Tag Archives: Holy Week

Holy Week; Spy Wednesday. Thinking like Judas.

Lazarus had been raised from the dead. Instead of doing this on the quiet as He had with Jairus’ daughter (I suspect for her sake) Jesus had raised Lazarus in front of a crowd. The following day He is sitting in the house with Lazarus when Mary comes in and pours very expensive Nard all over his feet.

Judas says the same thing I have heard from so many people who say they are followers of Christ, “Why hasn’t this expensive stuff been sold and the money given to the poor?”

John tells us something else about this statement. Judas was not interested in the poor, he was interested in the money.

How many people who use the same words as Judas about the Church have sold their goods and given the money to the poor?

Jesus says, “The poor you will have with you always….” And sadly this is true. Sell everything you have and give it to the poor and they will still be poor when it runs out.  We need to get our priorities in the right order. We cannot serve the poor properly unless we first serve God properly. We cannot give to the poor unless we first give to God so we can receive from Him everything we need to give to the poor. And if we look at some of the most beautiful buildings and vestments in many churches we find that it was the poor themselves who donated to make sure these things were there for the proper worship of God.

St. Francis of Assisi had nothing. He and his fellow Franciscans begged for their daily bread and worked among the poor all their lives. But Francis insisted on the very best vestments, chalices and altar cloths for the Mass because God is worth it.

Jesus didn’t need nard poured over him. Mary needed to do that. Jesus doesn’t need to see His priests and deacons in proper vestments using precious items for the Mass – we NEED to see that, because we are weak and so easily forget who God is.

When the Church is stripped of her wealth, as she was in England under Henry VIII, it is noteworthy that the wealth doesn’t get near the poor, but boosts the coffers of the already rich. While Henry destroyed everything the poor were thrown out of the hospices and monastery guest houses and the sick were left without the medicinal gardens and care of the monasteries and convents. The schools that had been open to the poor were shut.

Leprosy, which the work of the religious orders had eradicated from England was re-introduced.

And most famously of all the bee-keepers of the country were left destitute.

Judas is not unique. He got his thirty pieces of silver that he longed for, but it didn’t help him or any poor person.

The first person to refuse to offer to God what was right, was Cain, and he murdered his brother. Henry VIII murdered a lot of people, but gave us wonderful saints like St Thomas More and St John Fisher among many many others.

Judas saw to it that Jesus was crucified but from that we have our Salvation.

God makes straight with crooked lines, but God help the one who has made those crooked lines.

Holy Week Tues: Why was the bridegroom so late.

108505652_b7ca73a371_zChrist proclaimed Himself to be the Bridegroom. In the Icon of Christ the Bridegroom He is sitting with His wrists tied, crowned with thorns and in the red robe with the whip marks on his body and holding the reed. In Orthodox Jewish weddings and Eastern Rite and Orthodox weddings the bride and groom wear the crown and their wrists are bound with the stole of the priest or rabbi. I love the symbolism of that. I wish the Latin Rite had it.

Jesus tells a few parables in which wedding banquets play a part, but the one that we tend to consider on Holy Tues is the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids. The bit in that parable that I wonder about is “The bridegroom was late” He didn’t turn up when expected.

This is one of those double layered revelations of the both/and kind which Catholic apologists are so fond of.  How often do we hear, in response to a question, “It’s not either/or it’s both/and.” ?

Jesus was late. The people had been waiting for a Messiah since a saviour was promised to Eve and they had been waiting for the throne of David to be eternal since the death of Solomon. It’s a long time to wait.

In the meantime Israel had been scattered among the gentiles and only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin now lived in the Holy Land with a remnant of Levi and an even smaller remnant of the ten lost tribes of Israel.  If all Israel was to be saved where was the Saviour?

So by the time He turned up quite a few people had given up on His appearance all together and those who had not, even among the apostles, had made up their own image of who the Messiah would be and what He would do.

There was many a dry lamp in Judea.

So Jesus was rejected and crucified.

But “He will come again to judge the living and the dead and His Kingdom will have no end.” (Apostles Creed and Nicene/Constan Creed)

Here we are 2000+ years later and He is still not come. So how many of us have decided He won’t be coming? And how many have made up their/our own idea of just what that Second Coming had better consist of?

It’s increasingly difficult today, it seems to me, to keep the pure olive oil burning and topped up when there are so many religious snake oil salesmen out there. We must pray for discernment every day.

But when it’s so difficult to keep the lamps alight why is the Bridegroom late? Why doesn’t He come early instead? I wonder if the problem is us.

Weddings take a lot of preparation. So the Wedding Banquet of the Bridegroom will take a lot more preparation. If we aren’t getting prepared, we aren’t ready for Him to arrive – and so He’ll be late. But in the end He’ll turn up whether we’re ready or not. So as He is giving us the chance to get cleaned up, wear the proper wedding cloths and get some oil in our lamps, perhaps we should start getting ready.

Holy Week; Cleansing the Temple and cleansing the Church

Jesus-Cleansing-the-TempleToday we remember how Jesus arrived at the Temple to see the Court of the Gentiles had been turned into a market place. Those Gentiles who wanted to worship the LORD were therefore given no place to pray. They were not allowed into the Court of Israel on pain of death .

Jesus, who is the Light to bring the gentiles out of darkness, (as Simeon prophesied when he held the 40 day old Baby in his arms), made a whip and thrashed the money changers and the sellers out of the place.  No more den of thieves. But it is assumed that Jesus may have had to do this clearing of the Temple more than once, as the money makers didn’t take “No!” for an answer and didn’t care enough about the gentiles who wanted to worship God to allow them their space to do so.

Pope Francis is facing many calls to clean house. There was consternation and deep sadness over the sacrilegious public taking of Holy Communion by people who are very publicly and very powerfully pro-death politicians.  The call has gone out for Church Law to be obeyed on this matter, as the open disobedience  causes such grave scandal and is hardly helping those who persist in taking sacriligious Holy Communion.

parable-of-the-taresI don’t envy Pope Francis that difficult task. But Jesus told a parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like a field in which the owner planted good seed. But while  he slept his enemy came and planted weeds among the good seeds. Both seeds grew up so when the servants came to the field they found wheat and weeds growing. “Sir, didn’t you plant good seed?” they said to the owner, “Look at the weeds here.”

“Some enemy has done this,” said the farmer.

“We’ll go in a gather them up,” offered the servants but the farmer said, “No, don’t gather the weeds incase you uproot some of the wheat too. Leave them to grow together and at the end when the harvest is ready, I will send reapers to gather the weeds first and burn them, while the wheat will be gathered into my barn.”

I don’t know what Pope Francis will do, although I think he’ll have to do something. There is a line between pulling up the wheat with the weeds and losing some wheat to the strangulation of the scandal caused by murderous weeds.

The only thing for us little ones is to pray and make sure we change our lives so we are the wheat and not another weed.

From Hosanna to Crucify in less than a week

Entry_Into_JerusalemJesus wept.

He wept for Jerusalem the holy city with the Temple at it’s heart, which had turned so far from God. Jesus had just raised his friend Lazarus (a name meaning God has helped)  from the dead and now He enters Jerusalem on a donkey, through the King’s gate in a very public fulfilment of the prophecy of  Zechariah (9:9) “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion, Shout in triumph daughter of Jerusalem. Behold your king has come to you. He is just and carries salvation. He is lowly and riding on an ass and the colt the foal of an ass.”

So Jesus comes to Jerusalem with the prophecy fulfilled to the last detail and the poeple recognise this and come out shouting for Him, their king, the son of David. Within a week they will have forgotten their palms and songs of joy and will be shouting at the Roman Procurator to “Crucify Him!”

So it will be for our new Holy Father. He has entered the Vatican to shouts of joy even from those who have shown themselves to have no heart for God. How humble he is, they cry and see how he loves the poor.

But soon there will be shouts of  hatred as they realise that yet again the Pope is, in fact, Catholic. There’s been a few of those shouts already.

Jesus calls us to rejoice, but He also insisted we carry a cross. He had to because the people He loved so much didn’t want to receive the truth.b16f1cca

As Jesus entered Jerusalem that fateful day the people singing “Hosanna!” had decided what kind of Messiah they wanted. They had their own idea of a king. Like the media today they put out the sort of things they expected the King Messiah to do. He must make reforms, get rid of the Romans,  change the Law perhaps.

But Jesus had already said He wasn’t going to change the Law, He was going to fulfil it.  The people soon tired of a man who kept speaking the truth and was doing what God wanted rather than what those who considered themselves elite wanted.

Pope Francis will face the same as the palms laid out for his inaugoration wither, so will the media’s sentimentality.  He will still be the Pope for the poor, but they will hate the fact he insists the poor have a right to be born.

I have to say, however difficult it gets for Pope Francis, and even if he must bear the wounds of Christ in the most difficult way; more difficult than his namesake St. Francis even, he does have a massive advantage. He has the prayers of his brother in Christ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. There’s also the sense that Blessed Pope John Paul II is looking down on them with his prayers. The brother popes knelt together in the chapel to pray and there on the wall was a copy of Our Lady of  Czestochowa with the Divine Child. As the original Icon has stood the test of many evil men and been victorious, there is a sign for the future- whatever it brings.

There’s an old saying that it’s easy to break one stick, but bind three sticks together and they cann’t be broken.

Easter Sunday: Heaven has won; choose your side.

Very early in the morning of the first day of the week, that is Sunday morning, three of the four women who had stood at the foot of the cross, head off to the tomb where Jesus is supposed to be.

Mary Magdalene has a jar of ointment, and possibly Mary Salome too, with Mary Cleopas going with them to assist.

Where is the Blessed Mother? Why has she not gone with them? Well, she is with John, (who is the son of Mary Salome) and the reason she doesn’t go to anoint the body of her Son, is because she has very likely already seen Him.  Tradition has it that Jesus first came to His Mother after the Resurrection. This would have been a deeply personal meeting, not to be recorded in Scripture.

I have heard some people who are apparently Christian, who insist that Jesus did not honour His mother. He did. He was without sin, and breaking the fourth commandment, the very commandment He was part of composing, was not something He did.  He could hardly demand that we honour both our physical parents, and our spiritual ones, if He did not do so Himself.

The women had waited through the Sabbath-Passover. They could not make either the Sabbath observances, nor the Passover celebration as they were unclean. They had touched a dead body, with blood on it as well. Even now they are observing the law on burial. Jesus could not receive the rituals of burial, the washing before annointing, because he was covered in blood, and he had died a criminal, and he was seen as cut off from Israel. So, no washing allowed.

You will notice the women took ointment but no water or cloths.

Jesus is risen, and the women are the first witnesses. Just as shepherds were the first witness of His birth, Jesus is overturning the legal silliness of the manmade traditions. Shepherds and women were not allowed to be witnesses in court. When you read the story of Susannah (Dan 13) you will see she was unable to speak on her own defence, the boy Daniel had to speak for her – and he did.

Those of you doing my lesson set Via Guade will get more details about all of this but I thought I would point out a couple of things here that have come up in radio shows recently. One person asked how the Law of the Sabbath was changed so that Christians began to meet on a Sunday. Well, this is the moment. The Lord’s Day is the day of Resurrection, the Eighth Day or Day of Completion/Accomplishment/Consumation. The New Paschal Liturgy of the Lamb of God, the Lamb who stands as though slain (See Rev) is done on Sunday.

That same day Jesus meets with Cleopas and his companion (probably Luke) at the house in Emmaus, where Mary, Cleopas’ wife probably served them. Then Jesus took the bread and blessed it and broke it and…vanished from their sight.

Then they knew Him in the breaking of the Bread and their hearts burned within them.

So every Sunday, on the Lord’s Day we gather to break bread, to know Him in the breaking of the Bread, and to receive Him wounded but raised- the Lamb standing- Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. This is Heaven on earth.

It is not merely a symbol – although it is also a symbol. The early Fathers and the teaching of the Church from the very beginning understood the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Day 3 of the Divine Mercy Novena.

Holy Week; Saturday- the harrowing of hell.

Saturday is a silent day. We wait.

But Jesus did not rest on this Sabbath. He had flung open the gates of heaven and was welcoming Home those who had waited in the place of the dead in a firm hope that He would bring them salvation and Life. For God says “I AM the Lord of the living, not the dead.” The saints and angels in Heaven are not dead.

 Traditionally the first two people to be taken to heaven were Adam and Eve.  Icons showing what is called “The Harrowing of Hell,” tend to show Christ taking the hands of Adam and Eve as they step up from their graves. The victory is vast, but not yet complete. These sould have reached their true home but are still in spirit, seperated from their bodies. Christ will show what the Resurrection, the Life in Abundance is – He will rise again so that all of us can receive him, not just spiritually, but completely, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

There is some kind of pre-message of the bodily resurrection when many of the ‘dead’ saints of the Old Covenant, got up and walked around Jerusalem declaring the judgement of God.

When it comes to the Four Last Things, the harrowing of hell is really not part of it, as Christ didn’t go to hell as such but to Hades or Sheol as the Jews called it – the abode of the dead. This seems to have been a place other than heaven, which was closed to them, nor hell, which is for those who reject God and His commandments, nor purgatory, which is a place for heaven. It seems to have been a place of waiting. Those who were destined for heaven were then taken there.

There is still not a clear answer, that I have found, about where Elijah and Enoch are staying, who were assumed to heaven. Now, we know that Our Blessed Mother is in heaven having been assumed, so chances are that Elijah and Enoch are too. Jesus told St Bridget of Sweden that He took Elijah to paradise- which could be heaven. If anyone knows the answer let me know.

There are those who think that as Jesus died and (possibly) rose that He shut the gates of hell; that no one goes there. This is wishful thinking, and the Church has never taught this, and Jesus did not spend so much of His ministry warning about going to hell, if no one was going there.

Scripture, the words of Christ, the letters of Paul and the teaching of the Fathers, make it very clear that we “must work out our salvation in fear and trembling.” There is no Free Pass to Heaven. Every single saint in the history of the Church who has received a vision of hell has said that people are there. No one is sent there – all who go choose it. Avoid the place. Love God, turn to His Mercy.

I heard an athiest recently getting very worked up because he said God sends people to hell because they have worshipped false gods, even though they had never heard of Him. This is ridiculous of course, but he went on with even more anger about the Truth of God; that a man who has committed the foulest crimes, sitting on death row, need only be sorry and he gets to go to heaven. I was very confused by this rant – surely the fact that God forgives any sin, no matter how heinous, if we but turn to His Mercy, is a GOOD thing.

Let’s do that.

Day 2 of Divine Mercy Novena

Holy Week; Good Friday – Four Last Things; Judgement, Death Heaven and hell

We adore Thee oh Christ and we bless Thee,

because by Thy Holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.

Good Friday covers the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, four of the Dolors of the Sorrowful Mother and the Stations of the Cross.

The First Sorrowful Mystery is the Agony in the Garden where Christ prays to be released, but ends with “But Thy will be done.” He is so distressed at what He knows is ahead of Him that He suffers hematidrosis where He shed the first drops of His Precious Blood for us, sweating it out of His Body.

As we reach the First Station where Christ is condemned to death, it must have seemed to those who loved Him, that hell was let loose and heaven was going to loose this battle.

The battle between heaven and hell is truly in full swing as Christ is scourged and crowned with thorns. Dressed up as a mock king, he is our Bridegroom and as such He is presented to us with the words, “Ecce homo.”

But Satan knows he has not won yet and in the mouths of those present he demands the Son of Man be crucified, for hell rejoices in cruelty and murder. And I am not saying those who yelled for cricifixion were not personally responsible for those words. They were, and Christ had said it is what comes out of a man’s mouth that makes him unclean.

But just as when Jesus touched the dead, He did not become unclean as Jewish law would have it, the body was cleansied and raised instead. And just as when Jesus touched the sick or bleeding, He did not become unclean, He cleansed the other, and healed them, so as He accepts the cross, it is transformed from an intrument of death, to the Tree of Life.

As Christ walks the road of His Passion, and Our Blessed Mother walks beside Him, I can’t help wondering if some of those enemies began to question whether they had done the right thing. Judas certainly understood he had done something awful, but he still didn’t understand what he could do about it. As Jesus left a trail of blood along the way, was Satan afraid? Did he realise his defeat yet? How many of those who were touched by His blood on that road, instead of becoming ritually unclean, found they were cleansed instead?

By the end of the Crucifixion when Jesus had consumed the cup to its dreggs (see Scott Hahn on the Fourth Cup) and said “It is finished,” there was hardly a drop of blood left in Him. Finally St. Longinus pierces His Sacred Heart with the spear and out comes Blood and Water.

He is taken down and laid in the arms of His Moher, now our Mother, whose suffering is not over yet. She must hold her battered, dead son in her arms.

Jesus told St. Bridget of Sweden that He received 5,475 wounds for us. I don’t know whether this was all physical or whether He includes the wounds of heart and mind, on our behalf, or whether it is a symbolical number. We meditate on the Five Wounds often, but we must not forget the sweating, the scourging and the crowning with thorns (Sorrowful Mysteries), nor the falls that hurt His knees and shoulders under the weight of the cross. (Stations).

Darkness had come over the land and there had been an earthquake which Josephus tells us broke the lintel above the Holy of Holies in the Temple so the curtain was torn and the empty cube left open for all to see.

Jesus is laid in the tomb. Our Lady told St. Bridget that she did not sew up the shroud around the body of her Son because she knew He would not stain His grave. The battle was stilled for a moment, but in the silence of the Sabbath eve, something was happening.

At the end of Veneration the Eucharist is taken, veiled to the tabernacle in the Lady Chapel. The sanctuary is stripped bare, the altar cloths removed, along with the tabernacle curtain and the tabernacle itself is left empty and open.

Day 1 of the Divine Mercy Novena