Some days all is right with the world. The sun is out, there is peace in our homes, and our hearts are full of joy and gratitude. Then there are those days and times when everything seems to come unraveled and fall apart. As we celebrate Palm Sunday we have two Gospels read at Mass, both from St. Matthew. The first Gospel is read at the beginning of Mass just before the palms are blessed and recounts the welcome entrance into Jerusalem Jesus experienced as he entered the city. There was public welcome, joy, and enthusiasm. Yet as we reflect on the Gospel for today’s Mass we have the account of His passion and death from St. Matthew. In the span of five days, joy and welcome were replaced with injustice and rejection. As I made the Stations of the Cross every day during this Lent, each time I could not help but be amazed at how, as things got worse and worse, the love of God in Jesus refused to be extinguished or give up.READ MORE
Two of the worst feelings we experience as human beings are feeling ignored and feeling rejected. Where does our hope lie when these feelings threaten us and become realities? In the Gospel for today’s Mass (John 11:1-45) we have the account of Jesus raising Lazarus after being in the tomb for four days. Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, had sent word to Jesus that their brother was sick and hoped that He would come and heal him. Instead of dropping everything and going immediately, Jesus stayed on for two more days where He was before going to Bethany, a village just outside Jerusalem. The walking route was about 40 miles. Jesus did not ignore their message or reject their plea. He simply finished what He was doing and then went to them. The disciples warned Him not to go near Jerusalem, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus was not afraid of being rejected. His only concern was to bring the life, love, and presence of God’s love wherever He was. After Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead His opponents were more determined than ever to satisfy their rejection of Him by executing Him and Lazarus as well. In John 12 we see Jesus at the house of Lazarus and his sisters and the joy and gratitude they expressed. But rejection was afoot as we see in John 12:9-10: “The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too.”READ MORE
There is an old expression that warns us about going to the well too many times. The fact is we all seek “wells” in our lives, the wells that give us life, love, peace, mercy, and hope. All of us have a vast reservoir of love and hope. How do we release the love and hope that we have? Sometimes we are confused or tired, feeling that we are just drained of energy and just want some time for ourselves. The way to find nourishment and energy is to focus on how good it is to accept God’s love and give of ourselves in love to one another.
In the Gospel for today’s Mass (John 4:5-42) we see Jesus encountering the woman at the well. This passage begins by telling us that “Jesus, tired from His journey, sat down there at the well.” The disciples went off to get some provisions for nourishment. As Jesus sits by the well the Samaritan woman comes to draw water. In her encounter with Jesus we see that she probably came to the well a noon, at time when no one came because of the heat of the day, to draw water. Her life was one of broken relationships and the pain they caused. As their conversation progresses Jesus speaks of the living water He wants to give her. No longer is He looking to rest and get some time for Himself. He is energized and inspired to love because that is who He is and what He came to do. He did not see her as a pest or a distraction, but as someone with the thirst we all have for life, love, peace, mercy, and hope. Jesus reveals that He knows the inner thirst she has and we all have, the thirst for the living water that comes from Him, the living water of life, love, peace, mercy, and hope. Never did Jesus pass up on opportunity to engage and touch those He encountered. His goal was not to win people over but to enrich them with the purest of intentions and the joy He felt when His love took root.READ MORE
Living on Long Island we do not have any literal mountain top experiences. But this past Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday we did have a great mountain top experience, our Parish Retreat given by a team of people from the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. On a mountain we get a view from a height that expands our visual horizon. During our retreat through the speaker, music, and presence of the Blessed Sacrament on our altar and in procession, we were given a view of who we are as Catholic believers in Jesus Christ and members of the Church, the Body of Christ on earth. It is one thing to have information and read about Jesus and the Church we are part of through, with, and in Him, it is another thing to see who He really is in our personal lives and who we are in His personal life.
In the Gospel for the Mass today (Matthew 17:1-9) we have the account of Jesus taking Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain where He is transfigured before them. They see Him in is heavenly body and Moses and Elijah appear and converse with Him. St. Peter exclaims, “Lord, it is good that we are here.” Jesus invited them into a truly intimate experience with Him and revealed who He truly is. How awesome and blessed Peter, James, and John were. We do not see Jesus in His heavenly glory, but we do behold Him and accept His invitation to come into us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus who appeared in His heavenly glory in this encounter with Peter, James, and John appears to us in the very common physical element of bread that becomes His Body when the priest at Mass prays, “This is my Body which will be given up for you. We do not have to go up a mountain to be in His presence, He comes to us so simply and powerfully in the bread of the Eucharist that has become His Body. What encourages us in this Gospel passage and from our experience in our parish retreat is who Jesus is and why He is coming into us.READ MORE