March 31, 2013

Easter

John 20:1-9

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Jesus Is Risen

“There is no Church unless Jesus is risen from the dead.” It’s kind of hard to argue with that, but do we really believe it? Today is one of those unique days: tulips, painted eggs, chocolate crosses, festive breads, haircuts, new clothes, and a benevolent bunny. But does any of this really matter? We might prepare ourselves differently for today, but our cultural practices pale in comparison to the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. Our entire faith depends on this truth and I don’t think that there is any one practice that can capture this.

Easter is more than a day, it’s an entire season. It’s safe to say that the first witnesses to the resurrection weren’t interrupting their Easter-egg hunt. They were humbly awakening to the glory of Jesus rising from the dead. It took them time to absorb this truth and there were moments when they had trouble seeing and believing. While we are born into the truth of His resurrection, we still have the same human limitations of those first witnesses.

It takes us time to absorb this central tenet of our faith and we are plagued by our own doubts and fears. It sometimes helps to remember that Easter is still close to Good Friday; we cannot fully absorb the resurrection without the cross.  We don’t bury the cross today, we know that our own pain and suffering does not disappear, but today we witness the redemptive quality of human suffering. In the end suffering and death will not win; we too will rise with Jesus.

—Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, Provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province

Prayer

Lord, on this glorious day we claim your victory over death.  We embrace your promise that whoever believes in you will never die.  We ask you to connect our love with those who have gone before us. Remind them, Lord, that our hearts will forever be with them.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 30, 2013

Easter Vigil of the Lord’s Resurrection 

Luke 24: 1-12

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.

The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.

Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

What’s on Your Playlist?

I once asked a friend if I could see the playlist on his MP3 player. I was a little taken back when he said, “That’s personal.” I know the social norms about questioning a person’s age, weight, or income; I never thought to include musical taste in this category. But when you think about it, there is something very personal about our favorite songs. We use music to soothe our mood and enliven our soul. Whether it’s passive listening or active singing, the song in our head often reflects what is going on inside of us. It’s no wonder that music is so integral to the prayers of people of faith. In song we can praise and thank God when the spoken word is just not enough.

Tonight we chant one of my favorite songs, although it’s really more of a prayer than a song. After the sun sets and darkness fills the sky, we will light the Paschal candle and begin the great Vigil of Easter. With the words, “Exalt, let them exalt . . .” we proclaim that Jesus Christ has risen. There are no bells or trumpets (at least not yet) just a solo voice awakening us to the greatest story ever told—that Jesus has conquered sin and death. It is not done with fanfare; it is an ancient chant that reveals meaning and purpose to our lives. We do not live in vain, our faith is real, and through Christ’s resurrection we will be redeemed.

While the Exultet is chanted, each member of the assembly lights his or her own candle from the flame of the Paschal candle. As the “Light of Christ” grows in the church, so spreads the Good News of our Lord’s resurrection. I can think of nothing better to sing about. And, yes, the Exultet is on my playlist!

—Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, Provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province

Prayer

Lord, when the women return from visiting the tomb, the other disciples find their announcement ridiculous. We, too, Lord, are like those believers – confident when all is well but doubting when we lose our footing. Touch our soul so we will trust in the empty tomb and realize that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience … We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Teilhard de Chardan

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 29, 2013

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion (day of fast & abstinence)

John 18:1-19:42

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.”

Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus.

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people. Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in.

The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself. Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.”(This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.” Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.

Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.”

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.

Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.”

A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.(He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Let Us Live in Hope

When I was a kid I used to run home from school into the kitchen door of our house and ask my mother, “Mommy, what’s for supper.” My mother’s first language was Italian and more often than not she would say, “La grazie di Dio la frutta della terra.” Were you to run this through Google translate, you would probably get something like “The grace of God the fruit of the earth.” But my Mom had a funnier way of translating this expression; she would always say, “The grace of God the fruit of the dirt.” This always made me laugh, dirt was the stuff I was supposed to scrape from my fingernails, dirt was what the dog brought in from muddy puddles on a rainy day. How could food come from dirt? When you think about it, of course food comes from dirt, but we have a nice way of separating the two in our kitchens and on our plates.

Jesus’ crucifixion was one of the dirtiest forms of execution ever done. It was savage, brutal, and inhumane. The taking of human life is always wrong, but to do it in such a way defies human understanding. Could anything good come from such violent hatred?

Good Friday is unlike any day in the year. Today we accompany our Lord on his dirty walk to Calvary. We see, hear and feel the vicious attack on his body. But we also know that the filth of this execution is not the end of the story. From the dirt of this crime grows a fruit which opens for all of us the doors to salvation and hope. Let’s not separate the two. Jesus died so that we might live. Let us live in this hope today.

—Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, Provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province

Prayer

Lord, we have heard the Good Friday reading many times. But today we are at a different place than we were last Good Friday. What is it you want us to see, hear and feel from your horrific movement to the cross? Is it the disillusionment that grieves your heart when you are sold out by betrayal and denial? Is it your gut wrenching response when you glimpse the agony in your mother’s face, and you can do nothing to help her? Do you want us to get up close and hear the wheezing from your collapsed lungs and witness the disfigurement of your sunken body? Though somber and stricken by sorrow, we know that your brutal death is not the final act but the ultimate act of love. And therefore we will live this Good Friday in confidence and hope.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 28, 2013

Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper         

John 13: 1-15

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Now Go and Do Likewise

I used to wonder why so many Protestant Churches called this day “Maundy Thursday.” I would often see it on the display boards outside some churches and it seemed like such an odd name for one of the days in Holy Week. After studying some Latin, I learned that Maundy came from the opening words of the Mass for this day, Mandatum novum do vobis, “I give to you a new commandment.” These are the words that Jesus says to his disciples after washing the disciples’ feet. I suppose that Mandatum morphed into “Maunde” in Middle-English and the rest is history.

The Mandatum, the great commandment that we wash one another’s feet, is such a powerful theme to this day. Back in Jesus’ time washing feet was a task for a lowly servant (lower than Daisy for Downton Abbey fans). You were pretty low on the totem pole if you had to wash a traveler’s feet. You can only imagine the reaction of Jesus’ disciples when they saw Him grab a towel and basin and begin this humble chore. I often wonder though, are we as startled when we see this done today?

Ritual can be both beautiful and romanticized. Since we all wear shoes and take regular showers, washing feet has long gone out of fashion. Some of us may view this Mandatum, or command, as a sentimental reenactment of the past. But the command that we serve one another should still hit us as forcefully as it did those disciples in the upper room. We recently learned that Pope Francis will celebrate today’s Mass, where feet are washed, in a juvenile prison. A prison is a far cry from Saint Peter’s Basilica. This certainly took many of us by surprise, but when you think about it, wasn’t this what Jesus wanted us to do when he said, “Now go and do likewise”?

—Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, Provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province

Prayer

Lord, we are in awe of your love for us. Help us to place our feet before you and to receive your cleansing so we can walk by your side.  And fill us with your grace so we can be the first to kneel before others and wash their feet.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 27, 2013

Matthew 26: 14-25

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Not the Sin, but the Sinner

Jesus foretells the betrayal of Judas Iscariot in today’s gospel. We probably think this is the most grievous sin of all time, a sin that surely cannot ever be forgiven, a sin that is pure evil.

The denial of Jesus by Peter happens just hours later after Jesus is arrested. Is not this a sin of almost equal weight? Are we not told by experts that to completely ignore someone, denial, is more hurtful than outright rejection? So, what is the difference between these two sins? It is not the sin, but the sinner.

Judas despairs to the point of killing himself. He does not believe he can ever be forgiven. Peter weeps bitterly, but knows Jesus’ love for him will overcome his own sin and sinfulness. During the first week of the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius instructs us to pray for the grace to feel intense shame and sorrow because of our sins and their effect on our lives.

During this first week of the exercises, St. Ignatius also has us consider how God loves us so much He will not allow evil to cut us off from Him. He points to the loving people in our lives, the wonders of creation and the gift of His own Son. We are loved sinners. With God, all things are possible!

Perhaps a personal review of our own sins and bringing them before our loving God in the sacrament of reconciliation is appropriate at this point in our Lenten journey.

—David McNulty, Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, protect us from anything that would try to displace you as the center of our lives. Sharpen our sensitivity to everything that has the potential to call forth a deeper response to our life in you. We pray that our only desire and our one choice is to choose that which leads to deepening your life in us.

—Prayer adapted from St. Ignatius, the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises


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March 26, 2013

John 13: 21-33, 36-38

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”

So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Call to Love and Forgive

At the Last Supper Simon Peter expresses his desire to follow Jesus wherever Jesus is going. Simon Peter claims that he will do whatever needs to be done – even laying down his life for Jesus. But when confronted with the Passion and Death of Jesus, Simon Peter not only deserts Jesus but even denies knowing Jesus. Three years of traveling with Jesus have not prepared Simon Peter for the fact that Jesus must suffer and die. Simon Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah, a king who would restore Israel to its past glories. How can this powerful king be executed? Simon Peter does not understand that Jesus’ power and authority comes from being the Suffering Servant spoken of in the Book of Isaiah.

During Holy Week we are encouraged to remember that the way Jesus faced his suffering and death is a model for us of the true meaning of power and authority. When confronted with hatred, suffering, and even death, Jesus responded with love. When Jesus encountered betrayal and abandonment by his friends and followers, he chose to forgive. Throughout his entire passion and death Jesus prayed and trusted in God.

How do I respond to hardships, betrayals, or being wronged by others?

—Br. John Moriconi, S.J., Provincial’s Secretary, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, those who have pierced our soul with betrayals, disillusionment, and wrongs can so challenge our desire to offer forgiveness. Lord, forgiveness can be complicated. We pray that we remain open to your promptings, your communications, and your patience with our calloused hearts. And this day bless us with the acceptance of your complete forgiveness – your constant desire to lift us up into your constant love. —The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 25, 2013

John 12: 1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)

Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Dear Friends

There is something especially touching about today’s Gospel because it shows us that Jesus really liked Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. He clearly felt safe and comfortable with them—he loved them and wants to spend as much time as he can with them.

The three siblings would have known that there were people who wanted Lazarus dead since he served as a constant reminder of Jesus’ transformative power to bring even life from death. Still stunned and grateful beyond telling to Jesus for having raised her brother Lazarus from the dead, Mary magnanimously and opulently anoints Jesus’ dusty feet with expensive oil using her own hair. This dramatic gesture is her way of publicly proclaiming Jesus is her Lord, the guide of her life.

If someone were watching you, what actions would they see indicating Jesus is your Lord? While it may not be necessary for you to make theatrical gestures, your faith in Jesus should make a difference in how you live. Can people in your family or among your friends and coworkers see it?

—Fr. James Prehn, S.J., Vocations Director for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.

Prayer

Lord, we pray for significance more than we pray for success. Grant us your grace so we can live this hope in every interaction, every decision, and every light hearted moment that lifts our spirit. And when night time comes, may we see your handprint upon each hour of the day. And where we smudged your mark, give us the desire and confidence to bring your loving touch to each moment of tomorrow’s day.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Luke 22: 14-23:56

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

“And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.” And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed.

Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’;but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves?

Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves. It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” He said to him, “Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.” But he replied, “I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me.”

He said to them, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing, “they replied. He said to them, “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.

For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, He was counted among the wicked; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.” Then they said, “Lord, look, there are two swords here.” But he replied, “It is enough!”

Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”

And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”

While he was still speaking, a crowd approached and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas. He went up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, “Lord, shall we strike with a sword?” And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply, “Stop, no more of this!”

Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him. And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? Day after day I was with you in the temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”

After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them. When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, “This man too was with him.” But he denied it saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

A short while later someone else saw him and said, “You too are one of them”; but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.” About an hour later, still another insisted, “Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.”

But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.” Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”

He went out and began to weep bitterly. The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him. They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they reviled him in saying many other things against him.

When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us, “ but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth.”

Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charges against him, saying, “We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.” Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds, “I find this man not guilty.”

But they were adamant and said, “He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea,from Galilee where he began even to here.” On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean; and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at length, but he gave him no answer.

The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile,stood by accusing him harshly. Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him, and after clothing him in resplendent garb, he sent him back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though they had been enemies formerly.

Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and said to them, “You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”

But all together they shouted out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us.” Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder.

Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate addressed them a third time, “What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.” With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed.

The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.So he released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’

At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”

Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly,for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him,“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, “This man was innocent beyond doubt.” When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events.

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God.

He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried.

It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)  

The Why’s of Life

On February 15, 1947 Glenn Chambers boarded a plane bound for Quito, Ecuador to begin his ministry in missionary broadcasting. But he never arrived. In a horrible moment, the plane carrying Chambers crashed into a mountain peak and spiraled downward. Later it was learned that before leaving the Miami airport, Chambers wanted to write his mother a letter.

All he could find for stationery was a page of advertising on which was written the single word “WHY?” Around that word he hastily scribbled a final note After Chambers’ mother learned of her son’s death, his letter arrived. She opened the envelope, took out the paper, and unfolded it. Staring her in the face was the question “WHY?”   —Today in the Word, April 18, 1992.

No doubt Jesus’ disciples asked this same question when he was arrested, tried, and crucified.  Joseph of Arimathea probably asked himself the same question when he requested the Lord’s body, wrapped it in a linen cloth, carried it to his own freshly hewn tomb, and rolled the massive stone into its groove over the tomb’s mouth.

Filled with grief, Joseph carried on. He knew that none of Jesus’ relatives had the resources to claim the Lord’s body for burial.  The full answer to the why of Jesus’ death was also several days away for Joseph and the others. All he knew was that he believed in Jesus — and that was enough to motivate his gift of love.  And so it is with us.

The “why’s” of life can agonize our spirits, baffle our reasoning, and cause our faith to go into a tail spin. Yet we hold on.  Human and divine love took on the torture of the cross. And the “why” of Jesus’ death was answered through the empty tomb.  One with Jesus, we, too, grapple with our “why’s” by embracing the Lord’s final thought, “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, deepen my desire and faith to pray with you, “Into your hands, I commend my spirit.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 23, 2013

John 11: 45-56

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.”

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God.

So from that day on they planned to put him to death. Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples. Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Entering into the Lord’s Passion

It is a haunting phrase in today’s Gospel, “So from that day on they planned to kill him.”

 

He doesn’t want us to take seats of honor in the synagogues.  Let’s kill him.

He heals on the Sabbath.  Let’s kill him.

He interprets the Law differently than us.  Let’s kill him.

He parties with sinners like Matthew and Magdalene.  Let’s kill him.

He talks about lost coins, lost sheep, lost sons.  Let’s kill him.

 

The stage is set for Holy Week.  It is hard to enter into the Lord’s Passion, but go there we must if we are to stand with the poor.

 

Let’s kill them in Darfur.  Let’s kill them in Kosovo, Rwanda, East Timor. Let’s kill them in Bosnia. Cambodia, Serbia.  Let’s kill them in Guatemala, Slovenia, the Congo.

 

It is hard to enter into the Lord’s Passion, but go there we must.   The millions who were killed must not be forgotten.

—Ted Munz, S.J., Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, give me your grace so I choose your pathway over the allurement of prestige, power, and the easier more comfortable way. There will be numerous decisions that I will make today. Help me to be mindful of asking for your guidance.  I will pause  to place myself before you.

While it might be easy to be critical of the Pharisees who rally the chief priests to pursue your death, how often do I betray you so I can stand in favor with others? As I prepare for Holy Week, help me to place myself before the cross and take in the immensity of your sacrifice.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 

 

 


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March 22, 2013

John 10: 31-42

The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.”

Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ —and the scripture cannot be annulled—can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands. He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

What Are Your Needs for Mercy and Grace?

“The Father and I are one!” For us Christians that statement is a foundation stone of our Trinitarian belief. For the Jewish leaders Jesus was talking to, it was the last straw: they got ready to stone this “blasphemer” named Jesus because, they cried, “You, a man, are making yourself God!”

So we come to another threshold in Jesus’ journey to Calvary. Ask him to help you grasp in some small way how his heart must have ached as he tried once again to reason with these people he had come to save, despite themselves. Today’s Responsorial Psalm, so familiar to Jesus, puts it graphically: “the breakers of death surge around me, the destroying floods overwhelm me!”

Try to imagine the near despair that will culminate next week in Jesus’ plea in the garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me!” The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus “has been tested in every respect as we are, yet without sin,” and goes on to urge us to “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need.”

Ask yourself what your needs for mercy and grace are right now. What causes you anguish—for yourself, for someone dear to you, for our poor, conflicted world? In the coming days of Holy Week, be with Jesus in prayer, putting those needs before God boldly, confident that He—that They—will send their Spirit to meet those needs in ways beyond your imagining.

—Fr. John J. O’Callaghan, S.J., Vice-President for Mission & Ministry, Loyola University Medical Center

Prayer

Lord, you understand our every emotion. You have suffered the anguish of abandonment, the disillusionment of failed promises, and the fear of impending torment. Because of this, we come to you imploring relief from that which causes us anguish, that which brings suffering to those dear to us and to those in near and far away places. With confidence we pray, trusting that your Spirit will meet our needs beyond our imagining.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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Welcome to FaithCP

Creighton Prep and the Midwest Jesuits have partnered to create FaithCP, a daily resource for prayer. FaithCP provides daily scripture, reflections, and prayers grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.


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March 31, 2013

Easter

John 20:1-9

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Jesus Is Risen

“There is no Church unless Jesus is risen from the dead.” It’s kind of hard to argue with that, but do we really believe it? Today is one of those unique days: tulips, painted eggs, chocolate crosses, festive breads, haircuts, new clothes, and a benevolent bunny. But does any of this really matter? We might prepare ourselves differently for today, but our cultural practices pale in comparison to the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. Our entire faith depends on this truth and I don’t think that there is any one practice that can capture this.

Easter is more than a day, it’s an entire season. It’s safe to say that the first witnesses to the resurrection weren’t interrupting their Easter-egg hunt. They were humbly awakening to the glory of Jesus rising from the dead. It took them time to absorb this truth and there were moments when they had trouble seeing and believing. While we are born into the truth of His resurrection, we still have the same human limitations of those first witnesses.

It takes us time to absorb this central tenet of our faith and we are plagued by our own doubts and fears. It sometimes helps to remember that Easter is still close to Good Friday; we cannot fully absorb the resurrection without the cross.  We don’t bury the cross today, we know that our own pain and suffering does not disappear, but today we witness the redemptive quality of human suffering. In the end suffering and death will not win; we too will rise with Jesus.

—Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, Provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province

Prayer

Lord, on this glorious day we claim your victory over death.  We embrace your promise that whoever believes in you will never die.  We ask you to connect our love with those who have gone before us. Remind them, Lord, that our hearts will forever be with them.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 30, 2013

Easter Vigil of the Lord’s Resurrection 

Luke 24: 1-12

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.

The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.

Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

What’s on Your Playlist?

I once asked a friend if I could see the playlist on his MP3 player. I was a little taken back when he said, “That’s personal.” I know the social norms about questioning a person’s age, weight, or income; I never thought to include musical taste in this category. But when you think about it, there is something very personal about our favorite songs. We use music to soothe our mood and enliven our soul. Whether it’s passive listening or active singing, the song in our head often reflects what is going on inside of us. It’s no wonder that music is so integral to the prayers of people of faith. In song we can praise and thank God when the spoken word is just not enough.

Tonight we chant one of my favorite songs, although it’s really more of a prayer than a song. After the sun sets and darkness fills the sky, we will light the Paschal candle and begin the great Vigil of Easter. With the words, “Exalt, let them exalt . . .” we proclaim that Jesus Christ has risen. There are no bells or trumpets (at least not yet) just a solo voice awakening us to the greatest story ever told—that Jesus has conquered sin and death. It is not done with fanfare; it is an ancient chant that reveals meaning and purpose to our lives. We do not live in vain, our faith is real, and through Christ’s resurrection we will be redeemed.

While the Exultet is chanted, each member of the assembly lights his or her own candle from the flame of the Paschal candle. As the “Light of Christ” grows in the church, so spreads the Good News of our Lord’s resurrection. I can think of nothing better to sing about. And, yes, the Exultet is on my playlist!

—Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, Provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province

Prayer

Lord, when the women return from visiting the tomb, the other disciples find their announcement ridiculous. We, too, Lord, are like those believers – confident when all is well but doubting when we lose our footing. Touch our soul so we will trust in the empty tomb and realize that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience … We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Teilhard de Chardan

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 29, 2013

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion (day of fast & abstinence)

John 18:1-19:42

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.”

Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus.

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people. Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in.

The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself. Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.”(This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.” Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.

Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.”

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.

Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.”

A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.(He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Let Us Live in Hope

When I was a kid I used to run home from school into the kitchen door of our house and ask my mother, “Mommy, what’s for supper.” My mother’s first language was Italian and more often than not she would say, “La grazie di Dio la frutta della terra.” Were you to run this through Google translate, you would probably get something like “The grace of God the fruit of the earth.” But my Mom had a funnier way of translating this expression; she would always say, “The grace of God the fruit of the dirt.” This always made me laugh, dirt was the stuff I was supposed to scrape from my fingernails, dirt was what the dog brought in from muddy puddles on a rainy day. How could food come from dirt? When you think about it, of course food comes from dirt, but we have a nice way of separating the two in our kitchens and on our plates.

Jesus’ crucifixion was one of the dirtiest forms of execution ever done. It was savage, brutal, and inhumane. The taking of human life is always wrong, but to do it in such a way defies human understanding. Could anything good come from such violent hatred?

Good Friday is unlike any day in the year. Today we accompany our Lord on his dirty walk to Calvary. We see, hear and feel the vicious attack on his body. But we also know that the filth of this execution is not the end of the story. From the dirt of this crime grows a fruit which opens for all of us the doors to salvation and hope. Let’s not separate the two. Jesus died so that we might live. Let us live in this hope today.

—Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, Provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province

Prayer

Lord, we have heard the Good Friday reading many times. But today we are at a different place than we were last Good Friday. What is it you want us to see, hear and feel from your horrific movement to the cross? Is it the disillusionment that grieves your heart when you are sold out by betrayal and denial? Is it your gut wrenching response when you glimpse the agony in your mother’s face, and you can do nothing to help her? Do you want us to get up close and hear the wheezing from your collapsed lungs and witness the disfigurement of your sunken body? Though somber and stricken by sorrow, we know that your brutal death is not the final act but the ultimate act of love. And therefore we will live this Good Friday in confidence and hope.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 28, 2013

Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper         

John 13: 1-15

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Now Go and Do Likewise

I used to wonder why so many Protestant Churches called this day “Maundy Thursday.” I would often see it on the display boards outside some churches and it seemed like such an odd name for one of the days in Holy Week. After studying some Latin, I learned that Maundy came from the opening words of the Mass for this day, Mandatum novum do vobis, “I give to you a new commandment.” These are the words that Jesus says to his disciples after washing the disciples’ feet. I suppose that Mandatum morphed into “Maunde” in Middle-English and the rest is history.

The Mandatum, the great commandment that we wash one another’s feet, is such a powerful theme to this day. Back in Jesus’ time washing feet was a task for a lowly servant (lower than Daisy for Downton Abbey fans). You were pretty low on the totem pole if you had to wash a traveler’s feet. You can only imagine the reaction of Jesus’ disciples when they saw Him grab a towel and basin and begin this humble chore. I often wonder though, are we as startled when we see this done today?

Ritual can be both beautiful and romanticized. Since we all wear shoes and take regular showers, washing feet has long gone out of fashion. Some of us may view this Mandatum, or command, as a sentimental reenactment of the past. But the command that we serve one another should still hit us as forcefully as it did those disciples in the upper room. We recently learned that Pope Francis will celebrate today’s Mass, where feet are washed, in a juvenile prison. A prison is a far cry from Saint Peter’s Basilica. This certainly took many of us by surprise, but when you think about it, wasn’t this what Jesus wanted us to do when he said, “Now go and do likewise”?

—Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, Provincial of the Chicago-Detroit Province

Prayer

Lord, we are in awe of your love for us. Help us to place our feet before you and to receive your cleansing so we can walk by your side.  And fill us with your grace so we can be the first to kneel before others and wash their feet.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 27, 2013

Matthew 26: 14-25

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Not the Sin, but the Sinner

Jesus foretells the betrayal of Judas Iscariot in today’s gospel. We probably think this is the most grievous sin of all time, a sin that surely cannot ever be forgiven, a sin that is pure evil.

The denial of Jesus by Peter happens just hours later after Jesus is arrested. Is not this a sin of almost equal weight? Are we not told by experts that to completely ignore someone, denial, is more hurtful than outright rejection? So, what is the difference between these two sins? It is not the sin, but the sinner.

Judas despairs to the point of killing himself. He does not believe he can ever be forgiven. Peter weeps bitterly, but knows Jesus’ love for him will overcome his own sin and sinfulness. During the first week of the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius instructs us to pray for the grace to feel intense shame and sorrow because of our sins and their effect on our lives.

During this first week of the exercises, St. Ignatius also has us consider how God loves us so much He will not allow evil to cut us off from Him. He points to the loving people in our lives, the wonders of creation and the gift of His own Son. We are loved sinners. With God, all things are possible!

Perhaps a personal review of our own sins and bringing them before our loving God in the sacrament of reconciliation is appropriate at this point in our Lenten journey.

—David McNulty, Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, protect us from anything that would try to displace you as the center of our lives. Sharpen our sensitivity to everything that has the potential to call forth a deeper response to our life in you. We pray that our only desire and our one choice is to choose that which leads to deepening your life in us.

—Prayer adapted from St. Ignatius, the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises


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March 26, 2013

John 13: 21-33, 36-38

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”

So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Call to Love and Forgive

At the Last Supper Simon Peter expresses his desire to follow Jesus wherever Jesus is going. Simon Peter claims that he will do whatever needs to be done – even laying down his life for Jesus. But when confronted with the Passion and Death of Jesus, Simon Peter not only deserts Jesus but even denies knowing Jesus. Three years of traveling with Jesus have not prepared Simon Peter for the fact that Jesus must suffer and die. Simon Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah, a king who would restore Israel to its past glories. How can this powerful king be executed? Simon Peter does not understand that Jesus’ power and authority comes from being the Suffering Servant spoken of in the Book of Isaiah.

During Holy Week we are encouraged to remember that the way Jesus faced his suffering and death is a model for us of the true meaning of power and authority. When confronted with hatred, suffering, and even death, Jesus responded with love. When Jesus encountered betrayal and abandonment by his friends and followers, he chose to forgive. Throughout his entire passion and death Jesus prayed and trusted in God.

How do I respond to hardships, betrayals, or being wronged by others?

—Br. John Moriconi, S.J., Provincial’s Secretary, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, those who have pierced our soul with betrayals, disillusionment, and wrongs can so challenge our desire to offer forgiveness. Lord, forgiveness can be complicated. We pray that we remain open to your promptings, your communications, and your patience with our calloused hearts. And this day bless us with the acceptance of your complete forgiveness – your constant desire to lift us up into your constant love. —The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 25, 2013

John 12: 1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)

Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Dear Friends

There is something especially touching about today’s Gospel because it shows us that Jesus really liked Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. He clearly felt safe and comfortable with them—he loved them and wants to spend as much time as he can with them.

The three siblings would have known that there were people who wanted Lazarus dead since he served as a constant reminder of Jesus’ transformative power to bring even life from death. Still stunned and grateful beyond telling to Jesus for having raised her brother Lazarus from the dead, Mary magnanimously and opulently anoints Jesus’ dusty feet with expensive oil using her own hair. This dramatic gesture is her way of publicly proclaiming Jesus is her Lord, the guide of her life.

If someone were watching you, what actions would they see indicating Jesus is your Lord? While it may not be necessary for you to make theatrical gestures, your faith in Jesus should make a difference in how you live. Can people in your family or among your friends and coworkers see it?

—Fr. James Prehn, S.J., Vocations Director for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.

Prayer

Lord, we pray for significance more than we pray for success. Grant us your grace so we can live this hope in every interaction, every decision, and every light hearted moment that lifts our spirit. And when night time comes, may we see your handprint upon each hour of the day. And where we smudged your mark, give us the desire and confidence to bring your loving touch to each moment of tomorrow’s day.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Luke 22: 14-23:56

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

“And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.” And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed.

Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’;but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves?

Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves. It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” He said to him, “Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.” But he replied, “I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me.”

He said to them, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing, “they replied. He said to them, “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.

For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, He was counted among the wicked; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.” Then they said, “Lord, look, there are two swords here.” But he replied, “It is enough!”

Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”

And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”

While he was still speaking, a crowd approached and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas. He went up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, “Lord, shall we strike with a sword?” And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply, “Stop, no more of this!”

Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him. And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? Day after day I was with you in the temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”

After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them. When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, “This man too was with him.” But he denied it saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

A short while later someone else saw him and said, “You too are one of them”; but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.” About an hour later, still another insisted, “Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.”

But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.” Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”

He went out and began to weep bitterly. The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him. They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they reviled him in saying many other things against him.

When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us, “ but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth.”

Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charges against him, saying, “We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.” Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds, “I find this man not guilty.”

But they were adamant and said, “He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea,from Galilee where he began even to here.” On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean; and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at length, but he gave him no answer.

The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile,stood by accusing him harshly. Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him, and after clothing him in resplendent garb, he sent him back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though they had been enemies formerly.

Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and said to them, “You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”

But all together they shouted out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us.” Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder.

Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate addressed them a third time, “What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.” With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed.

The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.So he released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’

At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”

Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly,for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him,“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, “This man was innocent beyond doubt.” When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events.

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God.

He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried.

It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)  

The Why’s of Life

On February 15, 1947 Glenn Chambers boarded a plane bound for Quito, Ecuador to begin his ministry in missionary broadcasting. But he never arrived. In a horrible moment, the plane carrying Chambers crashed into a mountain peak and spiraled downward. Later it was learned that before leaving the Miami airport, Chambers wanted to write his mother a letter.

All he could find for stationery was a page of advertising on which was written the single word “WHY?” Around that word he hastily scribbled a final note After Chambers’ mother learned of her son’s death, his letter arrived. She opened the envelope, took out the paper, and unfolded it. Staring her in the face was the question “WHY?”   —Today in the Word, April 18, 1992.

No doubt Jesus’ disciples asked this same question when he was arrested, tried, and crucified.  Joseph of Arimathea probably asked himself the same question when he requested the Lord’s body, wrapped it in a linen cloth, carried it to his own freshly hewn tomb, and rolled the massive stone into its groove over the tomb’s mouth.

Filled with grief, Joseph carried on. He knew that none of Jesus’ relatives had the resources to claim the Lord’s body for burial.  The full answer to the why of Jesus’ death was also several days away for Joseph and the others. All he knew was that he believed in Jesus — and that was enough to motivate his gift of love.  And so it is with us.

The “why’s” of life can agonize our spirits, baffle our reasoning, and cause our faith to go into a tail spin. Yet we hold on.  Human and divine love took on the torture of the cross. And the “why” of Jesus’ death was answered through the empty tomb.  One with Jesus, we, too, grapple with our “why’s” by embracing the Lord’s final thought, “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

Lord, deepen my desire and faith to pray with you, “Into your hands, I commend my spirit.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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March 23, 2013

John 11: 45-56

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.”

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God.

So from that day on they planned to put him to death. Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples. Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Entering into the Lord’s Passion

It is a haunting phrase in today’s Gospel, “So from that day on they planned to kill him.”

 

He doesn’t want us to take seats of honor in the synagogues.  Let’s kill him.

He heals on the Sabbath.  Let’s kill him.

He interprets the Law differently than us.  Let’s kill him.

He parties with sinners like Matthew and Magdalene.  Let’s kill him.

He talks about lost coins, lost sheep, lost sons.  Let’s kill him.

 

The stage is set for Holy Week.  It is hard to enter into the Lord’s Passion, but go there we must if we are to stand with the poor.

 

Let’s kill them in Darfur.  Let’s kill them in Kosovo, Rwanda, East Timor. Let’s kill them in Bosnia. Cambodia, Serbia.  Let’s kill them in Guatemala, Slovenia, the Congo.

 

It is hard to enter into the Lord’s Passion, but go there we must.   The millions who were killed must not be forgotten.

—Ted Munz, S.J., Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, give me your grace so I choose your pathway over the allurement of prestige, power, and the easier more comfortable way. There will be numerous decisions that I will make today. Help me to be mindful of asking for your guidance.  I will pause  to place myself before you.

While it might be easy to be critical of the Pharisees who rally the chief priests to pursue your death, how often do I betray you so I can stand in favor with others? As I prepare for Holy Week, help me to place myself before the cross and take in the immensity of your sacrifice.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 

 

 


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March 22, 2013

John 10: 31-42

The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.”

Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ —and the scripture cannot be annulled—can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands. He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

What Are Your Needs for Mercy and Grace?

“The Father and I are one!” For us Christians that statement is a foundation stone of our Trinitarian belief. For the Jewish leaders Jesus was talking to, it was the last straw: they got ready to stone this “blasphemer” named Jesus because, they cried, “You, a man, are making yourself God!”

So we come to another threshold in Jesus’ journey to Calvary. Ask him to help you grasp in some small way how his heart must have ached as he tried once again to reason with these people he had come to save, despite themselves. Today’s Responsorial Psalm, so familiar to Jesus, puts it graphically: “the breakers of death surge around me, the destroying floods overwhelm me!”

Try to imagine the near despair that will culminate next week in Jesus’ plea in the garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me!” The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus “has been tested in every respect as we are, yet without sin,” and goes on to urge us to “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need.”

Ask yourself what your needs for mercy and grace are right now. What causes you anguish—for yourself, for someone dear to you, for our poor, conflicted world? In the coming days of Holy Week, be with Jesus in prayer, putting those needs before God boldly, confident that He—that They—will send their Spirit to meet those needs in ways beyond your imagining.

—Fr. John J. O’Callaghan, S.J., Vice-President for Mission & Ministry, Loyola University Medical Center

Prayer

Lord, you understand our every emotion. You have suffered the anguish of abandonment, the disillusionment of failed promises, and the fear of impending torment. Because of this, we come to you imploring relief from that which causes us anguish, that which brings suffering to those dear to us and to those in near and far away places. With confidence we pray, trusting that your Spirit will meet our needs beyond our imagining.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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