v We begin Holy Week, the most sacred week of the Church Liturgy.
v During this week we will commemorate the sacred and beautiful mysteries of our Redemption.
v The week culminates with the Easter Vigil, which anticipates de joy of Easter.
FIRST READING Is 50:4-7
Like in the liturgy of the V Sunday of Lent, the first reading is taken from the book of the Second Isaiah or Deutero-Isaiah, chapters 40-55 of the Book of Isaiah.
· These chapters are written remembering the first exodus, but announcing a new exodus.
· The reading of Palm Sunday, however, is part of a group of poems about a mysterious character, anonymous, which we call the servant. Although in the reading for this Sunday it is not called a servant, but he considers himself so, because he sees his life as a service.
· This servant says to us
o That God has given him a tongue of a disciple and ears as a disciple, to listen; this is what a disciple is supposed to do, and after listening open his mouth to comfort others.
o He says that he has not rebelled against those who insulted him and inflicted suffering on him; on the contrary he has set his face like flint.
o But he knows and experiences that God is with him and helps him, thus he trusts in his God knowing that he will not be put to shame.
· We are also called to put all our trust in our God, who is always with us, Jesus=God-is-with-us, who never abandons us.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM 22
MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED ME?
Why so far from my call for help?
All who see me mock me;
They shake their heads at me
You relied on the Lord- let him deliver you
If he loves you let him recue you
Many dogs surround me
A pack of evildoers closes on me
So wasted are my hands and feet
That I can count all my bones
They divide my garments among them
For my clothing they cast lots
But you Lord do not stay far off
My strength, come quickly to help me.
Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly.
You who fear the Lord give praise!
All descendants of Jacob give honor
Show reverence, all descendants of Israel!
« This psalm is the voice of someone who is near death
« God, who in former times was near, and was experienced as such, is now far away.
« In the second part of this psalm, and in our responsorial psalm in the last stanza, the fate changes, because God intervenes and this gives way to joy, praise and thanksgiving.
SECOND READING Phil 2:6-11
Paul invites the community of Philippi to have the same attitude of Jesus
What is this attitude?
o Who is God, and contrary to what Adam did, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped at. (he became man, mystery of the incarnation of the Word of God)
o He took the form of a slave, any man is a slave before God, God is our Lord and our Master, and even if we think that we are in charge, we are only slaves. The Word of God, in order to be like us, humiliated himself and took the form of slave.
o The Word made flesh obeyed, Jesus became obedient, and this means that he opened his ears and listened and opened his mouth to make known his adherence to the will of the Father.
o He accepted the most humiliating death, the death on the cross.
o As a consequence to all of this, the Father has glorified him, giving to Jesus a name which is above every other name, this means that he has given him full authority, thus everything is subjected to him, because JESUS CHRIST IS LORD FOR THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER.
Beautiful fragment of the letter to the church of Philippi, in which Paul presents Christ, as true God and at the same time true man, as we confess in the creed.
GOSPEL – PASSION OF OUR LORD – Lk 22-23
Ø The narrative of the Passion in the Gospel according to Luke, is found in chapters 22-23.
Ø This narrative is a work of art of the literature of the New Testament.
Ø There are some actions and events which prepare the climax of the narrative the CROSS of Christ.
o The preparation of the Passover meal.
o The supper-the Institution of the Eucharist and the instruction about service, that Jesus gave to his 12 disciples.
o The prayer in the garden (being of human condition he did not regard equality with God something to be grasp at… he humiliated himself – he sweats blood, he is afraid, he is terrified) Jesus is arrested. His words to Judas.
o Peter and the soldiers, and the servants.
o Jesus looks at Peter, Jesus speaks to the soldiers.
o Religious trial, Roman trial, Jesus brought to Herod, death sentence dictated by the Roman authority. They all are aware that they have condemned an innocent man, but since he is a simple and poor man who does not have any prominent place in society, they feel they can destroy him, because he is thread for them, for their plans, for their injustices. This continues to be true in our society, and many times in our hearts also. Whenever we prefer our interests to the good of others. .
o The way to the Golgotha carrying the cross walking together with the two robbers, “he was counted among the sinners.”
Ø THE CRUCIFIXION AND DEATH – This is the climax of the narration but more than that the climax of Jesus life and ministry, of Jesus coming to Jerusalem.
§ Other two robbers walk with him towards the Golgotha. Maybe they were against him because their execution was going to be earlier than what they expected.
§ To help him to carry the cross they took hold of a man, who was coming from the fields. He carried the cross behind Jesus. He probably did not know anything about the condemnation of Jesus. Here there was another angry man because he had to carry the cross of this Jesus of Nazareth.
§ Among the crowd that followed him there were many women who cried and lamented him, but he told them to weep for themselves and not for him. I think that this can be considered an invitation to conversion.
§ THEY NAILED HIM TO THE CROSS AND AT EACH SIDE ONE OF THE CRIMINALS.
· The crucifixion in one of the worst death penalties invented by men, and it is also the most humiliating.
· The aspect of a crucified man is ugly, terrifying and grotesque.
· Jesus speaks and as always he speaks words of mercy and love:
o Forgive them… Yes it is true that they do not know that we do not know what we are doing when we sin.
o To the thief that asks him to remember him when he gets to his kingdom, Jesus says “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Happy this man, who at the end of his life encounters Jesus, confesses him as his Lord and gives himself to him with humility!
o And now Jesus speaks to his Father, and cries out “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” Yes Father I return to you, I give myself unconditionally to you, even without experiencing your presence, I know that you are here with me, it cannot be otherwise.
· Creation, nature reacts on seeing the behavior of the only being of creation that has mind and heart, that can know and love: darkness comes upon the earth, the veil of the temple was torn down. It is not needed anymore to hide the “holy of holies” because the HOLY ONE is exposed on the cross forever, he is the real TEMPLE of God.
· His death, his crying out helps the Centurion to realize that this crucified man is different, he is a just man, he is the son of God as we read in the Gospel of Mark. The centurion has supervised the execution of many men but he has never seen one like this one.
Ø After the death on the cross there are other actions:
o The people who were present at the crucifixion, go back home beating their breasts. Maybe for many of them it was the beginning of a journey of conversion.
o Joseph of Arimathea, who awaited the kingdom of God, came to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus and buried him.
o The women, who had followed him from Galilee, were at a distance looking at the tomb and at the body of Jesus who was laid in the tomb.
o The repose of the Sabbath began:
§ Jesus reposes of all his works and sufferings. He has accomplished the work he came to do among us, the salvation of the human race, of all the men and women of all times from the beginning until the end.
§ The faithful Israelites observe the repose of the Sabbath as the Law prescribes.
We just have observed Jesus and also some of the other characters of the Passion narrative. Let us mention some of them:
v Peter, Judas and the other disciples, the servants around the fire.
v Simon of Cyrene and the women who weep along the way
v The soldiers who do not know him, and they have the responsibility to execute the death sentence.
v The Roman Centurion who supervises the execution.
v Joseph of Arimathea.
v All the authorities: Jewish and Roman.
After the contemplation of Jesus I invite all of us to dedicate some time every day during Holy Week to pray-meditate-contemplate in silence the characters which I have mentioned above. Let us ask ourselves if our behavior resembles one of them.
BUT OVER ALL LET US REMEMBER THAT WE ARE CALLED TO BE LIKE JESUS.
HAPPY EASTER TO ALL, MAY WE BE FILLED WITH THE JOY OF THE RESURRECTION!
Beside what I saw in these sacred letters (without seeing anything with my bodily eyes as I have said above) an interior voice in the depths of my soul, was explaining me their meaning and the way to practice them… To my understanding I saw everything in Christ Crucified who, as he was teaching me (to read) the divine letters, was explaining their meaning to me. As this was the first time that our Lord spoke to me, I did not understand of these things and I did not know how to comply with his commands. I was crying abundantly and I told his Divine majesty, whom I had very present, that seemed to me that I was speaking face to face with the Majesty of God. Venerable María Antonia Paris, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 6.
I came down from the pulpit filled with the greatest fervor, and at the end of the service we left the church to go to my lodgings. I was accompanied by four priests, my attendant, Ignacio, and a sacristan who carried a lantern to light our way, since it was 8:30 in the evening and it had already grown dark. We had left the church and were walking down the broad and spacious main street. On both sides of the avenue there were large crowds, and all were greeting me. A man stepped forward, as if to kiss my ring, when suddenly his arm flew back and he brought the razor he was holding down upon me with all his might. I had my head down and was touching a handkerchief to my mouth with my right hand, and so, instead of slitting my throat as he had intended, he slashed my face across the left cheek, from the ear to the chin. The razor also caught and wounded my right arm in passing because I was holding it up to my mouth, as I said. St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 575.