A Homily – Holy Week, Easter Sunday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

First Reading – Acts 10:34,37-43 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):1-2,16-17,22-23 ©
Second Reading – Colossians 3:1-4 ©
Sequence – Victimae Paschali Laudes
Gospel Acclamation – 1Corinthians 5:7-8
The Gospel According to John 20:1-9 ©

(NJB)

Holy Week, Easter Sunday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation
Receive the Easter message:

Follow Jesus.

Do good.

Love justice.

Be merciful; be a source of healing in the world.

This is the way of Easter; place your hopes in it and believe in the way.

The way is the law, and the law is life.

God’s law is written in hearts. God speaks to us there, do not doubt it.

This is the good news.

The Creator of the universe, and everything in it, God speaks to us in terms of love and mercy, God instructs us in the way of kindness.

All other versions of the law are merely reflections of the divine law, dim and imperfect.

God’s law is like a living flame. Look into the flames and see the truth shimmering there, wrapping itself around the coals.

It is good to uphold God’s law, to demonstrate mercy and compassion through right living, it is a blessing to everyone.

We are truly alive in the world. Our faith calls on us to live as if we believed that the promise of our salvation were true, as if it were true already accomplished and accomplished full.

This is the meaning of the Gospel, the good news that Christ has risen. To possess Christian faith is trust in this proposition, it is trust in the belief that you, and everyone, will rise as Christ did, not in a transactional way, as an exchange for our “belief,” but merely because God loves us.

Imagine the holy family of God, God who created the universe and everything in it. Imagine the holy family, by which I mean the entirety of creation. Imagine all of us living in the garden now; at peace, without want or enmity, living in that place where we are able to see clearly, that our relationships with each other are more important than gold, political power or any other earthly treasure.

Celebrate the feast of Easter, take part in it and accept the way that Jesus pointed instructed us to follow, the way he showed us through his life, his death and resurrection. It does not matter if any of it is literally true, or not.

Believe in it, even in the dark times, even in times as dark as the first Sunday morning, when Mary Magdala came to the tomb.

They were at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. It was Mary Magdala who anointed him for burial, she was the first to receive the revelation that Jesus had risen.

It was dark when she arrived at the tomb, but not completely, and in the dim light of morning she saw a hint of the truth that would unfold as the sun rose to fill the day with light.

She saw the stone rolled away from the tomb and found the tomb empty.

At first she assumed that someone had come and removed the body of Jesus, taken him and hidden him somewhere.

She hurried to find the others, to tell them what she had found.

When the other disciples arrived on the scene and explored the empty tomb for themselves, the understanding of what had transpired began to take hold among them.

They saw the empty tomb, the burial garments cast aside, and they understood that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

On that belief, and on the strength of their witness the Church was born

Know this, the Church was not built on the foundation of Peter’s faith, which faltered and failed on the night Jesus was arrested. It was built on the faith of women, like Mary and the others women who never abandoned Jesus, who did everything in their power to make the path that was in front of him smooth.

Throughout his ministry it was the women among his disciples who understood his mission, who fully comprehended the power of his message, including the necessity of responding to it in faith. They responded with trust, not with propositions and creeds, but with actions and their living witness; the women in Jesus’ company were never confused about his mission. They always understood how it would end.

While his male disciples tripped over themselves, doubted him, doubted each other, vied for supremacy, betrayed him, denied him, sold him into captivity; while all of that was going on, the women were steadfast by his side, comforting him, tending to him easing the burden of what lay ahead.

They anointed him, they witnessed his trial, they set aside their fear, they stood by him as he was crucified, they buried him, they waited by the tomb, they prayed for him and they were the first to see him risen.

They followed him to the end, as an example to us all.
First Reading – Acts 10:34,37-43 ©

‘We Have Eaten and Drunk with Him After His Resurrection’

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil. Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and also to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):1-2,16-17,22-23 ©

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Second Reading – Colossians 3:1-4 ©

Look for the Things that Are in Heaven, where Christ Is

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
Sequence

Victimae Paschali Laudes

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
offer sacrifice and praise.
The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb;
and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners to his Father reconciled.
Death with life contended:
combat strangely ended!
Life’s own Champion, slain,
yet lives to reign.
Tell us, Mary:
say what thou didst see
upon the way.
The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ’s glory as he rose!
The angels there attesting;
shroud with grave-clothes resting.
Christ, my hope, has risen:
he goes before you into Galilee.
That Christ is truly risen
from the dead we know.
Victorious king, thy mercy show!
Gospel Acclamation – 1Cor5:7-8

Alleluia, alleluia!

Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed:
let us celebrate the feast then, in the Lord.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 20:1-9 ©

He Must Rise from the Dead

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
Holy Week, Easter Sunday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

A Homily – Holy Week, Holy Saturday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

First Reading – Genesis 1:1-2:2 ©
Psalm 103(104):1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24,35 ©
Second Reading – Genesis 22:1-18 ©
Psalm 15(16):5, 8-11 ©
Third Reading – Exodus 14:15 – 15:1 ©
Canticle – Exodus 15 ©
Fourth Reading – Isaiah 54:5-14 ©
Psalm 29(30):2, 4-6, 11-13 ©
Fifth Reading – Isaiah 55:1-11 ©
Canticle – Isaiah 12 ©
Sixth Reading – Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4 ©
Psalm 18(19):8-11 ©
Seventh Reading – Ezekiel 36:16-17, 18-28 ©
Psalm 41(42):2-3, 5, 42:3-4 ©
Epistle – Romans 6:3-11 ©
Psalm 117(118):1-2, 16-17, 22-23 ©
The Gospel According to Matthew 28:1 – 10 ©

(NJB)

Holy Week, Holy Saturday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation
Listen!

Take this away from the story of creation, and set everything else aside:

God created the Earth and everything in it and saw that it was good, from the beginning to the end God saw that it was good.

God created human beings in God’s own image, as rational creatures God created us, male and female we were made as beings in relationship, and God saw that it was good.

God saw the whole of it, all of us and God saw that we were good.

Remember this!
God is the creator of the universe, the eternal God is the first source and center of all things.

The infinite God engenders all potentialities, and yet interferes with none of them.

The universe that God created, God created it free from coercion, and yet the entirety of what is, moves according to God’s eternal purpose.

Therefore listen and be mindful, because there is much that is errant in scripture.

God did not interact with Abraham in the way God is depicted as doing in this tale from The Book of Genesis.

God never ordered the sacrifice of Isaac, but the culture Abraham came from did. His culture demanded that he make a sacrifice of his firstborn son.

Abraham rejected that demand, showing the people that God would accept something different in return: a lamb in the place of a human child.

It is not that God wanted the sacrifice of the lamb, God did not. Blood cannot serve for the expiation of guilt, only mercy can achieve that.

But God desired a reform in the tradition of Abraham’s people, God desired movement away from the horrors of human sacrifice.

Abraham gave God what God wanted.

This same impetus is reflected in the last acts of Jesus in this world. He gave his life, not as a sacrifice, but so that others would be spared.

God did not want Jesus’ blood, but God loved what Jesus did, God loved him for his fearlessness, for the compassion he showed his people and the mercy he showed to his persecutors on his way to his death on the cross.

Be mindful!

Jesus’ death was not a cosmic event, it was a political murder, it was ordinary in every respect.

There is nothing more to it than that.

Saint Paul and the Gospel writers did a disservice to the Church when they narrated his death as such, they deviated from the way when they translated the story of his death into a substitutionary sacrifice for the expiation of sin.

Jesus was not a goat or lamb, and good never desired the blood of animals for anything.

It was never that.

Take strength from the example of Jesus and trust in God. Faith and confidence are their own reward.

God is good, and all that is good flows from God, everything flows from divine and exists within it.

Look for the good of God in all creation, in everything that unfolds, find the good in you.

There are no alien gods, there are only misconceptions of the one God, including our misconceptions, be especially mindful of them.

All images of God are the stuff of idols, whether they are made of metal, of stone, of wood, or of words, whether they are painted on canvass, or merely colored in the mind.

God calls all of Gods children to God’s self, no one is left out, none are abandoned, not one is lost.

Listen!

It is shameful to portray God as a murderer.

It is shameful to praise the death and destruction of human beings, even those with whom you are fighting.

It is shameful to tell lies, through myth, fable and song, it is shameful to tell lies about the divine nature, and God’s plan for the human family.

Know this:

God, the creator of the universe, God is the parent of us all. God does not lead armies, God does not favor one person, one family, one tribe, or one nation above another. God does not intervene in human affairs, except to saythis:; love one another, be merciful to each other, forgive.
God is not a king. The creator of the universe is not a warrior or a general. God is not the Lord of Hosts. God is the divine parent, parent to us all, including those who have done you wrong.

Be mindful.

The blessings of the lord are often depicted with images of great wealth and ostentatious power.

This is not the way.

What is true in the prophet’s words are these sentiments:

God will never leave us, and the peace of God will not be shaken,

We may not always be able to discern the presence of God., but God is with us. Even when we are disconsolate, unhappy, and feel like we are lost at sea. God is there, experiencing our tribulations with us, and God will deliver us from them in the end.

God, who created the universe, will not intervene in your affairs. God will not lift you up, God will not strike you down. God will not be angry with you, but God does love you, and God’s love is forever.

Listen to the prophet!

The grace of God is free, and all the good things God has in store for us are things God promises to deliver to everyone.

The covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the covenant God made with Moses, Joshua and David, is the covenant God made the prophets, with Jesus and is meant to be a blessing on all people, wherever they are, no matter how near or how far.

God promises to deliver everyone to a state of blessedness, the stranger and the sinner alike.

Preach it!

This is the grace of God, this is the way which Jesus instructed us in, this is the way to the fruits of paradise.

There is wisdom in the words of the prophet, follow it:

Be patient; salvation flows from the wellspring of God, from this life into the next world.

Great are the deeds of the creator, the creator of the universe is great.

Listen! Hear these words!

For some life is nasty, brutish and short. Some are born into suffering and die in it; without ever experiencing a moment of relief.

For most life a mixture of sorrow and joy; of grief and delight, of pleasure and pain. How the world apportions these to the individual is not according to any divine plan.

God made us free, and the creator of the universe does not intervene in our affairs.

There is no magic key, there is nothing we can do to bring the favor of the world to us, except that we be mindful, cautious and loving to one another.

We can prepare for famine and prepare against the onset of war. We can treat each other fairly and grow strong in our relationships to one another and the world.

Blessings will flow from there.

But we cannot prepare for the lightning bolt, it strikes without thought of who might be standing in its path.

When the scriptures tell us that the plight of the children of Israel, their expulsion from their homeland, their exile and their suffering were brought about by God, to punish them for their sin, know that this is false.

We suffer what we suffered because of the choices we make, our shortsightedness; we suffer for the choices other people, because of their cruelty, and sometimes we suffer for no reason at all.

God does not intervene in the lives of human beings, in our politics, in our wars, or in our conflicts.

When the scriptures suggest that God will rescue the same people and restore them to their proper place, it is the same old canard. God does not intervene in the lives people or the politics of human beings.

When we pray for deliverance we are praying for spiritual freedom and the grace to transcend the world. God’s rescue of the people of Israel is a metaphor. It is meant to inform us that no matterwho sinful and deviant we are God still loves us, and though we may not feel as if we deserve it God will save us all. God will save us in spite of ourselves.

Take comfort and joy in the presence of God, the creator of the universe is always with you.

When you are persecuted it is not God who has forgotten you, rather it is your persecutors who have forgotten that you, like they themselves are children of God, they have forgotten that God loves you as much as God loves them.

Do not fail to remember this when the wheel turns and you are in a position of power over others. Remember to see the face of God shining in the faces of all others.

Be mindful.

Jesus was not raised to new life for an extraordinary reason, but for the ordinary reason that God intends to raise all to life, out of the superabundance of God’s love.

Eternal life is not the reward a Christian should seek, as if it were payment for having lived a just life, or through the exhibition of grace and mercy.

True life is ours when we live well.

We defeat death when we stop fearing it.

We come to our authentic life when we free ourselves from the fear of death allowing us to live for what is good and beautiful and true, this is the way that Jesus followed, and instructed us to do the same.

It is true that the God is kind, loving, and merciful.

It is true that God comes to God’s children always in this way, even when God is exercising judgment and administering justice.

God has no enemies. God does not dwell behind the wall of a city. There are no gates barring access to God.

The divine dwells in all places, at all times, and in the hearts of all people.

God does not favor one child above another.

God is a bringing of life, not death.

God loves peace, not war.

Consider the Gospel for today, the narrative of the empty tomb, and know this, know that the mythological tropes in this story are not in the least bit instructive.

The tales of an earthquake, the conversation with the “Angel” of the lord, whose face was like lightning and whose robes were white as snow, these images do not elucidate the way.

They do not teach us anything.

What is important is this: It was not the twelve men who we know of as Jesus’ disciples who first heard the Gospel, and who first proclaimed it, it was two women: Mary of Magdala and the other Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus.

This could not be unwritten, and it tells us that the earliest leaders of the Church were these brave women.

It is important to life them up, to celebrate their faith in a world that sought to dismiss them.

That is the Eater miracle.
First Reading – Genesis 1:1-2:2 ©

God Saw All that He Had Made, and Indeed it was Very Good

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, and God’s spirit hovered over the water.

God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. God called light ‘day’, and darkness he called ‘night.’ Evening came and morning came: the first day.

God said, ‘Let there be a vault in the waters to divide the waters in two.’ And so it was. God made the vault, and it divided the waters above the vault from the waters under the vault. God called the vault ‘heaven.’ Evening came and morning came: the second day.

God said, ‘Let the waters under heaven come together into a single mass, and let dry land appear.’ And so it was. God called the dry land ‘earth’ and the mass of waters ‘seas’, and God saw that it was good.

God said, ‘Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants, and fruit trees bearing fruit with their seed inside, on the earth.’ And so it was. The earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seed in their several kinds, and trees bearing fruit with their seed inside in their several kinds. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the third day.

God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years. Let them be lights in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth.’ And so it was. God made the two great lights: the greater light to govern the day, the smaller light to govern the night, and the stars. God set them in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth, to govern the day and the night and to divide light from darkness. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the fourth day.

God said, ‘Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth within the vault of heaven.’ And so it was. God created great sea-serpents and every kind of living creature with which the waters teem, and every kind of winged creature. God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas; and let the birds multiply upon the earth.’ Evening came and morning came: the fifth day.

God said, ‘Let the earth produce every kind of living creature: cattle, reptiles, and every kind of wild beast.’ And so it was. God made every kind of wild beast, every kind of cattle, and every kind of land reptile. God saw that it was good.

God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth.’

God created man in the image of himself,
in the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them.

God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I give you all the seed-bearing plants that are upon the whole earth, and all the trees with seed-bearing fruit; this shall be your food. To all wild beasts, all birds of heaven and all living reptiles on the earth I give all the foliage of plants for food.’ And so it was. God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good. Evening came and morning came: the sixth day.

Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array. On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing.
Psalm 103(104):1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24,35 ©

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

Bless the Lord, my soul!
Lord God, how great you are,
clothed in majesty and glory,
wrapped in light as in a robe!

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

You founded the earth on its base,
to stand firm from age to age.
You wrapped it with the ocean like a cloak:
the waters stood higher than the mountains.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow in between the hills.
On their banks dwell the birds of heaven;
from the branches they sing their song.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

From your dwelling you water the hills;
earth drinks its fill of your gift.
You make the grass grow for the cattle
and the plants to serve man’s needs.

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your riches.
Bless the Lord, my soul!

Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.
Second Reading – Genesis 22:1-18 ©

The Sacrifice of Abraham, Our Father in Faith

God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’

Rising early next morning Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and started on his journey to the place God had pointed out to him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Then Abraham said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there; we will worship and come back to you.’

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering, loaded it on Isaac, and carried in his own hands the fire and the knife. Then the two of them set out together. Isaac spoke to his father Abraham, ‘Father’ he said. ‘Yes, my son’ he replied. ‘Look,’ he said ‘here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘My son, God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.’ Then the two of them went on together.

When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son.

Abraham called this place ‘The Lord Provides’, and hence the saying today: On the mountain the Lord provides.

The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’
Psalm 15(16):5, 8-11 ©

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
Third Reading – Exodus 14:15 – 15:1 ©

The Sons of Israel Went on Dry Ground Right into the Sea

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me so? Tell the sons of Israel to march on. For yourself, raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and part it for the sons of Israel to walk through the sea on dry ground. I for my part will make the heart of the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow them. So shall I win myself glory at the expense of Pharaoh, of all his army, his chariots, his horsemen. And when I have won glory for myself, at the expense of Pharaoh and his chariots and his army, the Egyptians will learn that I am the Lord.’

Then the angel of God, who marched at the front of the army of Israel, changed station and moved to their rear. The pillar of cloud changed station from the front to the rear of them, and remained there. It came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. The cloud was dark, and the night passed without the armies drawing any closer the whole night long.

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove back the sea with a strong easterly wind all night, and he made dry land of the sea. The waters parted and the sons of Israel went on dry ground right into the sea, walls of water to right and to left of them. The Egyptians gave chase: after them they went, right into the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

In the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians from the pillar of fire and of cloud, and threw the army into confusion. He so clogged their chariot wheels that they could scarcely make headway. ‘Let us flee from the Israelites,’ the Egyptians cried. ‘The Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians!’

‘Stretch out your hand over the sea,’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘that the waters may flow back on the Egyptians and their chariots and their horsemen.’

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and, as day broke, the sea returned to its bed. The fleeing Egyptians marched right into it, and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the very middle of the sea. The returning waters overwhelmed the chariots and the horsemen of Pharaoh’s whole army, which had followed the Israelites into the sea; not a single one of them was left. But the sons of Israel had marched through the sea on dry ground, walls of water to right and to left of them.

That day, the Lord rescued Israel from the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. Israel witnessed the great act that the Lord had performed against the Egyptians, and the people venerated the Lord; they put their faith in the Lord and in Moses, his servant.

It was then that Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song in honour of the Lord:
Canticle – Exodus 15 ©

Hymn of Victory After Crossing the Red Sea

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength, my song, my salvation.
This is my God and I extol him,
my father’s God and I give him praise.

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!

The Lord is a warrior! ‘The Lord’ is his name.
The chariots of Pharaoh he hurled into the sea,
the flower of his army is drowned in the sea.
The deeps hide them; they sank like a stone.

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!

Your right hand, Lord, glorious in its power,
your right hand, Lord, has shattered the enemy.
In the greatness of your glory you crushed the foe.

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!

You will lead your people and plant them on your mountain,
the place, O Lord, where you have made your home,
the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands have made.
The Lord will reign for ever and ever.

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
Fourth Reading – Isaiah 54:5-14 ©

With Everlasting Love the Lord Your Redeemer Has Taken Pity on You

Thus says the Lord:

Now your creator will be your husband, his name, the Lord of Hosts; your redeemer will be the Holy One of Israel, he is called the God of the whole earth.

Yes, like a forsaken wife, distressed in spirit, the Lord calls you back.
Does a man cast off the wife of his youth? says your God.

I did forsake you for a brief moment, but with great love will I take you back. In excess of anger, for a moment I hid my face from you. But with everlasting love I have taken pity on you, says the Lord, your redeemer.

I am now as I was in the days of Noah when I swore that Noah’s waters should never flood the world again. So now I swear concerning my anger with you and the threats I made against you.

For the mountains may depart, the hills be shaken, but my love for you will never leave you and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken, says the Lord who takes pity on you.

Unhappy creature, storm-tossed, disconsolate, see, I will set your stones on carbuncles and your foundations on sapphires. I will make rubies your battlements, your gates crystal, and your entire wall precious stones. Your sons will all be taught by the Lord. The prosperity of your sons will be great. You will be founded on integrity; remote from oppression, you will have nothing to fear; remote from terror, it will not approach you.
Psalm 29(30):2, 4-6, 11-13 ©

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead,
restored me to life from those who sink into the grave.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

Sing psalms to the Lord, you who love him,
give thanks to his holy name.
His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life.
At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

The Lord listened and had pity.
The Lord came to my help.
For me you have changed my mourning into dancing:
O Lord my God, I will thank you for ever.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.
Fifth Reading – Isaiah 55:1-11 ©

Come to Me and Your Soul Will Live, and I Will Make an Everlasting Covenant with You

Thus says the Lord:

Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come! Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat
and rich food to enjoy. Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live.

With you I will make an everlasting covenant out of the favours promised to David. See, I have made of you a witness to the peoples, a leader and a master of the nations. See, you will summon a nation you never knew, those unknown will come hurrying to you, for the sake of the Lord your God, of the Holy One of Israel who will glorify you.

Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near. Let the wicked man abandon his way, the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him, to our God who is rich in forgiving; for my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks. Yes, the heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts.

Yes, as the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.
Canticle – Isaiah 12 ©

The Rejoicing of a Redeemed People

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Truly, God is my salvation,
I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!
Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!
Declare the greatness of his name.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Sing a psalm to the Lord
for he has done glorious deeds;
make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Sixth Reading – Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4 ©

In the Radiance of the Lord, Make Your Way to Light

Listen, Israel, to commands that bring life; hear, and learn what knowledge means. Why, Israel, why are you in the country of your enemies, growing older and older in an alien land, sharing defilement with the dead, reckoned with those who go to Sheol? Because you have forsaken the fountain of wisdom. Had you walked in the way of God, you would have lived in peace for ever. Learn where knowledge is, where strength, where understanding, and so learn where length of days is, where life, where the light of the eyes and where peace. But who has found out where she lives, who has entered her treasure house?

But the One who knows all knows her, he has grasped her with his own intellect, he has set the earth firm for ever and filled it with four-footed beasts. He sends the light – and it goes, he recalls it – and trembling it obeys; the stars shine joyfully at their set times: when he calls them, they answer, ‘Here we are’; they gladly shine for their creator. It is he who is our God, no other can compare with him. He has grasped the whole way of knowledge, and confided it to his servant Jacob, to Israel his well-beloved; so causing her to appear on earth and move among men.

This is the book of the commandments of God, the Law that stands for ever; those who keep her live, those who desert her die. Turn back, Jacob, seize her, in her radiance make your way to light: do not yield your glory to another, your privilege to a people not your own.
Israel, blessed are we: what pleases God has been revealed to us.
Psalm 18(19):8-11 ©

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
it revives the soul.
The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,
it gives wisdom to the simple.

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear,
it gives light to the eyes.

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

The fear of the Lord is holy,
abiding for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth
and all of them just.

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.

They are more to be desired than gold,
than the purest of gold
and sweeter are they than honey,
than honey from the comb.

You have the message of eternal life, O Lord.
Seventh Reading – Ezekiel 36:16-17, 18-28 ©

I Shall Pour Clean Water Over You and I Shall Give You a New Heart

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘Son of man, the members of the House of Israel used to live in their own land, but they defiled it by their conduct and actions. I then discharged my fury at them because of the blood they shed in their land and the idols with which they defiled it. I scattered them among the nations and dispersed them in foreign countries. I sentenced them as their conduct and actions deserved. And now they have profaned my holy name among the nations where they have gone, so that people say of them, “These are the people of the Lord; they have been exiled from his land.”

‘But I have been concerned about my holy name, which the House of Israel has profaned among the nations where they have gone.

‘And so, say to the House of Israel, “The Lord says this: I am not doing this for your sake, House of Israel, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I mean to display the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned among them. And the nations will learn that I am the Lord – it is the Lord who speaks – when I display my holiness for your sake before their eyes. Then I am going to take you from among the nations and gather you together from all the foreign countries, and bring you home to your own land.

‘“I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols. I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God.”’
Psalm 41(42):2-3, 5, 42:3-4 ©

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God,
the God of my life;
when can I enter and see
the face of God?

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

These things will I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I would lead the rejoicing crowd
into the house of God,
amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving,
the throng wild with joy.

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

O send forth your light and your truth;
let these be my guide.
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

And I will come to the altar of God,
the God of my joy.
My redeemer, I will thank you on the harp,
O God, my God.

Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.
Epistle – Romans 6:3-11 ©

Christ, Having Been Raised from the Dead, Will Never Die Again

When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.

If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection. We must realise that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of sin. When a Christian dies, of course, he has finished with sin.

But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 117(118):1-2, 16-17, 22-23 ©

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 28:1-10 ©

He Has Risen from the Dead and Now He is Going Before You into Galilee

After the sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre. And all at once there was a violent earthquake, for the angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His face was like lightning, his robe white as snow. The guards were so shaken, so frightened of him, that they were like dead men. But the angel spoke; and he said to the women, ‘There is no need for you to be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him.” Now I have told you.’ Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’
Holy Week, Holy Saturday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

A Homily – Holy Week, Good Friday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

First Reading – Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 30(31):2, 6, 12 – 13, 15 – 17, 25 ©
Second Reading – Hebrews 4:14 – 16, 5:7 – 9 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Philemon 2:8 – 9
The Gospel According to John 18:1 – 19:42 ©

(NJB)

Holy Week, Good Friday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation
Be mindful.

The future is not set, and God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings.

Know that the word of God will come from places you do not expect, and from people you have discounted, just as it came from Jesus.

Know this:

The only way we can be healed through the suffering of others is if by witnessing their trials we change what is in our hearts.

There is no other way.

Be mindful.

Consider the words of the psalmist.

God’s refuge is not of this world, The protection God promises is beyond this world.

Have faith in the promises of God.

Trust in God, but do not hope for God to take sides with you in your in your conflicts on this Earth or in the satisfaction of your ambitions.

God will not intervene. God will not rescue you.

And yet the strength of God is in you, the strength to persevere in patience, and love.

Listen to the voice of God in your heart; listen to God tugging at your conscience, let that voice be your guide.

Consider what the apostle says, ask yourself this:

Is it true that in Jesus, the Son of God, there is no sin?

Is it true that all things come into being and have there existence in Jesus, who is God’s eternal Word?

Is it true that not one thing exists apart from God, who is Jesus?

I ask again; is it true that in Jesus there is no sin?

Is there sin? What is it?

Paul saw Jesus as a “high priest,” of sorts, not as God, and in his role as priest he was seen as connected to his followers in an intimate way, connecting them to the divine as an intermediary.

Jesus is depicted in the Gospels as someone who understands people, who relates to them.

We confess that God made every one of God’s children and destined each of us for eternal life. There is no exception, because all things exist in God, and in God’s Word, not one thing exists apart, even human sin.

God asks of us that we walk in justice and pursue the good joyously; knowing that whatever we suffer here is temporary.

It will pass away.

Be mindful of the Church and its vanity.

Jesus was a man like any other, and his death was an ordinary murder.

Do not preach anything else.

When you are the Gospel for today you must be mindful of the mythological nature of the narrative.

The events surrounding the passion did not happen the way John describes them, if they even happened at all, and John’s narrative if far different from those of the other Gospel writers. John imbues them with a theological meaning which was not present in the earlier history of the Church.

Without getting into the particulars of what specific events may or may not happen, we should be mindful to address the theological claims that John makes, insofar as they do or do not elucidate the way.

Elucidation of the ay is the purpose of the Gospel.

Remember, nothing is written.

God made human beings and the whole of creation free, Jesus was free and the future that he faced was not predetermined. He did not know for certain what would happen to him when he went into the Garden, though he went knowing that there would be danger.

Jesus did nothing for the sake of fulfilling prophecy, and it is a misinterpretation of scripture to suggest that when Jesus gave himself up so that others would be spared he did so to fulfill the maxim that the Son of Man would not lose a single one of his followers. The claim that Jesus would not lose a single one is an eschatological claim having to do with the time beyond time when God’s purpose in creation has been fulfilled. It had nothing to do with the dilemma present in his circumstances.

Finally, be mindful of the teaching concerning Jesus’ kingship. Jesus is not a king, he came as a prophet, he came to speak the truth, and he came as a friend.

He died as he came, true to his word.
First Reading – Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 ©

The servant of the Lord, an expiatory Sacrifice

See, my servant will prosper, he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights.

As the crowds were appalled on seeing him – so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human – so will the crowds be astonished at him, and kings stand speechless before him; for they shall see something never told and witness something never heard before:

‘Who could believe what we have heard, and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?’

Like a sapling he grew up in front of us, like a root in arid ground.

Without beauty, without majesty we saw him, no looks to attract our eyes; a thing despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering, a man to make people screen their faces; he was despised and we took no account of him.

And yet ours were the sufferings he bore, ours the sorrows he carried.

But we, we thought of him as someone punished, struck by God, and brought low.

Yet he was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins.

On him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed.

We had all gone astray like sheep, each taking his own way, and the Lord burdened him with the sins of all of us.

Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly, he never opened his mouth, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house, like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers never opening its mouth.

By force and by law he was taken; would anyone plead his cause?

Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living; for our faults struck down in death.

They gave him a grave with the wicked, a tomb with the rich, though he had done no wrong
and there had been no perjury in his mouth.

The Lord has been pleased to crush him with suffering.

If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

His soul’s anguish over he shall see the light and be content.

By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself.

Hence I will grant whole hordes for his tribute, he shall divide the spoil with the mighty, for surrendering himself to death and letting himself be taken for a sinner, while he was bearing the faults of many and praying all the time for sinners.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 30(31):2, 6, 12 – 13, 15 – 17, 25 ©

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

In you, O Lord, I take refuge.
Let me never be put to shame.
In your justice, set me free,
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
It is you who will redeem me, Lord.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

In the face of all my foes
I am a reproach,
an object of scorn to my neighbours
and of fear to my friends.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Those who see me in the street
run far away from me.
I am like a dead man, forgotten in men’s hearts,
like a thing thrown away.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

But as for me, I trust in you, Lord;
I say: ‘You are my God.
My life is in your hands, deliver me
from the hands of those who hate me.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Let your face shine on your servant.
Save me in your love.’
Be strong, let your heart take courage,
all who hope in the Lord.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
Second Reading – Hebrews 4:14 – 16, 5:7 – 9 ©

The Lord Burdened Him with the Sins of All of Us

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.

During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.
Gospel Acclamation Philemon 2:8 – 9

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!

Christ was humbler yet,
even to accepting death, death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name which is above all names.

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!
The Gospel According to John 18:1 – 19:42 ©

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Key: N. Narrator. ✠ Jesus. O. Other single speaker. C. Crowd, or more than one speaker.

N. Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kedron valley. There was a garden there, and he went into it with his disciples. Judas the traitor knew the place well, since Jesus had often met his disciples there, and he brought the cohort to this place together with a detachment of guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees, all with lanterns and torches and weapons. Knowing everything that was going to happen to him, Jesus then came forward and said,

✠ Who are you looking for?

N. They answered,

C. Jesus the Nazarene.

N. He said,

✠ I am he.

N. Now Judas the traitor was standing among them. When Jesus said, ‘I am he’, they moved back and fell to the ground. He asked them a second time,

✠ Who are you looking for?

N. They said,

C. Jesus the Nazarene.

N. Jesus replied,

✠ I have told you that I am he. If I am the one you are looking for, let these others go.

N. This was to fulfil the words he had spoken, ‘Not one of those you gave me have I lost.’
Simon Peter, who carried a sword, drew it and wounded the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter,

✠ Put your sword back in its scabbard; am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?

N. The cohort and its captain and the Jewish guards seized Jesus and bound him. They took him first to Annas, because Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had suggested to the Jews, ‘It is better for one man to die for the people.’

Simon Peter, with another disciple, followed Jesus. This disciple, who was known to the high priest, went with Jesus into the high priest’s palace, but Peter stayed outside the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who was keeping the door and brought Peter in. The maid on duty at the door said to Peter,

O. Aren’t you another of that man’s disciples?

N. He answered,

O. I am not.

N. Now it was cold, and the servants and guards had lit a charcoal fire and were standing there warming themselves; so Peter stood there too, warming himself with the others.

The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered,

✠ I have spoken openly for all the world to hear; I have always taught in the synagogue and in the Temple where all the Jews meet together: I have said nothing in secret. But why ask me? Ask my hearers what I taught: they know what I said.

N. At these words, one of the guards standing by gave Jesus a slap in the face, saying,

O. Is that the way to answer the high priest?

N. Jesus replied,

✠ If there is something wrong in what I said, point it out; but if there is no offence in it, why do you strike me?

N. Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.

As Simon Peter stood there warming himself, someone said to him,

O. Aren’t you another of his disciples?

N. He denied it, saying,

O. I am not.

N. One of the high priest’s servants, a relation of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said,

O. Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?

N. Again Peter denied it; and at once a cock crew.

They then led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was now morning. They did not go into the Praetorium themselves or they would be defiled and unable to eat the passover. So Pilate came outside to them and said,

O. What charge do you bring against this man?

N. They replied,

C. If he were not a criminal, we should not be handing him over to you.

N. Pilate said,

O. Take him yourselves, and try him by your own Law.

N. The Jews answered,

C. We are not allowed to put a man to death.

N. This was to fulfil the words Jesus had spoken indicating the way he was going to die.

So Pilate went back into the Praetorium and called Jesus to him, and asked,

O. Are you the king of the Jews?

N. Jesus replied,

✠ Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others spoken to you about me?

N. Pilate answered,

O. Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done?

N. Jesus replied,

✠ Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind.

N. Pilate said,

O. So you are a king, then?

N. Jesus answered,

✠ It is you who say it. Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.

N. Pilate said,

O. Truth? What is that?

N. and with that he went out again to the Jews and said,

O. I find no case against him. But according to a custom of yours I should release one prisoner at the Passover; would you like me, then, to release the king of the Jews?

N. At this they shouted:

C. Not this man, but Barabbas.

N. Barabbas was a brigand.

Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged; and after this, the soldiers twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him and saying,

C. Hail, king of the Jews!

N. and they slapped him in the face.

Pilate came outside again and said to them,

O. Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case.

N. Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said,

O. Here is the man.

N. When they saw him the chief priests and the guards shouted,

C. Crucify him! Crucify him!

N. Pilate said,

O. Take him yourselves and crucify him: I can find no case against him.

N. The Jews replied,

C. We have a Law, and according to that Law he ought to die, because he has claimed to be the Son of God.

N. When Pilate heard them say this his fears increased. Re-entering the Praetorium, he said to Jesus

O. Where do you come from?

N. But Jesus made no answer. Pilate then said to him,

O. Are you refusing to speak to me? Surely you know I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?

N. Jesus replied,

✠ You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above; that is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater guilt.

N. From that moment Pilate was anxious to set him free, but the Jews shouted,

C. If you set him free you are no friend of Caesar’s; anyone who makes himself king is defying Caesar.

N. Hearing these words, Pilate had Jesus brought out, and seated himself on the chair of judgement at a place called the Pavement, in Hebrew Gabbatha. It was Passover Preparation Day, about the sixth hour. Pilate said to the Jews,

O. Here is your king.

N. They said,

C. Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!

N. Pilate said,

O. Do you want me to crucify your king?

N. The chief priests answered,

C. We have no king except Caesar.

N. So in the end Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

They then took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out of the city to the place of the skull or, as it was called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side with Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote out a notice and had it fixed to the cross; it ran: ‘Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.’ This notice was read by many of the Jews, because the place where Jesus was crucified was not far from the city, and the writing was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. So the Jewish chief priests said to Pilate,

C. You should not write ‘King of the Jews,’ but ‘This man said: “I am King of the Jews.”’

N. Pilate answered,

O. What I have written, I have written.

N. When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier. His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from neck to hem; so they said to one another,

C. Instead of tearing it, let’s throw dice to decide who is to have it.

N. In this way the words of scripture were fulfilled:

They shared out my clothing among them.

They cast lots for my clothes.

This is exactly what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother,

✠ Woman, this is your son.

N. Then to the disciple he said,

✠ This is your mother.

N. And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.

After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfil the scripture perfectly he said:

✠ I am thirsty.

N. A jar full of vinegar stood there, so putting a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar he said,

✠ It is accomplished;

N. and bowing his head he gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the sabbath – since that sabbath was a day of special solemnity – the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then of the other. When they came to Jesus, they found he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it – trustworthy evidence, and he knows he speaks the truth – and he gives it so that you may believe as well. Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture:

Not one bone of his will be broken; and again, in another place scripture says:

They will look on the one whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus – though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews – asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well – the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time – and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was near at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Holy Week, Good Friday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

A Homily – Holy Week, Maundy Thursday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation

First Reading – Isaiah 61:1 – 3, 6, 8 – 9 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):21 – 22, 25, 27 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 1:5 – 8 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)
The Gospel According to Luke 4:16 – 21 ©
First Reading – Exodus 12:1 – 8, 11 – 14 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 115(116):12 – 13, 15 – 18 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 11:23 – 26 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 13:34
The Gospel According to John 13:1-15 ©

(NJB)

Holy Week, Maundy Thursday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation
Listen!

We cannot make the mistake of celebrating the martyrdom of Jesus and using it as a vehicle to prop-up Christian vanity and pride.

You have to understand that Jesus was not a king or a priest, and we were not meant to be priests ourselves. Jesus was a prophet, and he asks us to be servants to one another.

Know that God does not favor one nation above any other, or one person over their sister and brother, one family, one tribe or one nation.

That is not the way.

The way is found in love, equality and equanimity.

The way is found in justice tempered by mercy and humility.

Jesus followed the way, from the outset of his ministry to the cross on Calvary.

Be mindful.

The sacred texts cannot be a repository for our nationalism and jingoistic instincts.

God is a God of love and mercy, not a God of palace intrigues, God is not the god of war and battle.

Jesus is not a king or a ruler, he is not a priest but a prophet. He came to us in friendship, as a comforter and healer. He came to show us the way.

Be mindful of the intentional way that Jesus begins his ministry, and the way he connects it to the work of the prophet Isaiah.

The way is meant to bring relief to those who suffer, give sight to the blind and freedom to those in captivity. This is true whether their blindness is physical or spiritual, whether their bondage is of this world or the next.

The way is found in love.

Be mindful.

God is not a sorcerer, and there is sorcery prescribed in these sacrificial rites.

There are depictions of God in the scripture, that are false, monstrous, and immoral.

Consider the cult of animal sacrifice there is no merit in it, there never was. The sacrificial medium is a vehicle of corruption and a tool of oppression for the masses, it always has been..

Know this!

It is unjust to punish the people for the crimes of its leaders.

Justice does not divide human beings into the blessed and damned, worthy and unworthy, the ugly and beautiful. Justice is blind.

Listen!

Trust in God not in men: For all men are liars, and all women too; but that is not important.

Take no oaths, take no vows, allow your resolve to stand in their place, and be true to it, all the while knowing that you will fail at many things.

The promises that God makes for our wellbeing and salvation are not of this world. While the expectation of justice in this world must be rooted in human relationships.

Trust God, be merciful, live justly, walk humbly these are the hallmarks of the faith.

Remember this!

Throughout your days, until their end, be generous and share your table. Serve those who have less than you. Share your cup and your bread.

This is the way.

Forget the apocryphal imagery and mythological symbolism of the “Son of Man,” the cryptic words about the glory of God; in whom and how it appears. Forget those things because they are irrelevant.

Know this, love one another. To follow Jesus is to lead with love.

Love as Jesus loved. Be caring, be merciful, be just.

Be prepared to risk everything for the sake of love, even your life.

In this way you will be true to Jesus, and everyone will see the truth of it.

There is no other way.

Faith (which is the trust we place in God); faith is not about words, it is about actions, it is about love. Faith is not ideology, it is not partisan, it is not dogmatic, it is not doctrinaire. Faith is not a legally binding agreement. Faith is not concerned with creeds, or secrets, or magic words.

Faith is trust and love is its natural expression.

Read the Gospel for today carefully, read it as the authors intended it to be read, as a record of the love Jesus bore toward the world.

Keep that love in front of you, always, and do this:

Forgive Judas, he is one of those about whom Jesus said to God, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Do as Jesus did, pardon him. Forgive Judas as you are meant to, forgive him as you are meant to forgive all who have done you harm. Forgive him when you seek forgiveness for the hurts you have caused others.

This is the way, and there is no other.
First Reading – Isaiah 61:1 – 3, 6, 8 – 9 ©

The Lord Has Anointed Me

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord, a day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all those who mourn and to give them for ashes a garland; for mourning robe the oil of gladness, for despondency, praise.

But you, you will be named ‘priests of the Lord’, they will call you ‘ministers of our God.’

I reward them faithfully and make an everlasting covenant with them.

Their race will be famous throughout the nations, their descendants throughout the peoples.

All who see them will admit that they are a race whom the Lord has blessed.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 88(89):21 – 22, 25, 27 ©

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

I have found David my servant
and with my holy oil anointed him.
My hand shall always be with him
and my arm shall make him strong.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

My truth and my love shall be with him;
by my name his might shall be exalted.
He will say to me: ‘You are my father,
my God, the rock who saves me.’

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.
Second Reading – Apocalypse 1:5 – 8 ©

Jesus Christ Has Made Us a Line of Kings and Priests

Grace and peace to you from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the First-Born from the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth. He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father; to him, then, be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. It is he who is coming on the clouds; everyone will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over him. This is the truth. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’ says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Gospel Luke 4:16 – 21 ©

The Spirit of the Lord Has Been Given to Me, for He Has Anointed Me

Jesus came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’
First Reading – Exodus 12:1 – 8, 11 – 14 ©

The Passover is a Day of Festival for All Generations, for Ever

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:

‘This month is to be the first of all the others for you, the first month of your year. Speak to the whole community of Israel and say, “On the tenth day of this month each man must take an animal from the flock, one for each family: one animal for each household. If the household is too small to eat the animal, a man must join with his neighbour, the nearest to his house, as the number of persons requires. You must take into account what each can eat in deciding the number for the animal. It must be an animal without blemish, a male one year old; you may take it from either sheep or goats. You must keep it till the fourteenth day of the month when the whole assembly of the community of Israel shall slaughter it between the two evenings. Some of the blood must then be taken and put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where it is eaten. That night, the flesh is to be eaten, roasted over the fire; it must be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. You shall eat it like this: with a girdle round your waist, sandals on your feet, a staff in your hand. You shall eat it hastily: it is a passover in honour of the Lord. That night, I will go through the land of Egypt and strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, man and beast alike, and I shall deal out punishment to all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord! The blood shall serve to mark the houses that you live in. When I see the blood I will pass over you and you shall escape the destroying plague when I strike the land of Egypt. This day is to be a day of remembrance for you, and you must celebrate it as a feast in the Lord’s honour. For all generations you are to declare it a day of festival, for ever.”’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 115(116):12 – 13, 15 – 18 ©

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ.

How can I repay the Lord
for his goodness to me?
The cup of salvation I will raise;
I will call on the Lord’s name.

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ.

O precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful.
Your servant, Lord, your servant am I;
you have loosened my bonds.

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ.

A thanksgiving sacrifice I make;
I will call on the Lord’s name.
My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people.

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 11:23 – 26 ©

Every Time You Eat this Bread and Drink this Cup, You Are Proclaiming the Death of the Lord

This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.
Gospel Acclamation – John 13:34

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!

I give you a new commandment:
love one another just as I have loved you,
says the Lord.

Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus!
The Gospel According to John 13:1 – 15 ©

Now He Showed How Perfect His Love Was

It was before the festival of the Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.

They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘Never!’ said Peter ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus replied, ‘If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ said Simon Peter ‘not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus said, ‘No one who has taken a bath needs washing, he is clean all over. You too are clean, though not all of you are.’ He knew who was going to betray him, that was why he said, ‘though not all of you are.’

When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. ‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’

Holy Week, Maundy Thursday (Year A) A Holly Day of Obligation

A Homily – Palm Sunday (Year A) Holy Week

The Gospel According to Matthew 21:1 – 11 ©
First Reading – Isaiah 50:4 – 7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 21(22):8 – 9, 17 – 20, 23 – 24 ©
Second Reading – Philippians 2:6 – 11 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Philippians 2:8 – 9
The Gospel According to Matthew 26:14 – 27:66 ©

(NJB)

Holy Week, Palm Sunday (Year A) A Holy Day of Obligation
Be mindful when you read the Gospel, on this day as on any other. There is much that is false carried in the text, and as Christians we are bound to reject it, we cannot excuse it, or apologize for it We must call out the false narrative, take what is useful from our ponderance of them and move on.

It was a common practice in the ancient world to greet a royal person, a king, a victorious commander or a conqueror outside the gates of a walled city, to cheer him and thank him, to curry favor with him, and to do so by throwing flowers and greenery down along the path in front of him, or her. To do so with palm fronds was quite common in the ancient near east.

When the gospel writers placed these elements within the narrative of Jesus’ final days they intended to communicate the explicit notion that Jesus was heir to King David, Lord of all Judea, and the messiah, or savior that the people had long been expecting, the singular man to deliver them from the rule of foreigners, and to reestablish a Jewish monarchy that would allow them to return to the favor of God.

It is unlikely that anything even remotely like what is described here ever happened, and of course we know that the tortured narrative which depicts Jesus riding into town on the back of an ass and a colt, the foal of ass, makes no sense at all.

No such thing happened, it is a rank exercise in apologetics and propaganda.

Our faith in God and God’s plan for creation do not require that we believe these false narratives, such stories diminish the ministry of Jesus, and make those who read the Gospel as if it were true-in-fact into fools and liars.

We must reject them.

Listen to the prophet Isaiah, take comfort in his courage. Isaiah points the way.

Like Jesus, Isaiah sees the necessity of telling the truth. The people need the truth, justice cannot be had without it.

Be mindful, the reward for telling the truth is often condemnation. There are many who do not like to hear it, do not want to believe that God loves their neighbor just as much as God loves them, they worship a jealous god, one made in their own image of jealousy.

The poor and rich alike, do not want to share.

People are afraid, the world has made them this way. They react with anger and violence to any little thing that comes along to upset their resentment filled lives, which challenge their jealousies and call on them to reject their miserliness.

This is the way of it.

Like Isaiah, you must open your ear and listen, listen with you heart. Open your mouth to share the peace and blessing of God, never in condemnation.

Most important of all, reject fear as the state of being within which all human sinfulness incubates.

This will open you to the way.

Consider the words of the psalmist and know this.

If you have heard that God will not listen to you, because you have lived a sinful life or for any other reason, do not believe it.

The creator of the universe is with you, God knows your innermost thoughts. God knows you as you know yourself, God understands all that you are and all that you struggle with. God feels your experience in the world as you feel it. Your struggles are God’s own.

God has given you the power to save yourself, or to choose surrender. To agonize or be at peace, but God will not rescue you. God will never intervene on your behalf, for as long as you are in the world you will remain free, and responsible for your own choices and actions.

Be mindful of this!

It was a mistake for the apostle to use the power of the pen in order to transform Jesus into a divine being.

Jesus was no more divine than you or I, which is to say that Jesus was created in God’s image and carried within him a seed of the Word as we all do. We may believe that Jesus was more highly attuned to the voice of God speaking within him than most, or even any, but Jesus’ status as a child of God was no different than yours or mine.

Jesus was a man. Jesus shared all of the qualities of humanity with us, because he was one of us. He did not descend from another place, he was born here on Earth to Mary and Joseph., and through his father’s lineage he was descended from the House of David.

Jesus is our brother, and God, the creator of the universe, God is parent to us all.

Jesus is not a lord, did not want to be thought of as one, and God is not King.

God does not seek nor desire glory, and neither should we.

God calls us to lead lives of humility, to accept with grace our role as teachers of the faith. To seek justice and to love mercy throughout the course of our days.

Listen!

Jesus lived and died, and death was not the end of him (if you believe it).

This is the central message of the Christian faith, even a man who was executed as a blasphemer and a criminal, could be resurrected and delivered into a state of blessedness in the afterlife, a world of hope, and comfort and joy.

This is the good news, it is the gospel.

This faith is a blessing to the poor, to the marginalized, to the outcast. The faith instructs them that they are known and loved by God, the creator of the universe, that they will be cared for in the world to come.

Every other element of this story should be stripped away.

It is all propaganda.

The core of the narrative may be true, but everything else that flows from it, all the fantastical hyperbole is nothing but a cascading series of embellishments. Jesus did not die in fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus, and the rest of the prophets were not miracle workers and fortune tellers. They were human beings; they died as all human beings do. When they were killed it was at the hands of other human beings, for ordinary human purposes; they were killed out of fear and the motive among their murderers was the strong desire to retain power.
The Gospel According to Matthew 21:1 – 11 ©

Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!

When they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village facing you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her: untie them and bring them to me.

If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, “The Lord has need of them,” and he will send them immediately.’

This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Tell the daughter of Sion, behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.’

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon.

Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest!’

And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, ‘Who is this?’

And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.’
First Reading – Isaiah 50:4 – 7 ©

I Did not Cover My Face Against Insult: I Know I Shall Not be Shamed

The Lord has given me a disciple’s tongue.

So that I may know how to reply to the wearied he provides me with speech.

Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple.

The Lord has opened my ear.

For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away.

I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.

The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults.

So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 21(22):8 – 9, 17 – 20, 23 – 24 ©

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

All who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
‘He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend.’

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Many dogs have surrounded me,
a band of the wicked beset me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet
I can count every one of my bones.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

They divide my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my robe.
O Lord, do not leave me alone,
my strength, make haste to help me!

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

I will tell of your name to my brethren
and praise you where they are assembled.
‘You who fear the Lord give him praise;
all sons of Jacob, give him glory.
Revere him, Israel’s sons.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Second Reading – Philippians 2:6 – 11 ©

Christ Humbled Himself but God Raised Him High

His state was divine, yet Christ Jesus did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.

But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Gospel Acclamation – Philippians 2:8 – 9

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

Christ was humbler yet,
even to accepting death, death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name which is above all names.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
The Gospel According to Matthew 26:14 – 27:66 ©

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ

Key: N. Narrator. ✠ Jesus. O. Other single speaker. C. Crowd, or more than one speaker.

N. One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said,

O. What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?
N. They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray him.

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say,

C. Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the passover?

N. He replied:

✠ Go to so-and-so in the city and say to him, ‘The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples.’

N. The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.

When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said:

✠ I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me.

N. They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn,

C. Not I, Lord, surely?

N. He answered,

✠ Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!

N. Judas, who was to betray him, asked in his turn,

O. Not I, Rabbi, surely?

N. Jesus answered:

✠ They are your own words.

N. Now as they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples and said:

✠ Take it and eat; this is my body.

N. Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, saying:

✠ Drink, all of you, from this, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. From now on, I tell you, I shall not drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father.

N. After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them,

✠ You will all lose faith in me this night, for the scripture says: I shall strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered, but after my resurrection I shall go before you to Galilee.

N. At this, Peter said,

O. Though all lose faith in you, I will never lose faith.

N. Jesus answered him,

✠ I tell you solemnly, this very night, before the cock crows, you will have disowned me three times.

N. Peter said to him,

O. Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.

N. And all the disciples said the same.

Then Jesus came with them to a small estate called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples,

✠ Stay here while I go over there to pray.

N. He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. And sadness came over him, and great distress. Then he said to them,

✠ My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and keep awake with me.

N. And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed:

✠ My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.

N. He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter:

✠ So you had not the strength to keep awake with me one hour? You should be awake, and praying not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

N. Again, a second time, he went away and prayed:

✠ My Father, if this cup cannot pass by without my drinking it, your will be done!

N. And he came back again and found them sleeping, their eyes were so heavy. Leaving them there, he went away again and prayed for the third time, repeating the same words. Then he came back to the disciples and said to them,

✠ You can sleep on now and take your rest. Now the hour has come when the Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up! Let us go! My betrayer is already close at hand.

N. He was still speaking when Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared, and with him a large number of men armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. Now the traitor had arranged a sign with them. He had said,

O. ‘The one I kiss, he is the man. Take him in charge.’

N. So he went straight up to Jesus and said,

O. Greetings, Rabbi.

N. and kissed him. Jesus said to him,

✠ My friend, do what you are here for.

N. Then they came forward, seized Jesus and took him in charge. At that, one of the followers of Jesus grasped his sword and drew it; he struck out at the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear. Jesus then said,

✠ Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father who would promptly send more than twelve legions of angels to my defence? But then, how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say this is the way it must be?

N. It was at this time that Jesus said to the crowds,

✠ Am I a brigand, that you had to set out to capture me with swords and clubs? I sat teaching in the Temple day after day and you never laid hands on me.

N. Now all this happened to fulfil the prophecies in scripture. Then all the disciples deserted him and ran away.

The men who had arrested Jesus led him off to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. Peter followed him at a distance, and when he reached the high priest’s palace, he went in and sat down with the attendants to see what the end would be.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus, however false, on which they might pass the death sentence. But they could not find any, though several lying witnesses came forward. Eventually two stepped forward and made a statement,

O. This man said: ‘I have power to destroy the Temple of God and in three days build it up.’

N. The high priest then stood up and said to him,

O. Have you no answer to that? What is this evidence these men are bringing against you?

N. But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him,

O. I put you on oath by the living God to tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.

N. Jesus answered:

✠ The words are your own. Moreover, I tell you that from this time onward you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.

N. At this, the high priest tore his clothes and said,

O. He has blasphemed. What need of witnesses have we now? There! You have just heard the blasphemy. What is your opinion?

N. They answered,

C. He deserves to die.

N. Then they spat in his face and hit him with their fists; others said as they struck him,

C. Play the prophet, Christ! Who hit you then?

N. Meanwhile Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came up to him and said,

O. You too were with Jesus the Galilean.

N. But he denied it in front of them all, saying:

O. I do not know what you are talking about.

N. When he went out to the gateway another servant-girl saw him and said to the people there,

O. This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.

N. And again, with an oath, he denied it:

O. I do not know the man.

N. A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter,

C. You are one of them for sure! Why, your accent gives you away.

Then he started calling down curses on himself and swearing:

O. I do not know the man.

N. At that moment the cock crew, and Peter remembered what Jesus had said, ‘Before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people met in council to bring about the death of Jesus. They had him bound, and led him away to hand him over to Pilate, the governor.

When he found that Jesus had been condemned, Judas his betrayer was filled with remorse and took the thirty silver pieces back to the chief priests and elders, saying:

O. I have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood.

N. They replied:

C. What is that to us? That is your concern.

N. And flinging down the silver pieces in the sanctuary he made off and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the silver pieces and said,

C. It is against the Law to put this into the treasury: it is blood-money.

N. So they discussed the matter and bought the potter’s field with it as a graveyard for foreigners, and this is why the field is called the Field of Blood today. The words of the prophet Jeremiah were then fulfilled: And they took the thirty silver pieces, the sum at which the precious One was priced by children of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, just as the Lord directed me.

Jesus, then, was brought before the governor, and the governor put to him this question:

O. Are you the king of the Jews?

N. Jesus replied,

✠ It is you who say it.

N. But when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders he refused to answer at all. Pilate then said to him,

O. Do you not hear how many charges they have brought against you?

N. But to the governor’s complete amazement, he offered no reply to any of the charges.

At festival time it was the governor’s practice to release a prisoner for the people, anyone they chose. Now there was at that time a notorious prisoner whose name was Barabbas. So when the crowd gathered, Pilate said to them,

O. Which do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?

N. For Pilate knew it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. Now as he was seated in the chair of judgement, his wife sent him a message,

O. Have nothing to do with that man; I have been upset all day by a dream I had about him.

N. The chief priests and the elders, however, had persuaded the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus. So when the governor spoke and asked them,

O. Which of the two do you want me to release for you?

N. they said,

C. Barabbas.

N. Pilate said to them:

O. But in that case, what am I to do with Jesus who is called Christ?

N. They all said:

C. Let him be crucified!

N. Pilate asked:

O. Why? What harm has he done?

N. But they shouted all the louder,

C. Let him be crucified!

N. Then Pilate saw that he was making no impression, that in fact a riot was imminent. So he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd and said,

O. I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your concern.

N. And the people, to a man, shouted back,

C. His blood be on us and on our children!

N. Then he released Barabbas for them. He ordered Jesus to be first scourged and then handed over to be crucified.

The governor’s soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him. Then they stripped him and made him wear a scarlet cloak, and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying,

C. Hail, king of the Jews!

N. And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it. And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucify him.

On their way out, they came across a man from Cyrene, Simon by name, and enlisted him to carry his cross. When they had reached a place called Golgotha, that is, the place of the skull, they gave him wine to drink mixed with gall, which he tasted but refused to drink. When they had finished crucifying him they shared out his clothing by casting lots, and then sat down and stayed there keeping guard over him.

Above his head was placed the charge against him; it read: ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’ At the same time two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.

The passers-by jeered at him; they shook their heads and said,

C. So you would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days! Then save yourself! If you are God’s son, come down from the cross!

N. The chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him in the same way, saying:

C. He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the king of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He puts his trust in God; now let God rescue him if he wants him. For he did say, ‘I am the son of God.’

N. Even the robbers who were crucified with him taunted him in the same way.

From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

✠ Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

N. That is, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?’ When some of those who stood there heard this, they said,

C. The man is calling on Elijah.

N. and one of them quickly ran to get a sponge which he dipped in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it him to drink. The rest of them said:

C. Wait! See if Elijah will come to save him.

N. But Jesus, again crying out in a loud voice, yielded up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

At that, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked; the rocks were split; the tombs opened and the bodies of many holy men rose from the dead, and these, after his resurrection, came out of the tombs, entered the Holy City and appeared to a number of people. Meanwhile the centurion, together with the others guarding Jesus, had seen the earthquake and all that was taking place, and they were terrified and said,

C. In truth this was a son of God.

N. And many women were there, watching from a distance, the same women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after him. Among them were Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

When it was evening, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, called Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate thereupon ordered it to be handed over. So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean shroud and put it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. Now Mary of Magdala and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre.

Next day, that is, when Preparation Day was over, the chief priests and the Pharisees went in a body to Pilate and said to him,

C. Your Excellency, we recall that this impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I shall rise again.’ Therefore give the order to have the sepulchre kept secure until the third day, for fear his disciples come and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ This last piece of fraud would be worse than what went before.

N. Pilate said to them:

O. You may have your guard. Go and make all as secure as you know how.

N. So they went and made the sepulchre secure, putting seals on the stone and mounting a guard.
Palm Sunday, Holy Week (Year A)

A Homily – Easter Sunday (Year C)

2019.04.21 – (Easter Sunday) C

First Reading – Acts 10:34,37-43 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):1-2,16-17,22-23 ©
Second Reading – Colossians 3:1-4 ©
Alternative Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 ©
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
The Gospel According to John 20:1-9 ©
Alternative Reading – Luke 24: 1-35

(NJB)
Listen, and keep this in the forefront of your mind: God does not intervene in creation, or the free choices of human beings.

God does not intervene in our lives, at any point in time and space.

God did not so much anoint Jesus, as did Jesus accept the mantle of sonship to God. Jesus accepted the full burden that this entailed, even to the extent that he went to his death, suffering on the cross.

Jesus was free to reject the ministry that had been laid before him, but he did not. He was faithful to the end. Setting an example for all of us, demonstrating through his life and death the true meaning of the way.

Few people will be called to serve in the capacity that Jesus served; to be tortured and executed for a cause that is right and good.

Few of us have the capacity to love justice so much that they could humbly endure what Jesus endured, and that is why we call him the Christ, anointed with his blood and tears.

If you call yourself a Christian follow Jesus.

Do good.

Love justice.

Be merciful; be a source of healing in the world.

This is the way of Christ

Do the best you can, not for the sake of your salvation, but for the good of your sisters and brothers, for all women and men, for the stranger among you; the migrant and the refugee, even for your enemy.

Follow Jesus.

Do good.

Love justice.

Be merciful; a source of healing in the world.

This is the way.

Do not forget it.

To the extent that the Apostle deviates from this message, he is wrong, he is perpetrating lies for the sake of politics and propaganda.

This is a tragic disservice to the memory of Jesus.

It was not to Jesus of Nazareth that the prophets gave witness; not to Jesus specifically, but to the spirit of God that dwelt within him, and in every other person who has taken to themselves the mission of divine suffering.

Jesus never encouraged us to believe in him so that we could be saved, but to believe that we are saved; by God, ipso facto, out of love, simply because we are.

Saint Paul never saw the resurrected Jesus, but he did see in himself something that was Christ like, and divine. He taught us to see the same thing in each other, the figure of the risen Christ.

He moved us toward grace.

Listen!

It is true that the God is kind, loving, and merciful.

It is true that God always comes to God’s children in the way of kindness, love and mercy, even when God is exercising judgment, and administering justice.

God has no enemies.

God does not dwell behind the walls of a city.

There are no gates barring access to God.

God is in all places, at all times and in the hearts of all people.

God does not favor one child above another.

God is a bringing of life, not death.

God loves peace, not war.

If you meet victory in battle or in any other conflict or contest, do not confuse this with God’s will.

Be mindful of this.

Let us not pretend that life is waiting for us on the other side of the veil.

True life is the life we live here on Earth. We are called on by our faith to live this life as if we believed that the promise of our salvation were true, and already accomplished.

Imagine the holy family of God, of God who created the universe and everything in it.

Imagine living with the holy family in that garden now, at peace, without want or enmity, imagine that place where we can see clearly that our relationships with each other are more important than gold, and silver, more important than anything.

That is the place of true life, and we are called to live that life openly.

We must make a change, go back to our beginnings, to the simplicity of a child’s heart and grow ourselves anew.

Consider the teaching of the Apostle.
For the Apostle; yeast is an agent of change. It transforms us as it does bread.

We are the bread.

The apostle wants to take us back to a place before we were corrupted by the yeast of worldly influence, by the corruption of sin.

In this metaphor, yeast is the power of sin.

The followers of Christ are asked to reject the yeast and return to a state of purity, returning us to the unleavened state, a place that is simple and good.

Adding yeast to the dough allows the bread to rise, it adds flavor and pleasure, but it also corrupts the loaf.

The Gospel reading for the day does not offer a great deal of theology to engage with. The narrative is brief. And relatively straight-forward.

It was dark on Sunday morning, when Mary Magdala came to the tomb. She had been at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. It was she who anointed him for burial, and she was the first to receive the revelation that Jesus had risen.

It was dark when she arrived at the tomb, but not completely, in the dim light of morning she saw a hint of the truth that would unfold as the sun rose, and fit illed the day with light.

She saw the stone rolled away from the tomb, and found the tomb empty.

At first she assumed that someone had come and removed the body of Jesus; taken and hidden him somewhere.

She hurried to find the others, to tell them what she had found. When the other disciples arrived on the scene and explored the empty tomb for themselves, the understanding of what had transpired began to take hold.

They saw the empty tomb, the burial garments cast aside, and they understood that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

On that belief, and on the strength of their witness the Church was born, but the Church was not built on the foundation of Peter’s faith. It was built on the faith of women; the women who never abandoned Jesus, the women who did everything in their power to make smooth the path that was in front of him.

Throughout his ministry it was the women who surrounded him, the women who always knew, who always understood the power of his message. They were never confused about his mission. They always understood how it would end.

While his male disciples tripped over themselves, doubted him, doubted each other, vied for supremacy, betrayed him, denied him, sold him into captivity; while all of that was going on, the women were steadfast by his side. They anointed him, they witnessed his trial, they stood by him as he was crucified, they buried him, they waited by the tomb, and they were the first to see him risen.

God bless these women, and their faith, it was a comfort to Jesus in his final hours.

After all that they had witnessed those same foolish men put the women aside. Took over the narrative, and did their best to wash their names from the Gospel.

The story of the church became less and less about Easter morning, and more and more about the days and weeks that followed.

The Gospel writers became confused with questions about who Jesus was, about his rank among the prophets, about his historical connection to Moses, about the proof of his ministry that was given in the scriptures/

In their confusion they began to make up stories to validate their claims, and this was all unnecessary.

It was contrary to the Spirit of Truth they were ostensibly committed to serve.

They had learned a great deal from Jesus about the way, but not enough. They continued to fall back on their same mistakes, mistakes that were fueled by fear and ignorance, arrogance and pride.

Jesus did not perform miracles in order to prove to anyone that he was a child of God. He stressed the fact that we are all the children of God, even the leper and the thief, the unmarried woman and the outcast.

Jesus did not come to work magic, to provide signs and wonders, because that is not how God, the creator of the universe, works in the world.

The core truth in this Gospel passage is not the long story about encountering Jesus, listening to him expound the scriptures, offering proofs and arguments.

The signal truth is this, “they recognized him in the breaking of the bread.”

They had the opportunity to see Jesus in the man they encountered on the road, but they did not see him in this stranger.

They had the opportunity to see Jesus in the faith of the woman at the tomb, but they could not understand it, or accept it in the moment

Jesus was dead, and yet the way which he had personified remained in front of them, the way is the living witness of God’s intention for creation.

The disciples were finally able to see the way, when they broke bread with the stranger, they found it in the meal they shared and not the words and arguments that were spoken.

The way is community.

Jesus is found in the trust we give to others.

The way is sharing things in common.

Jesus is present in the hope we kindle in the stranger.

The way is love.

Love has no boundaries, not even death can stop it.
First Reading – Acts 10:34,37-43 ©

‘We Have Eaten and Drunk with Him After His Resurrection’

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil. Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and also to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 117(118):1-2,16-17,22-23 ©

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Second Reading – Colossians 3:1-4 ©

Look for the Things that are in Heaven, where Christ Is

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
Alternative Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 ©

Get Rid of the Old Yeast and Make Yourselves Unleavened as You were Meant to Be

You must know how even a small amount of yeast is enough to leaven all the dough, so get rid of all the old yeast, and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as you are meant to be. Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed; let us celebrate the feast, then, by getting rid of all the old yeast of evil and wickedness, having only the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Gospel Acclamation – 1 Corinthians 5:7-8

Alleluia, alleluia!

Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed: let us celebrate the feast then, in the Lord.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 20:1-9 ©

He Must Rise from the Dead

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
Luke 24: 1-35

Why Look Among the Dead for Someone who is Alive?

On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn, they went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but on entering discovered that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there. As they stood there not knowing what to think, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side. Terrified, the women lowered their eyes. But the two men said to them, ‘Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here; he has risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee: that the Son of Man had to be handed over into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day?’ And they remembered his words.

When the women returned from the tomb they told all this to the Eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them also told the apostles, but this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense, and they did not believe them.

Peter, however, went running to the tomb. He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else; he then went back home, amazed at what had happened.
They Recognised Him at the Breaking of Bread

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’

Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
Easter Sunday – Easter (Year C)

A Homily – Palm Sunday (Year C)

The Gospel According to Luke – Luke 19:28-40 ©
First Reading – Isaiah 50:4-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 21(22):8-9,17-20,23-24 ©
Second Reading – Philippians 2:6-11 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Philippians 2:8-9
The Gospel According to Luke – 22:14-23:56 ©
We must always read the sacred text with care.

The gospel reading from Saint Luke that leads off the Palm Sunday worship should be taken with a grain of salt, by which I mean it should not be taken seriously at all.

Any passage from the sacred text which was explicitly written to show Jesus as the fulfilling a prediction made by an earlier prophet represents a deviation from the truth; either because it is a deliberate falsehood, or because it is a gross misunderstanding of the events being narrated.

Neither case is acceptable for Christians who are committed to serving the truth.

Prophets are not seers. Their role among the people was not to foretell the future, or sift through auguries and portents. The prophets were critics of the injustices the witnessed in the social order, of injustice anywhere they saw it.

Take the reading for today, all four of the Gospels narrate the same scene, but differently as is so often the case.

Mark and Luke depict Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt, while John depicts Jesus riding on a colt that is the foal of a donkey (John is the most in keeping with Zechariah’s “prophesy”). Matthew cover the bases and depicts Jesus riding on both a donkey and a colt, in Matthews version Jesus rides two animals.

The authors of these gospels got themselves twisted up trying to change the actual narrative of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, so that it appears to be reflective of a divine plan that was in the works for ages, coming to fruition in that moment, in Jesus.

The liberty they took in writing the narrative this way is evidence of their lack of faith. Whenever the authors embellish a story to lend it more authority the evidence actually suggests that they are writing from a place weakness.

This is always unnecessary.

More likely than not, no such event even took place.

The motive to write the narrative this way, was misdirected from the start, because the purpose was only to establish the royal bona fides of Jesus, and in truth Jesus was not a king. He had no desire to be one. He denied until the end.

God is not a king either, or an emperor or any such pretentious thing.

Kings are human inventions, and they never serve the ends which the people need most.

Jesus stood in the tradition of the prophet Isaiah. Listen to Isaiah now, take comfort in his courage. He is pointing to the way.

Like Jesus, Isaiah sees the necessity of telling the truth. The people need it, and justice cannot be had without it.

Truth is the cornerstone of a just society.

But the reward for telling the truth is often condemnation. The people do not like to hear it, do not want to believe that God loves their neighbor just as much as God loves them, or the stranger, or their enemies.

This is exactly what the way teaches.

The poor and rich alike, they do not want to share. People are afraid, the world has made them this way. They will react with anger and violence to any little thing that comes along to upset their resentment filled lives, to challenge their jealousies and their miserliness.

This is how the world is.

Like Isaiah, you must open your ear, and listen. You must listen with you heart.

Open your mouth to share the peace and blessing of God, and never to condemn.

Most important of all, do not fear. This is the way of heaven

Do not for a second believe that God does not hear you when you pray.
The creator of the Universe knows your innermost thoughts. God knows you as you know yourself, God understands all that you are and all the things you struggle with. God feels your experience of the world, even as you feel it.
Your struggles are God’s own.
God has given you the power to save yourself or to choose surrender. To agonize or be at peace, but God will not rescue you.

Your life is your own.

God will never intervene on your behalf, god would not even spare Jesus, and this is not because Jesus was God.

It was a mistake for the Apostle to use the power of the pen in order to transform Jesus into a divine being.

Jesus was a man. Jesus shared all of the qualities of humanity with us, He shared our humanity because he was one of us.

He did not descend from another place.

He rose up.

In this way Jesus was divine, as we are all divine. Jesus, like all of us are created in the divine image, he carried a spark of that divinity within him, even as we all do.

Jesus is our brother. God, the creator of the universe, is parent to us all.

Jesus is not a lord, he did not want to be thought of as one, and God is not King.

God does not seek, nor desire glory, neither should we.

God calls us to lead lives of humility, this is the way, to accept with grace our role as teachers of the faith. To seek justice and to love mercy all of our days.

Be mindful!

Listen to each turn of the story today.

Jesus represents God, a loving friend who is prepared to give everything in the service of those God cares for.

Jesus is the exemplar of the way.

God is so close to the people, so near to us, you can see God at the dining table with you, just as Jesus saw God in the hearts of his companions, and they in him.

Do not be mistaken. God loves mercy more than sacrifices of flesh and blood, animal sacrifices which God has no desire for at all.

The bread and the wine which Jesus served at the last supper were not substitutions for animal sacrifice, and neither is Jesus.

Be mindful of this at all times.

Listen.

Even Judas was beloved by God.

Remember.

There is no such thing as fate. What Jesus and Judas, and Peter, and Pilate did they did freely.

Now pay attention to the squabbling of the disciples, even in their last hours with Jesus they had not absorbed his teaching. They were still prideful and preening, resentful and demanding.

Even Jesus could not dissuade them from this, and he loved them anyway.

The way is instructive for this. Follow Jesus with a heart prepared for service, then you will be in the way.

Even though the disciples have failed time and time again to understand what Jesus is teaching, who he is or where his mission would end, he loves them anyway. Even in light of their failures he has invited them to the table.

This is the way.

What Jesus tells Saint Peter is instructive for all the faithful. Jesus teaches that each of us will be sifted like wheat, until the chaff has pulled away. He teaches in this final lesson that God prays for us, and in the end each of us will be saved.

What he said to Peter he said to us all.

Even as Jesus gave these assurances to Peter, Peter was boasting of how great his faith was and how ready he is to face the same tribulations as Christ.

Jesus knew otherwise. He knew that Peter would betray him, just as Judas had done.

Jesus reminds them all of the way they should approach their mission after he has gone, that they should approach it with humility.

Be mindful, and be cautious when the scripture turns to the fulfillment of prophecy. God made each of us, and the whole of creation free. There is nothing predetermined.

When Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives, he himself is uncertain and afraid, so much so that he was even ready to use violence to protect himself and his friends.

He succumbed to the temptation to prepare for it.

He calls the disciples to arms before he withdraws in prayer.

Jesus sees what is coming, not because the future was immutable, but because human nature was scrutable.

Jesus finds comfort in prayer, the certainty of his faith speaks as clearly as if it were the messenger of God, and he is strengthened by it.

When he is rested he calls the disciples to the same practice, assuring them that they will find the same comfort in prayer, if they meditate on the way.

Just as Jesus was calling them, he was interrupted by the gang of men, led by one of his disciples, who had come to arrest him.

There was uncertainty among his followers, and as Jesus had previously instructed them they were prepared for violence. But Jesus had passed that moment of doubt, he was ready to surrender, though one of the disciples struck out anyway, striking before Jesus could gain command of the situation and announce his intention to submit to the authority.

Before he left with them Jesus healed the wounded man, just as we can expect God to heal any one of us sinners.

Jesus is prepared to forgive his opponents, this is what the way instructs us to do, but this does not mean that they do not deserve admonishment for their fecklessness and cowardice.

Jesus scolds them and they arrest him. Peter follows them, but when he is confronted he denies being a follower of Jesus. Within an hour he denies Jesus three times, proving Jesus right about Peters previous boasting

It was all vanity.

What follows is the worst display of human nature, all of our fear and pettiness rolled into one tragic and unnecessary drama that ended with the murder of a great and good person.

Jesus is mocked and beaten by cruel and callous men. He is dragged before the jealous to answer for their ignorance.

When they were satisfied that he had implicated himself in a crime, they were still afraid to prosecute him themselves, because Jesus was a man of the people, and they loved him.

So they took him to the Romans to get their satisfaction.

The Romans were also afraid. Pilate the Procurator wanted nothing to do with the plots that the Jewish elders, chief priests and scribes had with another. It even suited his interests to keep them off balance and uncertain.

Pilate returned him to Herod, the Jewish king.

Herod made sport of Jesus and came to terms with Pilate in a way that allowed Pilate to deal with Jesus, eliminating the problem that Jesus’ teaching represented for all of them.

This demonstrated for everyone the craven nature of human greed, because it was greed that drove them all, and their fear that they could lose the things they had, and the positions they held if they were to allow a popular man like Jesus to gain influence and power.

Pilate played politics with the matter, and publicly called on the Jewish elders to demand the death of Jesus. In their eagerness they fell for it, and though Pilate ordered the killing, it was clear to everyone that he was acting at the behest of the ruling class of Judeans

Pilate declared that Jesus was innocent of any crime but then bowed to the will of the crowd and condemned him to death, substituting Jesus for another condemned man. He let the murderer Bar Abbas go, and sent Jesus to death in his place.

Jesus was very week by this time. He had undergone hours of beatings, torture and abuse.

He mourned his fate even while giving hope to the people who had gathered to support him. He never failed to encourage them to carry on.

When Jesus had been nailed to the cross and lifted up to die, he prayed one last time for the people of Earth, for all the children of the God “Forgive them,” he says to God, “they know not what they do.”

This is the way.

During the agony of the crucifixion, while he died slowly on the cross, he was mocked and robbed and humiliated, during that time Jesus never lost his composure.

The way had prepared him for this.

Jesus finds companionship and common cause among the men he was crucified with. Both faith and doubt were on full display on Calvary that day.

Be mindful!

As you finish the reading for today do not to fall into the seductive belief that supernatural events attended Jesus’ death.

There was no eclipse when he was crucified.

There was only a darkness of heart and spirit the moment when Jesus died.

Those who witnessed his death, even though they were not among his followers, or believers in any way, they acknowledged the passing of a good man, even the Roman centurion said as much.

Joseph of Arimathea recovered his body for burial.

He was followed to the tomb by the women who were among his disciples. They were the final witnesses to his death and burial. They never abandoned him or left his side.

In this way a man passed from the world, who would come to be called the son of God, he was a humble prophet, a healer and a teacher of the way.
The Gospel According to Luke – Luke 19:28-40 ©

Blessings on Him Who Comes in the Name of the Lord.

Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here.

If any one asks you, “Why are you untying it?” you shall say this, “The Lord has need of it.”’

So those who were sent went away and found it as he had told them.

And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’

And they said, ‘The Lord has need of it.’

And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their garments on the colt they set Jesus upon it.

And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road.

As he was drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’

And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’

He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’
First Reading – Isaiah 50:4-7 ©

I did not cover my face against insult: I know I shall not be shamed

The Lord has given me a disciple’s tongue.

So that I may know how to reply to the wearied he provides me with speech.

Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple.

The Lord has opened my ear.

For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away.

I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.

The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults.

So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 21(22):8-9,17-20,23-24 ©

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

All who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
‘He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend.’

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Many dogs have surrounded me,
a band of the wicked beset me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet
I can count every one of my bones.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

They divide my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my robe.
O Lord, do not leave me alone,
my strength, make haste to help me!

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

I will tell of your name to my brethren
and praise you where they are assembled.
‘You who fear the Lord give him praise;
all sons of Jacob, give him glory.
Revere him, Israel’s sons.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Second Reading – Philippians 2:6-11 ©

Christ Humbled Himself but God Raised Him High

His state was divine, yet Christ Jesus did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.

But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Gospel Acclamation – Philippians 2:8-9

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

Christ was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.
But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all names.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
The Gospel According to Luke – 22:14-23:56 ©

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to Luke

Key: N. Narrator. ✠ Jesus. O. Other single speaker. C. Crowd, or more than one speaker.

N. When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them,

✠ I have longed to eat this passover with you before I suffer; because, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

N. Then, taking a cup, he gave thanks and said,

✠ Take this and share it among you, because from now on, I tell you, I shall not drink wine until the kingdom of God comes.

N. Then he took some bread, and when he had given thanks, broke it and gave it to them, saying,

✠ This is my body which will be given for you; do this as a memorial of me.

N. He did the same with the cup after supper, and said,

✠ This cup is the new covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you.

And yet, here with me on the table is the hand of the man who betrays me. The Son of Man does indeed go to his fate even as it has been decreed, but alas for that man by whom he is betrayed!

N. And they began to ask one another which of them it could be who was to do this thing.

A dispute arose also between them about which should be reckoned the greatest, but he said to them,

✠ Among pagans it is the kings who lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are given the title Benefactor. This must not happen with you. No; the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves. For who is the greater: the one at table or the one who serves? The one at table, surely? Yet here am I among you as one who serves!

You are the men who have stood by me faithfully in my trials; and now I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father conferred one on me: you will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

Simon, Simon! Satan, you must know, has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.

N. He answered,

O. Lord, I would be ready to go to prison with you, and to death.

N. Jesus replied,

✠ I tell you, Peter, by the time the cock crows today you will have denied three times that you know me.

N. He said to them,
✠ When I sent you out without purse or haversack or sandals, were you short of anything?

N. They answered,

C. No.

N. He said to them,

✠ But now if you have a purse, take it; if you have a haversack, do the same; if you have no sword, sell your cloak and buy one, because I tell you these words of scripture have to be fulfilled in me: He let himself be taken for a criminal. Yes, what scripture says about me is even now reaching its fulfilment.

N. They said,

C. Lord, there are two swords here now.

N. He said to them,

✠ That is enough!

N. He then left to make his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, with the disciples following. When they reached the place he said to them,

✠ Pray not to be put to the test.

N. Then he withdrew from them, about a stone’s throw away, and knelt down and prayed, saying,

✠ Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine.

N. Then an angel appeared to him, coming from heaven to give him strength. In his anguish he prayed even more earnestly, and his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

When he rose from prayer he went to the disciples and found them sleeping for sheer grief. He said to them,

✠ Why are you asleep? Get up and pray not to be put to the test.

N. He was still speaking when a number of men appeared, and at the head of them the man called Judas, one of the Twelve, who went up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said,

✠ Judas, are you betraying the son of Man with a kiss?

N. His followers, seeing what was happening, said,

C. Lord, shall we use our swords?

N. And one of them struck out at the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. But at this Jesus spoke:

✠ Leave off! That will do!

N. And touching the man’s ear he healed him.

Then Jesus spoke to the chief priests and captains of the Temple guard and elders who had come for him. He said,

✠ Am I a brigand, that you had to set out with swords and clubs? When I was among you in the Temple day after day you never moved to lay hands on me. But this is your hour; this is the reign of darkness.

N. They seized him then and led him away, and they took him to the high priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance. They had lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and Peter sat down among them, and as he was sitting there by the blaze a servant-girl saw him, peered at him, and said,

O. This person was with him too.

N. But he denied it.

O. Woman, I do not know him.

N. Shortly afterwards someone else saw him and said,

O. You are another of them.

N. But Peter replied,

O. I am not, my friend.

N. About an hour later another man insisted, saying,

O. This fellow was certainly with him. Why, he is a Galilean.

N. Peter said,

O. My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.

N. At that instant, while he was still speaking, the cock crew, and the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered what the Lord had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows today, you will have disowned me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Meanwhile the men who guarded Jesus were mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying,

C. Play the prophet. Who hit you then?

N. And they continued heaping insults on him.

When day broke there was a meeting of the elders of the people, attended by the chief priests and scribes. He was brought before their council, and they said to him,

C. If you are the Christ, tell us.

N. He replied,

✠ If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the Power of God.

N. Then they all said,

C. So you are the Son of God then?

N. He answered:

✠ It is you who say I am.

N. They said,

C. What need of witnesses have we now? We have heard it for ourselves from his own lips.

N. The whole assembly then rose, and they brought him before Pilate.

They began their accusation by saying,

C. We found this man inciting our people to revolt, opposing payment of the tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ, a king.

N. Pilate put to him this question:

O. Are you the king of the Jews?

N. He replied,

✠ It is you who say it.

N. Pilate then said to the chief priests and the crowd,

O. I find no case against this man.

N. But they persisted,

C. He is inflaming the people with his teaching all over Judaea; it has come all the way from Galilee, where he started, down to here.

N. When Pilate heard this, he asked if the man were a Galilean; and finding that he came under Herod’s jurisdiction he passed him over to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was delighted to see Jesus; he had heard about him and had been wanting for a long time to set eyes on him; moreover, he was hoping to see some miracle worked by him. So he questioned him at some length; but without getting any reply. Meanwhile the chief priests and the scribes were there, violently pressing their accusations. Then Herod, together with his guards, treated him with contempt and made fun of him; he put a rich cloak on him and sent him back to Pilate. And though Herod and Pilate had been enemies before, they were reconciled that same day.

Pilate then summoned the chief priests and the leading men and the people. He said,

O. You brought this man before me as a political agitator. Now I have gone into the matter myself in your presence and found no case against the man in respect of all the charges you bring against him. Nor has Herod either, since he has sent him back to us. As you can see, the man has done nothing that deserves death, So I shall have him flogged and then let him go.

N. But as one man they howled,

C. Away with him! Give us Barabbas!

N. (This man had been thrown into prison for causing a riot in the city and for murder.)

Pilate was anxious to set Jesus free and addressed them again, but they shouted back,

C. Crucify him! Crucify him!

N. And for the third time he spoke to them,

O. Why? What harm has this man done? I have found no case against him that deserves death, so I shall have him punished and then let him go.

N. But they kept on shouting at the top of their voices, demanding that he should be crucified. And their shouts were growing louder.

Pilate then gave his verdict: their demand was to be granted. He released the man they asked for, who had been imprisoned for rioting and murder, and handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they pleased.

As they were leading him away they seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and made him shoulder the cross and carry it behind Jesus. Large numbers of people followed him, and of women too, who mourned and lamented for him. But Jesus turned to them and said,

✠ Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children. For the days will surely come when people will say, ‘Happy are those who are barren, the wombs that have never borne, the breasts that have never suckled!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’; to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if men use the green wood like this, what will happen when it is dry?

N. Now with him they were also leading out two other criminals to be executed.

When they reached the place called The Skull, they crucified him there and the two criminals also, one on the right, the other on the left. Jesus said,

✠ Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.

N. Then they cast lots to share out his clothing.

The people stayed there watching him. As for the leaders, they jeered at him, saying,

C. He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.

N. The soldiers mocked him too, and when they approached to offer vinegar they said,

C. If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.

N. Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

One of the criminals hanging there abused him, saying,

O. Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us as well.

N. But the other spoke up and rebuked him:

O. Have you no fear of God at all? You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

N. He replied,

✠ Indeed, I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise.

N. It was now about the sixth hour and, with the sun eclipsed, a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle; and when Jesus had cried out in a loud voice, he said,

✠ Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

N. With these words he breathed his last.

All kneel and pause a moment

When the centurion saw what had taken place, he gave praise to God and said,

O. This was a great and good man.

N. And when all the people who had gathered for the spectacle saw what had happened, they went home beating their breasts.

All his friends stood at a distance; so also did the women who had accompanied him from Galilee, and they saw all this happen.

Then a member of the council arrived, an upright and virtuous man named Joseph. He had not consented to what the others had planned and carried out. He came from Arimathaea, a Jewish town, and he lived in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He then took it down, wrapped it in a shroud and put him in a tomb which was hewn in stone in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day and the sabbath was imminent.

Meanwhile the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus were following behind. They took note of the tomb and of the position of the body.

Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. And on the sabbath day they rested, as the Law required.

Palm Sunday – Holy Week (Year C)

A Homily – Mark 14:1 – 15:47 ©

The Gospel According to Mark – 2018.03.25

 

The Disappeared

Be mindful, read the words of Mark’s Gospel carefully.

They were written decades after Jesus was murdered. They were written in the years after the Romans came and laid waste to Jerusalem, destroying the temple, never to be rebuilt.

These words were written after Saint Paul wrote his letters, giving us the theology of Jesus the Christ.

They were written after all of the disciples were killed or dies.

They were not written by anyone who was an eye witness to the events they purport to relate.

They are a first summary of a growing, changing, evolving oral history.

Be mindful of this, the gospel is part narrative history and part apology, it is a fledgling mythology, and it needs to be read as such.
It tells us that Jesus was a man of the people. He had no fear of contact with the unclean, or the outcast, whether a leper or an unmarried woman, who in the view of the prevailing social norms were to be counted as on equal footing.

Note well, the woman who comes to anoint Jesus, is rebuked by the men in his company. Jesus in turn corrects them. The men who are his closest followers are still ignorant of what is about to transpire, but the women who follow him anonymously, they are fully aware, and they are prepared.

Jesus was in fact betrayed by one of his closest followers, a man in his company.

Jesus knew he would be arrested, but he went to the city anyway, he sent two of his disciples to prepare the way.

There was no subterfuge in Jesus, he made no efforts to hide his coming. He went even while knowing that one of his followers would betray him. He announced this to the rest of them.

They ate together, and the commemoration of this meal, became the basis for the Eucharist, the celebration of the presence of Jesus in the bread and the wine of the sacred meal.

Note well, Jesus is not present in the food that we eat, it is not his blood and his flesh that we consume. We commemorate Jesus when we share with one another, when we choose to be seated and dine with, even those we know will betray us, as Jesus did in the sharing of that last meal.

It is not the food that is holy, or the magic words and gesture that make them so, it is the gift of food and sustenance, and the time we sit at table together that transform them.

Again Jesus describes for the disciples everything that is about to happen, but they are ignorant and confused, and as close as they are to him they still do not understand.

Even after the meal is shared, the chief among the disciples boasts of his faithfulness.

Jesus calls out his ignorance and names him a liar, which he proved to be, and Jesus forgives him for it.

All of the men who followed Jesus, every one of the twelve disciples boasted of their faithful. One of them would actually sell him into bondage, and all of the rest would abandon him in the night.

Jesus did not resist when they came to apprehend him, though his men were prepared to fight.

He did not want a slaughter to ensue, when all he had to do was give up his own life.

In this he fulfilled the words that he had preached, no greater love does a man have than that he give up his life for his fellow men.

By giving up his own life he allowed the ministry that he had started to continue without him.

Jesus stayed true to this even while his followers abandoned him, all but the women who had attended him, they watched him and gave witness to his arrest and torture, to his crucifixion and death. They were faithful to their Rabbi until the end.

 

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark

Key: N. Narrator. ✠ Jesus. O. Other single speaker. C. Crowd, or more than one speaker.

N. It was two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread, and the chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by some trick and have him put to death. For they said,

C. It must not be during the festivities, or there will be a disturbance among the people.

N. Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper; he was at dinner when a woman came in with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the ointment on his head. Some who were there said to one another indignantly,

C. Why this waste of ointment? Ointment like this could have been sold for over three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor.

N. and they were angry with her. But Jesus said,

✠ Leave her alone. Why are you upsetting her? What she has done for me is one of the good works. You have the poor with you always, and you can be kind to them whenever you wish, but you will not always have me. She has done what was in her power to do: she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. I tell you solemnly, wherever throughout all the world the Good News is proclaimed, what she has done will be told also, in remembrance of her.

N. Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, approached the chief priests with an offer to hand Jesus over to them. They were delighted to hear it, and promised to give him money; and he looked for a way of betraying him when the opportunity should occur.
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to him,

C. Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the passover?
N. So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them,

✠ Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, ‘The Master says: “Where is my dining room in which I can eat the passover with my disciples?”’ He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.

N. The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as he had told them, and prepared the Passover.
When evening came he arrived with the Twelve. And while they were at table eating, Jesus said,
✠ I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me, one of you eating with me.

N. They were distressed and asked him, one after another,

C. Not I, surely?

N. He said to them,

✠ It is one of the Twelve, one who is dipping into the same dish with me. Yes, the Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!

N. And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them, saying:

✠ Take it: this is my body.

N. Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them,

✠ This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.

N. After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them,

✠ You will all lose faith, for the scripture says: ‘I shall strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.’ However, after my resurrection I shall go before you to Galilee.

N. Peter said,

O. Even if all lose faith, I will not.

N. And Jesus said to him,

✠ I tell you solemnly, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will have disowned me three times.

N. But he repeated still more earnestly,

O. If I have to die with you, I will never disown you.

N. And they all said the same.
They came to a small estate called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples,

✠ Stay here while I pray.

N. Then he took Peter and James and John with him. And a sudden fear came over him, and great distress. And he said to them,

✠ My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here, and keep awake.

N. And going on a little further he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, this hour might pass him by. He said:

✠ Abba (Father)! Everything is possible for you. Take this cup away from me. But let it be as you, not I, would have it.

N. He came back and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter,

✠ Simon, are you asleep? Had you not the strength to keep awake one hour? You should be awake, and praying not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

N. Again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came back and found them sleeping, their eyes were so heavy; and they could find no answer for him. He came back a third time and said to them,

✠ You can sleep on now and take your rest. It is all over. The hour has come. Now the Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up! Let us go! My betrayer is close at hand already.

N. Even while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came up with a number of men armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the traitor had arranged a signal with them. He had said, ‘The one I kiss he is the man. Take him in charge, and see he is well guarded when you lead him away.’ So when the traitor came, he went straight up to Jesus and said,

O. Rabbi!

N. and kissed him. The others seized him and took him in charge. Then one of the bystanders drew his sword and struck out at the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear.
Then Jesus spoke:

✠ Am I a brigand, that you had to set out to capture me with swords and clubs? I was among you teaching in the Temple day after day and you never laid hands on me. But this is to fulfil the scriptures.

N. And they all deserted him and ran away. A young man who followed him had nothing on but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the cloth in their hands and ran away naked.
They led Jesus off to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes assembled there. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the high priest’s palace, and was sitting with the attendants warming himself at the fire.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus on which they might pass the death sentence. But they could not find any. Several, indeed, brought false evidence against him, but their evidence was conflicting. Some stood up and submitted this false evidence against him,

C. We heard him say, ‘I am going to destroy this Temple made by human hands, and in three days build another, not made by human hands.’

N. But even on this point their evidence was conflicting. The high priest then stood up before the whole assembly and put this question to Jesus,

O. Have you no answer to that? What is this evidence these men are bringing against you?

N. But he was silent and made no answer at all. The high priest put a second question to him,

O. Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?

N. Jesus said,

✠ I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.

N. The high priest tore his robes, and said:

O. What need of witnesses have we now? You heard the blasphemy. What is your finding?

N. And they all gave their verdict: he deserved to die.
Some of them started spitting at him and, blindfolding him, began hitting him with their fists and shouting,

C. Play the prophet!

N. And the attendants rained blows on him.
While Peter was down below in the courtyard, one of the high priest’s servant-girls came up. She saw Peter warming himself there, stared at him and said,

O. You too were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.

N. But he denied it, saying.

O. I do not know, I do not understand, what you are talking about.

N. And he went out into the forecourt. The servant-girl saw him and again started telling the bystanders,

O. This fellow is one of them.

N. But again he denied it. A little later the bystanders themselves said to Peter,

C. You are one of them for sure! Why, you are a Galilean.

N. But he started calling down curses on himself and swearing,

O. I do not know the man you speak of.

N. At that moment the cock crew for the second time, and Peter recalled how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will have disowned me three times.’ And he burst into tears.
First thing in the morning, the chief priests together with the elders and scribes, in short the whole Sanhedrin, had their plan ready. They had Jesus bound and took him away and handed him over to Pilate.
Pilate questioned him:

O. Are you the king of the Jews?

N. He answered,

✠ It is you who say it.

N. And the chief priests brought many accusations against him. Pilate questioned him again:

O. Have you no reply at all? See how many accusations they are bringing against you!

N. But, to Pilate’s amazement, Jesus made no further reply.
At festival time Pilate used to release a prisoner for them, anyone they asked for. Now a man called Barabbas was then in prison with the rioters who had committed murder during the uprising. When the crowd went up and began to ask Pilate the customary favour, Pilate answered them

O. Do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?

N. For he realised it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over. The chief priests, however, had incited the crowd to demand that he should release Barabbas for them instead. Then Pilate spoke again:

O. But in that case, what am I to do with the man you call king of the Jews?

N. They shouted back,

C. Crucify him!

N. Pilate asked them,

O. Why? What harm has he done?

N. But they shouted all the louder,

C. Crucify him!

N. So Pilate, anxious to placate the crowd, released Barabbas for them and, having ordered Jesus to be scourged, handed him over to be crucified.
The soldiers led him away to the inner part of the palace, that is, the Praetorium, and called the whole cohort together. They dressed him up in purple, twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on him. And they began saluting him,

C. Hail, king of the Jews!

N. They struck his head with a reed and spat on him; and they went down on their knees to do him homage. And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the purple and dressed him in his own clothes.
They enlisted a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means the place of the skull.
They offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he refused it. Then they crucified him, and shared out his clothing, casting lots to decide what each should get. It was the third hour when they crucified him. The inscription giving the charge against him read: ‘The King of the Jews.’ And they crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left.
The passers-by jeered at him; they shook their heads and said,

C. Aha! So you would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days! Then save yourself: come down from the cross!

N. The chief priests and the scribes mocked him among themselves in the same way. They said,

C. He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, for us to see it and believe.

N. Even those who were crucified with him taunted him.
When the sixth hour came there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

✠ Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?

N. which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?’ When some of those who stood by heard this, they said

C. Listen, he is calling on Elijah.

N. Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it him to drink, saying:

O. Wait and see if Elijah will come to take him down.

N. But Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
All kneel and pause for a moment.
And the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The centurion, who was standing in front of him, had seen how he had died, and he said,

O. In truth this man was a son of God.

N. There were some women watching from a distance. Among them were Mary of Magdala, Mary who was the mother of James the younger and Joset, and Salome. These used to follow him and look after him when he was in Galilee. And there were many other women there who had come up to Jerusalem with him.
It was now evening, and since it was Preparation Day (that is, the vigil of the sabbath), there came Joseph of Arimathaea, a prominent member of the Council, who himself lived in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God, and he boldly went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate, astonished that he should have died so soon, summoned the centurion and enquired if he was already dead. Having been assured of this by the centurion, he granted the corpse to Joseph who bought a shroud, took Jesus down from the cross, wrapped him in the shroud and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joset were watching and took note of where he was laid.

 

Palm Sunday – Holy Week