My Lord, My God

Second Sunday of Easter: Feast of Divine Mercy

February 22, 1931

47. In the evening when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand [was] raised in the gesture of blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside from at breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale. In silence I kept my gaze fixed on the Lord; my soul was struck with awe, but also with great joy. After a while, Jesus said to me, Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world.

48. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory.

49. …My image is already in your soul. I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy. I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy.

Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Faustina

Image of Divine Mercy

divinemercy_vilnius

313. Once when I was visiting the artist [Eugene Kazimirowki] who was painting the image, and saw that it was not as beautiful as Jesus is, I felt very sad about it, but I hid this deep in my heart. When we had left the artist’s house, Mother Superior [Irene] stayed in town to attend to some matters while I returned home alone. I said to the Lord, “Who will paint You as beautiful as You are?” Then I heard these words: Not in the beauty of the color, nor of the brush lies the greatness of this image, but in my grace.

Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Faustina

Message of Divine Mercy
Ask for mercy; be merciful to others; completely trust in Jesus

965. Jesus looked at me and said, Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation, that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My Mercy, they will perish for all eternity. Secretary of My Mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near.

Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Faustina

699. My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy. …On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy.

Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Faustina

Scriptures of the Day

Early Church: Acts of the Apostles 2:42–47

They devoted themselves
to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life,
to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone,
and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
All who believed were together and had all things in common;
they would sell their property and possessions
and divide them among all according to each one’s need.
Every day they devoted themselves
to meeting together in the temple area
and to breaking bread in their homes.
They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart,
praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.
And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Epistle: 1 Peter 1:3–9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you
who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while
you may have to suffer through various trials,
so that the genuineness of your faith,
more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,
may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Gospel of the Day: John 20:19–31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Mini Homily: Mercy Heals a Wounded Heart

Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Questions of the Day

  • What obstacle prevents you from believing in Jesus?
  • Are you present to the presence of Jesus?

502. Only love has meaning; it raises up our smallest actions into infinity.

Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Faustina

Come, have breakfast

Easter Friday
The Resurrected Christ desires to dine with us

Gospel of the Day: John 21:1–14

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

Disciples on the Journey
Take a moment to enter the scene, walk with the disciples, and encounter the Risen Christ

We know this scene well. The stage is being set for Jesus to restore Peter (but today’s reading does not take us that far). Peter denied him by a charcoal fire. Now Christ forgives his betrayal and continues to prepare his disciples for their mission. But let’s set aside what we know about what happens next. The focus of this Easter reading is that moment in which we move from not recognizing Jesus—Jesus who is present yet hidden—to the moment of realization: It is the Lord! My Lord, my God! ♣

The Resurrected Christ has appeared with his wounds. He has told his disciples, who will go through much persecution and be killed for their faith not to be afraid. The Risen Jesus enters the daily lives of his disciples and meets them in their ordinary work and needs. He strengthens them. He guides them. We, too, can expect to meet the Risen Lord in the same places, and in his church we receive his strength and guidance.. Come, have breakfast.

The disciples do not recognize him at first. A miraculous catch of fish causes Peter to exclaim “It is the Lord!” and jump into the sea. All for All. This is the precious moment of wonderment and awe. The heart of Peter, who wept bitterly at his betrayal of Jesus, who was still working out his faith one day at a time, rises to a new height. The love of Jesus is still his.

God humbled and lowered himself to the likeness and limits of man, takes on himself the burden and punishment merited by our sin, allows himself to suffer torments and die. That we may have life. Without Jesus we cannot ascend to God. Out of love, God descends to us. Though Jesus has ascended to the Father and sits at his right hand, he continues to descend and humble himself by becoming the Bread of Life. He is ready to meet us at the dawning of each new day. He hungers to feed us that we may have life to the full. Laudetur Jesus Christus

Question of the Day

  • When have you recognized Christ showing up in your life, and how have you responded? Do you exclaim “It is the Lord!”?
  • Like Peter, are you ready to give All to the one who is All? (If not, to what, if anything, do you give your all?)
  • Do you recognize Christ in the Eucharist?
  • Will you meet Christ at his Eucharistic table? Do you approach in wonderment, awe, and gratitude?

 

He opened their minds to the scriptures

Easter Thursday
The resurrected Christ desires to give us His peace,
a peace that comes when we repent of our sins and receive God’s forgiveness

Gospel of the Day: Luke 24:35–48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

Disciples on the Journey

Jesus handpicked his apostles. He spent three years training them during his public ministry. They watched him suffer, and scattered. Even as they witnessed his resurrection, they struggled to understand. Our journey is like theirs: we don’t get it; we have trouble believing; our hearts are troubled, lacking peace; we are full of questions; we don’t know how to pray; we want to believe, but we need proof. We are totally dependent upon Jesus opening our minds to the scriptures, and until he does, we must be patient and trust. We must seek and knock and trust that the door will be opened as promised. In the Gospel reading today, Jesus says “touch me and see.” We may not be able to physically touch the Risen Jesus, but we can be touched by him when he fills us with his Spirit. And we can dine with him when we receive him in the Eucharist. Laudetur Jesus Christus

Question of the Day

Are you amazed and incredulous for joy by the reality that Christ is Risen?

Prayer for the Evening
From the Te Deum

Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

The path of life made known

Easter Monday

Abide in confidence

Scriptures of the Day

New Testament Proclamation: Acts of the Apostles 2:14, 22–33

On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.

“You who are children of Israel, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
For David says of him:

I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did his flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit
that he received from the Father, as you both see and hear.”

Psalm 16:1–2A, 5, 7–8, 9–10, 11

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.

I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.

You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.

Gospel: Matthew 28:8–15

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce the news to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city
and told the chief priests all that had happened.
The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel;
then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,
telling them, “You are to say,
‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’
And if this gets to the ears of the governor,
we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.
And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

Ever New

In his homily at Mass today Father stressed the need “to realize there is something more.”

How appropriate to dwell on this truth the day after Easter. No matter how many times we have read or heard a story or passage of scripture, there is always something more to discover. It is a mistake to think, oh, I know that story, and move on to something else.

However close Jesus has drawn us toward him, we can always be drawn closer. Whatever love flows through (to or from) your heart, move love is possible. Whatever suffering you are being asked to endure this day, there is something greater and beyond the pain.

There is something more than what my eyes see and ears hear. Something beyond what the body experiences. Perception is not always reality. All that we know and understand from having lived in this body for a few brief years and also as the whole of humanity passing through time and space, there is something more: eternity.

Questions of the Day

  • How seriously do you take the reality of eternity—that place beyond space and time, which awaits us after we pass from this life?
  • Have you tasted “something more”?
  • Does your flesh “dwell in hope”?

Song of the Day
Matt Maher, Alive Again

 

The last enemy to be destroyed

First Question of the Day

Is God absent from your life?

Holy Saturday
He descended to the dead

We began the Easter Triduum (three days in our time that are one continuous day in the spiritual realm), the evening of Holy Thursday, by celebrating the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, so that he might be with us always in the most intimate way, so that our souls would be strengthened on their journey back to God. Another aspect of Holy Thursday is Jesus’ Agony in the Garden. This is where we bring our own agonies and learn to accept God’s will and plan for our lives, including our suffering, be it that which he has ordained or that which he has permitted.

Yesterday, the Church accompanied Our Lord Jesus Christ as he suffered his Passion and death. We walked the stations of the cross; we adored and reverenced the Holy Cross.

This morning the Church is silent. Holy Saturday is the darkest day of the year. The Church will not celebrate Holy Mass. We are unable to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. So what are we to do on this day? We wait with the Blessed Virgin Mary at the tomb of her son.

Yesterday the Blessed Virgin Mary stood at the foot of the cross. Her eyes did not turn away. She must not have wanted to blink. How great was Mary’s faith and hope that she stood and watched and suffered with Jesus, who was innocent yet condemned. Only unshakable confidence in the divinity of her Son could give her strength to stand and watch.

How is our faith? In what state is our spirit this morning? Will we allow and embrace the heaviness of the spiritual darkness and silence, or will we run from it? Are we eager to eat after fasting yesterday, or will we continue to fast for at least some of the day? Will we take time to contemplate what Jesus has done for us?

For contemplation on Holy Saturday, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has three meditations on the anguish of the absence of God.

Will we die to self and rise in Christ, becoming a new creation? Do we believe that Jesus will make us a new creation? Do we long to be free, at peace?

Scripture Snippets

Come, all you who pass by the way, look and see whether there is any suffering like my suffering. — Lamentations 1:12

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. — 1 Corinthians 15:26

We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. — Romans 6:9

He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, — 2 Timothy 1:10–11

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away. — Revelation 21:4

More Questions of the Day

Did Jesus really descend into hell?
answer

Do you lack faith? Do you desire an increase in faith, because it is not yet the size of a mustard seed?

 Do you desire the gift of contemplation—the ability to ponder with Mary the great mystery of her divine Son?

Do you desire to move from fear and despair to peace and joy?

What difficulty is God asking you to endure with a watchful, prayerful presence—your own waiting for the coming of the Lord?

ask. seek. knock. find.

His grace is infinite

Prayer of the Day
Psalm 43: Prayer to Worship God Anew

Grant me justice, O God;
defend me from a faithless people;
from the deceitful and unjust rescue me.
You, O God, are my strength.
Why then do you spurn me?
Why must I go about mourning,
with the enemy oppressing me?
Send your light and your fidelity,
that they may be my guide;
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place of your dwelling,
That I may come to the altar of God,
to God, my joy, my delight.
Then I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.
Why are you downcast, my soul?
Why do you groan within me?
Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,
my savior and my God.

He must rise from the dead

Holy Thursday

Regardless of how well or poorly we kept our Lenten fasts, and what God may have revealed to us about our attachments to worldly things… let us begin anew tonight with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper to prepare for the mystery and joy of discovering with Mary Magdalene and the apostles the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection this Easter. During the next three days, enter the story of salvation as it reaches its peak, talk to and walk with Jesus as he accomplishes his mission, so that your joy may be complete.

Video of the Day: Easter Preparation

In the following video, Father Hezekias and Daniel Garland (Institute of Catholic Culture) help you prepare for Easter as they discuss the gospel passage (John 20:1–9) that will be read this Easter Sunday.

Question of the Day

  • Are you prepared for Easter?
  • How hungry are you for the good things the Lord has to offer?
  • What does Jesus’ resurrection mean for you?
  • What tomb do you want to walk out of?
  • What has the power to wake you before dawn?

Scriptures of the Evening

New Testament: 1 Corinthians 11:23–26

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Gospel: John 13:1–15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

You who fear the Lord, praise him

“Who is this?”

On Palm Sunday the Church reads two passages from the gospels: the first is Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 20:1–11), and the second is the entire passion narrative (Matthew 26:14—Mathew 27:66). These passages show some of the various relationships people have with Jesus:

  • The crowd that welcomes Jesus as he enters the city believe Jesus is who he claims to be. They spread their cloaks and palms on the road as he approaches. They bless him and exclaim “Hosanna” (save/rescue/savior).
  • The people of Jerusalem who ask “who is this?” The people in this group have an obstacle that prevents them from recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, perhaps through indifference or ignorance.
  • The chief priests and Sanhedrin who stir up the crowd to demand that Pilate release a violent rebel (Barabbas) and impose death for Jesus, as they shout “Crucify him! Crucify him!” This group feels threatened, some are self-righteous.
  • Those who are willing to give false testimony about Jesus.
  • Pilate, who is concerned about himself and maintaining his position/power.
  • Roman soldiers—outsiders regarding this religious matter—scourge and mock; violence for its own sake.
  • Passersby mock Jesus. They don’t stop, they don’t consider. They want to see a sign that causes their eyes disbelief.

The crowds from the gospel readings are alive and well today. Today’s church bombings in Egypt show that the passion and death of Jesus continues. Those who reject Jesus as Son of God persecute his people. Many today remain indifferent to Jesus, many question who he is, but don’t take the question seriously enough to seek an answer. Politicians ignore Jesus while they try to preserve their own power.

New Testament Reading: Philippians 2:6–11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Psalm 22:8–9, 17–18, 19–20, 23–24
My God, My God, Why Have You Abandoned Me?

All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him.”

Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.

They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.

I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
“You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”

Quote of the Day: It is the same Jesus

This Jesus, who accepts the hosannas of the crowd, knows full well that they will soon be followed by the cry: “Crucify him!” He does not ask us to contemplate him only in pictures and photographs, or in the videos that circulate on the internet.  No.  He is present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own: they suffer from slave labour, from family tragedies, from diseases… They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike.  Women and men who are cheated, violated in their dignity, discarded… Jesus is in them, in each of them, and, with marred features and broken voice, he asks to be looked in the eye, to be acknowledged, to be loved.

It is not some other Jesus, but the same Jesus who entered Jerusalem amid the waving of palm branches. It is the same Jesus who was nailed to the cross and died between two criminals. We have no other Lord but him: Jesus, the humble King of justice, mercy and peace.
—Pope Francis, Palm Sunday homily

Prayer

“May the Lord convert the hearts of the people who are sowing terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who make and traffic weapons.” — Pope Francis response to attack on Coptic Churches in Egypt

Love gathers, love guards

On the verge of Holy Week

The reading from the Old Testament helps us see who God is and understand his goals. The responsorial psalm echoes the promise to gather and guard and also to restore. The mourning of this life will turn to joy for all eternity.

The Gospel shows us a scene from how God is going to accomplish his work: through his Son. Yes, he will come to Jerusalem for the Passover, for he is the Paschal Lamb.

In all the readings it is clear that the work is the Lord’s, not ours. God will accomplish it. Our role is more than mere cooperation. We are called into relationship and to respond to God’s work of love. Some need to turn away from sin and toward God; some need to stop resisting, and abandon themselves to God’s work in their lives. Daily reading of scripture will allow us to continually renew our minds, protect us from the ways of the culture, which are sin and death, and give us an opportunity to encounter God in his Word. Our part is to be open to the encounter and trust in love and mercy.

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament Prophecy: Ezekiel 37:21–28

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will take the children of Israel from among the nations
to which they have come,
and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land.
I will make them one nation upon the land,
in the mountains of Israel,
and there shall be one prince for them all.
Never again shall they be two nations,
and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.

No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols,
their abominations, and all their transgressions.
I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy,
and cleanse them so that they may be my people
and I may be their God.
My servant David shall be prince over them,
and there shall be one shepherd for them all;
they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees.
They shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob,
the land where their fathers lived;
they shall live on it forever,
they, and their children, and their children’s children,
with my servant David their prince forever.
I will make with them a covenant of peace;
it shall be an everlasting covenant with them,
and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.
My dwelling shall be with them;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD,
who make Israel holy,
when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.

Responsorial Psalm: Jeremiah 31:10–13

Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd his flock.

The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings:
The grain, the wine, and the oil,
the sheep and the oxen.

Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.

Good News: John 11:45–56

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.
But some of them went to the Pharisees
and told them what Jesus had done.
So the chief priests and the Pharisees
convened the Sanhedrin and said,
“What are we going to do?
This man is performing many signs.
If we leave him alone, all will believe in him,
and the Romans will come
and take away both our land and our nation.”
But one of them, Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year, said to them,
“You know nothing,
nor do you consider that it is better for you
that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish.”
He did not say this on his own,
but since he was high priest for that year,
he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not only for the nation,
but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
So from that day on they planned to kill him.

So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews,
but he left for the region near the desert,
to a town called Ephraim,
and there he remained with his disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near,
and many went up from the country to Jerusalem
before Passover to purify themselves.
They looked for Jesus and said to one another
as they were in the temple area, “What do you think?
That he will not come to the feast?”

Questions of the Day

  • What do you think?
  • Have you killed Jesus—expunged him from your life?
  • Why is it so hard to trust in God and abandon ourselves to his love?

Never see death

As we move toward Holy Week, the readings selected express not only the tension building between the Jewish religious leaders and Jesus, but why there is tension: the identity of Jesus.

The Old Testament passage presents the covenant God made with Abraham. This is the oldest story in the Bible. The psalm recalls that God remembers his covenant forever, even though, as the stories in the Bible —and our own lives— convey, his people fail and forget their part of the relationship. In the Gospel, Jesus clearly reveals his divinity, “I AM,” and the promise of the New Covenant: “whoever keeps my word will never see death.”

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament Covenant: Genesis 17:3–9

When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him: “My covenant with you is this: you are to become the father of a host of nations. No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations. I will render you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you; kings shall stem from you. I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now staying, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God.” God also said to Abraham: “On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”

Psalm: 105:4–5, 6–7, 8–9

Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly. Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.

You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail.

He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations – Which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac.

Gospel: John 8:51–59

Jesus said to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” So the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.

Question of the Day

Do you dare to hope in the Lord and his promises?

Do you grapple with the identity of Jesus, and the mystery of his nature, which is both fully human and fully divine?

Collect for Mass

Be near, O Lord, to those who plead before you,
and look kindly on those who place their hope in your mercy,
that, cleansed from the stain of their sins,
they may persevere in holy living
and  be made full heirs of your promise.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord looked down from his holy height

Scriptures of the Day

Psalm: 102: 2–3, 16–18, 19–21

O LORD, hear my prayer,
and let my cry come to you.
Hide not your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
in the day when I call, answer me speedily.

The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.

Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”

Gospel: John 8:21–30

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come.”
So the Jews said,
“He is not going to kill himself, is he,
because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?”
He said to them, “You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins.”
So they said to him, “Who are you?”
Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true,
and what I heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them,
“When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me.
He has not left me alone,
because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.

Questions of the Day

  • Will you die in your sins?
  • Have you come to believe that Jesus is I AM? That he is who he says he is?
  • Do you seek to please God in all you do?
  • Do you labor on your own, seeking self, or do you labor with God and for God, having died to self?
  • Is your prayer “the prayer of the destitute,” of one who recognizes he cannot save himself?
  • Does your soul wait for the Lord, to hear him say, as he said to Lazarus in the Gospel reading yesterday, “Come out!”?

The Evening Rabbit Report

God is omnipotent. He sees all and knows all, because he created all, and sustains all that is, in its coming into being, its life, in its dying, and eternal destiny. This omnipotence is what allowed Jesus, after hearing that Lazarus was ill, to wait two more days before going to Bethany. Our physical ailments, however, are nothing compared to our spiritual ailments.

God knows the tiniest movement of your heart, even that which your own conscience cannot detect. The psalmist affirms that God hears the prayer of the destitute. Have we come to know our poverty of spirit? Jesus says that if we have, we are blessed (Matthew 5:3), and that the kingdom of heaven is ours. Is our heart moving in the direction of humility or pride?

The religious elites to whom Jesus is speaking have not become poor in spirit. Rather, they are proud in their keeping of the law and have a self-righteous attitude toward those who fall. They separate themselves, and Jesus tells them “you will die in your sins,” because they reject the Son of Man.

God is not put off by our sin and fallen nature. He wants only to restore us to all he desired us to be. And so he sends his Son into the world. The worldly rejected him when he came, and so many continue to reject him to this day, choosing the world and death over spirit and life.

Quote of the Day

I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. — Jesus, John 10:10