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Daily Archives: April 21, 2011

TODAY WE COMMEMORATE THE GREATEST ACT OF LOVE IN HISTORY

TODAY WE COMMEMORATE THE GREATEST ACT OF LOVE IN HISTORY

(A biblical reflection on GOOD FRIDAY [YEAR A], April 22, 2011) 

Second Reading: Heb 4:14-16;5:7-9 

First Reading: Is 52:13-53:12; Psalms: Ps 31:2,6,12-13,15-17,25; Gospel Reading: Jn 18:1-19:42 

The Scripture Text

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard for His godly fear. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered; and being made perfect He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. (Heb 4:14-16;5:7-9 RSV) 

Today we commemorate the greatest act of love in history: the cross of Jesus Christ. Let us take some extra time today to meditate before a crucifix. We look upon Jesus in all His lowliness – beaten, bruised, and bloodied. We see Him suffering, rejected and alone. Let us listen to His last cry from the cross: “My God, my God, why have You abandoned Me?” Let us see His love for each and every one of us, even as He hangs dying in our place: “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Let us gaze upon Him who was pierced for our offences and crushed for our sins. Let us bow in reverence as we contemplate the full meaning of this holy day, when the Son of God became incredibly poor so that we could become unspeakably rich. Let us bless the One who now beckons us “to draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). 

What great love the cross reveals! This is covenant love, a love that springs from Jesus’ eternal promise to love and protect us. Covenant love is ever faithful. It is ready to die so that others may live. It is an eternal love, written in the very blood of Christ

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, today, as you meditate before the Lamb who was slain, consider the “bigness” of the cross. Has any other act of love ever brought forth such a flood of mercy and grace? Has any other sacrifice completely washed away every sin to come? Has any other act of love overcome the devil’s work of hatred and evil in the world? 

How can we make the cross real in our lives today? By showing our loved ones the same covenant love that Jesus has shown us. What joy Jesus will have as He sees the fruit of His cross in the way we spread His love and faithfulness today! Just thing: Every time we love as Jesus loves, we are actually bringing the very presence of Christ into the world where we live! 

Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, You were perfectly innocent, completely free from sin. Yet You bore all of my sin and injustice as You hung upon the cross. Lord, on this Good Friday I join with the saints in heaven not to mourn what my sin did to You, but to rejoice in what Your love did for me. May this litany be in my heart today: Cross of Jesus, purify me. Blood of Jesus, cleanse me. Wounds of Jesus, heal me. Love of Jesus, free me. Mercy of Jesus, forgive me. Amen. 

Jakarta, April 18, 2011   

A Christian Pilgrim 

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JESUS IS STILL DYING ON THE CROSS

JESUS IS STILL DYING ON THE CROSS 

BY LEONARDO BOFF 

You can depend on this: If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him (2Tim 2:11). 

Those who commit themselves to the following of Christ pledge to share His life and destiny. Like Jesus, they do not regard life as something to be enjoyed egostistically but rather as service to their fellow human beings, particularly to the neediest. Such service may even entail the sacrifice of one’s own life, offered as an expression of love and personal freedom. If one’s life is to be truly redemptive, God often strips a person of everything. Deprived of all consolation, certainty, and security, the person becomes like Jesus in His abandonment on the cross. 

The history of human struggle for justice and freedom knows few successes. It is full of martyrs, defeats, and long-standing hopes. It is a history of unrestrained, inexhaustible hope. The oppressors almost always win the day. God has guaranteed final victory in the triumph of the Kingdom of love and goodness, but God allows the Way of the Cross, with its suffering and seeming failure, to go on from on century to the next. 

Thousands of innocent people die every year, victims of the hatred that they sought to overcome. Thousands are abandoned to their fate every year, often left without support by their brothers and sisters who share the very same faith. Thousand suffer desperation and agony, unable to see the fruitful triumph of the cause for which they are sacrificing themselves. Committed by their faith to help create a world more in conformity with God’s plan, they do not get to see the results. As Sacred Scripture describe their plight: 

Still others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point; they went about garbed in the skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, they dwelt in caves and in holes of the earth. Yet despite the fact that all of these were approved because of their faith, they did not obtain what had been promised (Heb 11:36-39). 

These are countless prophets of sacred causes that espouse the rights of the poor. Some are known; the vast majority are anonymous. They all share the impotence and helplessness of Jesus on the cross. They are asked to accept the most difficult assignment: to hope against hope, to love what does not seem to be present to them, and to believe in what they cannot see. They are asked to endure the worst plight a human being can experience: to die feeling abandoned by the God for whom they lived and sacrificed their lives. 

Still, they do not abandon God. They surrender themselves to God in complete confidence. In total inner emptiness they cling to the nameless Mystery that is infinitely beyond them. For this mysterious God holds the secret meaning of all their failed quests, of all the absurdities of history. To die like that is to share Jesus’ death on the cross. It is to share His redeeming mystery, which will go on through history until the world reaches its end and fulfilment in the liberation of the last sinner who opens to God’s mercifulness. 

Taken by A Christian Pilgrim from Leonardo Boff, WAY OF THE CROSS = WAY OF JUSTICE, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, ©1980 (First published as Via-sacra da justice, © 1978 Editora Vozes Ltda., Brazil), pages 98-101.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2011 in LENT AND EASTERTIDE

 

YOU ALSO OUGHT TO WASH ONE ANOTHER’S FEET

YOU ALSO OUGHT TO WASH ONE ANOTHER’S FEET

(A biblical reflection on HOLY THURSDAY [YEAR A], April 21, 2011) 

Gospel Reading: Jn 13:1-15 

First Reading: Ex 12:1-8,11-14; Psalms: Ps 116:12-13,15-18; Second Reading: 1Cor 11:23-26 

The Scripture Text

Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside His garments, and girded Himself with a towel. Then He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who has  bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who was to betray Him; that was why He said, “You are not all clean.”

When He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and resumed His place, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. (Jn 13:1-15) 

Today begins the great Easter Triduum, the three days when we relive by faith and liturgy the drama of our salvation. Today especially is a day filled with symbols and prophetic gestures that speak volumes about the mercy and love that flowed into our lives.  As a matter of fact, Jesus’ whole life was an act of love. His incarnation, the hidden years in Nazareth, the days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness, the tiring Galilee journeys of preaching and healing – everything He did expressed His love. As John the Evangelist set out to describe the final events of Jesus’ life, he began his account with the simple statement that Jesus “loved His own who were in the world”, and “loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1). Here, on the eve of His death, we were given an intimate look into Jesus’ heart of love. 

Picture Jesus kneeling on the hard, dirty floor and humbly washing the grubby, calloused feet of His disciples – even those of His betrayer, Judas Iscariot. How degrading for Him! How embarrassing for the disciples! Most of us would probably back away like Peter at the mere thought of letting the Lord do such thing. But Jesus’ love did not stop there. The next day He allowed Himself to be falsely accused, ridiculed, scourged, and executed – and He loved us to the very end. Yes, in the washing of His disciples’ feet, Jesus performed a humble service to demonstrate how much He loved His friends. 

In his recounting of the way Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, John gives us an image of the entire Gospel message. The Son of God, perfect, pure, and holy, not only became a man but took on the role of a slave so that He could cleanse and refresh us. He humbled Himself so that we could be lifted up. He took the lowest position – to the point of death as a common criminal – so that we could become heirs of the kingdom of heaven. What hymn of praise could contain such love? How could we ever repay such a debt? 

Today and every day, Jesus wants to do the same for us: to wash our feet. Jesus is always ready to care for our needs, heal our pains, and comfort us in our disappointments. He is eager to pick us up when we fall and give us guidance and direction when we ask. Therefore, we should never be afraid to let Jesus wash our feet. Whenever we allow Him to serve us, we will find ourselves energized to serve others, to follow the example He left us to wash one another’s feet (see Jn 13:14-15) and give our lives for one another, as He did. 

Jesus washed His disciples’ feet at the “Last Supper”, the first celebration of the (Christian) Eucharist. In that particular Eucharist celebration (and millions of such celebrations to follow), Jesus went one step further by offering His disciples (including ourselves) His own body and blood. The washing of the disciples’ feet was a gesture pointed prophetically to the sacrifice of love He would make for us, this gesture actually invites us to participate in our redemption. On the other hand, by saying, “Take and eat, take and drink”, Jesus is calling us to embrace His death and resurrection. He is asking us to turn away from sin and let His life become our life. He leaves it up to us. Will we taste His goodness, or will we remain self-sufficient and isolated from His love during our days? 

Tonight as we commemorate the “Last Supper”, and every time we celebrate Mass, Jesus comes to wash our feet. Whenever we eat His body and drink His blood, He longs to serve us so that when we are sent out at the end of Mass: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”; we have all the energy and grace we need. 

Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, how Your love humble me! Nothing was too lowly for You to do! Help me, Lord Jesus, to serve as You served and to love as You love. Lord Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like Yours. Amen. 

Jakarta, April 17, 2011 [Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord]  

A Christian Pilgrim