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:
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.
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.
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! 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.
Although it can be a little grim, I love the Ash Wednesday service. More than any other single service in the entire Christian year, it expresses the two great truths of our faith.
First, we acknowledge our mortality and our sin. We are marked with ashes and reminded that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Then comes Psalm 51 and the long “litany of penitence” in which we confess the many ways we fail to live as we should in the short time allotted to us.
There is something refreshingly honest in that. Even if we mostly try not to think about it, we all know that we will die someday, and we all know that we do not always act the way we should.
But, if we stopped there, we would be left without hope. Thankfully, our service continues with the words of God’s forgiveness and love, and the sacrament that unites us to Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection.
And that, in a nutshell, is our faith. We move(or rather, we are moved) from sin and death…to life and love.
Just like Ash Wednesday, Lent, which begins right now, is all about the move from sin and death to life and love.
During the service, the Priest will invite you all, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent. some of the things we can do in order to observe a holy Lent are: Self-examination and repentance. Prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.
Now, those are all good things to do anytime. But more than any other season in the Christian year, Lent is a time for us to be brutally honest with ourselves about where we stand in our relationship with God.
Lent invites us to reflect on our priorities. I don’t mean what we say we value. I mean the priorities that are reflected in the way we live, how we spend our money, where we put our emotional energy. What would the people who know us best say is important to us? What would they say about our love of God and neighbor?
For me, I suspect for most of us, answering those questions can be painful.
Sin is bad enough. The fact is, I do things I ought not to do. I leave undone things I ought to do. I sin against God and neighbor in thought and word and deed.
It is even worse to think about my own death or the death of the people I love. One of the hardest things for us to do as Priests is saying Last Rites. I did so for a woman who died a few hours later. As I prayed for her, it hit me that someday I will be the one lying there.
Those are hard truths, and most of the time we turn away from them. Perhaps that is as it should be. But we cannot really escape the hard truths of our own lives, not indefinitely. At some point, we have to turn and face our sin and our mortality. Lent is the season when the Church invites us to face those hard truths, beginningg with this service.
And so we work at self-examination and repentance and the other Lenten disciplines.
But as in this service, so in the rest of Lent, there is the good news. Even in Lent, we hear the word of God’s forgiveness and love! Even in Lent, we hear the good news of Christ’s victory! Even in Lent, we hear the good news of God’s kingdom of justice and mercy and love!
Indeed it is the good news of God’s love for us that makes it possible for us to face the hard truths of our lives with courage and faith and hope. We can acknowledge our sin, because we know that in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. We can acknowledge that we will die, because we know that someday we will live again with Christ our Lord.
I am grateful for the good news that we hear even in Lent. But we should not hurry too quickly to the good news of Easter. Nor should we linger too long with our sin and mortality. Rather, Lent is about the move from one to the other.
What Lent adds to the lessons of Ash Wednesday is time: time to practice, time to grow, time to come closer to God, time to experience that move from sin and death to love and life.
I have a friend who is currently on one of those new fad diets. For now, my friend is eating no gluten and no processed food and no sugar and no alcohol and hardly any fruit or carbohydrates. It all sounds grim to me, and she says I am right.
Her plan is to stay on this diet for a few weeks while she gets all the toxins out of her body.
Lent is like a spiritual version of that diet. For a few weeks, we adopt practices that help to purify our spiritual systems. To the degree that we can, we avoid sin and live right. We give up those things that sdistract us from God. We take on practices that support our efforts to grow in the knowledge and love of God.
And because Lent is just six weeks, we can commit to things that we might not be able to sustain indefinitely. I am giving up soda, tea and beef. Come Easter, I intend to return to all three! But I can give them up for a while.
But a kind of spiritual detox, important as it is, does not exhaust the meaning of Lent. The goal of Lent is for us to draw closer to God permanently.
This, too, is a little like my friend’s diet. For now, she is giving up everything that makes eating worthwhile. After a few weeks, she will relax and eat some of that stuff again. But her long-term hope is that this diet will change how she eats in an ongoing way. Going forward, she will eat some carbohydrates, for example, but not as much as she used to.
Lent is like the strict period of my friend’s diet. But coming out of Lent, we can hopefully have developed new and spiritually healthy habits.
So, for example, if you do not have a morning prayer routine, you might try saying the service of Morning Prayer every day during Lent. It takes about fifteen minutes. Then, if that is too much, and it may well be, you could continue after Lent ends with a scaled down prayer routine. You are spending a few minutes in prayer every morning.
All of this is one long way of saying that I encourage you to take the invitation to a holy Lent seriously, to spend time prayerfully reflecting on what you could do in this holy season to grow closer to God, and to reflect prayerfully on habits that you could begin to form that will draw you closer to God in an ongoing way.
And I urge this in the name of Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Amen.
Blessings and Woes
Like St. Matthew’s Sermon on the mount, St. Luke’s Sermon on the plain also tells of Jesus teaching His disciples an unexpected litany of who is blessed (the Beatitudes); though unlike St. Matthew’s version, St. Luke includes a list of 4 woes (vaes). It is, therefore, understandable that more people gravitate towards St. Matthew’s rendition, after all, the beatitudes make us feel good about ourselves while the woes, not so much. Of course Jesus’ teachings often juxtaposed the good with the bad, the ups with the downs, the expected with the unexpected, God’s kingdom with the world, and these lessons were as challenging for the disciples then as they are for us today.
I often think about what Jesus’ message was to the disciples and those people who gathered about when He spoke of those who were blessed as well as those who inspired His woes. Through the millenia , the church’s interpretation, and indeed general consensus on the meaning of being “blessed” is one of happiness and contentment; we use the term blessings to refer to those worldly situations and possessions which are thought to bring about the state of happiness. Yet, as Jesus spoke to the diverse crowds of rich and poor, healthy and sick, popular and pariah, content and wanting, it seems that happiness would not have been such a universal truth. In fact, to those who were poor, hungry, weeping, hated and excluded, insulted and denounced, it is doubtful they would describe their plight as being a state of happiness. And to the rich, satisfied, cheerful, loved and accepted, praised and exalted, surely they would not described their lives as woeful. But the scripture is clear, the former are described as “blessed “and woe is given to the latter.
In this light to be “blessed” must imply something deeper, more spiritual, more meaningful then worldly happiness. Clearly, the blessings that the Creator has laid upon those who are the world’s most afflicted do not involve the worldly ideals of riches and contentment but, instead, some state of being in an enviable relationship with God. I liken this state to the relationship of a gravely ill child with their parent. Though parents may equally and unconditionally love all their children, for those who bear illnesses or challenges beyond that of normal childhood, there is a special parent-child bond, a special celebration of existence which transcends the child’s corporal affliction. To be blessed by God then, is to be part of this unique Creator-creation bond, a bond of unconditional love that is envied by all others. When we are weighed down by our own plight, when the world seeks to subjugate us for our differences and humanity has abandoned us as unworthy of existence casting our frail bodies out into the dust of the streets, it is there that find ourselves in the arms of our Creator. In the depths of human need and frailty, it is our heavenly Father who loves and provides for us and the Holy Spirit who fills our breasts with life, hope, strength and perseverance. We are cleansed with holy tears shed by the Redeemer, our transgressions are washed away by the blood of God’s lamb and our inequities are erased by the most loving and gracious of sacrifices. It is there in the Earth’s dust from which we were fashioned that we open our eyes to see the one who created us, the smiling face of our heavenly parent who sees through the veil of our imperfect physical shell seeing only the magnificence that is His creation.
It is no wonder Jesus said woe to those who have found happiness in worldly riches and power. How He must have grieved to see those given so much by the world, always striving with each step to reach the apex of their ivory towers –steep rocky steps built on pride, greed, desire for power and concern for wordly acceptance. Alas, if only they could find the humility to reach down and lift up those who lay in the dust, or break bread with those who had none or share a kind word and moment of recognition with the ostracized, then they might understand what it truly means to be “blessed”.
How can we receive God’s love and be so “blessed”? Does our heavenly Father wish us to become like the poor, hungry, weeping, hated and excluded, insulted and denounced before we might receive His love? Of course not! Like any parent, our Father does not wish that we His children should suffer such a plight, but He does wish us to humble ourselves and reach out to those who are ignoble; to reach out to them, touch them, hold them, lift them up and so stand together as brothers and sisters.
There is a little story which I have stumbled upon that goes:
The old Rabbi said, “In olden days there were men who saw the face of God.”
“Why don’t they any more?” a young student asked.
“Because, nowadays no one stoops so low,” he replied.
Oh How true! Remember Moses went up the mountain, only to be near God when he knelt down in front of a burning bush and the disciples only began to see the true light of Jesus when they looked down as He washed their feet! So we too must stoop down low, lower than those we once called our servants, and be servants to them, washing their feet, caring for their needs above our own, healing their wounds and comforting their souls. For when we lower ourselves so that we might raise up others, it is then that we allow the blessings of God to flow through us and into others and in so doing we too become “blessed”.
Gospel LK 5:1-11
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening
to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.
As Christians we face many challenges in these uncertain times. We want to enjoy life, we want to do things that provide us pleasure and act as if we answer to no one. Unless we are spiritually dead we also experience that vague feeling that we should be doing something that makes a difference in the world, something that lightens someone else’s burden or somehow indicates that we are Christians and care about our fellow man. Our drive to enjoy life and our drive to help our fellow man come together and challenge us to think about what is important to us. On the surface Luke’s story is about fishing, but I believe it is telling us to move out of our comfort zone and sail into uncharted waters for the sake of Christ and his Kingdom. Jesus instructed the fishermen to take their boats to deeper water and cast their nets out for a catch. These fishermen have been fishing all night with nothing to show for their effort, they were tired, and the last thing they needed was fishing advice from a carpenter. These times were much simpler than today, no fish meant no food to these people. They obeyed Jesus and were pleasantly surprised to catch so many fish that their nets were starting to tear. We assume they were greatly pleased.
You may think of this as one of Jesus’s miracles, but in reality, this is more of a physical lesson than a miracle. The lesson I believe he wished to teach us is that we need to leave our comfort zone (the shallow waters) and venture out into the deeper waters to bring people to Jesus. We like to fish in the shallow familiar waters, seeking like minded people, people who have similar experiences, and share our thoughts and feelings. Jesus wants us to venture into the deeper waters and minister to the people who are on the edge of society, those who are under water and feel as if they are drowning in life. As the song “Let Down Your Net, Down into The Water” says:
There is some of you diseased and afflicted
and sickness reigns in your mind,
you’ve let the prophets of doubt and unbelief convince you
that Jesus don’t heal the sick and blind.
Jesus does heal the sick and the blind, we just need to find them, take their hands and lead them to the Lord. Where do we find the sick and the blind? Look around you while swimming in the deeper water. You can most likely find them already in your everyday life, at work, at school, or even in your church. Yes some people are just going through the motions, and hoping they are doing it correctly by attending church. Take their hands, answer their questions, listen to their concerns and lead them to our Lord.
Your soul is so thirsty, your so battle weary
your body’s weak and tired from the pain,
well it’s time to get up stand up on the bible
he’s pouring out that latter rain.
Come to the lord and be refreshed, be rejuvenated, and be replenished. The Lord will fill your soul with joy and peace, quench that thirst and take away your pain once and for all.
Don’t worry about the water being too deep, Jesus is your lifesaver!
Lord, in your mercy guide us to the deeper water so that we, with your guidance, may bring others to know your love and peace. Allow us to make ourselves available to you so that you can work miracles through us. Help us to make your church flourish by making us into a lighthouse in our community, guiding others to you. Amen
Today’s Readings and Gospel follow a specific pattern that speaks to us as Christians and particularly as Dominicans.
The First Reading is God’s hortatory address to Jeremiah but is to be accepted as directed to us as keepers of the flame, or simply as messengers of God’s word…as prophets to the nations. So who are we to hold back? Why do we quaver? “…for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
The Responsorial Psalm describes how we are to imitate Jesus. Having accepted the mission to spread the Gospel, this is a prayer to our Master to give us the strength, tools, and courage we need to go forth and relay his message. In the psalm, we pray to God that we will be worthy of the task because he is with us, protecting and guiding us. It is like a pep-talk before the big game, a sales meeting before we hit the road.
The Second Reading is a run-through of our mission, touching all the bases, but most especially the whole point of our work: to show the world that God is Love, that we revel in that Love, and that we are passing on the means to our own and the world’s salvation: Love. We, along with Jesus, put up the demons and one-by-one knock them down to replace them with the one honest-go-God’s Truth: Love. And as a bonus, we are given, and we give, the gifts of Faith and Hope, the companions and the servants of Love.
The Alleluia reminds us, in no uncertain terms, that while we are bestowing God’s message we really ought to remember to whom we are truly speaking: the poor, captives, those who most need God’s grace.
And finally, in the Gospel, Jesus tells us exactly what’s probably going to happen to us. We are going to be reviled and rejected. But, like Jesus, if we are true to our calling, and with God’s grace, we will pass through the midst of our tormentors and go on to those who will benefit from our teaching, and thank us for bringing it.
Well. There we are. An easy yoke and a light burden.
Wait a minute, though. Let me go back and think this through again. In today’s Mass we have the preacher’s lesson: God is on our side, we acknowledge our task and pray for success, we give our message as best we can, not forgetting who may need it most, and we prepare ourselves not only for people to heed God’s word, but also for people to scoff at us and drive us away.
These are the readings that we need to memorialize and memorize. I do, anyway.
These are the readings that lay out the simple mission and that show us exactly how it is to be accomplished.
But in fact, frightening as all get-out at times.
And that is exactly why we are expected to become completely familiar with Holy Scripture. Because therein, hidden as well as in plain sight, we have all we need to represent Jesus on earth. In fact, he’s not asking us to perform healing mysteries or loaves and fishes miracles. If we just take today’s Mass to heart, and to soul, we will have all we need to fulfill our vows.
Yes, there will be stumbling blocks. I’ve climbed over (and honestly gone around) many so far. But just as Jesus showed us, we can and we will walk through the negativity and away from the precipice over which some would like to toss us.
So yes, it can be, at times, a frightening path.
For have we not been told in Psalm 126, “ Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.
Lord may it be so for us, that with your help, we will reap a rich harvest. In Jesus’s name.