Saturday, April 27, 2019

Second Sunday of Easter, Year C (Divine Mercy Sunday)

On this Sunday in Saint Peter's Square last year, Pope Francis commented on the day's Gospel of Doubting Thomas:
The Incredulity of St. Thomas, Caravaggio (1603)
... In the redeeming contact with the wounds of the Risen One, Thomas showed his own wounds, his own injuries, his own lacerations, his own humiliation; in the print of the nails he found the decisive proof that he was loved, that he was expected, that he was understood. He found himself before the Messiah filled with kindness, mercy, tenderness. This was the Lord he was searching for, he, in the hidden depths of his being, for he had always known He was like this. And how many of us are searching deep in our heart to meet Jesus, just as He is: kind, merciful, tender! For we know, deep down, that He is like this. Having rediscovered personal contact with Christ who is amiable and mercifully patient, Thomas understood the profound significance of his Resurrection and, intimately transformed, he declared his full and total faith in Him exclaiming: “My Lord and my God!” Beautiful, Thomas’ expression is beautiful! 
...Like Thomas we are called to contemplate, in the wounds of the Risen One, Divine Mercy, which overcomes all human limitations and shines on the darkness of evil and of sin.... Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. Let us keep our gaze turned to Him, who always seeks us, waits for us, forgives us; so merciful, He is not afraid our our wretchedness. In his wounds He heals us and forgives all of our sins.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Palm (Passion) Sunday, Year C

"It is a moving experience each year on Palm Sunday," said Pope Benedict in 2011, "as we go up the mountain with Jesus, towards the Temple, accompanying him on his ascent. On this day, throughout the world and across the centuries, young people and people of every age acclaim him, crying out: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” He continued:
 But how can we keep pace with this ascent? Isn’t it beyond our ability? Certainly, it is beyond our own possibilities. From the beginning men and women have been filled – and this is as true today as ever – with a desire to “be like God,” to attain the heights of God by their own powers....
Entry into Jerusalem, Giotto, ca. 1305
The question of how man can attain the heights, becoming completely himself and completely like God, has always engaged mankind. It was passionately disputed by the Platonic philosophers of the third and fourth centuries. For them, the central issue was finding the means of purification which could free man from the heavy load weighing him down and thus enable him to ascend to the heights of his true being, to the heights of divinity. Saint Augustine, in his search for the right path, long sought guidance from those philosophies. But in the end he had to acknowledge that their answers were insufficient, their methods would not truly lead him to God. To those philosophers he said: recognize that human power and all these purifications are not enough to bring man in truth to the heights of the divine, to his own heights. And he added that he should have despaired of himself and human existence had he not found the One who accomplishes what we of ourselves cannot accomplish; the One who raises us up to the heights of God in spite of our wretchedness: Jesus Christ who from God came down to us and, in his crucified love, takes us by the hand and lifts us on high.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

5th Sunday of Lent, Year C

As we approach Holy Week, the Gospel given us for the Fifth Sunday of Lent is the story of the woman taken in adultery: The scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman who had been caught committing adultery, hoping to trap Jesus. St. Augustine comments:
But look at the way our Lord’s answer upheld justice without forgoing clemency. He was not caught in the snare his enemies had laid for him; it is they themselves who were caught in it. He did not say the woman should not be stoned, for then it would look as though he were opposing the law. But he had no intention of saying: “Let her be stoned,” because he came not to destroy those he found but to seek those who were lost. Mark his reply. It contains justice, clemency, and truth in full measure. Let the one among you who has never sinned be the first to throw a stone at her....
Jesus and the Woman taken in Adultery, Magdeburg ivories, ca. 962-968
This, unquestionably, is the voice of justice, justice that pierced those men like a javelin. Looking into themselves, they realized their guilt, and one by one they all went out. Two remained behind: the miserable woman, and Mercy. The Lord raised his eyes, and with a gentle look he asked her: Has no one condemned you? She replied: No one, sir. And he said: Neither will I condemn you.
You see then that the Lord does indeed pass sentence, but it is sin he condemns, not people. One who approved of immorality would have said, “Neither will I condemn you. Go and live as you please; you can be sure that I will acquit you. However much you sin, I will release you from all penalty, and from the tortures of hell and the underworld.” He did not say that. He said: “Neither will I condemn you; you need have no fear of the past, but beware of what you do in the future. Neither will I condemn you: I have blotted out what you have done; now observe what I have commanded, in order to obtain what I have promised.”