Saturday, July 22, 2006

He was buried

He was buried

“Joseph bought a linen sheet, took the body down, wrapped it in the sheet, and placed it in a tomb which had been dug out of the solid rock.  Then he rolled a large stone across the entrance to the tomb.”  (Mark 15: 46)
When I reflected on the above scripture ten years ago, I wrote the following:
“We see in the burial of Jesus the completion of his life cycle as a man.  He was born, grew up and became a man.  He died and now he is buried.  He experienced every event of our humble human nature.  

Yesterday at Mass, the genealogy of Jesus Christ from the Gospel of St. Matthew was read.  For the first time, I felt I understood the message of the genealogy.   Christ Jesus descended from ordinary men and women and not from angels.  A good number of his ancestors were rascals.   All the four women mentioned in the genealogy had skeletons in their  cupboard.  David, the man after God’s heart was not perfect.  Solomon fell from grace.  Rehoboam fell into open rebellion.  But these are men and women whom it pleased God to use to prepare for the coming of Christ.  

In Mark 15: 46, we meet Joseph of Arimathea, the man chosen to bury Jesus.  Jesus died like all his ancestors.  He was buried but he rose again on the third day.  Praise God!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Trust love and obedience

Trust, love and obedience

“It was 9 o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. …..At noon the whole country was covered in darkness, which lasted for three hours.  At 3 o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why did you abandon me?”  (Mark 15: 25, 33)

According to Mark in the above passage, Jesus spent 6 hours on the cross.  I had always thought he spent 3 hours.  For 6 hours, he endured excruciating pain and agony.  On top of this, he was mocked and insulted all the time.  

How is it that I tend to take lightly what happened on the cross?  I think the reason is spiritual darkness.  I remember St. Ignatius Loyola saying that if it is possible for us to gain an insight into what happened on the cross, we will hate sin forever.  Lord Jesus, grant me this insight.  Grant me the grace to see what you did for me on the cross.

What happened on the cross?  Jesus suffered for 6 hours and died.
Who is Jesus?  The Son of God.
Why did he die on the cross?  To save me from sin.  
What should be my response to this truth?  Trust, love and obedience.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Things will Happen

Things will Happen

“The soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus, made a crown out of the branches, and put it on his head.  Then they began to salute him:  ‘Long live the King of the Jews!’   They beat him over the head with a stick, spat on him, fell on their knees, and bowed down to him.  When they had finished mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes back on him.”  (Mark 15:  17 – 20)

Jesus knew what he would go through during his passion.  He predicted it.  He did so in order to strengthen the faith of his disciples and to remove the element of surprise as his passion starts to unravel.  

Jesus speaks to us in Holy Scripture.  He knows already everything that will happen to us in life.  He is saying:  “Look at my word.  Look at what I have said about my disciples.  Believe it.  So do not be surprised when things start happening to you.”

What is certain is that things will happen to us as disciples of Jesus.  What is comforting is that Christ knows about it already.    What is required of us is faith in Jesus.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Trust Him

Trust Him

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests know to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4: 6 – 7)

“Be still my soul:  the Lord is on thy side; bear patiently the cross of seeking his will.  Leave to thy God to order and to provide.  You are going through a change in your life and life style.  Know that in every change, he faithful will remain.  
Be still my soul:  thy best thy heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”

“Have peace!  Be calm!  Relax!  Be assured that God is for you and with you in the Enterprise.  Look right and left, the signs are everywhere.  Wait patiently for God’s time.  He has a time for everything.  Let your firm hope make you joyful and patient.  Have complete trust in God’s disposal of events.  God is faithful.  He will not abandon you nor forsake you.  He is guiding you every step in this project.  And his guidance is peace.  Trust him.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Do not be afraid!

Do not be afraid!

“Then Peter said, ‘I swear that I am telling the truth!  May God punish me if I am not!  I do not know the man you are talking about.’  Just then a cock crowed a second time, and Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will say three times that you do not know me.’  And he broke down and cried.”  (Mark 14: 71 – 72)

Jesus predicted Peter’s behavior but Peter did not believe him.  As followers of Jesus, we face on daily basis many dangers and temptations.  The New Testament is full of warnings on the need to be vigilant and alert.  The New Testament is also full of remedies to the various dangers and temptations we face in our Christian walk.

What particular door was open in Peter through which the devil walked in unchallenged?  Fear!  Fear of suffering.  What does Jesus say on the subject of fear?  
Don’t fear those who do no more than cause you physical suffering?
You can only retain your life by losing it.
Do not be afraid.
Take up  your cross everyday and follow me.

Lord, grant us the grace to overcome fears in our lives.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Crowd and Justice

The Crowd and Justice

“Pilate spoke again to the crowd, ‘what, then, do you want me to do with the one you call the king of the Jews?’  They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’  Pilate wanted to please the crowd, so he set Barnabas free for them.  Then he had Jesus whipped and handed him over to be crucified.”  (Mark 15: 12 – 15)

We meet Jesus again under the control of the powers of darkness.  Can there be true justice in the world?  Pilate knew very well that Jesus was handed over to him out of malice.   The right thing was for him to set him free.  He chose to please the crowd.  

Christ had predicted that in the world his followers will be persecuted.   For any Christian to expect otherwise is to doubt the words of Jesus.  The process of justice has not changed since the time of Pilate.  The people responsible for administering justice are still motivated to pleasing whatever “crowd” they happen to serve at the material time.  

Peace and justice shall reign in full measure in the kingdom of God.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

They Slapped Him

They Slapped Him

“They all voted against him:  he was guilty and should be put to death ….  Some of them began to spit on Jesus, and they blindfolded him and hit him.  ‘Guess who hit you?’ they said.  And the guards took him and slapped him.” (Mark 14: 64 – 65)

This is the moment of the reign of darkness and the forces of evil are at their best game:  lies, condemnation, insults, cruelty, torture and death.   Who is the victim in this case?  A man who is absolutely innocent.  Why are they doing this to Jesus?  His Father decreed that he should go through this in order to save us from these same forces of evil.  

Through the passion and death of Christ, we gain strength to overcome the forces of evil in our own lives.  We do not succumb to threats of lies, insults, torture and death.   How did Christ behave as a captive of the forces of darkness?  He behaved with calm dignity and acceptance.  He had prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for strength to endure and now he enjoys that strength.  

As a disciple of Jesus, temptations will surely come.  It could come in many guises.  As a good soldier, I prepare for the worst through faith and prayer.  We draw inspiration from Jesus Christ, our model.  We follow his example.