Category: Lesson

The Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles, The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

Liturgical colour: Red.

Reading 1:1 COR 15:1-8

Responsorial Psalm:PS 19:2-3, 4-5

Gospel:JN 14:6-14

My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together to celebrate the feast of not just one, but two of Christ’s Twelve Apostles, these being, St. Philip and St. James. Both of  these Apostles worked tirelessly for the sake of the people of God, and just as the other Apostles had done, they spread the Good News to many.

St. Philip is also known as Nathanael, he was a learned and a wise man of Israel. He was told he needed to be fluent in Greek, and eventually he went on to preach about the Lord and His truth in regions of Greece and of Roman Asia, he went from city to city, preaching to the masses and he gained for the Church many new converts and members.

St. Philip even managed to convert the wife of the proconsul of a region where he ministered, by his miracles and from his preaching. The proconsul was enraged and ordered St. Philip to be arrested, and he together with the other Apostle, St. Bartholomew, and other disciples were crucified upside down. And  St. Philip preached to the crowd gathering there from his execution cross, in such a way, that they wanted to release him, but St. Philip refused to allow this.

The other Apostle which we celebrate today, St. James the Greater, was the brother of St. John the Apostle,  a fisherman along the Lake of Galilee, whom Jesus called together with His other Apostles, St. Peter, St. Andrew and St. John his brother. St. James played an important role in the early Church, spreading the Good News of God’s salvation after Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven.

St. James went to preach the Good News to faraway regions such as the province of Iberia in what today we know as the country of Spain, where he spread the Gospel to the people there and helped to establish the Church far from its origins in Jerusalem. He was  renowned especially in the region known as Santiago de Compostela, where his body lies buried, because it was there where he apparently did his works of evangelisation.

king Herod arrested St. James when he returned to the Holy Land, and in order to please the Jewish authorities, the Pharisees and the chief priests, had him executed. St. James was among the first of the Apostles to meet his end on earth through martyrdom.

The tireless works and commitment to the salvation of mankind of St. James and St. Philip can still be felt as making an impact even today. Like these Apostles of the Lord, we  need more and more people who are willing to commit themselves to the Lord’s  service, and to walk in His path just as these two Apostles did.

Truly, it will not be an easy task for us, as there is worldly opposition against all those who are faithful in the Lord’s service and who keep their faith. But Jesus reminds us yet again in the Gospel, that we who believe in Him, have seen the Lord Himself through Jesus, and by our faith in Him, we have been justified. And because we know the Lord, we will also be obedient to Him, we would be blessed and saved.

During the last remaining part of the season of Eastertide,  let us reflect on our own lives, and on how we have acted in our lives so far. Have we been fully committed to our Lord, and have we been truly faithful to Him? Can we call truly ourselves Christians? Do we not only believe in the Lord through our mere words, but also through our actions?

The examples of the  lives and service of the Apostles St. Philip and St. James show us that there are still many things that we can do as the followers of Christ in order to fulfil the commands which our Lord has given us, within our lives in His service.  Both these Apostles served with tireless zeal and with vigour, and despite the challenges and the difficulties that faced them, these did not prevent them from carrying out the missions which the Lord had entrusted to them.

Let us all therefore look forward, and as we soon will celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday, let us all recommit ourselves, and rediscover the true gifts of the Holy Spirit which have been given to us, and to make use of these gifts in order to help those who are still in darkness, by showing them the love of God manifested through each and every one of us as the faithful servants of our Lord, so that more and more souls may see the light of God and be saved.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Divine Mercy Sunday ~ Fr. Shawn Gisewhite, OPI

Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. If you have listened carefully to the prayers and readings, you will realize why the Second Sunday of Easter has that title. The opening prayer addresses the Father as “God of Mercy.” In the Psalm we repeated several times, “His mercy endures forever.” Besides mentioning the word, our readings illustrate mercy in action. But before going into the Scripture lessons, we need to ask this question: What does “mercy” mean?

To understanding the meaning of mercy, it will help if we examine its etymology. Our English word, mercy, goes back to the Latin: misericordia, which is composed of two words. “Cordia” is familiar to us from such words as “cardiologist” and “cardiac.” It means heart. The first part, “miseri” refers to suffering. Mercy, then, means to have a heart for those who suffer or, more precisely, to have a heart willing to suffer for others.

Today’s readings reveal that kind of heart in Christ and in his followers. When Jesus appeared to his disciples that first Easter, he said, “Peace be with you.” As you can imagine, that greeting meant more than “hello” or “good morning.” Jesus, in fact, desired to communicate to them something of great value. The peace which Jesus won for us had cost him his blood, his very life. What that peace involved, Jesus tells us clearly: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them…” To his apostles Jesus communicates the Holy Spirit with the power to free men from their sins. That freedom or absolution comes through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

From the Acts of the Apostles we glimpse mercy in action. The early Christians were so filled with the Holy Spirit that “no one claimed any of his possessions as his own.” Rather, they “distributed to each according to his need.” It was not Karl Marx who invented the principle: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Marx lifted it from the New Testament, but made the mistake of thinking that it could happen by political coercion. His followers created a human inferno, but their failure should not cause us to reject the ideal. Part of mercy involves the effort to provide every human being with access to this world’s blessings.

The reading from Acts, then, calls our attention to the corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and so on. St. John’s letter, on the other hand, focuses on what are called the spiritual works of mercy such as: convert the sinner, counsel the doubtful and bear wrongs patiently. By doing those things we fulfill Christ’s commandments and help to extend his victory. “Whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.”

Ultimately mercy results not so much from human effort as from God’s free gift. As Shakespeare said, “It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.” During this time of Easter, we ask God to open our hearts so that we might receive into our hearts his Mercy – his Holy Spirit.

Easter Math…Christ Is Risen ~ The Rt. Rev. Jay Van Lieshout, OPI

Greetings my brothers and sisters on this day of our Lord’s breaking of the bonds of death and resurrection.  Christ is Risen!

Yes, the Lord is risen indeed!

It seems as if it was just yesterday that we donned our sack cloth and inscribed on our foreheads a reminder of our own mortality; that ashen cross which reminds humanity that the Creator fashioned each of us from star dust and by the grace of the Holy Spirit’s breath we came into being.  Then, just as the ashes were place on our heads, they began to fade with the day’s toil; so, too, do our lives slowly fade away under the wear of our trials and tribulations till we once again return to the dust from which we were created.  But it is not just our lives which suffer such attenuation, the weight of our transgressions and the trespasses of others slowly eat away at our souls, a process which can lead the greatest and least among us to an inevitable spiritual death. But today we rejoice as the sting all death is eradicated, the tight fetters are loosed, the ashes of our sins have been washed away, and our souls set free from captivity!

From Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, I have preached about how the ashen cross is not just a reminder of our human mortality, it is an open invitation to the Heavenly Banquet which bears the our Lord’s charge bring with us a guest, a “+1” if you will.  It is not merely enough to show up to the feast, even if we bring gifts of finest gold, frankincense and myrrh.  No, we are called to gather those who may not have received the invite, those who feel unworthy or unwelcome, the ostracized, the poor, the hungry, the dirty, the abandoned and lost, for as St. Lawrence taught us, these as the true treasures of Christ’s church!

It is basic ecclesiastical math.  The Creator has made each of us a single an unique creation, a gift brought forth from the Earth; therefore each of us begins as the Creator’s “+1”.  By the nature of our imperfections, our lives slowly ebb away, a fraction here and a jot there, the sum of which adds up to negative one “-1”. Every child knows that subtracting 1 from 1 results in zero, the null number (+1-1=0).  Each human lives this life equation, we come to earth in birth and eventually are place in the null set tomb of death.

It grieves me so that for many of our brothers and sisters, the same withering and eventual emptiness plagues their spiritual life as well; they are born, soul brightly burning in the image of the Creator’s endless love, the travails of life choke this flame with the ashes of remorse and regret, while others, because of their own imperfections and darkness in heart, seek to further suppress or extinguish the light of those around them in hopes that this might make their light seem brighter.  The final outcome are our brothers and sisters who feel as if they are worthless; like the proverbial  number zero, they represent nothing and have no value, the light of God’s love has been replaced by endless sorry and darkness.

On this day of our Lord’s Resurrection, I tell you my brothers and sisters, God’s light can NOT be extinguished but only hidden.  God has not and will NEVER abandon any of us, we have just been blinded to the truth by the wickedness of others!

The grace, compassion and love of our Creator has no limit. Our cries have been heard.  In one benevolent act of mercy, the world received the ultimate gift of the Son of Man; the perfect “+1” born to bring the light  of truth back into the world, the “+1” who brings the scriptures to fruition , the one who came to deliver us a from the oppressive bonds of our sins and the Good News to all of humanity.  And this man, Yeshua, this manna come down from heaven, allowed Himself to be tempted, pursued, betrayed, imprisoned, whipped, weighed down with the burden of His sentence, mocked, reviled, stripped, tortured and ultimately succumbed to death in order that He might serve as the atoning sacrifice for all our sins.  Yes, like all humans, Jesus carried out the full life equation from beginning to the end, from alpha to omega, birth to death, womb to tomb: +1-1=0 for each and every one of us.

Yet Jesus was no ordinary man, He was the Creator’s Son, the Christ, and our Creator lives and not even the bands of death can hold the Son!  In three days the great mystery unfolded: Christ has died and Christ has risen and we know He will come to each of us again!  On this Holy Easter and on every Sunday we celebrate Christ’s rewriting of the life equation.  The stone blocking the entrance to the tomb has been rolled away, the shackles of spiritual death are broken and so our sack cloth of mourning is replaced with the finest white linen of rejoicing.  The Son of Man has erased the debt cause by our transgressions and now our souls have been resurrected our spiritual light shines in brilliant reflection of His Victory over death!  By the “+1” of His life and the “-1” His death on the cross we have been forgiven.  By His Resurrection the zero is broke open, spiritual emptiness and death has been overcome, and an infinite amount Grace and a limitless number of “+1” places at the banquet table have sprung forth.  No longer is the cross to be a symbol of suffering and pain, it is now an emblem of God’s invitation to boundless grace and mercy; not a reminder of what we have committed but of all that He has forgiven!

At the start of Lent we were inscribed with a cross of ashes on our foreheads to remind us that we are all born out of dust and no matter how rich or how powerful, to dust we all will return.  Now we are called to wear this this emblem as an outward sign to others, an invitation to take our hand so that we might lift others up out of the dust, a promise to untie the bonds of injustice, a light to guide others safely around the pitfalls of life, a commitment to feed our brothers and sisters who are hungry, clothe them when they are naked, and comfort them when they are alone or grieving.  This cross we bear is no longer a reminder of our mortal shortcomings, it is the invitation Christ has extended to all humanity to  attend the Heavenly banquet, the gift of His Resurrection emblazoned on us so that we may always be an invitation to all those we meet to be our “+1”.

It Is Finished ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading 1: IS 52:13—53:12

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

Reading 2: HEB 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Gospel: JN 18:1—19:42

Liturgical colour: Red.

Roman crucifixion was designed to produce a slow, agonizing death. It involved as much suffering and shame as possible. This excruciating form of public execution was bloody, violent and extremely repulsive.  The Jews believed if you were crucified, you were under God’s curse (Deuteronomy 21:23).  It was on a Roman cross that Our dear Lord Jesus, who knew no sin, bore the sacrificial price for all of our sin.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus was repeatedly mocked, he was spat upon and he was flogged. His body was beaten so severely, He was hardly recognizable. Soldiers stripped Him and led Him outside the city to die a criminal’s death.  While on the cross, passersby hurled insults at Him. The religious leaders taunted Him as they attacked His power to save. Even the two thieves who were being crucified beside Him heaped insults on Jesus.

For a short while, I want you to think about what Jesus has done for us all through his death on the cross. Visualise in our minds our suffering Saviour. Think about the love that God has for each and every one of us, and offer him our profound and sincere thanks. Let us each ask God to wrap us tightly in his love – forgiving us, watching over us, guiding us. If anyone feels that Jesus and his love for them are not real for a large part of their life, simply ask for his help, he will always answer your call.

Jesus died on the cross to get rid of the power of sin that condemned us. His death bridged the deep gulf between God and us. “It is finished”, Jesus cried.  But by saying this, Jesus didn’t mean he was finished? NO! He is now sat at the Right hand of God the Father, and will come again in Glory to judge the living and the dead. By Jesus’s  statement of “It is finished!”, Our Lord meant that the restoration of the friendship between God and humanity had been finished. The task for which God’s Son came to earth had been completed.

He has won forgiveness and  the possibility salvation for all people.

Nothing else needed to be done.

Salvation is complete. “It is finished”.

We call today “Good Friday”. It certainly was the farthest from being a good day for Our Lord Jesus. He endured excruciating pain, soul-wrenching agony, hanging by the nails in his hands, feet and side for hours, death on that rough wooden cross, for all of our sakes. We call today “Good Friday” because the cross is sure and definite proof of the powerful and ultimate love that God has for each of us. Here we see a love that was prepared to endure the ultimate in order to rescue us.

Paul writes, “God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! … We were God’s enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son.” (Romans 5:8,10). That’s how much God loves us – Jesus died for us even though we don’t deserve it. His death has made us God’s children.

Jesus’ announcement, “It is finished” is clear and simple. Jesus has completed his task. The reason why he came as a human amongst us has been fulfilled. He came so that you and I can have forgiveness and salvation. He came to give us the victory over death. He came to ensure that we could enter his kingdom and live with Him forever.

Let us pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

We remember today, the pain and suffering of the cross, and all that your Son, Our Lord Jesus was willing to endure, so we could be set free. He paid the price, such a great sacrifice, to offer 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 price that was paid for our sin. Forgive us for being too busy, or distracted by other things, for not fully recognizing what your Son freely gave to fulfill your will for us, for the sacrifice that was done for us.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Journey With Jesus: Palm Sunday ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading I: IS 50:4-7

Responsorial Psalm: PS 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24.

Reading 2:  PHIL 2:6-11

Gospel: LK 22:14—23:56

Liturgical colour: Red.

As most people who probably know me well are aware, I am a person who likes to travel on journeys, whether for ministry or to visit sacred or beautiful places of the Lord’s creation. But the journey undertaken on Palm Sunday, which we celebrate today, was a journey of both joy and celebration, but also of suffering.

Dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate Palm Sunday. Today all those years ago, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Jesus was totally devoted to following the will of the God his Father. Jesus was dedicated to doing whatever it took to fulfil  the mission his father had for Him. Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, He asked God to let this cup pass from Him, but not MY will but yours oh Lord. Jesus was committed to the work of God and to fulfil his will as was predestined.

In John 12:13, we read that they broke palm branches from the trees and lined the streets in front of Jesus Christ as He made His triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem. ‘‘Many people….took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him and cried, ‘‘Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.’’

They correctly called Jesus the King of Israel, for He was presenting Himself as their king. This was Jesus most popular hour. There were many times, when Jesus was misunderstood and rejected  by His own, but here is one of those moments in His earthly ministry that has been called by many His most popular hour. We read that on this occasion a great multitude said, ‘‘Who is this?’’ (Matt. 21:10) We read that even the enemies of Jesus said, ‘‘….the world is gone after him.’’

(John 12:19) The occasion of Palm Sunday took place one week before His resurrection from the grave. While in a little village called Bethphage Jesus said to his disciples, ‘‘Go to a certain corner where two ways meet: there will be a home. You will find a colt tied. Bring that beast of burden. I am going to ride it into the city today.’’

So, we can see that Palm Sunday is a day of great rejoicing because of the coming of the King amongst his people.

But amongst all the rejoicing, this next week, is full of so many twists and turns far beyond our comprehension …a rollercoaster of events for Our dear Lord Jesus, preordained by God the Father and accepted willingly by our lord Jesus for sakes and for our salvation.

However, amongst the rejoicing crowds shouting ‘Hosanna!’ were also the Pharisees and Jesus knew that this journey would also lead to his death for our salivation, only five days later. This was certainly an extremely important journey and was filled by both the rejoicing and waving of palm with the shouting of ‘Hosanna!’, and the suffering of our dear Lord Jesus knowing that these very people who today rejoiced as he entered Jerusalem would also be the people who would condemn him to physical death on the cross. Jesus knew this was the will and plan of his Heavenly Father for our salvation from sin and death, he knew what had to happen and our Lord accepted this.

Palm Sunday starts the week with joy and rejoicing, but within this one same week, we see our Lord betrayed,  we see him arrested, we see him put to trial without crime before Pontius Pilate, we see him tortured, humiliated, and then crucified upon a cross at Calvary, all for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we may be be saved.  Then we see the return of joy, as our Lord is resurrected from the grave..victorious over death, our sins paid for by his most blessed innocent sacrifice on our behalf.

Palm Sunday is the day which starts the week which finishes our Lord’s earthly ministry, the week where Our Lord gains salvation for us by his sacrifice of the purest love. This week both starts and ends in joy, but also leaves us with the joyful expectation for when Our Lord will once again, return in Glory.

Of course, there are many types of journeys that we can undertake in our lives, but no journey of ours can ever compare to this journey of our dear Lord and Saviour.

Taking a journey may not always mean travelling, a kind of journey can also be something unexpected which we deal with in our lives and situations in which we may find ourselves. Faith and trust in the Lord is also a kind of journey.

Where is your journey taking you?  Is Jesus going with you?

Let us pray:

Father,

Thank you for sending your Son and paving the way for our lives to be set free through Jesus’ death on the cross. Thank you for what this day stands for – the beginning of Holy Week, the start of the journey towards the power of the cross, the victory of the Resurrection, and the rich truth that Jesus truly is our King of Kings.

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord…”

We give you praise and honour for your ways are righteous and true. We give you worship for you are holy and just. We will declare that your love stands firm forever. For your loving kindness endures forever.

Amen.

 

The Feast of St. Joseph ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

 

Liturgical Colour: White.

Reading 1: 2 SM 7:4-5A, 12-14A, 16

Responsorial Psalm: PS 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 AND 29

Reading 2: ROM 4:13, 16-18, 22

Gospel: MT 1:16, 18-21, 24A  or: LK 2:41-51A

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today, we come together as the Church to commemorate St. Joseph, the Spouse of The Blessed Virgin Mary, and the foster Father of our Lord and Saviour,Jesus, when he became one of us here upon the Earth.

In the same way in which God, our Heavenly Father, who gives each of us as his children, unconditional love, care, stability and who sets us the standard with which we should strive to live our lives with his holy word in the scriptures, a true Father to each and every single one of us, who only ever wants the very best for all his children.  St. Joseph follows our Father’s example, as both husband and foster father.  He gives us examples which men should follow in their lives. Joseph cared for and provided for the Holy Household. There are many qualities that Joseph had which we could use to be the role model for Christian husbands and fathers. Joseph was a very compassionate man.  We can see an example of this when he suspected his wife of infidelity; he planned to divorce her quietly rather than denounce her publicly and expose her to public shame and penalty.

Joseph was always obedient to God and did what he knew was God’s will without thought or hesitation.  Examples of this are that he kept Mary as his wife; he protected and provided for his family when they had to flee to foreign lands to protect them from danger.

Joseph led a life of deep prayer and was in communion with God, and would always seek out that which was God’s will. God often told Joseph his will using dreams.

Joseph was a provider of care, When Jesus’s life was threatened, Joseph would take them out of danger. He took his family to Egypt and only returned when it was safe to do so, and when Jesus went missing at aged twelve, Joseph went searching for him because obviously, both parents were obviously extremely worried about Jesus’s safety.

Joseph also brought much more to Jesus’s life, he taught him his trade which Jesus worked in for about twenty years, he gave Jesus the love and stability he as any child needs, and was his earthly male role model, which was and still is vitally important for a good father to give any child.

He was a man with a firm faith in God coupled with a resilient personality, who did not complain and was not appalled nor distressed in the midst of trials and tribulations, St. Joseph knew how to face, carry and solve the burden of his vocation, of life’s difficulties and responsibilities with serenity, with complete faith and love, entrusting himself totally and unconditionally to God’s plans.

Sadly not all children are brought up in such a way today, but husbands and fathers truly should seek to follow this sincere man of God in the way they run their lives. Are you married? Do you give all the love, trust and respect to your spouse? Or with stresses and strains do you always argue or not truly make time for each other? If you have children, do you know where they are and if they are safe, or who they might be talking to online? Do you give emotional stability, patience and unconditional love? Do your children see you as the role model they need in a Father?  We should always strive to be as our heavenly Father is to each of us, whether that be to our spouses, to our children, and in fact to all as our brothers and sisters.

While the Gospels do not shed much light on St. Joseph’s life, it is believed that he died before Jesus’ public ministry.

St. Joseph is the patron of fathers, spouses, priests and seminarians. But also, St. Joseph teaches  us so much by his silent example of his life, and just how we should love God faithfully and obediently.

Let us pray:

Blessed St. Joseph, husband of Mary,

be with us this day.

You protected and cherished the Virgin;

loving the Child Jesus as your Son,

you rescued Him from the danger of death.

Defend the Church,

the household of God,

purchased by the Blood of Christ.

Guardian of the Holy Family,

be with us in our trials.

May your prayers obtain for us

the strength to flee from error

and wrestle with the powers of corruption

so that in life we may grow in holiness

and in death rejoice in the crown of victory.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We pray to God through your powerful intercession for all the fathers and spouses in the world so that they may imitate you in your faith, love and fidelity to God and your family.

 

 

 

We entrust to you as well all the families in the world so that they may imitate the virtues lived by the Holy Family of Nazareth and become its faithful image.

 

 

 

Through your intercession, may God shower more vocations to His Church, especially the vocation to priesthood, and may all priests and future priests strive be holy, faithful and apostolic ministers of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

Be Still My Soul~ Br. Chip Noon, Novice

Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side….

Lent and Advent seem to be mirrors of what we do all day, every day, all year, every year: We are waiting, waiting on the Lord. And it also seems like everyone, from Abram in today’s First Reading to you and me, we have been waiting forever.

Now some of us, like myself, are going to say, “OK, I can wait a little longer, if you don’t mind…”, but that is because we believe the words of the hymn that I started with:

Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to they God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul! thy best, they heav’nly Friend
Thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Because we have faith that there will be a peaceful end and a heavenly homeland. Well, most of the time we believe this. Sometimes we…or should I more properly say “I”…mostly believe this. Yes, admittedly, there are days when I have my doubts. Do you? These are day that are usually filled with some physical or emotional travail. Some pain or sorrow that I don’t seem to be able to get away from. And it comes upon me like a dead weight, a frightening phantom, an empty abyss.

Oh it is hard to get away from these terrors.

Abram seemed to need quite a lot of convincing that the Lord was on his side, over much of his life. Today we hear that he had to be shown all the stars in the firmament, five animals to sacrifice, a flaming torch, and God making a covenant with him. And this was God speaking directly to him!

In today’s Psalm, the prophet is on the one hand expressing his belief in God and on the other, bucking himself up to be stouthearted and courageous in the face of anguish. And the Apostle Paul is telling the Philippians, again as he says, to “stand firm in the Lord.”

So it seems as though everyone in the Bible and scriptures needs constant pep-talks, constant reminders of what they believe and what is in store for them.

And isn’t that true in our own lives? We, and almost everyone we know, need pep-talks at one time or another…sometimes many times or another! Throughout literature, history, current affairs, our heroes and  we are buoyed up by some one or some thing and we are buoying up our friends and family. It seems like a constant endeavor. Maybe because it is in our makeup to ride the roller coaster of feelings. I know I am cursed – or blessed – with this phenomenon. I can recount many, many times that I have either needed or given encouragement, with the emphasis on “courage.”

Helping others, this act of friendship which we call comfort or reassurance, is deep-rooted in society, especially in societies such as religious orders. And yes, it is found throughout the New Testament. For example, in 1 Thessalonians Paul says, “Therefore encourage on another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” And Peter: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” And again Paul, in that famous passage: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

And so, in the days of Lent, each day can be a lesson for us, with the Resurrection as the prize. And we should not be hesitant to anticipate that prize, because look, in today’s Gospel, Peter, John, and James were initiated in a way into the divinity of Jesus and as we know, it was not until after the Resurrection that they truly understood and believed, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Even the Transfiguration and the spirits of Moses and Elijah were not enough for them; so much so that they did not tell anyone what they had seen. I’ve always thought that it was so fantastical to them that they were afraid to be thought of as foolish.

But don’t lets us be foolish. Let us remember past Lenten days and past Easters and remember those times God has spoken to us in the quiet of our souls and sing again the old hymn “Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side….”

Lord, thank you for being on our side. As we go through this Lenten season, help us to remember these words every day.

Amen.