Category: Lesson

Told Ya! ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

Do you remember when we were kids and our parents would tell us to not do that thing because if we did, we would cause all manner of problems AND get into trouble?  And because we were us, we went right ahead and did that thing and we caused all manner of problems and got into trouble.  And our parents said, “I told you so.”

And, poor Scott.  Sometimes I feel so bad for him.  He has it rough.  You see, he lives with me.  And one of my very, very, very favorite things to say to him is, “I told you so.”  (Scott is much smarter and a heckuva lot wiser than I am, but do you think I’d let HIM know that?  Uh unh.  I ain’t doin’ it.)

And of course, there are those (infrequent, oh so very infrequent!) times Scott gets to say to me, “I told you so.”  (I hate that.)

So why do we not listen?  Why do we not accept what we are told?  Why must we, in our (self-centeredness) have to learn the hard way that what God says, He means?  Or do we ever learn?  As many of you know, Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 are two of my very favorite verses of Scripture.  Both of them give us assurance that God has things well in hand and that we really don’t need to worry about things.  And God has proved himself over and over and over and over ad infinitum in my life.  He has cared for me when I had nothing else.  He has shown Himself faithful and true and proved to me that I have no need to worry.  So WHY do I worry?  Why can I not get it through my head that I have no need to worry, I have no need to doubt?  I would dare say that many of you have had similar experiences.

Whatever the answer to that question is, we are in good company.    Over and over and over again, throughout the Hebrew and Christian scriptures both, we continually hear God tell us, “Have I not told you…  I told you….”  In the Gospel reading for today, when Cleopas and another disciple are on their way to Emmaus, Jesus appears to them and teaches them and says to them (are you ready) “I told you so.”  (Well, actually, according the NIV  He said,  “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Luke 24:25)  They recognized Jesus and he disappeared and then they hightailed it back to Jerusalem, straight to the disciples.  And as they were telling the disciples what had happened, Jesus appeared to them all. They were, of course, amazed, frightened, excited!!!!!  And what did Jesus say?  He said, “I told you so.”  (NIV:  “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44)  Now, these weren’t your every day, run of the mill, ordinary disciples.  These were THE DISCIPLES;  hand-picked by Jesus, his closest companions.  They who had witnessed miracles firsthand.  And they had trouble getting with the program and believing.  But ya know, Jesus then gave them yet another chance, kinda started from the beginning again, and did a reteach.  (NIV:  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.” Luke 24:45-48)

How awesome is that?  Even after all the things the disciples had seen, had witnessed, had had first- hand experience with, Jesus taught them yet again.  And so it is with us.  When we truly desire to increase our faith, when we truly seek another chance to learn the lessons that Christ teaches us, He will always, always give us another chance to try again.  It is up to us to continually open ourselves to learning those lessons.  The hymnist, Clara H. Scott certainly had the words right when she wrote in 1895:

Open my eyes, that I may see

Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;

Place in my hands the wonderful key

That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for Thee,

Ready my God, Thy will to see,

Open my eyes, illumine me,

Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear

Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;

And while the wave notes fall on my ear,

Everything false will disappear.

Silently now I wait for Thee,

Ready my God, Thy will to see,

Open my ears, illumine me,

Spirit divine!

Open my mind, that I may read

More of Thy love in word and deed;

What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?

Only for light from Thee I plead.

Silently now I wait for Thee,

Ready my God, Thy will to see,

Open my mind, illumine me,

Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear,

Gladly the warm truth everywhere;

Open my heart and let me prepare

Love with Thy children thus to share.

Silently now I wait for Thee,

Ready my God, Thy will to see,

Open my heart, illumine me,

Spirit divine!

It is my hope and prayer that each of us open ourselves to learn the lessons that God teaches us, and that we do our utmost to learn, and to live those lessons.  Amen.

Simplicity and Peace, God’s Peace ~ Milan Komadina

Sisters and brothers today we commemorate the Second Sunday of Easter. There are several useful chapters from the Bible that I would like to share with you and we can actually learn and remember some very useful things. Let us read.

Jn 20:19-31

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

We live in the chaotic time. Every day is so busy. Run to work, run home, run to meet your friends or family members and all of the activities that we do on a daily level are taking away our inner peace. Let us pray sisters and brothers for a moment and let us remember who was the one that can give us peace – Lord Jesus. As we read the first thing that Jesus said when he appeared in front of his disciples after the resurrection were: Peace be with you! Remember anytime when you feel chaotic, nervous, exhausted and stressed you can find your peace in Jesus.

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Look at the apostle Tomas. He does not believe that Jesus is alive and that He really resurrected. Oh, this is such a familiar feeling my dear. I remember those many times when I am spiritually down or when I feel so over worried about my earthly problems – the feeling is like Jesus is not real. It is a feeling like I want to touch him, I want to hug him and I want his real material presence here in my life. This story from the Bible reminds us that we are not the only one. Maybe at the moment you don’t feel that he is here. And similarly to Thomas you would like to feel Him even closer and even more material. Maybe your life is so difficult or you have many problems and it seems like Jesus is far away. Remember, dear sister and brother he is here. He is always here.

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

In the last part of this short sermon I would like to share one more story from the Bible with you. Something that teaches us about the way we should be acting toward each other. Let us read.

Acts 4:32-35/1

The Believers Share Their Possessions

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Here we could remember how important is not to be in love with all the material things that surround us. Wanting to have a lot of money, expensive clothes, expensive car, a luxurious house etc. actually produces bigger and bigger desire to have more. Because people are never satisfied. This is human nature. But what we really need is some clothes, a bed to sleep, a roof above our heads, a plate to eat and a glass to drink. This is all so simple and this is the thing which Christians who were living in the first century knew very well. They were sharing everything. They were modest and humble. I pray for all of us to be like them. But not because Bible says so, but because believe me we would be happier, we would be more grateful and we would appreciate this life much more. Because the life is a gift from God and it is beautiful by itself. There is no need for material wealth to be happy. And here is one more short story:

Jn 5:1-6

The Healing at the Pool

Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

An important wisdom about our health is to be aware that God is our only real doctor. Sometimes we are sick or sometimes we suffer some health related issues and we desperately want and pray for Jesus to heal us – right now and very quickly. In this story we learnt that this man was sick for 38 years. Hey, 38 years of hope to recover. That is a long period of time. I just want you to remember this thing whenever you feel sick or even weak, or mentally exhausted. Maybe Jesus will not intervene right now, maybe you should wait for some time. In order to be patient or to learn something. Because the life is the lesson. And everything happens with the reason. Even the sickness. Let us all remember that. But I hope that you all will be healthy and happy and that in joy and peace we will celebrate today`s holyday. Peace be to you all in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Resurrection Living ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

I have seen the Lord!  What a testimony!  What wouldn’t we give to be able to say those words?  And yet, Mary was greeted with disbelief.  No one expected Jesus to rise from the dead.  In fact, one of the common elements of the resurrection stories across the gospels is that NO ONE expects the resurrection. Even though Jesus predicted his death … and resurrection … several times across his ministry, no one greets the news that God has raised Jesus from the grave and defeated death and the devil by saying, “Praise God!” No one shouts “Hallelujah” when they hear that their friend and Lord has been raised to life. And absolutely no one, upon hearing the news that death itself could not hold the Lord of Glory captive, says, “I knew it – just like he said!”

How often do we do the same?  We, like the disciples, actually deny the resurrection.  How so you ask?  We actually deny the resurrection every time we talk poorly about someone, refuse to serve our neighbor, refuse eye contact with someone who is different, fail to smile at a stranger…..every time we lose our patience, get frustrated when someone doesn’t get what we’re saying right off the bat, every time we act with less than love.

That’s right – we do that. 

However, like the disciples, we can change that.  In the Resurrection Story, no one expects the resurrection and no one, quite frankly, believes it at first. This is true, as I said, across the gospels, and it is certainly apparent in Luke. The women come to the tomb expecting to anoint Jesus’ dead body. That is, they have no expectation that he has been raise. In fact, only when they are reminded by the “two men in dazzling clothes,” do they recall Jesus’ promise.

Energized by this encounter, they run back to tell the rest of the disciples … who greet their tale with utter skepticism. In fact, Luke says that those who received the testimony of the women regarded their message as an “idle tale.” That’s actually a fairly generous translation of the Greek work leros. That word, you see, is the root of our word “delirious.” So in short, they thought what the women said was crazy, nuts, utter nonsense.

Resurrection, in other words, throws off the balance, upsets the apple cart, and generally turns our neat and orderly lives totally out of whack. Which is why I think that if you don’t find resurrection at least a little hard to believe, you probably aren’t taking it very seriously! And, truth be told, I suspect that’s where most of us – we’ve heard the story of resurrection so often it hardly makes us blink, let alone shake with wonder and surprise. Which is rather sad, when you think about it, because this promise, as difficult as it may be to believe initially, is huge, and when it sinks in and lays hold of you, absolutely everything looks a little different.

And isn’t seeing the world a little differently what being a Christian is all about?  The prayer often attributed to St. Francis sums it up nicely:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

Like the disciples, like the women at the tomb, let us proclaim the resurrection by living our lives so that others see that we are, in reality, living the fact that the Lord is Risen!  The Lord is Risen indeed!

Amen

Holy Saturday ~ Br. Milan Komadina

Sisters and brothers, today we commemorate the day when Our Savor, Lord Jesus was in the tomb. The saddest day for Christians along with the Holy Friday. On this day people literally put God in the tomb. Jesus Christ, Our Lord was sacrificed. In the Old Testament scarifying was regular religious practice. But there is one story where God showed that He does not need human sacrifices (like pagans do). What he needs is a perfect sacrifice and this is why His perfect son, was sacrificed. Let’s read this story, Gn 22, 1-18:

Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”. “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you. ”Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”

What we learnt through this story is that God really doesn’t need our sacrifices. Remember that in the time when Abraham lived scarifying children was not a big scandal. Pagans were doing that as their rituals. But still God wants us to be obedient. It is true that we are saved by grace only but it doesn’t mean that now we should do nothing. Remember that we are salt to the World. We should obey God’s commandments especially the biggest 2 – to love God and to love people. Sometimes we may feel like Abraham that it is too demanding and too hard for us to do what God wants us to. Sometimes we may misunderstand God’s plans in our lives. But remember Is 55:8:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,
declares the Lord.

Let us always trust God and feel calm because everything that is happening in our lives, it is here with some reason. We should be glorifying God always because he is always good. Is 54:10:

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Let’s see what Bible says about God’s commandments in Bar 32:4-4:

She is the book of the commandments of God, the law that endures forever. All who hold her fast will live, and those who forsake her will die. Turn, O Jacob, and take her; walk towards the shining of her light. Do not give your glory to another, or your advantages to an alien people. Happy are we, O Israel, for we know what is pleasing to God.

God promises life. And even though we know that on this day Jesus was in tomb, we also know that the next day he will be resurrected into eternal life. Abraham knew that being obedient brings life and he also believed that his son will live even though he was ready to sacrifice him. And as we all know, he really lived. Is there anyone of you that is not afraid of death? I guess we all are. But see what God says Ezekiel 18:28

Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die.

Jesus died for us to show us that we will never die if we stick to God. He was buried on this day but the next day we will be celebrating his resurrection. Rom 6:5-11

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

This is how life functions to all of us. Sometimes we feel sad and lost. We have problems and stress but then God always brings the light, the resurrection as always there is the Sun after the rain. In the end of this sermon I would like to take a look at Jesus’ Resurrection and take a look at Mk 16:1-7

 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.  And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”  When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.  But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”

Good Friday ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading I: Is 52:13—53:12

Responsorial Psalm: 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25

Reading II: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Gospel: Jn 18:1—19:42

Liturgical colour: Red.

Today on The Passion of The Lord (Good Friday), we hear John’s Gospel account of Jesus’ victorious death upon the cross. Victorious death you may ask? Yes, the cross is where the path of faithfulness leads. Jesus is victorious in his faithfulness to the end. Especially in the Gospel of John, we are told that Jesus knew about the betrayal, the abandonment, the suffering, and his death that was to come in his last days. Jesus knew the danger that was to come, and he continued directly to it. To die on the cross was to triumph. It is the central reason Jesus had come down to earth. Jesus’ death is key in Jesus’ victory and in our Salvation.

John writes that. Jesus has foreknowledge of what is to come and is confident in continuing his mission, knowing that mission leads to his death.

Let’s consider a few examples of Jesus’ faithful confidence from the Gospel of John. After Jesus enters Jerusalem with palm branches waving on Palm Sunday, he declared, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” and speaks of his death as the falling of a grain of wheat which dies and bears much fruit. He continues to tell us of the hour of his death as the reason for which he has come. As he preaches this, the crowds hear affirmation in the thunder of God’s voice. In today’s Holy gospel, when the Roman soldiers  come to arrest Jesus in the garden, Jesus does not fight back or run away, rather he declares, “Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” Jesus carries his cross to the site of the crucifixion.. Even John’s description of Jesus’ death emphasizes Jesus’ powerful choice to follow through with his mission: “When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30). Jesus “gave up his spirit” in the active voice: Jesus is not a passive victim in this gospel. John paints a portrait of one who knows what is to come and desires to follow through with it. Jesus chooses to suffer and die for our Salvation.

As John tells of Jesus’ passion, he lifts up meanings for his community and also for us. Kingdom and power emerge as major themes.

The major exploration of kingdom and power begins as Jesus is brought before Pilate, the governor of Judea. Pilate has heard Jesus has been called the “king of the Jews” and questions him about his kingship. Jesus replies that his kingdom “is not from this world.” Jesus’ kingdom is greater than this world, it existed even before this world was ever brought into being. Jesus declares that Pilate’s power is dependent on a greater power. Pilate is both fearful and scornful.

When the crowd outside Pilate’s headquarters gets involved, the debate about kingship expands to a reflection of whose leadership we follow. The faithful response is to acknowledge God alone as the one to whom we owe allegiance. But, instead of declaring “God is our king,” the chief priests declare “we have no king but the emperor.” They reject the promised king that God has sent. Many Christians have done violence to modern Jews because of John’s portrayal of their rejection. But that was not his point. Rather, John was reflecting on the rejection his Christian community felt from the Jewish communities in which they worshipped and with whom they identified. For us today, the religious authorities’ rejection invites us to consider our rejection. When God acts other than we expected, when we don’t get what we think God should give us, when other people or things look more likely to give us life and security, do we also reject God? Do we also claim another as our king?

Pilate twists and mocks the idea of Jesus as being king. He has Jesus dressed in a royal purple robe and crowned with thorns. Jesus is shackled and is beaten then is condemned to death. As he hangs on the cross, Pilate’s royal declaration hangs above: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Pilate sees crucified Jesus as the furthest thing from an image of a king.

The cross is the throne which Our Lord Jesus ascends. Humility is the path which he chooses. But his kingship is sure. Jesus is one with the God the Father whose power is greater than all. Jesus sets aside power in his incarnation and death. Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning testifies to the kingship and power that rightly belong to him. Pilate intends to mock the powerless king, but Jesus proves his victory in setting aside power. Jesus is ruler of a different kind of kingdom, in which the powerful one gives up themself for the sake of the weakest.

The cross is the moment of Jesus’ victory. But what is it Jesus is victorious over?

Jesus is victorious over sin, over death, and over the devil. Jesus breaks the powers of this world that hold us captive and separated from God. Jesus opens his kingdom to all people.

The powers of evil, and of death, were broken when they tried to claim Jesus. From the beginning of the gospel, John wants us to know that Jesus is the word of God, Jesus is from God, Jesus is God. Jesus Christ is present at the creation, bringing life into being, making light out of darkness, creating out of where there was nothing. So when this Jesus Christ enters into the darkness of death, and death tries to turn him into nothingness, death fails in his task. The one who creates life, light, and creation  cannot be conquered by death. Jesus makes light in the midst of the darkness of death and turns the nothingness of death into full life and eternal life. Jesus emerges from suffering death fully restored in newly created life.

So what does all this mean for you and for me?

The cross is the place of victory for Jesus, and also the place of Victory for each of us who truly love, believe and follow. Jesus draws all peoples to himself as he is raised up on the cross. We who have been united with Jesus through baptism are united with Jesus in his death. Jesus’ death breaks apart the kingdom of this earthly world that is opposed to God and firmly establishes the kingdom of God. We are brought into the kingdom of God.

This means that you have been freed from all those things which take life away. From eternal Death, fear, greed, the need to live up to other’s expectations or ways of valuing life- none of these things have a hold on us anymore. Jesus has won us away from these powers.

This night, we welcome the cross into our midst. We honour the cross as the symbol and place of Jesus’ victory, in doing so, we glorify our Lord Jesus who died there. As Jesus transforms the world with his kingdom, Jesus has transformed the cross from a place of shame to a place of victory.

Easter Sunday, the empty tomb, and the risen Jesus Christ are the final affirmations to Jesus’ victory on the cross. We know that the cross was a battle won because Jesus emerges from death. We celebrate Jesus’ faithfulness to the cross and God’s faithfulness in providing life. We rejoice in Jesus’ death, because we know that it is not the end of the story. On Easter morning, we will celebrate the bloom of the seed of victory planted this day.

Let us pray:

We remember today, the pain and suffering of the cross, and all that Jesus was willing to endure, so we could be receive salvation. He paid the price, such a great sacrifice, to be victorious over sin and death, and to win us the gift of eternal life.

Help us never to take for granted this huge gift of love on our behalf. Help us to be reminded of the cost of it all. Forgive us for being too busy, or distracted by other things, for not fully recognizing what you freely gave, what you have done for us.

Thank you Lord that by your wounds we are healed. Thank you that because of your huge sacrifice we can live free. Thank you that sin and death have been conquered, and that your Victorious Power is everlasting.

Thank you that we can say with great hope, “It is finished…” For we know what’s still to come. And death has lost its sting. We praise you for you are making all things new.

Amen.

Passion of the Lord – Palm Sunday ~ The Rev. Dcn. Igor Kalinski, OPI

“Fear no more, O daughter Zion; see, your king comes, seated  upon and ass’ s colt” ~John 12:15

It begins the Great or Holy Week, when in 8 days we celebrate the greatest secrets of Christianity: Jesus’ passion, death, burial and resurrection. The flowering plant is an introduction to that celebration. The contents of the Palm Sunday reveal the priest’s greeting, which begins the faithful’s meeting in the church, and reads: “Today we gather to begin the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, that is, the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.” That is why Jesus entered his city of Jerusalem, ready to accept the cross in order to redeem people from evil for the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

“Dear brothers and sisters!

The solemn revelation of Jesus’ passion – brought to us today by the Gospel of Luke – has certainly evoked in all of us, who are people of faith, deep feelings and thoughts that lead us to a radical conversion of life.

And indeed, this is exactly what the path of prayer and penance, typical of the Lenten season, was supposed to lead us to.

Jesus solemnly enters Jerusalem and this represents an event of fundamental importance, above all for Jesus, and then for his disciples and for us today, the people of the New Covenant in His death and Resurrection.

Instead, by entering the Jerusalem Temple, after the solemn welcome we remembered a few moments ago, Jesus makes us understand that the Kingdom of God is the true inheritance of salvation, whose Messiah, the Savior, makes men its partakers again, and who have lost it. because of the misery of his own sin.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, with Jesus we come out of the illusion of the ancient temple to enter into the reality of the salvation of the kingdom of God, through the journey, which above all requires, to leave sin and all that is evil in God’s eyes.

Each of us carries a lot of good in us, but also a lot of bad. Here, if we want to enter the Kingdom of God, we must strip ourselves of this evil, which not only harms us personally, but causes harm to the entire Christian community. And indeed, just as we speak of the “communion of saints,” that is, of the intimate communion among all those who use the gift of Baptism and who are consistent in that gift in their lives, so we can speak of the intimate connection between all who do evil and live in disharmony. with the commitments they received on the day of their Baptism.

However, there is another event that follows the solemn entry of Jesus into Jerusalem: the expulsion of the merchants from the temple, which we find in the Gospel of Mark, in chapter 11, verses 15 to 18.

In particular, by expelling the merchants from the temple, Jesus wants us to understand that the outward forms of godliness and all that is associated with them — which is sometimes misunderstood as the power of salvation — are in reality, in themselves, of no value, and unable to mediate. our salvation. Instead, they have value when they are an expression of a heart that is fully attached to the Lord, a heart that knows how to do God’s will, a heart that is obedient to the Church, even when the Church, in God’s name, offers us truths contrary to our way of thinking. , for the ways of the Lord do not coincide with our selfish and materialistic ways.

The flowering plant opens the door to Holy Week, into the sea of suffering that Jesus went through to enter into his glory. There are two reasons for this: First, Jesus ’passion and death are the foundation on which his glorious resurrection is built and on which our salvation rests. Through Jesus ’suffering we are redeemed, our sins are destroyed and atoned for, and we are reconciled to God. The Church cannot forget the suffering and death by which the world was saved, so it is mentioned every year for gratitude. The second reason is a unique event in our history – the resurrection of Jesus. Namely, Jesus earned eternal life by his death. One cannot forget the death by which Life came? Jesus ‘death overcame our death, and Jesus’ resurrection guarantees eternal life to the baptized. The Church solemnly celebrates this truth as the truth of salvation and the source from which Christian daily life is nourished, carried by the hope that our death, like Jesus’, will be a passage to Life.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and Holy Ghost, Amen.

The Annunciation ~ The Very Rev Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading I: Is 7:10-14; 8:10

Responsorial Psalm: 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

Reading II: Heb 10:4-10

Gospel: Lk 1:26-38

Liturgical colour: White.

My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ:

Today, we come together to celebrate The Annunciation of Our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The day when The Angel Gabriel brought the glad tidings to Mary that she was going to conceive, and to be the mother of Our Lord when he was to come and live amongst us on the earth.

Let us take a look at today’s Gospel reading of Lk 1:26-38 (NIV):

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

There has never ever been better Good News proclaimed to us than the Holy message which the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary that day.  The world was in darkness of sin. Then, as if out of nowhere comes an angel to this young girl Mary, who was from a lowly family to announce the greatest news ever heard by human ears…

God has spoken to sinful humans.  His message is Jesus Christ, our dear Lord and Saviour.

This news brought to Mary from God, by way of the angel Gabriel, was the way in which Jesus would make His first entrance into our earthly world.  The incarnation is the result of Jesus being born of a human mother and of the Holy Spirit.  We also realize that technically it was a virgin conception.  This divine miracle here is how Jesus was conceived.

 LK 1:26-27 NIV:

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

In Verse 27, we are told young Mary was pledged to be married (betrothed) to Joseph.  From ancient Jewish customs, we understand that a betrothal was a binding engagement. A signed contract. Once the contract was signed by all the parties it could not be broken except by a divorce.  During this time of betrothal there were to be no intimate acts together.  The husband to be would pay the father of the bride a certain amount of money because the father of the bride was loosing a worker and the other family was gaining one.

For Mary to show up pregnant would cast enormous amount of doubt on her character.  Everyone would be wondering what on earth was going on.  Mary and Joseph are not living up to the agreement or perhaps Mary has found someone else?

Regardless what people would’ve thoughts or talked about behind her back she was willing to obey God regardless.  She feared God more than she feared man.  Would we be willing to sacrifice our reputation to do God’s will just as Mary did?  You may say that God would never ask us to do something that would put our reputation in jeopardy…so think about what this meant for the young, betrothed Mary.  For the rest of her life she was looked down upon by those who didn’t believe.  Jesus was considered an illegitimate child and Mary an adulterer.

Mary was of lowly estate. By human standards Mary was an unimportant teenager, but to God, however, she was indeed highly blessed.

Mary was Highly Favoured (LK 1:28-29 NIV):

[28] And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O Favoured one, the Lord is with you!”  [29] But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.

  [30] And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.

From these verses, we realize that being Favoured by God and being of low estate can go together.  Often, we as human, for some reason think that poverty is a sign of disfavour.

 But here, it’s crystal clear that they can and often do go together.  This should bring up the question…Are we really blessed?  Are all the comforts and material things which we enjoy so much truly always a blessing from God?  Mary was highly Favoured and yet she remained very poor to the world’s standards.  This should challenge our engrained thinking about the worldly material possessions which we may have.

Mary had much the same reaction as did Zechariah when the angel appeared to him.  He was frightened she was greatly troubled.  Gabriel says his usual opening line, Do not be afraid.

What is meant by the word favoured  is that God chose her to bear the Lord Jesus.  She was favoured or chosen to be the mother of Our Lord Jesus.

The Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace

The Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women

and blessed

is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God

Pray for us sinners

Now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Let us pray:

[That we may become more like Christ,

who chose to become one of us.]

Almighty Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

You have revealed the beauty of your power

by exalting the lowly virgin of Nazareth

and making her the mother of our Saviour.

May the prayers of this woman

bring Jesus to the waiting world

and fill the void of incompletion

with the presence of her child,

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit

one God forever and ever. Amen

He Knows My Name ~ The Rev. Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

Based on Today’s Gospel: Jn 12:20-33

Jesus knew he was going to die a physical death, there was no doubt of this. He knew his death would be physically painful, long and drawn out. Along with all this he also knew that his physical death would allow all of us, yes everyone of us on this planet from that day until the end of time would be a candidate for eternal life with the Father and Son in Heaven for all of eternity. Just think about that for a minute please: Did he know that you and I would exist? Did he know how many souls were involved? The answer to these questions is explained in the lyrics of a beautiful song sung by Francesca Battistelli:

He Knows My Name:

Spent today in a conversation
In the mirror face to face with
Somebody less than perfect
I wouldn’t choose me first if
I was looking for a champion
In fact I’d understand if
You picked everyone before me
But that’s just not my story
True to who You are
You saw my heart
And made
Something out of nothing

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name oh, oh,
He knows my name oh, oh

I’m not meant to just stay quiet
I’m meant to be a lion
I’ll roar beyond a song
With every moment that I’ve got
True to who You are
You saw my heart
And made
Something out of nothing

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name oh, oh,
He knows my name oh, oh

He calls me chosen, free forgiven, wanted, child of the King
His forever, held in treasure
I am loved

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name
He knows my name oh, oh
He knows my name

He knows my name, he knows your name, he knows the name of every one of his children, he has a plan for every one of his children, and there is nothing we can do to change this. As the song says we are famous in our Fathers eyes and we do not need any earthly fame or fortune. He saw our hearts and made something out of nothing. We are the chosen children of our Lord and Savior, Rescuer, and our Redeemer…

 We are living on his stage; we should be proclaiming His glory and salvation in our every action. We should be the Jesus that others see. We should be the Bible that others read. The song says that I won’t be a lion but I will roar his song, proclaim his love, shout it at the top of my lungs. Second Timothy tells us how to proclaim God’s love and how to preach his healing words:

2 Timothy 4:2-5

Proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit —with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people. For the time is coming when they will no longer listen and respond to the healing words of truth because they will become selfish and proud. They will seek out teachers with soothing words that line up with their desires, saying just what they want to hear. They will close their ears to the truth and believe nothing but fables and myths. So be alert to all these things and overcome every form of evil. Carry in your heart the passion of your calling as a church planter and evangelist, and fulfill your ministry calling.

When people quit listening, preach harder, louder, and with more passion. Do not give up, don’t get down and out, keep being the Jesus others see, preach and proclaim by words, actions, and deeds. Show the world that you love the Lord and are not ashamed to show it. By doing this, our Lord did not die in vain. Rise to every occasion and use every situation to proclaim our Lord’s love and compassion. You know you are loved – so show others that they are loved too. They may not have ever been shown or told that the Lord loves them. Just imagine how this could change the life of someone who is depressed and feeling sad and lonely. The song says it best:

He calls me chosen, free forgiven, wanted, child of the King
His forever, held in treasure
I am loved

You are loved, Jesus gave his live to prove this to us. It is our obligation to spread the love and let all the world know that Jesus’s love is real, available, and free for the taking. Romans 4:17 says: “ That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

Heavenly Father: guide us, help us, teach us, and enable us to spread the glory of our salvation to those who are faltering and failing. Help us to find and love those who are lonely and need you. Help them to open their hearts so You can make something out of nothing. Help us to help others make something out of nothing as you did for me. You made me one of Your children and for that I am truly grateful. Amen

St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin~ Br. Milan Komadina

Sisters and brothers, today we commemorate Saint Joseph, the husband of Mary and stepfather of Jesus. This holiday takes place during Lent, a time of fasting and traditionally this holiday is meatless. Saint Joseph plays an important role in the history of the Church since he was married to mother of our Savior. His ancestor was David who was given the promise in the Old Testament that through his seed Messiah will come. Let us take a look at several sentences from 2nd Samuel, chapter 7: 4-5; 12-14, 16:

And it came to pass that night that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying: ‘’ Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me a house for me to dwell in? And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men. From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 

As we see the Lord calls David ‘my servant’. Likewise, Joseph was servant of God. And in the New Testament Joseph was also called to serve. We can understand some interesting comparison here. As David was called to build a house of God where God would dwell in – this was related to the material temple. The same way Joseph was called to be a loving and caring husband of the living house of God – Mother of Jesus. Holy Mary was a living house of God. It is written that our bodies are God’s temples. We all, sisters and brothers, are called to be like Mary and to let the Holy Spirit dwell in us, in our hearts. And we should also be like Joseph and be loving people toward our family, friends, and neighbors. What can we learn from Joseph? Was he suspicious? Oh, yes. Was he a judge? O, yes. He was questioning if Mary was honest. He was questioning her virginity. But he let God teach him. Now, is it good to judge our neighbors? Maybe we are all Joseph and maybe our neighbor who we judge may be a Mary? What would you do if you were Joseph? Would you trust your wife or life partner? These are some thoughts we should be thinking about while we pray on this day. Now, let us take a brief look at the New Testament. Romans, chapter 4: 13, 16/18, 22:

It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring — not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

What is mutual to Joseph and Abraham? After considering these quotes we may conclude that one trait was mutual to these two holy men. It is called righteousness. But what does this refer to? Biblical righteousness refers to our faith in God. We all live in the modern world when we are witnessing lot of injustice, pain, diseases, misfortune on daily basis. We tend to question if there is a god or what god is that god allowing all these things to be happening. But… do we wonder who God might be? Would we love him if there is no pain in the world? Would we trust him if there is no injustice or no suffering? Would we try to find his guilt in something else? Would we unfollow Him if God has an Instagram profile? If God tells today (or posts on Facebook) that a 75-year-old lady from your neighborhood will become mother and you know she used to try to have a baby in the time of her monthly period when she was 20 and 30 and 40, would you trust in that possibility? Would you trust in that God? If God uses social networks would you probably block him? I would. Unfortunately many of us would. And why is that? We lack of faith my dear sisters and brothers. We lack of faith in God. But you know who hadn’t done that – Abraham. And Joseph. And they were both called righteous. Let us learn to have faith like them. Next, I would like to take a minute of your time and take a quick look at Mattew, chapter 1/16;18-21

Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

As previously mentioned Joseph was faithful and righteous. But even to him. This was hard to believe. Even harder that it was hard to believe for Abraham about Sara’s pregnancy in her late age. But God, sent him the angel in his dream and these are the words that the angel told Joseph (Mattew 1/24):

 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 

We can learn from Joseph many things. How to be a caring and loving partner, father, family member. Joseph knew that Jesus was not his biological son. But he was a caring stepfather who loved Jesus. At that old time it was very difficult to accept child which was not one’s biological child. Today we also live in the world where we make differences to our own blood relatives, our own religion, our own nation, tradition. But Joseph teaches us, through his example that everything that belongs to God belongs to all of us. He knew that Jesus was the Son of God. But to Joseph his focus was to love and to serve God. The same way we should love all people regardless of their nationality, skin color, biological parents, natural characteristic and orientation, regardless religious background they were raised in. Let us learn to love and trust God the same way as Saint Joseph did. In the end of this sermon I would like to take one more minute of your time to take a look together at the additional very important aspect of Joseph’s treatment to his family. And here we may learn or remember one additional important life lesson applicable to all of us. Luke, chapter 2/ 41-51:

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 

Now, let me tell you an interesting fact. Were Joseph and Mary a very religious couple who were every day praying in the temple and not having earthly fun at all? This is amazing thing we often do not think about. They were going to the festival. They were even so careless at the moment of festival euphoria that they lost their own kid, 12-year-old Jesus. Hey, the festival was over and Joseph and Mary got back home without noticing that Jesus was missing. What would you say if your Christian neighbors go to the party, go back home and you hear that they lost their child? And next three days they are wondering where their child is? The last option they think about is – the church? Would you say those are Christian parents? Maybe they lost their child at the party but they love Jesus, they are Christians? I don’t think so. See, there are two types of religious people. Those who are non-stop in the church and pray all the time, they don’t go to festivals or parties. They believe that being a Christian prohibits spending some nice time at the party. But what about the Bible. What we can learn through this example is that – yes we can go to festivals or parties. Remember that in the old times festivals were similar as today’s open-air parties. The same that Holy Mary and Saint Joseph were doing. Just DON’T FORGET JESUS! Don’t go back home after the festival like Joseph and Mary did finding out: ‘Hey, where’s my Jesus?’ Another fun fact and at the same time an amazing fact were the places where this religious couple had been searching this 12-year-old Son. Did they go to the church, temple or holy places? No. They were visiting relatives and friends and not just one or two days but even tree days. Now, would we tend to judge a neglecting couple from our neighborhood? I guess yes, we would. At least I would. But did God judge them? Yet mother of God is the most holy Lady in the world, the most respected one Saint Mary and her husband, Saint Joseph is the righteous holy man. Dear sisters and brothers we are all called to be like Mary and Joseph. Not to be super-Christians. Just let us be like Mary and Joseph. We are not called not to go to the festivals, or parties. But we are called not to LOOSE JESUS! Yet we can learn here where we can find Jesus. He may be and in our relatives’ house (if our relative is hungry or thirsty – there is Jesus in his house, trust me). If our friend is sick and needs help – yes, you found Jesus in your friend’s house. But also you can find him in the temple. What I would pray for you to understand today is that if you feel that you lost Jesus. Remember Mary, remember Joseph. Go to your relative, go to your friend, and go to your neighbor first and then go to the church. You may try to find him in the church building first, too. But don’t forget that he may dwell in the living people. Not just in the buildings made of stone. I pray that we all never loose Jesus and that we all may be like Mary and Joseph.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus Hulks Out ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

Super heroes are a thing.  When we were (much) younger, my brother was into body building and his end all be all was The Hulk.  In case you don’t know who The Hulk is, well, he’s green, he’s way feet tall, and he’s bulging with pounds and pounds of muscle. He’s the Incredible Hulk, hands down one of the coolest comic book heroes ever created. You don’t want to make him mad, because as he often warns, “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets!”  His anger and strength have entered the common lexicon of today in the phrase “Hulk out.”  According to The Urban Dictionary, to hulk out means “To become enraged; to lose one’s temper, clothing and power of coherent speech before embarking on a spree of violence and wanton destruction.

In today’s Gospel, we read of a time when Jesus sort of kinda hulked out:  Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money  changers seated there.  He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,  and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”  His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.  (John 2:13-17)

Well now.   This little bit of Scripture is problematic for a lot of folks because we have been taught that Jesus was this meek and mild-mannered little guy who preached love and patience and turning the other cheek and instructs us to be slow to anger.  I can assure you that Jesus did, in fact, teach us those things, but I can also assure you that Jesus was far, FAR from being “this meek mild mannered little guy,”  and we should not confuse “meek” with “weak.”

We are inundated from all sides by ads and commercials urging us to get more physically fit, to build muscle on top of muscle, to be perfect specimens of humanity.  I figure that Jesus pretty much fit that physical description.  Jesus as a hunk?, you ask?  Well… yeah.  Think about it for a minute.  Here was a man of great stamina who walked everywhere between the villages of the Holy Land in his ministry of salvation, and there is no record in the New Testament that he ever rode a horse, a camel, or a carriage, (though he did once enter Jerusalem on a donkey, but that’s a sermon for another time.)  He regularly traveled over hills and climbed mountains. We know that Jesus was either a carpenter or a stone mason, and there were, at that time, no power tools, so He was surely lean and muscular.  We have further evidence of Jesus’s physical fitness from reading of His passion.  The torture that he underwent killed many men.

Another reason that this particular bit of Scripture is problematic is that we imagine Jesus to be angry, and remember He was all about the “preaching love and patience and turning the other cheek and instructing us to be slow to anger.”  An angry Jesus???  Isn’t anger a sin???  People look at this episode and say, “Shame, shame. Jesus ignored His own teachings by getting angry and not forgiving those moneychangers. He really lost his cool, didn’t He?” 

At the same time other people view this episode as proof that it’s okay for us to get angry, and even take violent action if necessary, in doing God’s will.

So, who is right?  And the answer to that stunning question is, NEITHER. 

Anger is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and St. Paul clearly teaches in his letter to the Galatians that “outbursts of fury” are the result of our sinful nature. So what’s the deal here? Did Jesus give in to the sinful nature when He got angry in the Temple, or what?

First, we have to understand that Jesus did not have a sinful nature. There have only been three sinless people in history: Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and my mother.  (OK, OK, my momma wasn’t perfect.  Give a guy a break, tho.)

There is a very fine line between “righteous anger” and “self-righteous anger.” Jesus’ anger was completely righteous. Those merchants were making a mockery of God’s holy temple. They were taking advantage of the average person’s sincere faith. Motivated by greed, they forced the believers to pay obscene sums in order to have their worship rituals labeled as “proper.”

You wonder what Jesus’ reaction might be if He appeared today and observed the behavior of Wall Street bankers and Washington politicians. Just sayin’.

Jesus is the only person in history completely controlled by the Spirit. He never gave in to the sinful human nature. The rest of us should avoid anger because we don’t have our sinful human nature under control like Jesus did.

The Gospel reading of Jesus clearing the Temple really should have a disclaimer. In big bold letters the Bible should say: “Jesus is a professional. Do not try this at home.” When people cite this episode as justification for getting angry, often they truly have a righteous goal in mind. But it doesn’t take long for that righteousness to slide into self-righteousness. The next thing you know, some looney toon is bursting into an abortion clinic with a rifle, sincerely convinced that God wants him to kill people to prevent people from being killed, or participating in insurrection at the nation’s capitol to impede the government, or blowing up gay bars, all in Jesus’s name. 

And all the while Satan is howling with glee. He just loves to see us get so worked up over a righteous cause that we become consumed with self-righteous anger. As C.S. Lewis wrote: “The devil would be quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer.”  In a way, anger, especially self-righteous anger is cancer. It’s spiritual cancer. For those of us who have not yet reached Jesus’s level of spirituality (which means ALL of us), we are susceptible to this disease. Only Jesus can handle anger without contracting the spiritual cancer of self-righteousness.

We mere mortals do not yet share in Jesus’ spiritual perfection. As such, we are not capable of handling anger properly. Good intentions quickly become evil.   When our anger is out of control we can say and do things that hurt others.  Anger in the hands of we sinful people, to paraphrase P.J. O’Rourke, is like whiskey and car keys in the hands of teenage boys. It’s just too dangerous.

So what then, do we do when we are angry?  In our daily lives, for most of us those times where anger would be justified are likely pretty rare.   As with all things, follow the Spirit.  Paul, in Galatians 5:20-21, instructed “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” In 1 Corinthians 13, we are directed that love is patient and kind and does not dishonor others and is not easily angered. It can be reasoned that anger is contrary to charity, if it is spontaneously meant to dishonor our neighbor.  Proverbs 15:18 tells us a “hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.”

The Bible seems to place anger as the last response to the circumstances of life.  We as Christians are to be peacemakers and find a solution before allowing an incident or conflict to escalate.    Breathe.  Pray.  Act in love.  And remember, we are, none of us, The Hulk.  Amen.