Thursday, April 29, 2010

Friday, Lent Wk 4: "You have faith in God"

have faith also in me.
-- Jn 14:1-6

For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his "beloved Son", in whom the Father is "well pleased"; God tells us to listen to him. The Lord himself said to his disciples: "Believe in God, believe also in me." We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known." Because he "has seen the Father", Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.
-- CCC 151

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

S Catherine of Siena: "whoever receives the one I send receives me"

and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.

Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me", the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.
-- CCC 87

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wednesday, Easter Wk 4: "I came into the world as light"

so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.
-- Jn 12:44-50

In Jesus Christ, the whole of God's truth has been made manifest. "Full of grace and truth," he came as the "light of the world," he is the Truth. "Whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." The disciple of Jesus continues in his word so as to know "the truth [that] will make you free" and that sanctifies. To follow Jesus is to live in "the Spirit of truth," whom the Father sends in his name and who leads "into all the truth." To his disciples Jesus teaches the unconditional love of truth: "Let what you say be simply 'Yes or No.'"
-- CCC 2466

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tuesday, Easter Wk 4: "you do not believe"

The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.

The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him. To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask. So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father's works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God. But his miracles can also be occasions for "offence"; they are not intended to satisfy people's curiosity or desire for magic Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons.
-- CCC 548

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Monday, Easter Wk 4: "the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God"

'Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, who will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved.'
-- Acts 11:1-18

Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than "the family of God." From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers "together with all [their] household." When they were converted, they desired that "their whole household" should also be saved. These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.
-- CCC 1655

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Good Shepherd Sunday: “My sheep hear my voice"

No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

"The Church is, accordingly, a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is also the flock of which God himself foretold that he would be the shepherd, and whose sheep, even though governed by human shepherds, are unfailingly nourished and led by Christ himself, the Good Shepherd and Prince of Shepherds, who gave his life for his sheep.
-- CCC 754

The bishop is the first reference for those who seek to hear the voice of Jesus the good shepherd.

"The Good Shepherd ought to be the model and "form" of the bishop's pastoral office. Conscious of his own weaknesses, "the bishop . . . can have compassion for those who are ignorant and erring. He should not refuse to listen to his subjects whose welfare he promotes as of his very own children. . . . The faithful . . . should be closely attached to the bishop as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father":

"Let all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ follows his Father, and the college of presbyters as the apostles; respect the deacons as you do God's law. Let no one do anything concerning the Church in separation from the bishop."
-- CCC 896
The parish priest shares in the ministry of the bishop and is thus appointed to pastoral care for a portion of the flock of God in union with the bishop. The priest exercises the ministry of reconciliation through forgiveness of sins.

"When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgment is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner."

-- CCC 1465

The flock hears Christ's voice through the handing on of revelation through Scripture and Tradition.

"The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

"- she was and remains built on 'the foundation of the Apostles,' the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;

"- with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the 'good deposit,' the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;

"- she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, 'assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor':

"You are the eternal Shepherd
who never leaves his flock untended.
Through the apostles
you watch over us and protect us always.
You made them shepherds of the flock
to share in the work of your Son."
-- CCC 857
"Only the divine identity of Jesus' person can justify so absolute a claim as 'He who is not with me is against me'; and his saying that there was in him 'something greater than Jonah,. . . greater than Solomon', something 'greater than the Temple'; his reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord, and his affirmations, 'Before Abraham was, I AM', and even 'I and the Father are one.'
-- CCC 590

Friday, April 23, 2010

Saturday, Easter Wk 3: "Peter was passing through"

“Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed.”
He got up at once.
And all the inhabitants of Lydda and Sharon saw him,
and they turned to the Lord.
-- Acts 9:31-42

The risen Lord renews this mission ("In my name . . . they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.") and confirms it through the signs that the Church performs by invoking his name. These signs demonstrate in a special way that Jesus is truly "God who saves."
-- CCC 1507

Art: Tommaso Masolino (da Panicale), Saint Peter Heals a Cripple, 1424-25.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friday, Easter Wk 3: "why are you persecuting me?”

“Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.”

In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that "sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured." Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself, the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone:

We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for he is in them) and hold him up to contempt. And it can be seen that our crime in this case is greater in us than in the Jews. As for them, according to the witness of the Apostle, "None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." We, however, profess to know him. And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him. (Roman Catechism)

Nor did demons crucify him; it is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins. (St Francis of Assisi)
-- CCC 598

Optional memorial of St. George.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thursday, Easter Wk 3: “Do you understand what you are reading?”

Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him.

The title "Son of God" signifies the unique and eternal relationship of Jesus Christ to God his Father: he is the only Son of the Father (cf. Jn 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18); he is God himself (cf. Jn 1:1). To be a Christian, one must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (cf. Acts 8:37; 1 Jn 2:23).
-- CCC 454

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wednesday, Easter Wk 3: "There broke out a severe persecution of the Church"

Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church;
entering house after house and dragging out men and women,
he handed them over for imprisonment.

Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
-- CCC 675

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tuesday, Easter Wk 3: "you always oppose the Holy Spirit"

you are just like your ancestors.
Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute?
They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.

The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of "the righteous one, my Servant" as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin. Citing a confession of faith that he himself had "received", St. Paul professes that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures." In particular Jesus' redemptive death fulfills Isaiah's prophecy of the suffering Servant. Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God's suffering Servant. After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.
-- CCC 601

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Monday, Easter Wk 3: "They presented false witnesses"

... who testified, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him claim that this Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.”

False witness and perjury
. When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity. In court it becomes false witness. When it is under oath, it is perjury. Acts such as these contribute to condemnation of the innocent, exoneration of the guilty, or the increased punishment of the accused. They gravely compromise the exercise of justice and the fairness of judicial decisions.
-- CCC 2476

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Third Sunday of Easter: "Peter, do you love me?"

Acts 5, 27-32. 40-41; Psalm 30; Revelation 5, 11-14; St. John 21, 1-19

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Peter is commissioned by Christ who commands: "Follow me." In the reading from Acts we find that Peter and the Apostles suffer for obeying God rather than men, for following Christ and speaking with His voice.

That the voice of God may not be silenced in the world today the Lord sends Pope Benedict, successor of Saint Peter, who speaks with the authority of Christ when he teaches in matters of faith and morals. Peter feeds the flock of God with the food of salvation.

" 'I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' (Mt 16:19.) The "power of the keys" designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: 'Feed my sheep.' (Jn 21:15-17; cf. 10:11.) The power to 'bind and loose' connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles (Cf. Mt 18:18.) and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom." (CCC 553)

This authority, given to Peter, was to be handed on through the "apostolic succession".

"In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them 'their own position of teaching authority.' (Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum (DV) 7 art. 2; St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 3, 1: PG 7, 848; Harvey, 2, 9.) Indeed, 'the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.' " (DV 8, art. 1.) (CCC 77)

"In the office of the apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. The divine mission entrusted by Jesus to them 'will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source of all life for the Church. Therefore,...the apostles took care to appoint successors.' (LG 20; cf. Mt 28:20.)" (CCC 860)

Our Holy Father, the bishop of Rome, and all of the bishops in union with him, are the duly-appointed successors of the apostles.

"In order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, [the apostles] consigned, by will and testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing and consolidating the work they had begun, urging them to tend the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed them to shepherd the Church of God. They accordingly designated such men and then made the ruling that likewise on their death other proven men should take over their ministry. (LG 20; cf. Acts 20:28; St. Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. 42, 44: PG 1, 291-300.)" (CCC 861)

"This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, 'the Church, in her doctrine, life, and worship perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.' (DV 8 art. 1.) 'The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.' (DV 8, art. 3.)" (CCC 78)

"The Father's self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: 'God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. And in the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church -- and through her in the world -- leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness.' (DV 8 art. 3; cf. Col 3:16.)" (CCC 79)

Let's pray for each other until, together next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(See also nos. 448, 553, 618, 645, 659, 862, 881, 1166, 1429, 1551 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.) (Publish with permission.)

Saturday, Easter Wk 2: "the word of God increased "

The number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith

Acts 6, 1-6

Among the religious authorities in Jerusalem, not only were the Pharisee Nicodemus and the prominent. Joseph of Arinethea both secret disciples of Jesus, but there was also long-standing discension about him, so much that St John says of these authorities on the very eve of Christ's Passion, "many believed in him," though very imperfectly. This is not surprising, if one recalls that on the day after Pentecost "a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith"

CCC 595

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday, Easter Wk 2: The Apostles rejoiced "that they had been found worthy to suffer"

dishonor for the sake of the name.
And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes,
they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.

The name "Jesus" signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation, so that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
-- CCC 432

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday, Easter Wk 3: “We must obey God rather than men"

The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,
though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior
to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things,
as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Citizens are obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order. "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
-- CCC 2256

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday, Easter Wk 3: "tell the people everything about this life”

When they (the Apostles) heard this,
they went to the temple early in the morning and taught.

So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." Strengthened by this mission, the apostles "went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it."
-- CCC 2

The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

- she was and remains built on "the foundation of the Apostles," the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;

- with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the "good deposit," the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;

- she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, "assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor":

You are the eternal Shepherd
who never leaves his flock untended.
Through the apostles
you watch over us and protect us always.
You made them shepherds of the flock
to share in the work of your Son. . . .
-- CCC 857

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday, Easter Wk 2: "The community of believers was of one heart and mind"

and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.

"They had everything in common." "Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good possessed in common with everyone else. All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy . . . and of their neighbors in want." A Christian is a steward of the Lord's goods.
-- CCC 952

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday, Easter Wk 2: "As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook"

and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Jesus also prays for us - in our place and on our behalf. All our petitions were gathered up, once for all, in his cry on the Cross and, in his Resurrection, heard by the Father. This is why he never ceases to intercede for us with the Father. If our prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus, in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: the Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.
-- CCC 2741

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday: the scandal of Divine Mercy

Is it purely by coincidence that the uproar around the world against the mishandling of decades-old cases of sexual abuse rears its ugly head in Passiontide and Easter? I think not.

Human nature has not changed. The evil of violent hatred is aroused by the mercy of Jesus Christ, present in His Mystical Body, the Church today as much as on the via crucis in Jerusalem on the day of the Lord’s Passion and death so many years ago. Those columnists and newspapers, television news outlets and others, who passionately position themselves as the righteous defenders of abused persons need to ask themselves: Where were you in 1975, or 1985 or 1995 or 2005, when these alleged cases of malfeasance could have been pursued with full rigor — and with greater effectiveness when any alleged malefactors involved would have still been alive to face justice?

The record shows, for those interested in the truth, that it was Benedict, known then as Cardinal Ratzinger, who was in the forefront of those within the Church who were cleaning up the filth despite great opposition from others also within the Church. But the evil of hatred on the part of these media personnel and so many others prevents them from critical objectivity and discredits the campaign for justice they endlessly pursue with shoddy research and erroneous information they have cut and pasted from other equally unreliable sources.

It is the mercy of Jesus Christ in His Church — for both victims of abuse and abusers, for clergy and laity, for bishops and priests — that scandalizes these haters the most. It is a faithless lack of mercy that attacks Cardinal Ratzinger, if what is alleged is indeed true, for allowing an aged and dying priest, certified to be no longer a threat to young people, to finish out his days with an opportunity to avail himself more thoroughly of the Lord’s mercy if he indeed judged that such a decision best reflected both God’s justice and mercy.

“It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate’s cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas’ betrayal — so bitter to Jesus, Peter’s denial and the disciples’ flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1851). The Church is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ and the source of the mercy of God: “Thus a true filial spirit toward the Church can develop among Christians. It is the normal flowering of the baptismal grace which has begotten us in the womb of the Church and made us members of the Body of Christ. In her motherly care, the Church grants us the mercy of God which prevails over all our sins and is especially at work in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. With a mother’s foresight, she also lavishes on us day after day in her liturgy the nourishment of the Word and Eucharist of the Lord” (CCC, n. 2040).

Hatred is an evil which blocks and denies the mercy of God in Jesus Christ who only has the power to vanquish this and every evil in and through His Sacrifice on the cross. Hatred is overcome only through the grace of forgiveness. “Now — and this is daunting — this outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see. In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father’s merciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to His grace” (CCC, n. 2840).

The Lord lives out His Passion here and now in the life and grace of the universal Church. Evil continues to show its face in the violence of murderous hatred on the part of many who have vociferously attacked the Holy Father and the Church in recent weeks. Let us pray for Pope Benedict who will one day face God and who will ask him if he stood up for and proclaimed God’s mercy for every human person, without exception: both for persons guilty of the very great evil of sexually abusing others and for those persons who have suffered abuse of every kind. He will be judged as the vicar of Divine Mercy also for the sake of the irresponsible who repeat the erroneous gossip of dominant opinions in their assault against Jesus Christ once again truly present in His Church. And he will also be called to account for justice and mercy in regard to those with power in the Church who may have failed to do all in their power to protect children and young persons from those whom evidence showed to be guilty of the sin of abuse.

Divine Mercy is a scandal to unbelievers today as it has always been. Let us pray for mercy for the whole world, that agents of hatred will lay down their arms and use their power instead to sow peace and solidarity among nations and peoples and refuse any longer the sin of inciting the evil of murderous hatred against Jesus Christ, truly present in the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church, and actively pouring out the infinite graces of His Divine Mercy for us and for the whole world.

In God love mercy and justice are never mutually exclusive. Let us pray for our Holy Father Benedict, that he may ever grow in the wisdom and love of Jesus Christ, our Divine Mercy who is also the Just One. Let us pray for ourselves that, as one with the Holy Father and the universal Church, we may spread the "scandalous" and wonderful merciful love of Jesus Christ every day and in every way.

“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Amen.”

(For daily reflections on the Scriptures of Holy Mass and the Catechism, visit Meeting Christ in the Liturgy.)

This column was published in the 8 April 2010 issue of The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper. Visit the website by clicking here for more information about subscribing to the electronic or print editions of The Wanderer.

"proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Peter and John, however, said to them in reply,
“Whether it is right in the sight of God
for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.
It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.

The transmission of the Christian faith consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus Christ in order to lead others to faith in him. From the beginning, the first disciples burned with the desire to proclaim Christ: "We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." It And they invite people of every era to enter into the joy of their communion with Christ:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life - the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.
-- CCC 425

Friday, April 9, 2010

"Jesus Christ the Nazorean...has become the cornerstone"

There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

The name "Jesus" signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation, so that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
-- CCC 432

Art: Nicolas Poussin, Saints Peter and John Healing the Lame Man, 1655. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"The author of life you put to death"

... but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.

The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was "raised from the dead" presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.
-- CCC 632

Art: Masolino: Peter preaching.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

“Stay with us"

And it happened that, while he was with them at table,he took bread, said the blessing,broke it, and gave it to them.With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,but he vanished from their sight.

By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion. Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ's humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father's divine realm. For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.
-- CCC 645

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified"

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,and they asked Peter and the other Apostles,“What are we to do, my brothers?”Peter said to them,“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins
-- Acts 2:36-41

The historical complexity of Jesus' trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles' calls to conversion after Pentecost. Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept "the ignorance" of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders. Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd's cry: "His blood be on us and on our children!", a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence. As the Church declared at the Second Vatican Council:

. . . [N]either all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion. . . [T]he Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture.
-- CCC 597

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb"

... fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples.

Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One. Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection for the apostles themselves. They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers, and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"
-- CCC 641

Sunday, April 4, 2010

“This Jesus God raised on the third day" Alleluia!

"Everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
(Acts 10:34a, 37-43)

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
(Romans 15,13)
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
Jn 20:1-9

This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:

We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.
-- CCC 2174

Happy Easter --Buona Pasqua

Click here for MCITL reflection for Easter Sunday, Year C

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday: "For thou dost not give me up to Sheol"

[1] Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.
[2] I say to the LORD, "Thou art my Lord;
I have no good apart from thee."
[3] As for the saints in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.
[4] Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their libations of blood I will not pour out
or take their names upon my lips.
[5] The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
thou holdest my lot.
[6] The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage.
[7] I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
[8] I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
[9] Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure.
[10] For thou dost not give me up to Sheol,
or let thy godly one see the Pit.
[11] Thou dost show me the path of life;
in thy presence there is fulness of joy,
in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.
-- Psalm 16

Christ's death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for "it was not possible for death to hold him" and therefore "divine power preserved Christ's body from corruption." Both of these statements can be said of Christ: "He was cut off out of the land of the living", and "My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption." Jesus' Resurrection "on the third day" was the sign of this, also because bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.
-- CCC 627

Sculpture: Veiled Christ, Naples, Italy.