Saturday, March 11, 2017

LENT, 2017

Sunday, April 9, 2017
MATTHEW 26:14-27:66
Friends on this Palm Sunday we are privileged to become immersed in Matthew's great Gospel of the Passion. There are so many ways that we could illumine this text. I will choose just one. Jesus is presented as the divine presence that has journeyed into sin in order to save us. Accordingly, all forms of human dysfunction are on display in the passion narrative. During those terrible hours, Jesus' mission came to its fulfillment. What commenced at Bethlehem and continued at the Jordan River now comes to completion.

In contrast to the rock-hard attitude of Jesus, conforming himself to the will of his Father, we find almost all the ways that we flee the will of God. Betrayal, indifference, spiritual sloth, violence, cowardice, untruth, scapegoating, self-destruction, abuse of authority, wanton cruelty. No wonder that "darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon." At the beginning of creation, God said, "Let there be light." But his world had become darkened in every way through sin.

But what is the simple and powerful good news? That Jesus associates with all of us sinners, in all of our dysfunction. He entered into the darkness in all of its power in order to bring the light.

Transcript, Dr Scott Hahn

"All this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled," Jesus says in today's Gospel (see Matthew 26:56).

Indeed, we have reached the climax of the liturgical year, the highest peak of salvation history, when all that has been anticipated and promised is to be fulfilled.

By the close of today's long Gospel, the work of our redemption will have been accomplished, the new covenant will be written in the blood of His broken body hanging on the cross at the place called the Skull.

In His Passion, Jesus is "counted among the wicked," as Isaiah had foretold (see Isaiah 53:12). He is revealed definitively as the Suffering Servant the prophet announced, the long-awaited Messiah whose words of obedience and faith ring out in today's First Reading and Psalm.

The taunts and torments we hear in these two readings punctuate the Gospel as Jesus is beaten and mocked (see Matthew 27:31), as His hands and feet are pierced, as enemies gamble for His clothes (see Matthew 27:35), and as his enemies dare Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself from suffering (see Matthew 27:39-44).

He remains faithful to God's will to the end, does not turn back in His trial. He gives Himself freely to His torturers, confident that, as He speaks in today's First Reading: "The Lord God is My help...I shall not be put to shame."

Destined to sin and death as children of Adam's disobedience, we have been set free for holiness and life by Christ's perfect obedience to the Father's will (see Romans 5:12-14,17-19; Ephesians 2:2; 5:6).

This is why God greatly exalted Him. This is why we have salvation in His Name. Following His example of humble obedience in the trials and crosses of our lives, we know we will never be forsaken. We know, as the centurion today, that truly this is the Son of God (see Matthew 27:54).

Sunday, April 2, 2017
JOHN 11:1-45
Friends, today's Gospel speaks of Jesus' conquest of death in the raising of Lazarus. What if death is not at all what God intended. Mind you, I mean death as we experience it—as something fearful, horrible, terrifying. This comes from having turned from God. Jesus came primarily as a warrior whose final enemy is death. It is easy to domesticate Jesus, presenting him as a kindly moral teacher. But that is not how the Gospels present him. He is a cosmic warrior who has come to do battle with those forces that keep us from being fully alive.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is dealing with the effects of death and a death-obsessed culture: violence, hatred, egotism, exclusion, false religion, phony community. But the final enemy he must face down is death itself. Like Frodo going into Mordor, he has to go into death's domain, get into close quarters with it, and take it on.

Coming to Lazarus' tomb, Jesus feels the deepest emotions and begins to weep. This is God entering into the darkness, confusion, and agony of the death of sinners. He doesn't blithely stand above our situation, but rather takes it on and feels it at its deepest level.

Transcript from Dr Scott Hahn

As we draw near to the end of Lent, today's Gospel clearly has Jesus' passion and death in view.

That's why John gives us the detail about Lazarus' sister, Mary—that she is the one who anointed the Lord for burial (see John 12:3,7). His disciples warn against returning to Judea; Thomas even predicts they will "die with Him" if they go back.

When Lazarus is raised, John notices the tombstone being taken away, as well as Lazarus' burial cloths and head covering—all details he later notices with Jesus' empty tomb (see John 20:1,6,7).

Like the blind man in last week's readings, Lazarus represents all humanity. He stands for "dead man"—for all those Jesus loves and wants to liberate from the bands of sin and death.

John even recalls the blind man in his account today (see John 11:37). Like the man's birth in blindness, Lazarus' death is used by Jesus to reveal "the glory of God" (see John 9:3). And again like last week, Jesus' words and deeds give sight to those who believe (see John 11:40).

If we believe, we will see—that Jesus loves each of us as He loved Lazarus, that He calls us out of death and into new life.

By His Resurrection Jesus has fulfilled Ezekiel's promise in today's First Reading. He has opened the graves that we may rise, put His Spirit in us that we may live. This is the Spirit that Paul writes of in today's Epistle. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will give life to we who were once dead in sin.

Faith is the key. If we believe as Martha does in today's Gospel—that Jesus is the resurrection and the life—even if we die, we will live.

"I have promised and I will do it," the Father assures us in the First Reading. We must trust in His word, as we sing in today's Psalm—that with Him is forgiveness and salvation.

Sunday, March 26, 2017
JOHN 9:1-41
Friends, today’s Gospel is the story of the man born blind, which is a microcosm of the spiritual life. “As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.” Jesus responds by doing something a little weird: he makes a mud paste and rubs it on the blind man’s eyes. And then Jesus tells the man to wash in the pool of Siloam.

When the man comes back able to see, his neighbors are confused. Some say it’s the same guy, and others say it just looks like him. This is wonderful. Once you’ve put on the Lord Jesus Christ, you’re changed in every aspect of your life to the point where you may seem odd and different to others.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. It then takes a dramatic turn. The Pharisees interrogate the healed man. It becomes clear that Jesus healed him on a Sabbath day and so they condemn Jesus. They throw the formerly blind man out, but Jesus looks for him. He asks the man: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Jesus wants us to put every ounce of our trust in him—and our vision will deepen. This in many ways is the heart of the matter: de-center your ego and re-center it on Christ. And now that you see, believe!

Listen to Scott Hahn

PDF for this Sunday

Scott Hahn Transcript:
God's ways of seeing are not our ways, we hear in today's First Reading. Jesus illustrates this in the Gospel—as the blind man comes to see and the Pharisees are made blind.

The blind man stands for all humanity. "Born totally in sin" he is made a new creation by the saving power of Christ.

As God fashioned the first man from the clay of the earth (see Genesis 2:7), Jesus gives the blind man new life by anointing his eyes with clay (see John 9:11). As God breathed the spirit of life into the first man, the blind man is not healed until he washes in the waters of Siloam, a name that means "Sent."

Jesus is the One "sent" by the Father to do the Father's will (see John 9:412:44). He is the new source of life-giving water—the Holy Spirit who rushes upon us in Baptism (see John 4:107:38-39).

This is the Spirit that rushes upon God's chosen king David in today's First Reading. A shepherd like Moses before him (see Exodus 3:1Psalm 78:70-71), David is also a sign pointing to the good shepherd and king to come—Jesus (see John 10:11).

The Lord is our shepherd, as we sing in today's Psalm. By his death and Resurrection He has made a path for us through the dark valley of sin and death, leading us to the verdant pastures of the kingdom of life, the Church.

In the restful waters of Baptism He has refreshed our souls. He has anointed our heads with the oil of Confirmation and spread the Eucharistic table before us, filling our cups to overflowing.

With the once-blind man we enter His house to give God the praise, to renew our vow: "I do believe, Lord."

"The Lord looks into the heart," we hear today. Let Him find us, as Paul advises in today's Epistle, living as "children of light"—trying always to learn what is pleasing to our Father.

Sunday, March 19, 2017
JOHN 4:5-42
Friends, today we read the magnificent story from John's Gospel about the woman at the well. The image of thirst is used throughout the Bible to speak of the human longing for God. At the height of the heat of the day, Jesus asks a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. We are on very holy ground for the whole of salvation is summed up here: our thirst for God meets God's even more dramatic thirst for us. Augustine picked up on this in his commentary on the passage: "Jesus was thirsty for the woman's faith."

At first, of course, the woman is put off. How could this Jewish man be asking me for a drink? Translate this into spiritual language: how could almighty God be thirsty for my faith and my attention?

Jesus' answer is magnificent: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst." We are built for union with God, and therefore we thirst for God with an infinite desire. What Jesus offers her is the life of grace, the divine life, God's own self. That's the only energy that can ever satisfy our infinite longing.


Read about the Samaritan Woman

Listen to Dr Scott Hahn

Dr Scott Hahn transcript:

The Israelites' hearts were hardened by their hardships in the desert.

Though they saw His mighty deeds, in their thirst they grumble and put God to the test in today's First Reading—a crisis point recalled also in today's Psalm.
Jesus is thirsty too in today's Gospel. He thirsts for souls (see John 19:28). He longs to give the Samaritan woman the living waters that well up to eternal life.
These waters couldn't be drawn from the well of Jacob, father of the Israelites and the Samaritans. But Jesus was something greater than Jacob (see Luke 11:31-32).
The Samaritans were Israelites who escaped exile when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom eight centuries before Christ (see 2 Kings 17:6,24-41). They were despised for intermarrying with non-Israelites and worshipping at Mount Gerazim, not Jerusalem.
But Jesus tells the woman that the "hour" of true worship is coming, when all will worship God in Spirit and truth.
Jesus' "hour" is the "appointed time" that Paul speaks of in today's Epistle. It is the hour when the Rock of our salvation was struck on the Cross. Struck by the soldier's lance, living waters flowed out from our Rock (see John 19:34-37).
These waters are the Holy Spirit (see John 7:38-39), the gift of God (see Hebrews 6:4).
By the living waters the ancient enmities of Samaritans and Jews have been washed away, the dividing wall between Israel and the nations is broken down (see Ephesians 2:12-14,18). Since His hour, all may drink of the Spirit in Baptism (see 1 Corinthians 12:13).
In this Eucharist, the Lord now is in our midst—as He was at the Rock of Horeb and at the well of Jacob.
In the "today" of our Liturgy, He calls us to believe: "I am He," come to pour out the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. How can we continue to worship as if we don't understand? How can our hearts remain hardened?

Listen to Dr Scott Hahn

Sunday, March 12, 2017
MATTHEW 17:1-9
Friends, today's Gospel recounts the story of the Transfiguration. Here the glorified Jesus represents the fulfillment of the Old Testament revelation, symbolized by Moses, representing the law, and Elijah, representing the prophets.

Let's look at the two basic divisions. God gave the Torah, the law, to his people, in order that they might become a priestly people, a holy nation, a people set apart, in the hopes that they would then function as a sort of magnet to the rest of the world. But the law didn't take. From the very beginning, the people turned away from its dictates, and became as bad as the nations around them.

And then the prophets. Repeatedly we hear the call to be faithful to the Torah, to follow the ways of the Lord. The prophets constantly turn on Israel itself, reminding her of her own sinfulness. And then came Jesus, God and man. Jesus did what no hero of Judaism had ever done. He fulfilled the law, remained utterly obedient to the demands of the Father, even to the point of laying down his life. He brought the Torah and the prophets thereby to fulfillment.

First Sunday of Lent

Listen to Dr Scott Hahn

Sunday, March 5, 2017
MATTHEW 4:1-11
Friends, our Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent is the story of the temptation in the desert. At every point in the Gospels, we are meant to identify with Jesus. Jesus has just been baptized; he has just learned his deepest identity and mission. And now he confronts—as we all must—the great temptations. What precisely is entailed in being the beloved Son of God?

First, the tempter urges him to use his divine power to satisfy his bodily desires, which Jesus dismisses with a word. Having failed at his first attempt, the devil plays a subtler game—the temptation faced by Adam and Eve in the garden, to pretend to be God.

And then, last and perhaps greatest of the temptations, power. Power is extremely seductive. Many would gladly eschew material things or attention or fame in order to get it. But Jesus' great answer in Matthew's account is, "Get away Satan!" To seek power is to serve Satan—that's the blunt point of Jesus' response.

No comments:

Post a Comment