Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday Reflection

Below is the reflection I gave immediately preceding the Stations of the Cross at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Baton Rouge on Good Friday:

“It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses and crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

As we come to pray these Stations of the Cross, we step back from the normal activities of our daily lives and walk with the Lord Jesus in His suffering and death. We accompany Him Who accompanies us at every moment and see in His Passion the revelation of God’s love for us and His desire to heal our wounds.

In the petitions from Morning Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours we encounter today a beautiful prayer: “Christ our Savior, on the cross you embraced all time with your outstretched arms, unite God’s scattered children in your kingdom of salvation.” With arms outstretched He embraced all time.

Sometimes it can be hard for us to remember that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. We can tend to focus on one more than the other, but this beautiful prayer reminds us that while Jesus was suffering as a man on the Cross, He was still acting as God in calling to mind all of creation history. And not just on the Cross did He do this, but all throughout His life – and especially during the sufferings of His Passion and Death.

With every false word uttered against Him at His trial, Jesus looked all throughout history to those who suffered persecution and injustice. And looking at them, He poured forth the grace to be persecuted not alone, but in union with Him. As Jesus was beaten and scourged by the Roman guards, He looked all through history to those who suffered abuse and chastisement. And looking at them, He enabled them to hope in a better time to come. With every step that he took on the way to Calvary, he saw those who work and toil only to come up short and He offers the gift of a heavenly riches. Every time Christ fell to the ground under the weight of the Cross and yet rose again to continue the journey, He looked upon those whose sins are such a heavy burden and gives the grace of courage and perseverance to journey in the path of holiness. And as He reached the top of that Blessed Hill, stripped of His clothes, His companions, and His glory, He stretched out His arms and offered Himself up on the Altar of the Cross so that all of us, while we were and are still sinners, might be redeemed and able to enter into that Heavenly Banquet that awaits the righteous.

All of this is done out of absolute love for us, as a whole and as individuals. As those sacred arms were stretched out and nailed to the Cross, the Lord redeemed all of humanity, but He also redeemed all of our lives – each one individually, purposefully, lovingly.

It is part of the human condition to suffer, but that does not mean that the Lord desires us to suffer. Rather, He seeks to have that suffering healed and redeemed. Let us reflect for a moment on the person of the Good Samaritan who encounters the man beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. The Good Samaritan is one who encounters a person to whom he has no obligations, to whom he has no connection, and yet out of love for the injured one, he takes the man, washes him off and binds up his wounds, carries him to an inn and pays the prices for the man to stay there to heal. Is this not a sign of what Jesus himself did for us on the Cross? Did He not look upon us, to whom He had not true obligation to offer Himself up, and out of love reach out to us to heal the wounds of our souls? So often we are like that man left for dead. Each of us has suffered wounds in our life. Maybe they was inflicted on us by someone else. Maybe it was a wound of rejection or of a misunderstanding. Maybe it was a wound of our apparent unworthiness or some wound that inflict upon ourselves. In the end, each of us has something in our heart, something in our soul, that longs for the Lord to reach out and bind it up with His healing touch.

As we pray these Stations of the Cross, contemplating the great suffering of Our Lord and the incredible gift of love He offers, let us also open our hearts to Him. Let us pray that the Precious Blood of Jesus, which poured forth from His many wounds, would wash our souls clean and heal us of the afflictions which we suffer.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ to heal those of our souls. Amen. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

From a homily by St. Gregory of Nazienzen:

"We must sacrifice ourselves to God, each day and in everything we do, accepting all that happens to us for the sake of the Word, imitating his passion by our sufferings and honoring his blood by shedding our own. We must be ready to be crucified."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

From a treatise on faith addressed to Peter by St. Fulgentius of Ruspe:

"Christ is therefore the one who in himself alone embodied all that he knew to be necessary to achieve our redemption. He is at once priest and sacrifice, God and temple. He is the priest through whom we have been reconciled, the sacrifice by which we have been reconciled, the temple in which we have been reconciled, the God with whom we have been reconciled."

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Readings for Thursday, April 14:
Genesis 17:3-9
Psalm 105:4-9
John 8:51-59

It has often been said that Jesus never claimed that He was God and that this was just something that later Christian writers decided, that it wasn't really a foundational belief of the followers of Jesus. Today's gospel passage is a direct contradiction to that claim. According to the sources that we have - gospels and historical texts from that time period - Jesus never stood up and said the phrase "I am God." However, He did utter many phrases that the people of the day would have taken to mean just that. 

In the midst of this ordinary dispute about following Abraham, the Jews are shocked to hear Jesus' claim to have seen Abraham. In reaction to this apparently foolish claim, they mock the Lord and point out that He is still just a veritable youth. Here the Lord responds: "Before Abraham came to be, I AM." It seems an odd statement in English, but 'I AM' was the name that the Jews new God by. In this simple exchange Jesus acknowledges the fact that although He is a man of only 30 years of age, but that He is also God. We can see that the Jewish people clearly understand that Jesus essentially just said "I am God" because they pick up stones to stone him to death, an appropriate punishment for blasphemy. Interesting, eh? :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Witnesses of Faith

Readings for Wednesday, April 13/Commemoration of St. Martin I:
Daniel 3:14-20,91-92,95
Daniel 3:52-56
John 8:31-42

In today's readings we find the beautiful story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who, told to abandon the Jewish faith, stand firm in faith and are thus condemned to be burned alive. The words we find on their lips in response to this sentence are a beautiful testament to their faith in the God of Israel: "If our God whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up." Se deep is their faith in the Lord that they will serve him even if he does not preserve or rescue them from the suffering they would soon endure. It is fitting that today is also the commemoration of Pope St. Martin I, who led the Christian faithful from four years in the 7th Century. As Pope of the Catholic Church, he was arrested and hauled off to a foreign land, where he suffered many 'public indignities' and trials. In a surviving letter from that time he writes of how he was so quickly cast aside and forgotten by his closest friends and family. And yet in that time he remained faithful to the Lord and prayed for Christian unity and for his persecutors up until his death. God grant that we too may have such faith.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

Since my last post I have run a half marathon (13.1 miles), gotten a stress fracture in my foot due to running said marathon, and spent the week working on various projects after falling behind due to the need to tend to said stress fracture. Thus, things have been a bit hectic lately, but I'm finally able to come back to the surface and breathe again - and the air is quite nice! The past few days have been spent preparing for a presentation due on Monday for my 'Theology of Holy Orders' course here at the seminary, so I've been reading a lot about the priesthood, which I've found really exciting. One quote of the many quotes that I thought were incredible came from Archbishop Charles Chaput, in the book Priests for a New Millennium

“’Maintenance-mode’ Christianity does not exist. Happiness for the priest depends on our bringing others to know Jesus Christ, and deepening the roots of the word in the hearts of those who already profess him. If priests do not live the ministry of the word ardently and actively, we cannot be happy, because we are made to be a model and sacrifice for others. We are made to witness.