14
Responsorial Psalm PS 116:12-13, 15-16BC, 17-18
Second Reading  1 Cor 11:23-26
Gospel Reading  Jn 13:1-15

 

The Mass of the Lord's Supper is characterized by the announcement of the commandment of love and the gesture of washing the feet.What Jesus did at the last supper when he washed the feet of his disciples, was not just an act of humility. It was an act of love revealing our God who is ‘passionately loving in his self-giving service’. In Johns Gospel, the Eucharistic meal is a celebration of the whole life of Jesus Christ. The last supper is not separated from his other meals which he took with the publicans and sinners and with Pharisees and with well to do people and above all with his own disciples. Foot washing expresses what living a life of self-emptying love looks like in imitation of the Lord who emptied Himself for us and who still does in the Most Holy Eucharist. It has been traditionally referred to as the Mandatum, the Command. It is an invitation to become a man or woman poured out for others. A Christian who lives the love of Charity (Caritas), the Love of Jesus Christ, makes Jesus Christ real. In so doing, the Incarnation continues.

March 28 - Passion Sunday : Marching with Jesus

March 31st, 2021

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Gospel at the Procession with Palms   Mark 11:1-10 or John 12:12-16
Jesus enters Jerusalem as the crowds shout, “Hosanna!”

First Reading  Isaiah 50:4-7
The Lord's servant will stand firm, even when persecuted.

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 22:8-9,17-18,19-20,23-24
A cry for help to the Lord in the face of evildoers

Second Reading  Philippians 2:6-11
Christ was obedient even to death, but God has exalted him.

Gospel Reading
Mark 14:1—15:47 (shorter form: Mark 15:1-39)

Palm Sunday is the great doorway into Holy Week, the week when the Lord Jesus makes his way towards the culmination of his earthly existence. Today’s liturgy calls us to keep in mind two points. 1) The early Church Fathers saw a symbol in the gesture of the people who followed Jesus, the gesture of spreading out their clothes/coats before the Lord. Before Christ –the Fathers said- we must spread out our lives in an attitude of gratitude and adoration.   2) The totality of the human abandonment of Jesus which is portrayed by Mark. All flee, with the last one leaving even his clothes behind in order to get away from Jesus – the opposite of leaving all things to follow him. Have you abandoned Jesus like that young man reported in the Gospel of Mark?

March 21- Fifth Sunday in Lent Year B :

March 19th, 2021

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First Reading Jeremiah 31:31-34
Jeremiah tells the people that the Lord will make a new covenant with them, planting the law within their hearts.

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,14-15
A prayer for God’s mercy and forgiveness

Second Reading  Hebrews 5:7-9
Through his sufferings, Jesus gained salvation for all who obey him.

Gospel Reading  John 12:20-33
Jesus teaches his disciples about the way in which he will be glorified by God, and a voice from heaven is heard to affirm this teaching.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from the Gospel of John. We are reading much further into John’s Gospel than we have for the past two weeks. Chapter 12 of John’s Gospel is a preparation for the beginning of the passion narrative to follow. Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead—an important sign in John’s Gospel, which inspired many people to believe in Jesus. This event also marks the turning point in Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish authorities. John’s Gospel tells us that the Sanhedrin met after this event and made plans to kill Jesus. In the 12th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is anointed at Bethany and enters Jerusalem in triumph. We again see evidence of the significance of the raising of Lazarus to this event; John reports that the crowds also gathered to see Lazarus.

Following his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus predicted his suffering, death, and Resurrection and prepared his disciples to believe in the salvation that his death would accomplish. Using the metaphor of the grain of wheat, Jesus presented the idea that his dying would be beneficial. He also taught that those who would be his disciples must follow his example of sacrifice. This theme will be repeated in John’s account of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as an example of how they must serve one another.

The final section of today’s Gospel might be read as John’s parallel to the agony in the garden. Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John does not record Jesus’ anguished prayer in the garden of Gethsemane before his arrest. Although comparable words are found in today’s reading, Jesus gives a confident response to the question he raises when asking God to save him from his impending death. After announcing his conviction that it is for this purpose that he came, a voice from heaven speaks, as if in answer to Jesus’ prayer. This voice, like the one heard at Jesus’ baptism and at Jesus’ Transfiguration—events reported in the Synoptic Gospels but not in John’s Gospel—affirms that God welcomes the sacrifice that Jesus will make on behalf of others. In John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches that this voice was sent for the sake of those who would believe in him.

In today’s Gospel, we also hear Jesus speak about the cosmic framework against which we are to understand his passion, death, and Resurrection. Through his death and Resurrection, Jesus conquered Satan, the ruler of this world. In this way the world is judged, but the judgment is not condemnation. Instead, through Jesus’ dying and rising, salvation is brought to the world.

March 14 - Fourth Sunday of Lent :

March 13th, 2021

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First Reading  2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23
The causes for the Israelites’ captivity in Babylon are described.

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 137:1-2,3,4-5,6
A lament from exile for the loss of Jerusalem

Second Reading  Ephesians 2:4-10
In grace we have been saved, so that we may do the work of the Lord.

Gospel Reading
John 3:14-21
Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Son of Man will be raised up so that those who believe in him will have eternal life.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The fourth Sunday of Lent is sometimes called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is a Latin word that means “rejoice.” Traditionally, Sundays are named after the first word of the liturgy’s opening antiphon. On this Sunday, the antiphon is taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 66:10-11). Even as we observe our Lenten sacrifices, we rejoice in anticipation of the joy that will be ours at Easter.

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from John’s Gospel. It consists of two parts. The first part is the final sentence of Jesus’ reply to Nicodemus, the Pharisee who approached Jesus at night. Nicodemus acknowledged Jesus as someone who had come from God and seemed to want to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus greeted Nicodemus with the observation that one must be born from above to see the Kingdom of God. The dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus that followed was about the meaning of this phrase. Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus at every point, but there was no animosity in the questions he posed to Jesus.

In the part of the conversation with Nicodemus in today’s Gospel, Jesus referred to an incident reported in the Old Testament. When the Israelites grumbled against the Lord during their sojourn in the desert, God sent venomous serpents to punish them for their complaints. The Israelites repented and asked Moses to pray for them. The Lord heard Moses’ prayer and instructed him to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole. All who had been bitten by a serpent and then looked upon the bronze serpent were cured. By recalling this story, Jesus alludes to the salvation that would be accomplished through his death and Resurrection.

The second part of today’s Gospel is a theological reflection on Jesus’ words to Nicodemus. The Gospel of John is known for this kind of reflection offered within the narrative. The words of the Evangelist are in continuity with the words of the prologue to John’s Gospel. In these reflections, John elaborates on a number of themes that are found in his Gospel: light and darkness, belief and unbelief, good and evil, salvation and condemnation.

In John’s reflection, we find an observation about human sinfulness. Jesus is the light that has come into the world, but people preferred the darkness. We wish to keep our sins hidden, even from God. Jesus has come into the world to reveal our sins so that they may be forgiven. This is the Good News; it is the reason for our rejoicing in this season of Lent and throughout our lives.

March 7 - Third Sunday of Lent Year B

March 5th, 2021

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First Reading  Exodus 20:1-17 (or shorter form, Exodus 20:1-3,7-8,12-17)
Moses is given the Ten Commandments.

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 19:8,9,10,11
A prayer of praise to God who gives us his commandments

Second Reading  1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Paul preaches Christ crucified to the Corinthians.

Gospel Reading
John 2:13-25
Jesus drives out the moneychangers from the Temple and says that he will destroy the temple and raise it up again.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In today’s Gospel we read about how Jesus overturned the tables of the merchants and the moneychangers in the Temple at Jerusalem. In order to understand the relevance of Jesus’ action, we must learn more about the activities that were going on in the temple area. Worship at the Temple in Jerusalem included animal sacrifice, and merchants sold animals to worshipers. Moneychangers exchanged Roman coins, which bore the image of the Roman emperor, for the temple coins that were needed to pay the temple tax.

Jesus’ action at the Temple in Jerusalem is recorded in all four Gospels and is often understood to be among the events that led to Jesus’ arrest and Crucifixion. The Gospel of John, however, places this event much earlier in Jesus’ public ministry than do the Synoptic Gospels. In John’s Gospel this event occurs at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, after his first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

We must read the Gospel of John carefully, especially in its presentation of Jesus’ relationship to Judaism. The Gospel of John tends to reflect greater tension and animosity between Jesus and the Jewish authorities than the Synoptic Gospels. The Gospel of John was the last of the four Gospels to be written, and its narrative reflects the growing divide between the Jewish community and the early Christian community. Thus, greater emphasis on the distinction between Christianity and Judaism is found in John’s Gospel.

Reflecting upon the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), John recalls Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple and uses that story to interpret this later event. John explains to his audience, an early Christian community, that temple worship would no longer be necessary because it was surpassed in the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. With greater frequency than the other Evangelists, John intersperses post-Resurrection reflections of this Christian community in his narrative.

After clearing the Temple of the merchants and the moneychangers, John’s Gospel tells us that the people asked for a sign of Jesus’ authority to do such an audacious act. In response, Jesus predicted his death and Resurrection. Throughout John’s Gospel, the language of signs is distinctive. Jesus’ miracles are called signs, and the people look to these signs for proof of his authority. Here we learn that the sign par excellence will be Jesus’ passion, death, and Resurrection.

During Lent we reflect upon the meaning of this sign for us and for our world. We might take this opportunity to consider the quality of our prayer and worship. In our prayers we seek to deepen our relationship with the person of Christ. In our worship with the community, we gather to experience anew the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus and its significance in our lives. Christ promises to be present with us when we gather for prayer.

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