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 – The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 58:7-10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 111(112):4-9 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 8:12
The Gospel According to Matthew 5:13 – 16 ©

(NJB)

The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Listen.

Meditate on the scriptures and consider their meaning when they refer to the light of God, in this moment we should reflect on the teaching of Isaiah, as Jesus often did.

Be mindful of these precepts:

We are light when we are shine like the justice of God, we are light when we are merciful, we are light when we speak words of love and perform acts of service to those who are in need, this is when we are light.

We are light when we feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the poor, and clothe the naked. When we are light we are healed of our own sickness, the sickness in our hearts and in our minds, the disease which clamors for us to horde our wealth, and feed our greed.

When we are giving we are good, and God’s light shines through us like a beacon, it shines in all directions and says to those who see it that we have made a dwelling for God in our heart.

We are light when we release the poor, when we uncurl the clenched fist, when we speak with kindness, and raise up the oppressed, this is when we are light.

When we are light we shine in the darkness, and our shadow departs from us as if we were standing beneath the sun at noon.

Be mindful!

This is what the scriptures are speaking to when they preach to us about God’s light.

Consider the words of the psalmist.

God, the creator of the universe, God is just, righteous and filled with compassion.

The destiny of each and every one of God’s children, is God’s own self; when the seed of the Word that God has planted in each of us, sprouts and comes to fruition, the fullness of the blossom is God’s own self.

Listen!

Righteousness and compassion are their own reward, nothing extra comes to you from God for in exchange for doing good. The Godly life is not a matter of commerce.

Be mindful, what is good true does not require a letter of introduction. A person’s past deeds are not necessarily a prelude to their future actions, the good may to ill, and the wicked may do good.

Take each day as it comes.

We are not called to be guarded or suspicious of each other’s motives, neither are we called on to blindly accept a person’s credentials.

Listen!

We are all in the way, and the way does not exclude anyone. We are all moving inexorably toward God, both the cooperative and the recalcitrant we are all moving toward the divine, the source of all being.

Consider the Gospel for today and know that there are no guarantees in life.

Listen to Jesus as he teaches his disciples, he understood the natural failings of human beings. Jesus knew that a person can be salient and good in one moment, bitter and coercive in the next.

Not even the disciples, as close as they were to Jesus, were free from these propensities. Why would it be any different for the Christian man or woman who follows them.

If you set out to teach, and be a light in the world, then do that. It requires you to live intentionally.

Be mindful of what Jesus said; a lamp, once lit, should be put on the lamp-stand, but even still it requires constant attention. The lamp oil must be refilled, the wick must be trimmed, replaced, and the soot must be cleaned from it.

If you intend to live your life as an exemplar of the way, you must be diligent, watchful, mindful of yourself and humble.

In your pursuit of the light, reflect on the teaching of Isaiah:

“Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and do not turn from your own kin.”
First Reading – Isaiah 58:7-10 ©

Then will your light shine like the dawn

Thus says the Lord:

Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, clothe the man you see to be naked and do not turn from your own kin.

Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you.

Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word, if you give your bread to the hungry, and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like noon.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 111(112):4-9 ©

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

He is a light in the darkness for the upright:
he is generous, merciful and just.
The good man takes pity and lends,
he conducts his affairs with honour.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

The just man will never waver:
he will be remembered for ever.
He has no fear of evil news;
with a firm heart he trusts in the Lord.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

With a steadfast heart he will not fear;
open-handed, he gives to the poor;
his justice stands firm for ever.
His head will be raised in glory.

The good man is a light in the darkness for the upright.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ©

The Only Knowledge I Claimed Was of the Crucified Christ

When I came to you, brothers, it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy, but simply to tell you what God had guaranteed. During my stay with you, the only knowledge I claimed to have was about Jesus, and only about him as the crucified Christ. Far from relying on any power of my own, I came among you in great ‘fear and trembling’ and in my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy; only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.
Gospel Acclamation – John 8:12

Alleluia, alleluia!

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
anyone who follows me will have the light of life.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 5:13 – 16 ©

Your Light Must Shine in the Sight of Men

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’
The Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 8:23-9:3 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 26(27):1, 4, 13-14 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 4:23
The Gospel of Matthew 4:12 – 23 ©

(NJB)

The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)
Listen!

The prophet errs when he ascribes a divine motive, or divine action to any event that transpires here on Earth.

God the creator of the universe, God made us in freedom, and the whole of creation as well.

Be mindful.

God does not confer glory on anyone, on any tribe or any nation, and God does not seek glory for God’s self.

The prophet was wrong to speak this way, his error being the error of human ambition, representing the limits of the human imagination, it is a reflection of our sinful nature and our own obsession with personal pride.

However, the prophet was write to speak of this: to speak of hope like a light shining in the darkness, which once perceived, gladdens the heart and brings us joy.

God’s light shines on us from beyond this world, we will not see the fullness of the divine light until we have left the world behind.
Listen!
It is wise to trust in God.

It is less than wise to have a high esteem of your own self.

Embrace God’s judgment!

This should be easy for a person of faith who knows that God’s judgment never appears without God’s mercy, and that God’s wrath never appears without God’s love.

Do not boast about standing upright. No one is innocent.

God does not need to test you, God already known you, better than you know yourself.

Do not shun your neighbors, even if you perceive them to be frivolous, even if they plot; do not be quick to call them evil. Sit where you are invited, open your door to all; only then will you be in the service of God.

Be mindful of this, at all times be mindful:

A house divided against itself cannot stand, and if it cannot stand then it cannot be used for any good, it will shelter no one, harbor no one, the people cannot gather there, talk together, share a meal together or lift up their voices in song.

Do not look to the pulpit or the person preaching there as the final word on the way.

Look to the teaching of Christ, of Jesus who says this: no greater love can a person show than that they give their life for their brother or sister, and that is exactly what Jesus did when the time came, when he was arrested at Gethsemane, put on trial and killed.

Follow the way: love God with all your strength and all your heart and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, this is the whole of the law, and all the wisdom of the prophets.

Be mindful, and be wary of the Scriptures, especially when the authors of the text are attempting to fit their narrative of Jesus’ life into a picture that makes it look as if he is fulfilling a prediction made by a prophet from past ages.

In these cases the literal story is always false, it cannot be relied on for anything, even metaphors, if they rest on false foundations they are suspect and should be treated guardedly.

Even if a prediction was made, and even if Jesus did the thing that was predicted, it is false to suggest that Jesus’ actions were in fulfillment of it.

This is the bedrock of truth, and we know it is true because the future is not predetermined, it never has been and it never will be. God, the creator of the universe made us, and creation free.

Prophets only speak of the future for two reasons; to engender hope, and to warn of danger. There is no other purpose and there is no predictive power in it.

The words of a prophet are always addressed to the people in their own time and in their own place. Prophecy is never meant to guide the lives of future generations, except in cases when the prophet is addressing an issue of universal truth, such as the nature of justice, which is itself unchanging.

Listen!

The Gospel writers were propagandists. They fabricated many of the details of Jesus’ life. They fabricated those details to suit their narrative about who Jesus was, why his mission was necessary, and what his life and death meant for the early church.

In this narrative the Gospel writers place Jesus directly in the tradition of John the Baptist, they do it with the words “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

This is a continuation of that narrative, meant to harness the energy of John’s movement, after his arrest and murder.

The narrative in the Gospel for today informs the reader of this, and that is its main intention.
First Reading – Isaiah 8:23-9:3 ©

In Galilee of the Nations the People has Seen a Great Light

In days past the Lord humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in days to come he will confer glory on the Way of the Sea on the far side of Jordan, province of the nations.

The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone.

You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase; they rejoice in your presence as men rejoice at harvest time, as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.

For the yoke that was weighing on him, the bar across his shoulders, the rod of his oppressor – these you break as on the day of Midian.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 26(27):1, 4, 13-14 ©

The Lord is my light and my help.

The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink?

The Lord is my light and my help.

There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to savour the sweetness of the Lord,
to behold his temple.

The Lord is my light and my help.

I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord!

The Lord is my light and my help.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 ©

Make Up the Differences Between You Instead of Disagreeing Among Yourselves

I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice. From what Chloe’s people have been telling me, my dear brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you. What I mean are all these slogans that you have, like: ‘I am for Paul’, ‘I am for Apollos’, ‘I am for Cephas’, ‘I am for Christ.’ Has Christ been parcelled out? Was it Paul that was crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul?

For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed.
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 4:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the kingdom
and cured all kinds of sickness among the people.

Alleluia!
Gospel According to Matthew 4:12-23 ©

He Went and Settled in Capernaum: in This Way the Prophecy of Isaiah Was Fulfilled

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light;
on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him. Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.

He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people.
The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 49:3, 5-6 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 39(40):2, 4, 7-10 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14
Alternative Acclamation John 1:14, 12
The Gospel According to John 1:29 – 34 ©

(NJB)

The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)
Be wary of the voice of God.

Be wary!

Be wary when you hear God speak to you, especially in secret and in private. What you perceive as the voice of God is almost always the voice of your own desires.

Be mindful.

God made us all to be God’s servants, God made us all from light, and to light we shall return.

Listen!

God has provided for our wellness.

Be careful that you do not substitute your will for the will of God, for the will of God who created the universe.

Consider the wisdom of the psalmist who declares that God is the God of mercy, and of listening.

Bend your ear to God; listen with the ear of your heart.

Stretch out your feelings and you will find your way through the troubles of life on Earth, through its filth and misery, as the psalmist says:

Seek salvation, seek wellness, seek freedom from your own sins and do not dwell on the sins of others.

When you are beset with difficulties do not cast blame on others, rather look to yourself, to your own transgressions and seek relief from them by following the way of God, whose command it is to love.

Listen, and be mindful.

We have all been appointed by God to be apostles, to share the gospel, the good news of God’s love for us, and the promise that God has prepared the way for our salvation, for the salvation of humanity, for the salvation of all people in all times and all places.

We are all people of the way; we are all saints in the making.

Remember this!

Jesus is not a lord, he is not our king, he was our brother; Jesus is our friend.

Let us dwell on this for a moment longer; God is not king, or a lord. The creator of the universe does not wear a crown. We do not seek glory as we struggle on the way toward salvation. As we follow Jesus we seek out the lowest of the low, not the highest heaven, we seek to serve those in the deepest dark, returning them to the light of love.

Listen!

Do not repeat the errors of John

Proclaim the truth, we are all born into the family of God; we are God’s children. We are not made the children of God by any power, not by a power that comes from within us, neither by a power that is external to us. We coming into being as children of God, in the Word, by the Word and through the Word.

Our status as children of God is as unconditional as God’s love for us.

Remember this always.

Consider the Gospel for today:

The Gospel of John was written more than one hundred and twenty years after the death of Jesus. None of its authors knew Jesus, or John, and not any of them knew anyone who knew them.

Like all of the other Gospels, John was not written by a single person. It was written by a community of people, and more than any of the other Gospels, it was written as propaganda.

The Gospel of John was written with the intention of arguing for that community’s beliefs about who Jesus was, what the weaning of his life was, and what his death meant to
Christians of their day, it was written to communicate those beliefs to the world.

By the time Johannine Gospel is written, the early church no longer had any concern about ameliorating John the Baptist’s followers, as they did when they earlier gospel’s were drafted. The ethnic Jews in John’s community had either become Christians, or they were considered by the community to be enemies of the nascent Church.

John’s Gospel is overwhelming concerned with depicting Jesus as the cosmic savior. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is the Word of God, who comes to take away the sins of the World.

Jesus is God.

When John the Baptist encounters Jesus, he provides witness for this.

The Baptist does not Baptize Jesus, as he does in the other Gospels, even though he, himself is busy at the work of baptizing.

When he sees Jesus approach, he announces to his followers that Jesus has come, a man greater than himself, one who existed before him (even though he was born in time after him), one on whom the Spirit of God rests, one who will complete the baptism of every believer, because he will baptize them with Holy Spirit and not mere water.

The Gospel of John was the crowning achievement of the early Christian propaganda. Through this vehicle the Church transformed the man, Joshua son of Joseph, into the being through whom the entire universe came into existence.

And this is fine, but it must be understood for what it is, as the expressions of faith and hope, not the recitation of history and fact; it is metaphor, allegory and myth.
First Reading – Isaiah 49:3, 5-6 ©

I Will Make You the Light of the Nations so that My Salvation May Reach to the Ends of the Earth

The Lord said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I shall be glorified’; I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength.

And now the Lord has spoken, he who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to him:

‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 39(40):2, 4, 7-10 ©

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.
He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings,
but an open ear.
You do not ask for holocaust and victim.
Instead, here am I.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

In the scroll of the book it stands written
that I should do your will.
My God, I delight in your law
in the depth of my heart.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.

Your justice I have proclaimed
in the great assembly.
My lips I have not sealed;
you know it, O Lord.

Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 ©

May God the Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ Send You Grace and Peace

I, Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle, together with brother Sosthenes, send greetings to the church of God in Corinth, to the holy people of Jesus Christ, who are called to take their place among all the saints everywhere who pray to our Lord Jesus Christ; for he is their Lord no less than ours. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 19:38, 2:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessings on the King who comes,
in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest heavens!

Alleluia!

Alternative Acclamation John 1:14, 12

Alleluia, alleluia!

The Word was made flesh and lived among us:
to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 1:29 – 34 ©

‘Look: there is the Lamb of God’

Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me because he existed before me. I did not know him myself, and yet it was to reveal him to Israel that I came baptising with water.’ John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptise with the Holy Spirit.” Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.’
The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

A Homily – The First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Baptism of Jesus

First Reading – Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 28(29):1-4, 9-10 ©
Second Reading – Acts 10:34-38 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Mark 9:8
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

(NJB)

The First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A), The Baptism of Jesus
Listen!

God, the creator of the universe, God wants nothing more from us than this: that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly through the length of our days.

This is way Jesus taught us. Listen to Isaiah, who made straight the way before him.

Be mindful.

The savior is the person who brings justice to the nations, you will not hear him shouting for the sake of vanity in the streets or on the airwaves, you will not see her cutting people off from their potential, putting them down or diminishing them.

The savior teaches us that justice is expressed through mercy, and that the law subservient to it.

As Jesus taught in his own day: love God with all your strength, and all your heart, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.

This is the Shema, and it is the first article of our faith.

Be kind to the stranger, be of service to your neighbor, love and forgive even your enemies. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and do not do to them what you would not have done to you.

This, Jesus told us, is the whole of the law and the teaching of the prophets.

Keep to this law, keep it as a covenant, keep it as promise between yourself and God. Preach it until the blind see and all those who are the captives of sin have been freed.

Consider the psalm for today:

It wise to believe in the God of creation.

God’s power is infinite and it undergirds everything that exists.

God’s power is present in all times and places.

Truly God is everywhere, there is no place where God is not.

God knows all things, God knows you, even as you know yourself.

Know this: it is not God’s voice we here in the wind above the waves. We do not hear God in the thunder. God does not splinter trees or rend them asunder. God is not active in the affairs of human beings; rather God has made creation, and us in it, free.

God is not a king.

Listen!

God does not intervene in creation, or the free choices of human beings.

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

Jesus was free to reject the ministry that was before, but he did not. He was faithful to the end. Setting an example to us all.

Few people will be called to serve in the capacity that Jesus served; few will be called to be tortured, and executed for bearing witness to what 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.

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.

Be mindful

The reading for today is a pure distillation of mythological tropes common among the Hebrew people.

It carries forward a set of theological themes that were very important in the first century.

It also situates the early Jesus Movement clearly within Rabbinical Judaism, which is otherwise known as Pharisaical Judaism.

In the reading for today Jesus is presented as a Pharisee, as a Jew of the Synagogue, his followers address him as Rabbi, and the central concern among the actors: Jesus, Peter, James, and John, concerns the foretelling that Jesus will rise from the dead.

Know this.

In ancient Judaism, only the Pharisees taught the resurrection of the dead.

Beyond these immediate concerns the writers of Mark’s Gospel were also interested in conveying the message that their teachings were in total alignment with historical Judaism, therefore they depict Jesus as another Abraham, who was also visited by divine messengers, and they show him changed, as Moses was changed on the mountain; furthermore, they show him being given the endorsement of Moses, and also of the prophet Elijah.

This trope is a concrete expression of the faith of the Jesus Movement that their teaching was in alignment with the tradition of the Patriarchs of the Covenant, with the Law Giver and the Prophets.

The writers of the Gospel wanted to convey the message that In Jesus the whole history of the people was complete.

Know this: the narrative is a fiction, these events never happened, they are a literary invention.

It does not transmit a historical truth about the Life of Jesus, but rather a historical truth about what people believed concerning Jesus, roughly fifty years after his death.
Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

Jesus was baptized by John.

It was the first moment of his public career.

He was baptized, he was purified, he was shriven.

The forms had been obeyed, and the gathered crowds were there to witness, the heaven open, and the Spirit of God, creator of the universe, descending on Jesus like a dove.

John was like Moses at the river Jordan. He was never meant to walk in the promised land. Jesus was like Joshua, he ushered the people in.

John was the elder son, he was not meant to inherit. Jesus was the promised son, in whom the hope of humanity was carried.

John was the goat, at the rite of expiation, Jesus was the lamb taken to slaughter.

High priest and king, they were one with each other.

Believing it does not make it true.
First Reading – Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ©

Here is my Servant, in Whom My Soul Delights

Thus says the Lord:

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights.

I have endowed him with my spirit that he may bring true justice to the nations.

He does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets.

He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice; he will neither waver, nor be crushed until true justice is established on earth, for the islands are awaiting his law.

I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right; I have taken you by the hand and formed you; I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 28(29):1-4, 9-10 ©

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

O give the Lord, you sons of God,
give the Lord glory and power;
give the Lord the glory of his name.
Adore the Lord in his holy court.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The Lord’s voice resounding on the waters,
the Lord on the immensity of waters;
the voice of the Lord, full of power,
the voice of the Lord, full of splendour.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The God of glory thunders.
In his temple they all cry: ‘Glory!’
The Lord sat enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits as king for ever.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Second Reading – Acts 10:34-38 ©

God Had Anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.

‘It is true, God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ – but Jesus Christ is Lord of all men. 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.’
Gospel Acclamation – Mark 9:8

Alleluia, alleluia!

The heavens opened and the Father’s voice resounded:
‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 3:13 – 17 ©

‘This is my Son, the Beloved’

Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. John tried to dissuade him. ‘It is I who need baptism from you’ he said ‘and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands.’ At this, John gave in to him.

As soon as Jesus was baptised he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.’

A Homily – Christmas at Dawn, a Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 62:11-12 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 96(97):1, 6, 11-12 ©
Second Reading – Titus 3:4-7 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 2:14
The Gospel According to Luke 2:15-20 ©

(NJB)

Christmas at Dawn, a Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)
Listen and be joyful!

What Isaiah says concerning Zion is intended for all the children of God, this means everyone.

The savior does not come as a conqueror, but as a healer, the victory is not over hostile forces, but over death and the trophy is life.

We are the sought after. Wherever we are, in whatever city we dwell, there in that place you will not be forsaken.

The creator comes with blessing for all.

Listen!

It is human beings who are obsessed with questions of kingship, set aside such fetishes.

God is Abba, father; Jesus is brother, teacher and friend.

God is the keeper of a garden, not a palace.

Let Earth rejoice and all people in it. Let us understand that God is a mystery. Let us know that all people are God’s children, and that God has no enemies.

God is the creator of all things, and all things obey the will God, what is in God’s will is justice, and mercy and love.

In the presence of God there will be no dismay. God will wipe away the tears from everyone’s face, all will be invited to the table. The feast will not commence until all of the invited have arrived.

If you have never worshipped a carved image, do not think you are superior to any who have, because idolatry can be found in more than the worship of objects, it is most insidious in the form of ideas and beliefs, doctrines and dogmas and decretals.

Be mindful.

God, the creator of the universe; God loves us.

God offers salvation to all people, and provides for it. Salvation is wellbeing, both in this world and the next. Salvation does not require rituals or rites, nor the magical of mechanism of justification. The salvation God has promised does not happen here in this world, though we can create a facsimile of it if we try happens, salvation takes place in the next world because God wills it. Our salvation does not depend on us at all.

But we are saved in this world simply by trusting in the word of God, by believing in what we hope for, goodness and justice and love.

Do not boast.

Be mindful of how the praise of God can lead a person astray.

God is not in the highest heaven, God is everywhere and in the hearts of all people.

All of God’s children are beloved by God.

God finds favor in all.

Do not let your faith circumscribe God’s love.

Consider the gospel reading for the day:

There is a lot packed into this short passage. Before we begin to explicate its meaning we must understand that Luke the Apostle, he never met Jesus. Luke was not one of the disciples, rather, he was a protégé of Paul, and Paul never met Jesus either.

Luke and Paul travelled broadly and met many of those that followed Jesus during his life. They met with James, who was Jesus’ brother, and Peter, and others, but they never met Jesus, everything they knew about Jesus was hearsay.

It important to note that while the Gospel of Luke bears Luke’s name, it was not written by Luke. None of the Gospels were written by individuals, each of them were exercises in collective development, and the writing of them took place over generations, as the communities who authored them did their best to narrate their understanding of the life and mission of Jesus in terms their audience would understand.

The Gospel of Luke says that Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus were visited by three shepherds. This is presented in distinction to Matthew’s Gospel which says that they holy family was visited by three Magi, who were “wise men” and Kings.

The magi were priests in the tradition of Persian Zoroastrianism.

The Gospel of John, which was the last to be written, and that of Mark, which was the earliest, those Gospels do not treat the subject at all.

The communities of Matthew and Luke were writing to very different audiences. As such, they tailored the narrative of the birth of Jesus in very different ways. Each in their own way created a fiction that was pleasing to the people to whom they were preaching.

This is the essence of propaganda.

Be mindful!

In order to understand the Gospels, this must be understood first of all: the Gospels contain some legitimate historical data but the facts are difficult to sift through. They are the product of artifice, they are fictions, at best they are allegories, analogies and metaphors dressed in myth.

The Gospels speak to some truths that are universal and relate some true events, but they cannot be relied on as a true account of anything.

This is not to say that they are bad, it is to say that they must be seen for what they are.

Because the Gospels are propaganda, they are less reliable as a tool to teach us about Jesus and more appropriately used to teach us about the diverse Near Eastern and Mediterranean communities that formed the early church.

Remember this at Christmas, the saturnalia, and the birth of Mithra.
First Reading – Isaiah 62:11-12 ©

Look, Your Saviour Comes.

This the Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your saviour comes, the prize of his victory with him, his trophies before him.’

They shall be called ‘The Holy People’, ‘The Lord’s Redeemed.’

And you shall be called ‘The-sought-after’, ‘City-not-forsaken.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 96(97):1, 6, 11-12 ©

This day new light will shine upon the earth: the Lord is born for us.

The Lord is king, let earth rejoice,
let all the coastlands be glad.
The skies proclaim his justice;
all peoples see his glory.

This day new light will shine upon the earth: the Lord is born for us.

Light shines forth for the just
and joy for the upright of heart.
Rejoice, you just, in the Lord;
give glory to his holy name.

This day new light will shine upon the earth: the Lord is born for us.
Second Reading – Titus 3:4-7 ©

It Was No Reason Except His Own Compassion that He Saved Us

When the kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 2:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace to men who enjoy his favour.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Luke 2:15-20 ©

The Shepherds Hurried to Bethlehem and Found the Baby Lying in the Manger

Now when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.
Christmas at Dawn, a Holy Day of Obligation (Year A)

A Homily – The Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year A)

First Reading – Isaiah 7:10-14
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 23(24):1-6 ©
Second Reading – Romans 1:1-7 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 1:23
The Gospel According to Matthew 1:18-25

(NJB)

The Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year A)
Listen!

God is not a politician.

The creator of the universe is not a kingmaker. God does not give victory in battle; appointing winner and losers. God, Immanuel, the God of Jesus Christ is with all people, at all times, in all places.

God loves each and every one of God’s children equally.

God stands with all people, whether or not any of them stand with God.

Be mindful of this.

All things and person have their being in God. God is the foundation of all that is. Without God there is nothing, and in nothing there is not even the possibility of being.

If you wish to climb the mountain, to find God, that is fine, do it, God is there. Or, you may simply turn to your neighbor, and see God reflected in their face. God is there.

See them, behold the face of God, in that holy presence give thanks, give thanks with your neighbor, demonstrate God’s faithfulness to you, demonstrate it through love.

Do not worry about your own holiness. God loved you before the creation of the world; when only the possibility of you existed, you were loved. This is true of all things and beings, of everyone; as they are loved by God, they are holy.

Look for God’s blessing in the service you provide to your neighbor, to your mother and father, to your sister and brother. Be justified in one thing, the quality and extent of your mercy, the degree to which you cleave to justice, and the service you give to those in your midst. .

Remember this:

God is not confined to the pages of a book, or by the ink on a scroll, neither is God bounded by the history and mythology of a people. Look to those things for glimpses of God, for the remembrances of past encounters, but seek the living God in living beings.

Always bear this metaphor in mind: the first time we saw God, when the first parent walked with the creator, the world was a garden, and that was paradise. There was no talk of kings, and no talk of glorifying God in battle. Let us return to that.

Do good and reject evil.

Remember, Paul was not chosen. He chose to preach the Gospel.

Remember this, Jesus was descended from David through his father Joseph.

Remember, Jesus was not a lord or king. He was a Rabbi and a healer

Jesus lived among us an example of grace and its fulfillment. He was not a conduit of grace. His mission was not to confer on human beings something that they lacked, but to activate in them something that is inherent, an innate capacity for good and a receptivity of the love of God.

Consider this:

Mary was betrothed to Joseph. Joseph was of the House of David. She became pregnant before their wedding, according to the design God had put in place for the propagation of human life.
Joseph had second thoughts about marriage, and about being a father, but in a moment of conscience, listening to the spirit of grace within him, he made a choice, and he embraced the truth, taking on the responsibility to raise his child.

He took Mary as his wife; he brought her into his house. They named their child Joshua, after the great hero of the Israelites. In that trust they pinned their hopes on him, in that hope and trust (faith) they encountered the presence of God. They knew then that God was with them, inasmuch as they were with each other.

If Joseph had succumbed to his fear and weakness (and that was a real possibility), in that time and place Mary would have been destroyed. She would have become an outcast, she would have had no standing in her community, she and her child would have died.

Joseph was humbled by his weakness and his moment of doubt. In that moment he learned what it means to truly love.

He choose good, he rejected evil.

If you believe it.
First Reading – Isaiah 7:10-14

The Maiden is With Child

The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’

Then Isaiah said:

‘Listen now, House of David: are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men without trying the patience of my God, too?

The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign.

It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 23(24):1-6 ©

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all its peoples.
It is he who set it on the seas;
on the waters he made it firm.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?
The man with clean hands and pure heart,
who desires not worthless things.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

He shall receive blessings from the Lord
and reward from the God who saves him.
Such are the men who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.
Second Reading – Romans 1:1-7 ©

Our Apostolic Mission is to Preach the Obedience of Faith to All Pagan Nations

From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.

This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead. Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ. To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 1:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to Matthew 1:18-25

How Jesus Christ Came to be Born

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year A)