Saturday, March 28, 2020

5th Sunday of Lent, Year A

I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die (Jn 11:25). How much comfort Christ’s words to the mourning sisters of Lazarus bring to anyone who has lost a loved one. And how much hope they bear to each of us, as we journey through this life to our eternal homeland! The Church gives us today’s Gospel (John 11:1-45) prepares us for the approaching celebration of Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, as he gives his life in order that we might have Life.

In 2015, Pope Francis gave a beautiful talk on this Gospel. Here's part of it:
The Raising of Lazarus, Duccio (1310–11)
Before the sealed tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus “cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth” (vv. 43-44). This peremptory cry is addressed to every human person, because we are all marked by death, all of us; it is the voice of One Who is the master of life, one who will all “should have [life] more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). Christ is not resigned to the sepulchres that we have constructed with our choices of evil and death, with our mistakes, with our sins. He is not resigned to this! He invites us, almost orders us, to come out from the tombs into which our sins have plunged us. 
He calls us insistently to come out of the darkness of the prison in which we are enclosed, contenting ourselves with a false, selfish, mediocre life. “Come forth!” He says. “Come forth!” It is a beautiful invitation to true freedom, to allow us to grab onto these words of Jesus that He repeats to each one of us today, an invitation that allows us to free ourselves from the “bands,” from the bands of pride. Because pride makes us slaves, slaves of ourselves, slaves of so many idols, slaves of so many things. Our resurrection begins here: when we decide to obey the commands of Jesus to come into the light, to life; when the masks fall from our faces — so many times we are masked by sin: the masks must fall! — and we rediscover the courage of our original faces, created in the image and likeness of God. 
The act of Jesus by which He raised Lazarus demonstrates the end to which the power of the Grace of God can arrive, and the end, therefore to which our conversion, our change can arrive. But listen well: there is no other limit to the divine mercy offered to all! There is no other limit to the divine mercy offered to all! Remember this phrase. And we can all say it together: “There is no other limit to the divine mercy offered to all!” Let us say it together: “There is no other limit to the divine mercy offered to all!” The Lord is always ready to take away the tombstone of our sins, which separate us from Him, the light of the living.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

4th Sunday of Lent, Year A

“Laetare, Jerusalem” - “Rejoice, Jerusalem!” These first words of the Introit today make us pause during these difficult days, when our world is under siege from Covid-19. Yet they set the tone for this Fourth Sunday of Lent. Halfway through the penitential Lenten season, the Church invites us to rejoice, emphasizing the themes of joy and light, and giving us the Gospel story of the man who was born blind (John 9:1). We pray that Our Lord stretches out his healing hand to us all, as he did the blind man.

In 2002, St. (Pope) John Paul II spoke on this Gospel in his Angelus address in St. Peter´s Square:
Icon, Healing the Blind Man
The man born blind represents the man marked by sin, who wishes to know the truth about himself and his own destiny, but is impeded by a congenital malady. Only Jesus can cure him: He is “the light of the world” (John 9:5). By entrusting oneself to him, every human being, spiritually blind from birth, has the possibility of “coming to the light” again, that is, to supernatural life.... 
For whomever encounters Christ, there is no other way: Either one recognizes one´s need of him and of his light, or one chooses to ignore him. In the latter case, the same presumption impedes both the one who thinks he is just before God, as well as the one who considers himself an atheist, to be open to an authentic conversion.
May no one, dear brothers and sisters, close their spirit to Christ! He gives the light of faith to the one who receives him, light that is able to transform hearts and, consequently, mentalities, social, political and economic situations dominated by sin. “… I do believe, Lord!” (John 9:38). With the man born blind, may each one of us be ready to humbly profess our own adherence to him.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A

The Gospel for the Sunday of the Third Week in Lent is from John 4:5-42. Jesus, sitting at a well, asks a Samaritan woman for water, and has a conversation with her about water and eternal life: Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him,” Jesus said, “will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (Jn 4:14).

Pope Benedict XVI, in his Angelus talk of March 27, 2011  spoke on this Gospel passage:
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well
God the Father sent him to quench our thirst for eternal life, giving us his love, but to give us this gift Jesus asks for our faith. The omnipotence of Love always respects human freedom; it knocks at the door of man’s heart and waits patiently for his answer....
This water represents the Holy Spirit, the “gift” par excellence that Jesus came to bring on the part of God the Father. Whoever is reborn by water and by the Holy Spirit, that is, in Baptism, enters into a real relationship with God, a filial relationship, and can worship him “in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:23, 24), as Jesus went on to reveal to the Samaritan woman. Thanks to the meeting with Jesus Christ and to the gift of the Holy Spirit, the human being’s faith attains fulfilment, as a response to the fullness of God’s revelation.
Each one of us can identify himself with the Samaritan woman: Jesus is waiting for us, especially in this Season of Lent, to speak to our hearts, to my heart. Let us pause a moment in silence, in our room or in a church or in a separate place. Let us listen to his voice which tells us “If you knew the gift of God…”.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A

After six days Jesus took Simon Peter with James and his brother John and let them up a high mountain, where he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and his clothing became white as light.

This Gospel, taken from Matthew 19:1-9, shows Jesus on his journey toward his suffering and death in Jerusalem. His full adherence to God’s will, said Pope Francis in 2015, renders his humanity transparent to the glory of God, who is love. Here is more of his talk:
Transfiguration, Alexandr Ivanov (1824)
Jesus thus reveals Himself as the perfect icon of the Father, the radiance of his glory. He is the fulfillment of revelation; that is why beside Him appear transfigured, Moses and Elijah appear; they represent the Law and the Prophets, so as to signify that everything finishes and begins in Jesus, in his passion and in his glory. 
Their instructions for the disciples and for us is this: “Listen to Him!” Listen to Jesus. He is the Savior: follow Him. To listen to Christ, in fact, entails taking up the logic of his Pascal Mystery, setting out on the journey with Him to make of oneself a gift of love to others, in docile obedience to the will of God, with an attitude of detachment from worldly things and of interior freedom. One must, in other words, be willing to “lose one’s very life” (cf. Mk 8:35), by giving it up so that all men might be saved: thus, we will meet in eternal happiness. The path to Jesus always leads us to happiness, don’t forget it! Jesus’ way always leads us to happiness. There will always be a cross, trials in the middle, but at the end we are always led to happiness. Jesus does not deceive us, He promised us happiness and will give it to us if we follow His ways.
With Peter, James and John we too climb the Mount of the Transfiguration today and stop in contemplation of the face of Jesus to retrieve the message and translate it into our lives; for we too can be transfigured by Love. In reality, love is capable of transfiguring everything. Love transfigures all!