Sunday, April 27, 2014

Popes John Paul II, John XXIII officially declared saints


Popes John Paul II, John XXIII officially declared saints
by Elise Harris
The images of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II hanging from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 25, 2014 Credit: Lauren Cater/CNA
The images of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II hanging from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 25, 2014 Credit: Lauren Cater/CNA
.- In a packed St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis officially declared former pontiffs John Paul II and John XXIII as Saints.

“For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and having sought the council of many of our brother Bishops, we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be Saints,” Pope Francis exclaimed April 27 as the crowds cheered.

“We enroll them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Throngs of pilgrims flooded the Vatican on Divine Mercy Sunday to celebrate the highly anticipated canonizations of now-Saints John Paul II and John XXIII.
  
Pope John XXIII was born in Sotto il Monte, a diocese and province of Bergamo, Italy, Nov. 25, 1881 as fourth of 13 children. He was elected Roman Pontiff Oct. 28, 1958.

Known as “Good Pope John,” he is most remembered for his historic encyclical “Pacem in Terris,” and for his calling of the Second Vatican Council.

He was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II Sept. 3, 2000, during celebration of the Great Jubilee Year in 2000, and was approved for canonization by Pope Francis last July.

Saint John Paul II is perhaps one of the most well-known pontiffs in recent history, and is most remembered for his charismatic nature, his love of youth and his world travels, along with his role in the fall of communism in Europe during his 27-year papacy.

The cherished Polish Pope died in 2005, marking his 2011 beatification as one of the quickest in recent Church history, and is the first Pope to be beatified by his immediate successor.

In an April 24 message sent to both the Church in Poland and the diocese of Bergamo, Italy, Pope Francis thanked each for the great “gift” of the Saints for the Church and for the world, saying of John Paul II that he is grateful, “as all the members of the people of God, for his untiring service, his spiritual guidance, and for his extraordinary testimony of holiness.”

Speaking of Saint John XXIII’s historic calling of the Second Vatican Council in order to address a pastoral response to the presence of the Church in the modern world, the Roman Pontiff explained that “the renewal desired from the Second Vatican Council has opened the road.”

It is “a special joy that the canonization of Pope Roncalli takes place together with that of Bl. John Paul II,” he continued, adding that “this renewal has brought forward in his long pontificate.”

Seated alongside the cardinals in attendance for the canonization is retired pontiff Benedict XVI, making this the first Mass in history concelebrated by a Pope and his predecessor.

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Catholic Exchange

Homily for Today


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." [1 Pet. 1:3] My brothers and sisters in Christ, a week ago, we celebrated the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus on Easter Sunday. Today, we are reminded:
(1) of the free gift of the new birth that we have received:

(2) that the free gift was given to us through the love, mercy and grace of our Heavenly Father;

(3) that the Heavenly Father gave up His only beloved Son as the sacrificial Lamb; and

(4) that through His perfect sacrifice, we may now share in the living hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles [Acts 2:42-7] made reference to what it was like in the earliest days of the Catholic Church, in those days immediately after the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus. In that reading, we heard the manner in which the Christians of the early Church worshipped.

The believers who welcomed the message of Peter, the first Pope, they received the Sacrament of Baptism in order to be admitted into the Body of Christ. Wholeheartedly, they devoted themselves to doing four things. [Acts 2:42]
(1) They learned and practiced the teachings of the apostles, these being teachings that Jesus had personally taught to the apostles.

(2) They worshipped in fellowship. Living a good life was not sufficient in those days, nor nowadays, to be called a faithful. Those who believed in Jesus had to demonstrate their faith by gathering with other believers during which time they prayed, they sang, they praised God, they witnessed to the work of the Holy Spirit, etc...

(3) They participated in the breaking of bread. In other words, they received the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

(4) Finally, the believers devoted themselves to the prayers. By this, it is meant that they were saying the prayers that were favoured in those days when the Church was being established. Such may have consisted of saying the Our Father, some of the Psalms that were commonly known in those days, and other prayers that were appropriate for the services that were taking place.
From this knowledge, it is made known that what the Church leadership expected of the believers in the early days of the Church was no different than what is expected today.

In those days, to build the Church, the Holy Spirit manifested many wonders and signs through the apostles. As a result of these wonders and signs, awe came upon everyone. [Acts 2:43] Why was the Holy Spirit manifesting so many miracles? It was for three reasons.
(1) First of all, it was to draw the people towards the Apostles.

(2) Secondly, it affirmed that the apostles were servants of the One true God.

(3) Thirdly, it was to affirm that the building of the Church was according to the Divine Will.
In summary, through the wonders and signs, the people were drawn to the Apostles who were guided to admit them into the Church Of Jesus through the Sacrament of Baptism.

Over and above their worshipping, the believers sold their possessions and goods and distributed the proceeds to all according to their needs. [Acts 2:44-5] Why did they do this? It was because the faithful believed that Jesus would soon return and that they no longer would have a need for their personal possessions. Some had even left their employment in the hope of the soon to be return of Jesus. In his preaching, Saint Paul corrected some of the believers regarding their false understanding of the Second Coming of Jesus.

Throughout the centuries, many have tried to live according to this way of life, selling their goods and sharing all what they have with a community of faithful. They read in the Holy Bible how communal life was done in the early days of the Church but failed to read the admonition of St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-3 where it states: "As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction."

As we are gathered here today in the Church which is the Temple of God, the early Christians also came together in the Temple. [Acts 2:46] As we praise God together, they also praised God together. As we have the goodwill of all the people at heart, so did our early Church brothers and sisters. [Acts 2:47]

Today's Second Reading from the First Letter of Peter [1 Pet. 1:3- 9] consisted of the first papal document that was sent to the Christians of Asia Minor to explain the new life that is received through the Sacrament of Baptism. Its purpose was to enlighten the believers so that they may rejoice in the salvation and new life that they had received from God.

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we as Christians shared in the death of Jesus so we may share in His life. Having been baptized into Christ Jesus, we were baptized into His death. [Rom. 5:3] Having been buried with Him into death, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too will walk in the newness of life. [Rom. 5:4] Having been united with Christ in death, we will certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. [Rom. 5:5] We know that our old self was crucified with Jesus so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. [Rom. 5:6]

During our new birth, we were admitted into the Body of Christ during which time we have received the indwelling Holy Spirit as our "first instalment" [Eph. 1:13-4; 2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5] towards the imperishable inheritance that awaits us all in Heaven. [1 Pet. 1:4] The Christian inheritance is not of this world. Our hope is laid up for us in Heaven with the saints in the light. [Col. 1:5, 12; Lk. 12:33]

By the grace of God, we are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [1 Pet. 1:5] "Do you suppose that it is for nothing that the Scripture says, 'God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?'" [Jas. 4:5] To protect our new creation made of the seed of God, [1 Jn. 3:8] God placed His Holy Spirit within all of us so that we may follow His statutes, to keep and obey His ordinances.

If we have to suffer various trials for a little while, we should rejoice in knowing that our temporary sufferings are nothing compared to what awaits those who persevere to the end. Compared to the eternal life that we are called to enjoy, our present life shall be as a mere second in time. Therefore, let us rejoice for what awaits us.

On the subject of suffering, while God permits suffering to cross the path of our lives, He does not create the suffering itself. He allows us as individuals to experience suffering in order to test the genuineness of our faith. Are we going to imitate those who curse God when suffering comes their way? Or will we blame God for having created a situation that was man made through the free will of others? In our subjective thinking, are we going to fall short of perceiving that suffering sanctifies those who persevere? For in all things, during the day or the night, in health or in illness, in joy or in suffering, God should always be glorified.

Those who persevere in their suffering, they enjoy a "living faith." Their "perseverance" which is their "works" affirms that "faith without works is dead!" [Jas. 2:26] "For we are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life." [Eph. 2:10]

Speaking to the Ephesians, St. Paul stated, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing..." [Eph. 2:8] These words echo today's words of St. Peter, "For you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." [1 Pet 1:9] In gratitude for the gift of life that we have received, although we have not seen God, we love Him. Although we do not see Him now, we believe in Him and rejoice in the assurance that through Christ, we shall receive our blessed hope.

Today's reading from the Gospel of John [Jn. 20:19-31] provided us with an account of what Jesus did after His glorious Resurrection. The reading began by telling us that on the evening that Jesus rose from the dead, He came and stood among His disciples who had gathered behind locked doors. Take note that this appearance was still on the day of the Resurrection of Jesus, on the first day of the week that we celebrated last week as Easter Sunday. [Jn. 20:19]

If you recall when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb in the morning of His resurrection, He told her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father." [Jn. 20:17] Now, appearing to His disciples during the same evening, He breath upon them the Holy Spirit [Jn. 20:22] in fulfillment of His promise to do so [Jn. 7:39] after ascending to the Father. [Jn. 15:26, 16:7] From this reading, it is revealed that on the same day, on Easter Sunday, Jesus:
(1) resurrected,

(2) ascended to the Father, and

(3) gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles.
In other words, while we celebrate the events of Easter and Pentecost on separate Sundays, we are celebrating two events that actually happened on the same day about twelve hours apart.

After saying, "Peace be with you," Jesus breathed on His disciples and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." [Jn. 20:21-2] In his reporting of this event, John used the same Greek verb "breathed" that is found in the Book of Genesis where it states, "Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being." [Gen. 2:7] This implies that when the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the apostles, they became new creations just as the first man became a new creation when he received his human spirit at the moment of his creation.

From today's reading, we also find explicit evidence that Jesus was nailed to the cross versus being tied to it as was often the custom. Over and above Jesus showing His hands and His side to the disciples, [Jn. 20:20] there is a reference to the statement of Thomas who said, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." [Jn. 20:25] This evidence clearly reveals the unbearable suffering that Jesus endured to manifest His Divine love for us.

When Jesus said, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." [Jn. 20:21] He was commissioning the Church through His disciples and their apostolic succession to perpetuate the work of Divine salvation that had been realized through His death and Resurrection.

Then Jesus said, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." [Jn. 20:23] Through these Sacred Words, Jesus established the Sacrament of Confession, giving the authority of forgiveness to His disciples and their apostolic succession. According to Catholic Tradition, this act of Jesus has always been perceived as the origin of the Sacrament of Confession. It should be added that the Church's power over sin is also exercised in the Sacrament of Baptism and the preaching of the redemptive Word.

Now we come to doubting Thomas. When Jesus appeared to the disciples for the first time, only ten were present. Judas, the traitor, and Thomas were absent. As we heard, Jesus appeared one week later, [Jn. 20:26] also on a Sunday, and challenged Thomas to put his finger in His wounds. [Jn. 20:27] The Scriptures do not reveal to us if Thomas ever needed to touch Jesus or not. What we do know is that the eyes of Thomas were opened and he said, "My Lord and my God!" [Jn. 20:28] The glorious Resurrection of Jesus was the ultimate evidence that Thomas needed to prove to him that the friendship He had enjoyed with Jesus for the past three years was indeed a friendship with God incarnated in human form. [Col. 1:19, 2:9] At that moment, Thomas must have been overcome with awe.

At the end of this event, Jesus said to Thomas, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." [Jn. 20:29] These Words affirm that miracles, signs, wonders, healing, speaking in tongues, etc... "may assist" [Jn. 4:48, 10:38] the seeker of faith. But it is through the preaching of the Word of God itself that the question of faith or disbelief is finalized. Did St. Paul not ask, "But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim Him?" [Rom. 10:14] "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" [Rom. 10:15]

Jesus did many others signs in the presence of His disciples, those not being recorded in the Holy Bible. [Jn. 20:30] What has been written is sufficient for us to believe that Jesus came on earth as the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through our believing we may have life in His Name. [Jn. 20:30] For it is in the Name of Jesus that we experience our new birth into a living hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.

Second Sunday of Easter Sunday of Divine Mercy

Reading 1 acts 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.

Responsorial Psalm ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R/ (1) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R/ Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just:
R/ Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R/ Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R/ Alleluia.

reading 2 1 pt 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 jn 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.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday Homily


My brothers and sisters in Christ, may the joy and peace of the Lord Jesus fill all your hearts on this beautiful Easter Sunday that commemorates the glorious Ressurection of the Lord Jesus.

As many of you are aware, Easter is the principal feast of the liturgical year. Pope Leo I called it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and said that Christmas was celebrated only in preparation for Easter.

You may wonder why Easter is the greatest of all feasts celebrated during the liturgical year? It is because it commemorates the marvellous Resurrection of the Lord Jesus on the first day of the week. Based on the testimonies of "over five hundreds" [1 Cor. 15:5-8] believers who have witnessed the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, it cannot be denied that "the Lord has risen indeed." [Lk. 24:34]

On the Feast of Easter, we commemorate the most important turning point in the history of mankind. We honour the fulfillment of the "blessed hope" of every living being, "the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ." [Tit. 2:13] At that moment, when the fullness of time had arrived, all the faithful believers of the past, present, and future, received the free gift of salvation through the grace of God.

In order to appreciate the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we have to consider what the outcome would have been if there had been no resurrection. Saint Paul summarizes this subject in the following words:
"Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ - whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." [1 Cor. 12-9]

"But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ." [1 Cor. 20-2]
In fact, Christ has been raised from the dead! He was not only raised from the dead to prove to us that He is God; He was raised to prove to us that "we will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.' 'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?'" [1 Cor. 15:52-5; Is. 25:8]

My brothers and sisters, as we have heard from the Second Reading of the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians, because we have been raised with Christ, we should seek the things that are from above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. We should set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For we have died in Christ, and our new life is hidden with Christ in God.

For us Christians, Easter Sunday is a day of joy. It is a day of joy because of the new life that we have received in Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism. It is a day of joy because we have new brothers and sisters in Christ who have come home by receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. It is a day of joy because it is the time of the year when many, after having been absent for some time, return to Jesus through the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist. It is a day of joy when in the perfect unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, all the saints and angels of Heaven rejoice with us because "The Lord has risen indeed." [Lk. 24:34]

On this beautiful Easter Sunday, our joy in Christ is manifested many ways. It is manifested through our presence at the celebration of the Holy Mass during which time, with all our hearts, we praise our Lord Jesus Christ in thanksgiving. It is manifested in the warmth of the homes where family members and friends have been invited to a great feast of excellent foods. It is manifested in the laughter of the little children who will be provided with the opportunity to play games with their parents, be it searching for coloured eggs or other games. For some children, this special relationship with their parents is a rare opportunity because sometimes during the year, we forget to make ourselves little so we can share in the joy of our little ones.

In the midst of all this outward joy that we are celebrating, let us not forget those who's joy is inward. There are those who are sick in the hospital, the prisoners who have been forgotten, those who's countries have been torn apart by warfare, the seniors who live in solitude, all those who share in our joy in their own way. Our Lord is also their Lord. Inwardly, they also share in the joy of knowing that the Lord has indeed risen.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, witnessed by hundreds in the early days of the Church, is our proof that one day we will all be united as one eternal family. This life is temporary. What awaits us is so much better and greater. Until we reach that day, let us live the joy of Easter with all our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us make a special effort to reach out to those who do not share in our joy and especially those who have been forgotten so they may manifest their joy outwardly as we are doing today. As of today, may you all go forth in the Spirit of Christ and bring the joy of the Lord to all those who touch your lives!

The Resurrection of the Lord The Mass of Easter Sunday

Reading 1 acts 10:34a, 37-43

Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.
We are witnesses of all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Responsorial Psalm ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

R/ (24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R/ This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.or:
R/ Alleluia.
“The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.”
R/ This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
R/ This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R/ Alleluia.

reading 2 col 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

or 1 cor 5:6b-8

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast,
so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sequence - victimæ paschali laudes

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he goes before you.”
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen. Alleluia.

Gospel jn 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Homily for Today

The angel said, "He has been raised from the dead." [Mt. 28:7] My brothers and sisters in Christ, these words of the angel from the Gospel of Matthew summarize why we are here tonight. The vigil Mass is considered to be the first Easter Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord. Our faith community has gathered here during this evening to participate in the mystery of the Holy Mass with joy and praises in commemoration of the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus.

During this very special evening, wherever the Easter Vigil is being celebrated throughout the world, the catechumens are being baptized, confirmed and invited to receive the real Presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. For them, the Easter Vigil celebration completes nearly a year of journeying in the faith of our Mother Church that was established on earth about two thousand years ago by Jesus Christ Himself.

(Optional: May I take this opportunity to welcome home all those who have chosen to be in communion with our faith community.)

On the night before He died, Jesus prayed for our unity. He said, "And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you, Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one." [Jn. 17:11] Jesus' prayer was that we may be one as He and the Father are one. By the grace of the Heavenly Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the catechumens have been shown the way home so that we may be one as Jesus and His Father are one. Praise God for manifesting His loving grace that is seen in the building of the Mystical Body of Christ.

In view of the fact that we heard an unusual large number of Bible readings tonight, I will briefly summarize their meaning. The First Reading from the Book of Genesis [Gen. 1:1-2:2] indicated that everything that God had made, it was very good. [Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31] Seven times, we heard, "And God saw that it was good." If God saw that it was good seven times, surely, His creations must be very good, all of it serving a purpose in His Divine progressive plan.

The Second Reading [Gen. 22:1-18] reminded us of the event when Abraham obeyed God's command to go and sacrifice his only son Isaac whom he loved. This was a real test of faith for Abraham. Because he obeyed the Lord, at the last minute, the life of his son was spared. In recompense, the Lord promised to Abraham that He would make his offsprings as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore [Gen. 22:17] and by his offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessings for themselves. [Gen. 22:18]

In the Letter of Paul to the Romans, we are told that "Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness." [Rom. 4:3, 9] The same righteousness that Abraham received, it is bestowed upon all those, that meaning all of us, "who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, 'I have made you the father of many nations')." [Rom. 4:16-7]

The Third Reading from the Book of Exodus [Exo. 14:15-31, 15:20-1] reminded us of the event when the Lord God freed the children of Israel from the Egyptian slavery. This event was a picture of what was to come, that through our faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, [Jn. 3:5] we would be freed from the slavery of sin. [Rom. 6:7]

The Fourth Reading from the Book of Isaiah [Is. 54:5-14] recounted the promise of the Lord God to have compassion for us, that He would be our Redeemer.

The Fifth Reading, also from the Book of Isaiah, [Is. 55:1-11] was an invitation to abundant life. It was a promise from the Lord that if we came to Him, we would live and He would make an everlasting covenant with us.

The Sixth Reading, from the Book of Baruch, [Bar. 3:9-15, 32-4:4] reminds us to walk in the way of God so we may live in peace forever. We were told that wisdom is the Commandments of God, the law that endures forever. All who live righteously by obeying the commands of God will live. Those who forsake the commandments, they will experience spiritual death. To experience spiritual death means to be eternally separated from the Presence of God.

The Seventh Reading from the Book of Ezekiel [Ezek. 36:16:17a, 18-28] contained God's promise to sprinkle clean water upon us. He promised to put within us a new heart and a new spirit. Over and above this, He promised to place within us His indwelling Spirit to help us obey His commandments.

The Eight Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans [Rom. 6:3-11] reminds us that through the Sacrament of Baptism, we died with Christ, we were buried with Him, and we have been raised with Him so that we may walk in the newness of life.

The final reading from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 28:1-10] recounts the event surrounding the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. When Ma4ry Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb early on the Sunday morning, they were greeted by an angel who told them that Jesus had been raised. Accordingly, the women should go and announce the good news to the disciples, telling them to go to Galilee where they will see Jesus again.

My friends in Jesus, the death of the Lord is not just a fairytale. It was witnessed by more than five hundred brothers and sisters of the early Church. [1 Cor. 15:6] One Christian may have imagined it. Two Christians may have imagined it. But surely, all five hundreds could not have imagined it!

Tonight, we commemorate the glorious Resurrection of Jesus, His Resurrection being a symbol of our faith. As the body of Jesus was raised from the dead, our bodies will also be raised. As we continue to participate in the great Feast of the Holy Eucharist, let us rejoice and praise God in thankfulness for all that He has done for us. May His Most Holy Name be praised forever!

Holy Saturday At the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter

Reading 1 gn 1:1-2:2

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss,
while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Then God said,
“Let there be light,” and there was light.
God saw how good the light was.
God then separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
Thus evening came, and morning followed—the first day.

Then God said,
“Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters,
to separate one body of water from the other.”
And so it happened:
God made the dome,
and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it.
God called the dome “the sky.”
Evening came, and morning followed—the second day.

Then God said,
“Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin,
so that the dry land may appear.”
And so it happened:
the water under the sky was gathered into its basin,
and the dry land appeared.
God called the dry land “the earth, “
and the basin of the water he called “the sea.”
God saw how good it was.
Then God said,
“Let the earth bring forth vegetation:
every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it.”
And so it happened:
the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed—the third day.

Then God said:
“Let there be lights in the dome of the sky,
to separate day from night.
Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years,
and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth.”
And so it happened:
God made the two great lights,
the greater one to govern the day,
and the lesser one to govern the night;
and he made the stars.
God set them in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth,
to govern the day and the night,
and to separate the light from the darkness.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day.

Then God said,
“Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures,
and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky.”
And so it happened:
God created the great sea monsters
and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems,
and all kinds of winged birds.
God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying,
“Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas;
and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day.

Then God said,
“Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures:
cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds.”
And so it happened:
God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle,
and all kinds of creeping things of the earth.
God saw how good it was.
Then God said:
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”
God created man in his image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
“Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth.”
God also said:
“See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food.”
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.
Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed.
Since on the seventh day God was finished
with the work he had been doing,
he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.

or gn 1:1, 26-31a

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”
God created man in his image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
“Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth.”
God also said:
“See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;
and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food.”
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.

responsorial psalm ps 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35

R/ (30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.
R/ Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
You fixed the earth upon its foundation,
not to be moved forever;
with the ocean, as with a garment, you covered it;
above the mountains the waters stood.
R/ Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
You send forth springs into the watercourses
that wind among the mountains.
Beside them the birds of heaven dwell;
from among the branches they send forth their song.
R/ Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
You water the mountains from your palace;
the earth is replete with the fruit of your works.
You raise grass for the cattle,
and vegetation for man’s use,
Producing bread from the earth.
R/ Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you have wrought them all—the earth is full of your creatures.
Bless the LORD, O my soul! Alleluia.
R/ Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

or ps 33:4-5, 6-7, 12-13, 20 and 22

R/ (5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R/ The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as in a flask;
in cellars he confines the deep.
R/ The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R/ The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R/ The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

reading 2 gn 22:1-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am, “ he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the holocaust,
set out for the place of which God had told him.

On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants:
“Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder.
We will worship and then come back to you.”
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the holocaust
and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
“Father!” Isaac said.
“Yes, son, “ he replied.
Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the holocaust?”
“Son,” Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust.”
Then the two continued going forward.

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, AOn the mountain the LORD will see.”

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessingC
all this because you obeyed my command.”

or gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am, “ he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am, “ he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy, “ said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessingC
all this because you obeyed my command.”

Responsorial Psalm ps 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11

R/ (1) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R/ You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R/ You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R/ You are my inheritance, O Lord.

reading 3 ex 14:15-15:1

The LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the Israelites to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land.
But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.
Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers.”

The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s camp,
now moved and went around behind them.
The column of cloud also, leaving the front,
took up its place behind them,
so that it came between the camp of the Egyptians
and that of Israel.
But the cloud now became dark, and thus the night passed
without the rival camps coming any closer together
all night long.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and the LORD swept the sea
with a strong east wind throughout the night
and so turned it into dry land.
When the water was thus divided,
the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.

The Egyptians followed in pursuit;
all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and charioteers went after them
right into the midst of the sea.
In the night watch just before dawn
the LORD cast through the column of the fiery cloud
upon the Egyptian force a glance that threw it into a panic;
and he so clogged their chariot wheels
that they could hardly drive.
With that the Egyptians sounded the retreat before Israel,
because the LORD was fighting for them against the Egyptians.

Then the LORD told Moses, AStretch out your hand over the sea,
that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians,
upon their chariots and their charioteers.”
So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
and at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth.
The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward the sea,
when the LORD hurled them into its midst.
As the water flowed back,
it covered the chariots and the charioteers of Pharaoh’s whole army
which had followed the Israelites into the sea.
Not a single one of them escaped.
But the Israelites had marched on dry land
through the midst of the sea,
with the water like a wall to their right and to their left.
Thus the LORD saved Israel on that day
from the power of the Egyptians.
When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore
and beheld the great power that the LORD
had shown against the Egyptians,
they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant Moses.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

Responsorial Psalm ex 15:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18

R/ (1b) Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
He is my God, I praise him;
the God of my father, I extol him.
R/ Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
The LORD is a warrior,
LORD is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea.
R/ Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
The flood waters covered them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power,
your right hand, O LORD, has shattered the enemy.
R/ Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
You brought in the people you redeemed
and planted them on the mountain of your inheritance
the place where you made your seat, O LORD,
the sanctuary, LORD, which your hands established.
The LORD shall reign forever and ever.
R/ Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

reading 4 is 54:5-14

The One who has become your husband is your Maker;
his name is the LORD of hosts;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
The LORD calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
a wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
but with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the LORD, your redeemer.
This is for me like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah
should never again deluge the earth;
so I have sworn not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.
Though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be shaken,
my love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled,
I lay your pavements in carnelians,
and your foundations in sapphires;
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the LORD,
and great shall be the peace of your children.
In justice shall you be established,
far from the fear of oppression,
where destruction cannot come near you.

Responsorial Psalm ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13

R/ (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R/ I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R/ I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R/ I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

reading 5 is 55:1-11

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Responsorial Psalm is 12:2-3, 4, 5-6

R/ (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R/ You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R/ You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R/ You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

reading 6 bar 3:9-15, 32-4:4

Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life:
listen, and know prudence!
How is it, Israel,
that you are in the land of your foes,
grown old in a foreign land,
defiled with the dead,
accounted with those destined for the netherworld?
You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom!
Had you walked in the way of God,
you would have dwelt in enduring peace.
Learn where prudence is,
where strength, where understanding;
that you may know also
where are length of days, and life,
where light of the eyes, and peace.
Who has found the place of wisdom,
who has entered into her treasuries?

The One who knows all things knows her;
he has probed her by his knowledgeC
The One who established the earth for all time,
and filled it with four-footed beasts;
he who dismisses the light, and it departs,
calls it, and it obeys him trembling;
before whom the stars at their posts
shine and rejoice;
when he calls them, they answer, “Here we are!”
shining with joy for their Maker.
Such is our God;
no other is to be compared to him:
He has traced out the whole way of understanding,
and has given her to Jacob, his servant,
to Israel, his beloved son.
Since then she has appeared on earth,
and moved among people.
She is the book of the precepts of God,
the law that endures forever;
all who cling to her will live,
but those will die who forsake her.
Turn, O Jacob, and receive her:
walk by her light toward splendor.
Give not your glory to another,
your privileges to an alien race.
Blessed are we, O Israel;
for what pleases God is known to us!

Responsorial Psalm ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R/ (John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R/ Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R/ Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R/ Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R/ Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

reading 7 ez 36:16-17a, 18-28

The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their land,
they defiled it by their conduct and deeds.
Therefore I poured out my fury upon them
because of the blood that they poured out on the ground,
and because they defiled it with idols.
I scattered them among the nations,
dispersing them over foreign lands;
according to their conduct and deeds I judged them.
But when they came among the nations wherever they came,
they served to profane my holy name,
because it was said of them: “These are the people of the LORD,
yet they had to leave their land.”
So I have relented because of my holy name
which the house of Israel profaned
among the nations where they came.
Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD:
Not for your sakes do I act, house of Israel,
but for the sake of my holy name,
which you profaned among the nations to which you came.
I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations,
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.
For I will take you away from among the nations,
gather you from all the foreign lands,
and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your fathers;
you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Responsorial Psalm ps 42:3, 5; 43:3, 4

When baptism is celebrated.

R/ (42:2) Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R/ Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
I went with the throng
and led them in procession to the house of God,
Amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving,
with the multitude keeping festival.
R/ Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R/ Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R/ Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God.

Responsorial Psalm is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

When baptism is not celebrated.

R/ (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R/ You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R/ You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R/ You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

or ps 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

When baptism is not celebrated.

R/ (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R/ Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R/ Create a clean heart in me, O God.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a holocaust, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R/ Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Epistle rom 6:3-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his,
we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
We know that our old self was crucified with him,
so that our sinful body might be done away with,
that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.
For a dead person has been absolved from sin.
If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm ps 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

R/ Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R/ Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.
R/ Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
R/ Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel mt 28:1-10

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
‘He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’
Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this 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.”

Good Friday

Attended Good Friday mass yesterday at my parish and wow is all I could say. For the years I have been attending this was the most in attendance and the service well the two priests outdid themselves.
 Truly it was a solemn event one that made you feel that we had lost someone special, taken from us but sacrificed his life for us.
 I was also amazed that for once the people came in proper attire and everyone looked very respectful and there was no cell phones going off during mass. It looks like Father E is slowly turning things around for the better at the parish.
 On a down note I was unable to go Thursday night to mass. I am sick not sure what is wrong but need to go to a cardiologist in May as apparently my ticker did not do good during my routine yearly medical and since maybe mid January all I do is sleep or want to. I can barely make it through a workday. I get home and eat dinner and basically sleep until the next day. Not sure what this is but family doctor indicated a possible blockage in my heart which apparently is worse than a blockage in an artery. No matter will find out in May. Until then I am praying a lot for help to get through this. I am also asking for your prayers. Thank you and may God Bless!

Prayer for Today

Jesus, you are my faithful friend in life and in death. May I discover in your rising my guarantee and hope of everlasting life. After such a show of love you deserve all my faith, all my hope and all my love. I offer these to you humbly and gratefully. You alone are the Lord of my life. You are the true purpose of my life. I long to see your loving face, Lord, but I must wait in hope to see you in eternity. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Homily for Today


"Truly this Man was God's Son!" [Mt. 27:54] My brothers and sisters in Christ, unless we are prudent, we can be blinded by our pride, only to discover the truth when it is too late. Today's Gospel Reading proves it to us! It was only after Jesus had been crucified that the eyes of some were opened, they realizing that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the King of kings.

When hearing the Word of God, we must embrace a spiritual approach. We must prayerfully ask the Spirit of God to enlighten our hearts so we may perceive the message that is being delivered to us. Today's reading from the Gospel of Matthew has led many in the history of Christianity to take these passages totally out of context, consequently this leading to the persecution of innocent people.

How many times have we heard that "the Jews" were to blame for the death of Jesus? Am I guilty of the sins of my parents? Are you guilty of the sins of your grandparents? Are any of us guilty of the sins of our forefathers? Are we guilty of the sin of disobedience of Adam? Certainly not! Equally, it cannot be said that all the Jewish people of Jesus' time, or any from our time, are responsible for the death of Jesus.

Was Mary, the mother of Jesus, a Jewish maiden, responsible for His death? Was Mary Magdalene responsible for the death of Jesus? How about the disciples who loved Him? Certainly not! Those who were responsible for the death of Jesus consisted of Judas who betrayed the Lord, Pilate who washed his hands, and some members of the sanhedrin. The sanhedrin was a council composed of seventy-two members from the priests, the scribes and the elders. Through the vote of their majority, not all the votes, Jesus was condemned to death. Accordingly, because of the actions of a few dozen, Jesus freely underwent suffering and death because of the sins of all people so that all might attain salvation.

The reason I raise this issue is because as preachers, teachers, parents, we have to guard against the possibility of transmitting prejudice or false interpretation of scripture as we celebrate the important feasts during the Holy Week. We have a responsibility to enlighten the minds of our little children who can easily be influenced into believing something that was not said. Accordingly, this week, I ask all of you who will come in contact with children, and even teenagers, to explore their understanding of who killed Jesus. And if the need be, allocate a moment to explain the truth to them to secure a continued spirit of ecumenism with our Jewish brothers and sisters.

On this last Sunday prior to Easter Sunday, we are celebrating "Passion Sunday" that is also known as "Palm Sunday." Both of the Feast have one thing in common. They present the Divine Kingship of Jesus.

The First Reading from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 21:1-11] provided us with the account of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. This event was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah who said, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." [Zech. 9:9; Mt. 21:5]

Indeed, during the last week of His ministry on earth, the Lord Jesus was recognized as the promised Messiah and proclaimed as King by many of the Jewish people who had known Him and who seen the power of God manifested through Him. Spreading their cloaks in the path of the Lord, they imitated the red-carpet treatment that was accorded to royalty in the ancient world.

At the same time, the crowd shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" [Mt. 21:9] What was the crowd saying? It was begging the Lord Jesus to save them. For the word "hosanna" (hosi ah-na) in Hebrew means "save, we pray." The crowd was asking to be saved from the dominion and oppression of the Roman empire.

Summarizing the Gospel Reading [Mt. 26:14-27:66] that gave an account of the Passion of the Lord, we heard of the betrayal of Judas, of Jesus celebrating the Passover with His disciples, of His institution of the Lord's Supper, the foretelling of Peter's denial, the praying of Jesus in Gethsemane and of His arrest. Then there was the appearance of Jesus before the high priest, Peter's denial of the Lord, Jesus appearing before Pilate, the death (suicide) of Judas, Pilate questioning Jesus, the people being given a choice between Barabbas or Jesus, Pilate handing Jesus over to be Crucified, the soldiers mocking Jesus, the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus and the event surrounding the guards at the tomb.

Regarding this reading, I would like to enlighten you on a few subjects. Some have asked in the past if there was a reason why Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver or thirty silver shekels? The origin of 30 shekels of silver is found in Exodus 21:32 where the law concerning property states that if an ox kills a male or female slave, the slave owner is entitled to be compensated with this amount of money. Therefore it appears that the life of Jesus was appraised to be worth the price of a slave.

When reference was made to Judas dipping his hand into the bowl with Jesus, eating together and sharing the same bowl denoted fellowship. This is symbolic of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. When members of the faith community attend the Holy Mass, they are invited to partake in the Sacrament of the Eucharist to denote their fellowship in full communion with the Church.

When reference was made to Jesus taking the cup, giving thanks and drinking from it, He stated that the cup was "His blood of the covenant..." [Mt. 26:27] Those Words had a special meaning, their origin being found in the Book of Exodus. There it is read that after offering burnt offerings and sacrificing oxen as offerings of well- being to the Lord, Moses said to the people, "See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words." [Ex. 24:4-8] The first blood of the covenant represented a covenant between Yahweh and Israel. The second blood of the covenant concluded the offering of sacrifices because the atoning death of Jesus freed us all from the ongoing necessity to perform rituals for sin and guilt.

Next, from Peter's protest that he would never deny knowing Jesus, we learn a lesson. When one shows excessive self-confidence in his abilities to do something, should he fall, this will involve a fall that will be more grievous than the fall of the others.

Going to the next subject, when Jesus was before the chief priests and the whole council, they were looking for false testimony to condemn Him. They had quite a time because the witnesses that came forward could not agree with each other as was required by law. [Mt. 26:59-60] While Jesus was questioned on His ability to destroy the Temple of God and rebuilding it in three days, [Mt. 26:61] this does not appear to be the reason why He was condemned to death. If you recall Pilate's questioning of Jesus, it was regarding His Messiahship and Kingship of the Jews. To claim to be the King of the Jews was a serious matter. It was viewed as treason against the authority of Rome. Such a claim, usually leading to Jewish uprising, resulted in a severe punishment by the Roman authorities.

The next subject concerns the death of Jesus. When Pilate heard that Jesus was dead, he was surprised. [Mk. 15:44] The reason for this reaction was because crucifixion usually resulted in a slow death that should have lasted from two to three days. Crucifixion was an Oriental form of punishment that was adopted by the Romans to be used against slaves, bandits and rebels, but excluding Romans citizens.

Today's Second Reading from the Book of Isaiah [Is. 50:4-7] prophesied that the Lord Jesus would freely accept His sufferings and death so He would not be put to shame. The Third Reading [Phil. 2:6-11] confirmed this, that Jesus "humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." [Phil. 2:8]

In this reading, St. Paul reminds us to be of the same mind as Christ Jesus. We are called to imitate Jesus, His humility and abasement as a model of conduct that should be found in the faith community. Though in the form of God, Jesus having enjoyed Divine pre-existence, He did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited.

In His Divine incarnation, He humbled Himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. Jesus did not empty Himself of His Divinity but He voluntarily gave up the Divine glory to which He was entitled, a glory that would be restored at His exaltation. [Jn. 17:5; Mt. 17:1-8]

Having humbled Himself, even unto death, God super-exalted Jesus, giving Him the Name that is above every name. [Phil. 2:9; Eph. 1:21; Heb. 1:4; 1 Pet. 3:22] At the Name of Jesus, in an act of religious adoration, every knee should bend, in Heaven and on earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Phil. 2:10-11; 1 Cor. 12:3; Rom. 10:9; Col. 2:6]

My brothers and sisters in Jesus, Christ died and lived again that He might be Lord both of the dead and living. [Rom. 14:9] As the Son of God, He atoned for your sins, my sins, our sins. He is your King, my King, our King. During the coming week, let us honour Jesus, our Lord and God through our active participation in each and every Holy Day of the Holy Week that will lead us to the celebration of the glorious Resurrection of King Jesus on Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

 

 

 

 At the Procession with palms - gospel mt 21:1-11

When Jesus and the disciples drew near Jerusalem
and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately you will find an ass tethered,
and a colt with her.
Untie them and bring them here to me.
And if anyone should say anything to you, reply,
‘The master has need of them.’
Then he will send them at once.”
This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Say to daughter Zion,
“Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.
They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them,
and he sat upon them.
The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
And when he entered Jerusalem
the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”
And the crowds replied,
“This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

at the mass - reading 1 is 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

Responsorial Psalm ps 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

R/ (2a) 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.”
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
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.
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
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.
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned 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!”
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

reading 2 phil 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.

Gospel mt 26:14-27:66

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity
to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”’”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

While they were eating,
Jesus took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and giving it to his disciples said,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink from it, all of you,
for this is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed on behalf of many
for the forgiveness of sins.
I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it with you new
in the kingdom of my Father.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them,
“This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken,
for it is written:
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed
;
but after I have been raised up,
I shall go before you to Galilee.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Though all may have their faith in you shaken,
mine will never be.”
Jesus said to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
this very night before the cock crows,
you will deny me three times.”
Peter said to him,
“Even though I should have to die with you,
I will not deny you.”
And all the disciples spoke likewise.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,
and he said to his disciples,
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee,
and began to feel sorrow and distress.
Then he said to them,
“My soul is sorrowful even to death.
Remain here and keep watch with me.”
He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying,
“My Father, if it is possible,
let this cup pass from me;
yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep.
He said to Peter,
“So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again,
“My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass
without my drinking it, your will be done!”
Then he returned once more and found them asleep,
for they could not keep their eyes open.
He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time,
saying the same thing again.
Then he returned to his disciples and said to them,
“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
Behold, the hour is at hand
when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go.
Look, my betrayer is at hand.”

While he was still speaking,
Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived,
accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs,
who had come from the chief priests and the elders
of the people.
His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying,
“The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.”
Immediately he went over to Jesus and said,
“Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.
Jesus answered him,
“Friend, do what you have come for.”
Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.
And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus
put his hand to his sword, drew it,
and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him,
“Put your sword back into its sheath,
for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father
and he will not provide me at this moment
with more than twelve legions of angels?
But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled
which say that it must come to pass in this way?”
At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,
“Have you come out as against a robber,
with swords and clubs to seize me?
Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area,
yet you did not arrest me.
But all this has come to pass
that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.”
Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Those who had arrested Jesus led him away
to Caiaphas the high priest,
where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
Peter was following him at a distance
as far as the high priest’s courtyard,
and going inside he sat down with the servants
to see the outcome.
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin
kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus
in order to put him to death,
but they found none,
though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward who stated,
“This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God
and within three days rebuild it.’”
The high priest rose and addressed him,
“Have you no answer?
What are these men testifying against you?”
But Jesus was silent.
Then the high priest said to him,
“I order you to tell us under oath before the living God
whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“You have said so.
But I tell you:
From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power’
and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
Then the high priest tore his robes and said,
“He has blasphemed!
What further need have we of witnesses?
You have now heard the blasphemy;
what is your opinion?”
They said in reply,
“He deserves to die!”
Then they spat in his face and struck him,
while some slapped him, saying,
“Prophesy for us, Christ: who is it that struck you?”
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard.
One of the maids came over to him and said,
“You too were with Jesus the Galilean.”
But he denied it in front of everyone, saying,
“I do not know what you are talking about!”
As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him
and said to those who were there,
“This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.”
Again he denied it with an oath,
“I do not know the man!”
A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter,
“Surely you too are one of them;
even your speech gives you away.”
At that he began to curse and to swear,
“I do not know the man.”
And immediately a cock crowed.
Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken:
“Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.”
He went out and began to weep bitterly.

When it was morning,
all the chief priests and the elders of the people
took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
They bound him, led him away,
and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned,
deeply regretted what he had done.
He returned the thirty pieces of silver
to the chief priests and elders, saying,
“I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.”
They said,
“What is that to us?
Look to it yourself.”
Flinging the money into the temple,
he departed and went off and hanged himself.
The chief priests gathered up the money, but said,
“It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury,
for it is the price of blood.”
After consultation, they used it to buy the potter’s field
as a burial place for foreigners.
That is why that field even today is called the Field of Blood.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah
the prophet,
And they took the thirty pieces of silver,
the value of a man with a price on his head,
a price set by some of the Israelites,
and they paid it out for the potter’s field
just as the Lord had commanded me.


Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha
¬—which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
“Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus
feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”
There were many women there, looking on from a distance,
who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.
Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph,
and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening,
there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph,
who was himself a disciple of Jesus.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus;
then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.
Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in clean linen
and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock.
Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb
and departed.
But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
remained sitting there, facing the tomb.

The next day, the one following the day of preparation,
the chief priests and the Pharisees
gathered before Pilate and said,
“Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said,
‘After three days I will be raised up.’
Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day,
lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people,
‘He has been raised from the dead.’
This last imposture would be worse than the first.”
Pilate said to them,
“The guard is yours;
go, secure it as best you can.”
So they went and secured the tomb
by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.

Homily for Today

Unto us it is given so we may blossom in Jesus! Good morning to everyone and welcome to our guests who have found their way to our humble...