Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Jesus' Hour Had Come

In today’s Gospel, John 13: 21-22, 36-38, Jesus is “reclining at table with his disciples.”  He is “deeply troubled” and says: “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”   Imagine Jesus’ sorrow.  My mind goes to situations in which a criminal is fearful of being betrayed. Jesus is no criminal yet one of His own is about to hand him over to those who are plotting to crucify him. I think of King David being pursued by his son Absalom, who, also,  is seeking to put his father to death. Jesus, our King, is, in a sense, pursued by His Father to reveal the depth of their love for you and me. Each person of the Trinity is eager to reveal the willingness of the Son of God to die in our place. Out of their love for us, the Trinity gives one of their own to sacrifice his life for the exoneration of each human being from the claws of death, which we call sin.

When the apostles heard Jesus’ message that one of them was about to betray Him, they frantically begged to know which of them would do such a thing. “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” He gives the consecrated bread to Judas. At that moment “Satan entered him.” Jesus says to him: “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Judas leaves. “It is night.” Darkness seems to have triumphed. So even more urgent is the act of redemption, Jesus, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, giving His life to save us from the kind of night that engulfed Judas.

Oh, the mercy and the love of our God. This is the hour for which Jesus became man. This is the hour when Jesus will be glorified and we with Him. The gates of heaven will be reopened to humankind, the gates that had been closed when Adam and Eve followed their own will instead of God's.  What will you and I do when tempted by Satan, as was Judas in his betrayal and as was Peter in his denials of Jesus. Judas leaves Jesus. Peter stays.  What will you and I do in moments like these?

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Conspiracy against Jesus

In today’s Gospel reading, John 12: 1-11,   Mary anoints the head of Jesus with expensive oil.  Just prior to that, Jesus had told His disciples that he will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes to be crucified. In John’s account, John says that “[t]he chief priests and Pharisees had by now given the orders: anyone who knew where he [Jesus] was must inform them so that they could arrest him.” In Simon’s house, when Mary anoints Jesus’ head and the disciples, especially Judas objects, Jesus says:  “Leave her alone. Why are you upsetting her?   ….[S]he has anointed my body beforehand for its burial”(Mark 14: 9).  

Jesus knew that the end was near. His hour had come and He was prepared to go to Jerusalem and enter into His passion for our sakes. Many times, previous, the people had tried to kill him but the hour for his passion, death and resurrection had not yet arrived.  His life was in His Father’s hands and so was ours.  Jesus and the Father were one in their intention to bring about the salvation of the world.  At this dark hour, when the scribes and Pharisees and the leaders of the people were arguing about what to do with Jesus to avoid an uprising that would surely lead to the loss of many lives, Caiaphas prophesied: “It is better for one man to die for the people than for all to die.” 

Involved in the efforts of the chief priests to find a way to trick Jesus and thus arrest Him was Judas, who had gone to the high priest and asked what they would be willing to give him if he handed Jesus over to them. They offered him 30 pieces of silver, the price of the life of a slave. From that moment on, Judas sought a way to turn Jesus over to the authorities.

Jesus, not only knew that the authorities were seeking to arrest Him, He also knew that Judas was involved and would betray Him. Judas, I believe, saw this as an opportunity for Jesus to escape, as He had done so many other times, and this time to become the King of the Jews and take possession of the Kingdom of Israel.  Is it possible that Satan was tempting Judas in the same way as he tempted Jesus in the desert when the Father of Lies  offered Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world if He worshiped Him? Judas, I believe, was caught by the lure of power and riches and worldly kingdoms, as so many are today!  

For which  kingdom are you  and willing to betray our true self? For which kingdom are you and willing to betray others? For which kingdom are you and I willing to betray our Savior? None, I hope!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fertility: God's Promise to Abraham

 In today’s Gospel, John 8: 51-59, when Jesus proclaimed that anyone who keeps His word will never see death,  the Jews asked Jesus:  “Who do you make yourself out to be?”  The people also shouted at him, saying “Now we are sure that you are possessed.”    We live in a world where people, by their lack of faith and by living immoral or amoral lives,  also question who Jesus is. Another example of doubting who Jesus is  when people scoff at the Catholic belief that Jesus is present in the host following the consecration at a Catholic Mass, even though Jesus, at the Last Supper, “took some bread, and when he had given thanks, broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which will be given for you; do this as a memorial of me.’  He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you’”  (Luke 22: 19-20). 

The Old Covenant is referred to in today’s first reading, Gen. 17:3-9,  when God said to Abraham: “My covenant with you is this: you are to become 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…be your God and the God of your descendants after you,” He was speaking  ultimately  to us.  One of the kings that stemmed from Abraham was Jesus, whose lineage is traced back to King David. Jesus, the Son of God made man,  is our King.   His Kingdom has no end. We are incorporated into that Kingdom in our baptism. Each of us is “rendered exceedingly fertile,” by Jesus’ obedience unto death. Our own fertility comes to full fruition in eternity as proclaimed by Jesus when He said: “…anyone who keeps His word will never see death.”  We bear abundant fruit here on earth when we, by grace, are obedient to the will of our Father as Jesus was. 

Lord, out of your infinite glory, “may…[you] give …[us] the power [fertility] through …[your] Spirit for …[our] hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in …[our] hearts through faith, and then planted in love and built on love, …[we] will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, …[we] are filled with the utter fullness of God.” Yes, may we become as fertile as Christ was fertile!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Be It Done unto Me according to Your Will, O God

Today we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation, the angel announces to Mary that she has been chosen by God to be the mother of the Son of God, sent  into the world, not to condemn it but to save it. Her womb will be opened by the Holy Spirit and will receive the Son of God, who will take on our humanity.  Mary, hearing of God’s plan, says:  “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your  word.”  What do you and I say when “an angel of the Lord” announces God’s plan for us? Are we willing, as Mary was, to have it done to us according to God’s word, or, like Adam and Eve, do we follow our own will and set God’s aside?

Only by God’s intervention would humankind be saved from eternal darkness, from separation from God that was caused by our disobedience. Jesus’  obedience and Mary’s’ would change that for us.  Paul says to us in Hebrews 10: 1-10, the second reading of today’s Mass, “It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats takes away sins. For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me” in Mary’s womb. “[I]n holocaust and sin offerings you took no delight. Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God.”  Paul continues:  “By this ‘will,’ we have been consecrated [made holy, made whole, sanctified] through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Nothing you and I do makes us right with God. Only Jesus can do that and He did by  being obedient to the Father unto death.

How obedient am I to God? Whose will am I following? God’s? or my own?  Do I want to know? If so, I need to sit at the feet of Jesus in solitude and let the Spirit open my mind to the will of God for me.