Today’s Thoughts: Once again Pope Francis offers us these words to help us on our journey through Holy Saturday – “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness… It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:17, 21-23, 26).” (Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel)
I offer you these words from Pope Francis because I think they reflect what Holy Saturday is about. We sit and wait. Will there be an Easter? Yes, we know that there will be but those disciples and friends of Jesus who lived through this day many centuries ago did not. They lived this day in their grief, but they also lived this day in hope. It was a time when they remember the story, it was a time when they hoped, it was a time when joy was conceived in their hearts. Today we live in the hope that once again joy might be conceived in our hearts!
The word that I always use for Holy Saturday is hope. After a long Lent, after the gift of Love which we call Good Friday we wait in Hope on Holy Saturday. The elements of the Easter Vigil which we will celebrate later today all point toward the virtue of Hope.
We retell the story of creation, our creation, of how God so loved us, of how we are created in the image and likeness of God. We retell the story of our release from slavery; How God with a mighty arm brought us from slavery to freedom. We hear how God provides for all those who are thirsty, who are hunger. The rich table, the rich food God provides for us.
On Holy Saturday night we light a new fire. We bless new water. We welcome people, through baptism, confirmation, Holy Eucharist into the community of faith. It is a night of hope for us, for our church, for the world.
In the Gospel reading for the Easter Vigil the two men in dazzling garments who meet the women at the tomb ask them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?.” The women are amazed and afraid. They don’t know what to think. But they remember Jesus’ words. Amazement and fear can be crippling emotions. They can sometimes hold us back from seeing, experiencing and proclaiming the Good News. The world can throw many experiences, situations and encounters at us that can cause to live our life in amazement or fear. The message of our Easter celebration is not to see but to remember, to hear and to not be amazed, not to be afraid, but to have hope!
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings a tune without the words and never stops at all!” (Emily Dickinson) We wait in faith today, we wait in love, and we wait to hear the tune of hope that perches in our soul singing a tune of love that never stops. Yes, today we wait...in hope!
Have a blessed Holy Saturday!
Today’s Thoughts: “To be evangelizers of souls, we need to develop a spiritual taste for being close to people’s lives and to discover that this is itself a source of greater joy. Mission is at once a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people. When we stand before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of his love which exalts and sustains us, but at the same time, unless we are blind, we begin to realize that Jesus’ gaze, burning with love, expands to embrace all his people. We realize once more that he wants to make use of us to draw closer to his beloved people. He takes us from the midst of his people and he sends us to his people; without this sense of belonging we cannot understand our deepest identity.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel)
Pope Francis’ words remind us today of what the Cross is all about. He asks us to stand before the Cross of Christ today. He asks us to see and feel the depth of God’s love, of Jesus’ love for us. We are reminded that Christ’s love cannot remain just within us but that it is to be shared!
As I reflected on John’s Passion (John 18: 1-19:42) and the other readings (Isaiah 52: 13- 53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5: 7-9;) that we encounter in today’s liturgy I began to think about the image of gesture that Pope Francis used in his Holy Thursday homily a few years ago. He said the Last Supper reading provide us with two gestures. Jesus’ gesture of love and service and Judas’ gesture hate. What gestures do we find being played out as we listen to St. John’s Passion today?
The gesture of love or the gesture of hate. The gesture of mercy or the gesture of violence. The gesture of compassion or the gesture of indifference. What gesture do we see and live when we gaze into the eyes of Jesus on Good Friday?
The words of Pope Francis that I began with remind me of why I am a Passionist. Each day as I arise I try to stand before the Cross of Christ and I look through the lens of his Passion to see his burning love. Each time I put on my habit and attach the simple sign that only Passionists wear I am reminded that Christ great love must be in my heart. Each time I wander into a new day I am reminded because of that sign over my heart that I am to bring Christ unrelenting love to every person that I meet. Because I am a Passionist and a mean of faith I am connected to Christ’s Passion story.
I think we all need to find our own way of connecting to the Passion story. We have to find our own way to understand, to feel, the mystery of Jesus' Passion. We have to make the connection with the characters of the story and with Jesus. We might not understand but we need to make the connection, we need to feel the story. We need to find our own liturgy sometimes.
At this point in life as I pause to keep Good Friday holy I am truly blessed and honored to be a Passionist and a priest so often I am privileged to lead a community in the liturgy of the Lord's Passion or like this year I have the honor of preaching, of sharing the Good News on this day. I get to help others look through the lens of the Passion of Jesus Christ.
My friends in faith, however you remember the Lord's Passion of this Good Friday my prayer for you is that the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ will always be in your heart!
Good Friday peace and blessings to all! I hope you will at least make a visit to Church today, take a little time to sit before the Cross of Christ, and remember God’s great love for you!
Today’s Thoughts: In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis writes, “If we are to share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves, we also have to realize that every person is worthy of our giving. Not for their physical appearance, their abilities, their language, their way of thinking, or for any satisfaction that we might receive, but rather because they are God’s handiwork, his creation. God created that person in his image, and he or she reflects something of God’s glory. Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives. Jesus offered his precious blood on the cross for that person. Appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love. Consequently, if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life. It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people. We achieve fulfilment when we break down walls and our heart is filled with faces and names!”
These words of Pope Francis reflect the spirit of this most holy day that we celebrate. Yes, Holy Thursday is about the institution of the Eucharist. Yes, Holy Thursday is a special day for priests as we look to this day as a starting point for our life and ministry as priests. Yes, Holy Thursday is a day when we remember the beginning of Christ Passion which will lead to his Death and Resurrection. Yes, Holy Thursday is about a meal, Christ’s last meal and a meal that calls us to remember the history of our faith as God’s people released from slavery and beginning a journey to freedom.
Today, from my perspective is also about service, about looking beyond ourselves to the gift of God within us and sharing that gift. Pope Francis reminds us that all of us are God’s handiwork. All of us reflect the glory of God.
It was on this day that Jesus showed his infinite tenderness by washing the feet of his friends and by sharing himself in the Eucharist. It was intimacy, tenderness and a gift that defined Jesus life and ministry. As Pope Francis reminds us, it is this very way of life that Jesus calls us to as people of the Gospel.
May this Holy Thursday truly help us to break down the walls and open our hearts that they may be filled with face and names! Have a blessed Holy Thursday everyone and please give a little time to God before the day is over!
Just a reminder if you missed Tuesday's Through The Cross... you can watch it on The Sunday Mass website anytime! Through The Cross with Fr. Paul Why not take a look?
Today’s Thoughts: Spy Wednesday, (Isaiah 50: 4-9a and Matthew 26: 14-25), the day when we pause to remember Judas’ actions many years ago. A companion, a friend of Jesus yet he allows the forces of darkness, the forces of evil to become more a friend than Jesus.
We do not truly know what motivated Judas. Was it his desire for money? Was it that he truly thought he would scare Jesus into changing his approach to life? Was it that he saw Jesus as a threat? Was it that he was angry with Jesus? Had he been caught stealing money? Was he upset that Jesus challenged him at Lazarus’ house? We just don’t know the motive.
What we do know is the Judas sold Jesus out to the religious leadership. What we do know is that Judas could not admit to Jesus what he was about to do. He could not tell the truth and that until the end he continued to see himself as Jesus’ friend.
We pause to reflect on the events of the Gospel in light of the violence and hate in our world today. Violence is a betrayal of one human against another. Hate is a betrayal of one human against another. Violence and hate are all too common in our world, our country and our own hearts these days. Before we point our finger at others, before we vent our anger on social media, before we betray another by our words or actions let us pause to remember who has given us life and what we did to him many years ago. Let us not make the same mistake once again!
The Prophet Isaiah today reminds himself of who his friend truly is, God. That no matter what happens God is there to protect Isaiah in his ministry as prophet. It is not easy but Isaiah is faithful to his ministry and God is faithful to Isaiah, helping him through the struggle.
We encounter Isaiah’s words and in them we see Jesus. We listen to Isaiah’s words and hear Jesus speaking. Jesus is the servant who suffers, the servant who trusts in God, the servant who is abandoned by everyone except by God.
The questions for today – Are we with God or against God? Can we remain friends of Jesus or will the trappings of the world, will anger and hate cause us to betray him once again? Can we trust in God even in the midst of our struggles? It is often said that every person has her or his price, what is our price?
Blessings and peace to all on this Wednesday of Holy Week!
Join us on Today April 16, 2019 at 3:00 pm for our new Livestream program Through The Cross - and "The Sunday Mass – 50 years and Counting!" and a Through The Cross Reflection for Holy Week. If you cannot be with us at 3:00 pm on April 16th you can always watch the program at another time by visiting The Sunday Mass Web site and clicking on Through The Cross... https://thesundaymass.org/en/live
Today’s Thoughts: Troublemakers and troubleshooters are two very different types of people. Troublemakers are those people who create anxiety, frustration, agitation and cause calamity, i.e. there are a host of people we can call troublemakers these days in culture and society, outside religion and inside religion, outside the Church and inside the Church. Troubleshooters are those people who have the ability to identify, locate and eliminate the source of the disturbance. Unfortunately, not many of these today! In today’s Gospel (John 13: 21-33, 36-38) Judas is a troublemaker and Jesus is a troubleshooter.
In the Gospel we are told that Jesus is deeply troubled and as we read on and picturing the scene we quickly understand why. The scene today is the Last Supper and Jesus is aware of the events ahead of him. He knows that Judas will betray him and in the midst of the supper Jesus sends him on his way. We all know what it feels like to lose a friend. We invest time, effort, our emotions and feelings only to have the person move on, decide that we are not worth the time, effort and trouble. Jesus has given three years to Judas, but Judas needs to move on.
Jesus has given three years to all of his disciples, yet he knows they will all run away before the night is over. One of his closest friends, Peter, will deny that he knows Jesus even though we listen to his bold statement of loyalty in the Gospel. Yes, it is a troubling time for Jesus.
However, unlike the troublemaker Judas, Jesus does not run away. He identifies the problem, the struggle, the difficulty. Jesus realizes that humankind has “fallen from love.” That is our original sin; we have fallen from God’s love. Jesus the troubleshooter is going to restore the gift of that love by his journey to the cross the empty tomb. Jesus set us free to embrace the mystery of God’s love. It is up to us to turn away from sin but through the action of Jesus, the troubleshooter, we are given the chance to once again “fall in love with God!”
As we journey through this day let us remember what Jesus has done for us. Let us look at the cross and “fall in love once again!”
Have a blessed Holy Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: As we begin this most Holy of Weeks our readings (Isaiah 42:1-7 and John 12: 1-11) remind us of the good of this week and the bad. We are reminded of the compassion and love of Jesus. We are reminded of the caring and friendship of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. We are reminded of the impact that Jesus had on peoples' lives. We are reminded how Judas lost his focus and turned away from Jesus.
These early days of Holy Week set the scene, the characters and the focus for the Triduum. They give us the background of the story that will lead us to Calvary and the empty tomb. They remind us of how easy it is to get lost in the trappings of the world. They remind us how easy it is to be distracted by the things of the world and to not recognize the presence of God. They remind us of how hard it is to be faithful people.
The scene today also reminds of the fact the Jesus is willing to accept extravagance when it is done in love. Jesus appreciates the extravagance of Mary's true love because Jesus and the Father are always about offering true love, the true love of the Cross which we will celebrate later this week.
What extravagant gesture of love can we offer someone this week? How can we make God's presence known and felt in our world this week? Remember God never turns away from a humble and contrite heart. Let us not be like Judas, someone who cannot grasp the love and support of God, rather let us be like Martha, Mary and Lazarus people who are friends of God!
Have a blessed Monday of Holy Week everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Several years ago, Pope Francis invited us to renew our relationship with Jesus when he said,
“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!”
It is my feeling that Pope Francis’ invitation focus us on the gift of this Holy Week. It is an invitation to once again enter a personal relationship with our God who loved us so much that he gave us his only son. As we journey through Holy Week, we relive the crowning moment of Jesus’ journey, his journey of love. Today Jesus enters Jerusalem to take his last steps, steps that sum up his whole existence. He gave himself without reserve he kept nothing for himself, not even his life. May we take Pope Francis’ invitation to heart and live the mercy and joy of the Gospel proclaimed today!
As we begin this most holy of weeks, we are reminded of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. This wonderful, “Hosanna” filled day is the starting point for the central story of all the Gospels, Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection. Today, we reconnect ourselves to all those first gatherings of the Church as we listen to Luke's accounts of Palm Sunday and the Passion of our Lord. We remember the triumphant ride over the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem and the lonely walk to Calvary. We once again tell the story of triumphant, glory, hosanna, struggle, pain, sorrow, blessing, truth, giftedness, prayer and most importantly love. Like the early Church and all the centuries of Church that have gone before us, we are asked to remember, to believe, to have faith and to hope in the love and mercy of God as lived out by our Lord Jesus Christ. As we journey through this Holy Week, “May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ Truly Be Always in Our Hearts!”
Have a holy and blessed Palm/Passion Sunday everyone!
Join us on Tuesday April 16, 2019 at 3:00 pm for our new Livestream program Through The Cross - and "The Sunday Mass – 50 years and Counting!" and a Through The Cross Reflection for Holy Week. If you cannot be with us at 3:00 pm on April 16th you can always watch the program at another time by visiting The Sunday Mass Web site and clicking on Through The Cross... https://thesundaymass.org/en/live
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...