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Parish Daily Update 4/9/20

Dear Parish Family Members,

“Jesus loves us to the point of giving his life for us….  And every one of us can say:  He gave his life for me.”  (Pope Francis)

–Please pray for the repose of the soul of George Lobrano, Sr., who passed away recently.  He is the father of our parishioner Blair Lobrano. 

–Please also pray for the repose of the soul of William Sheehan who passed away recently.  He is the father of our parishioner Brendan Sheehan.

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

The readings for Good Friday, along with Father Kevin’s homily, follow.

God bless you all!

Pam

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
April 10, 2020

First Reading:  Is 52:13 – 53:12

See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him so marred was his look beyond human semblance and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man so shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it.  Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.  Yet 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, crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all. Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.  Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, a grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood.  But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.  Therefore, I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.

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

R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
R.   Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
For all my foes I am an object of reproach,
a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends;
they who see me abroad flee from me.
I am forgotten like the unremembered dead;
I am like a dish that is broken.
R.  Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.”
R.  Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stouthearted,
all you who hope in the LORD.
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Second Reading:  Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.  In the days when Christ was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.  Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

This is a good link to a reading of the Gospel for Good Friday if you would like listen and/or read along.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3m2vvzGFRA  Passion according to St. John-Good Friday

Gospel:  Jn 18:1-19:42

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden,
into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So, Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
He said to them, “I AM.”
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, “I AM, “
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”
They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM.  So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”
This was to fulfill what he had said, “I have not lost any of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear.  The slave’s name was Malchus.  Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

So, the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.  Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.  Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside. So, the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest,
 
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.  Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm. 

The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing.  Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them. They know what I said.”
When he had said this, one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.  And they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?”  He denied it and said, “I am not.”  One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” Again, Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.  So, Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring against this man?”  They answered and said to him, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.”
At this, Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.”
The Jews answered him,  “We do not have the right to execute anyone, “in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.  So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?  Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.  What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.  For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.  Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
They cried out again, “Not this one but Barabbas!”  Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly.  Once more Pilate went out and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.  And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”
When the chief priests and the guards saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”
 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered,  “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid, and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?”
Jesus did not answer him.
So, Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above.  For this reason, the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, “If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.  Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.  It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.  And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your king!”
They cried out, “Take him away, take him away!  Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.  So, they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.  There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read,
“Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, “in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.  After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.  So, they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and that they be taken down.  So, the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.  And Pilate permitted it.  So, he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.  Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.  So, they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.

Homily

. . . it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings he endured . . . upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.  Isaiah 52: 13 – 53: 12

Twenty years from now, if you were to ask Italians to think back about what images stuck in their minds from the coronavirus, it’s a good bet that many would give the same answer:

“Papa Francesco standing alone in St. Peter’s Square, under the rain, praying for it to end,” they’d likely say.

It was a powerful image – maybe you saw it or joined in from your laptop or tablet on Friday March 24. Pope Francis stood alone on the steps of Saint Peter’s Basilica; the huge basilica square eerily empty. He blessed the sick and dying and terrified people of Italy from the steps of Saint Peter’s: “From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the world, may the blessing of God, like a consoling embrace, descend upon you,” the pope said.

A historian and critic wrote in one of Italy’s major newspapers:

“One day we’ll remember these sad times we’re living with many other images: the daily count of the dead, the lines at the hospitals, the frantic challenge to an invisible enemy. But the prayer for the end of the pandemic, the solemn Urbi et Orbi blessing, the solitude of the pope, will end up as one of those decisive moments in which television captures our history, our anguish, in real time.”

“The wind that blew the pages of the Gospels during the funeral of John Paul II, or the helicopter ride of Pope Benedict when he resigned, both moved us, but they’re nothing in comparison to the shock of seeing the empty square surrounded by the colonnade of Bernini.” 

[From “Francis on Friday delivered an iconic image that stirred a country’s soul” by John L. Allen, CRUX (cruxnow.com), March 29, 2020.]

The sight of Pope Francis praying in the empty square evokes the Gospel image of the solitary figure of the abandoned and condemned Jesus on Good Friday. On this particular Good Friday, we’re experiencing a similar sense of emptiness, of detachment, of abandonment in way many of us have never known before. We are stumbling under the weight of the crosses of anxiety, of fear, of illness, of death in ways we have never felt before. But the “goodness” of this Friday is the realization that we do not bear our crosses alone. The God who created us came to live among us and suffer among us and die among us.  Our God knows the pain and despair and fear that is part of the human experience. Our God has experienced the anger, the brutality, the selfishness that human beings are capable of inflicting on one another.

But our God — who possesses a love we cannot begin to fathom — refuses to let death be the victor or have the final word. God makes his presence and love known to us if we embrace the grace to realize it.

In the shadow of the Good Friday cross, may we take up our crosses during this challenging Holy Week trusting that Easter will dawn; and, with such hope, may we be the shoulders of Christ helping one another bear our individual crosses . . .                       Never alone.

Extra

“Standing by the cross . . .”

In its one of the indelible images of the Fourth Gospel.

At the foot of the cross stood Jesus’ mother.

She appears twice in John’s Gospel: at the beginning, when she prevails upon her son to work his first sign to save a young couple’s wedding, and at the end, today, Good Friday. The writer of the Fourth Gospel never mentions her name. We presume from Luke and Matthew’s Gospel that she is Miriam — or Mary.

What is Mary doing while standing under the cross?

In his book Sacred Fire, Father Ronald Rolheiser reflects on Mary’s vigil at her son’s cross.

“On the surface, she appears not to be doing anything at all. She does not speak, she does not try to stop the crucifixion, she does not even protest the unfairness or plead for Jesus’ innocence . . . In essence, Mary’s silence and strength speaks these words: Today, I can’t stop the crucifixion; nobody can. Sometimes darkness will have its hour. But I can stop some of the hatred, bitterness, jealousy, and heartlessness that caused it — by refusing to give back in kind, by transforming negativity rather than re-transmitting it, by swallowing hard, in silence, and eating the bitterness rather than giving it back in kind.

            “Had Mary, in emotional and moral outrage, screams hysterically, shouts angrily at those crucifying her son, or physically tries to attack someone as he was driving nails into Jesus’ wrists, she would have been caught up in the same kind of energy, replicating the very anger and bitterness that caused the crucifixion. What Mary is doing under the cross, her silence and seeming unwillingness to protest notwithstanding, is radiating all that is the antithesis to crucifixion: gentleness, understanding, forgiveness, peace, light and courage.

“And that is not easy to do. Everything inside of us demands justice, screams for it, and refuses to remain silent in the presence of injustice. Sometimes such protest is good — but at other times, evil has gone so far that the protests are no longer helpful. Darkness will have its hour. What is needed is some spark of light, some reason to hope.”

            That is Mary’s “standing” at the foot of Jesus’ cross. Her presence is not despair or passive resignation. It is a sign that, yes, we will suffer — but what we learn and discover from such suffering is nothing less than discovering the life and love of God.

            In the crosses we take up, in the crucifixions we witness, in the unjust suffering of those we love and care about, may we possess the faith and strength of Mary, to stand in support and witness that a cross taken up for what is right and good is the means to resurrection.

            Lord Jesus, inspired by the faithfulness of Mary, may we bear witness to your Gospel of mercy, justice and reconciliation by our care and support of those enduring crucifixions of illness, injustice and despair. By your cross, may we be re-born in your compassion and forgiveness; may it always be a living sign for us of your call to follow you in living your Gospel of peace and hope and to witnesses of your resurrection and lights of your continued presence in our midst.

Petitions on Good Friday

On Good Friday we offer the prayers of the faithful in a more solemn manner.  The form is from an ancient tradition and they reflect the full range of intentions. This year with the pandemic a special intention is added.

When we gather as a community which we are unable to do this year, Pam will state what the intention is that we are praying for and I (standing at the altar) would offer the prayer.

SOLEMN INTERCESSIONS ON GOOD FRIDAY

I. For Holy Church

II. For the Pope

III. For all orders and degrees of the Faithful

IV. For catechumens

V. For the unity of Christians

VI. For the Jewish people

VII. For those who do not believe in Christ

VIII. For those who do not believe in God

IX. For those in public office

X. For those in tribulation

XI. For those suffering from the current pandemic.

Let us pray, dearly beloved, to God the Father almighty, that he may extend his hand in mercy to all those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Silent Prayer

Almighty ever-living God, heal those who are ill, comfort those who mourn, give solace to all who are afraid and alone, and protect those who are providing medical care.  Make us instruments of your peace among our brothers and sisters. In your mercy, alleviate our fears and eliminate this scourge, so that we may come together again to give you praise and to build your Kingdom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Following the petitions, we would then come forward to adore the cross.

Adoration of the Holy Cross

 

This begins with a Showing of the Holy Cross. A veiled cross is elevated and we are told to Behold the Wood of the Cross.

The personal adoration of the cross is an important feature in this celebration and every effort should be made to achieve it. Only one cross is used for adoration.  Since we cannot gather together, I would ask that you use a cross in your home.  Maybe place it on a nice piece of material and set it where all can see it.  After reading the Gospel and offering the prayers.  Each person in the home kiss or touch the cross offering a silent prayer.  Then return the cross where all can see and if possible, place a lighted candle near it.

We would then receive Holy Communion that had been consecrated on Holy Thursday and placed in tabernacle of repose (not our regular tabernacle) for people to receive on Good Friday. 

 

Sadly, we are not able to receive communion this Friday so I would offer the following act of spiritual communion.

 

I believe, O Lord, and confess that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me this day, O Son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical supper. I will not reveal your mystery to Your enemies, nor shall I give you a kiss like that of Judas, but like the thief, I confess to you: Remember me, O Lord, when you come into your kingdom. Remember me, O Master, when You come into Your kingdom. Remember me, O Holy One, when You come into your Kingdom. May this spiritual partaking of Your holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation but for the healing of soul and body. God, be merciful to me, a sinner. God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord.

COMMUNION

O Eucharistic Heart of Jesus,

I wish to be united with your eternal offering to the Father,

with each Eucharistic sacrifice

being offered at this moment upon this earth.

Lord, Jesus, come and dwell in my heart,

nourish me with the Bread of Life, Yourself;

cleanse, wash and purify me in the bath of Your Precious Blood.

Our Father, Who art in heaven;

hallowed be Thy name.

Thy kingdom come;

thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our super substantial bread (the Bread of Life);

and forgive us our debts,

as we forgive our debtors,

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

Amen

I love you, O my God.

I cannot receive you in Holy Communion.

Come nevertheless and visit me with Your grace.

Come spiritually into my heart.

Purify it. Sanctify it. Render it like unto Your own.

Amen.

Lord, I am not worthy that thou should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

AFTER HOLY COMMUNION

Having been made worthy in a mystical way to partake of Your immaculate Body and precious Blood, O Christ Our God, I acclaim and bless, worship and glorify You, and proclaim the greatness of your saving acts, now and forever and ever. Amen.

Parish Daily Update 4/8/20

Dear Parish family,

This verse from the Responsorial Psalm of today’s Mass gave me much hope and joy today! 

“I will praise the name of God in song,

   and I will glorify him with thanksgiving:

‘See you lowly ones, and be glad;

   you who seek God, may your hearts revive!’”  Ps.69:31,33

Tomorrow begins the Sacred Triduum, the most holy days of the year when Christ endures his Passion, death, and Resurrection – FOR US!! 

There are no specific prayer intentions today – please continue to pray for all the intentions in previous emails as well as for an end to this virus, for all who are affected, for all who have died, and for all who are working diligently to care for the sick and to protect us all.

I continue to pray for and with you all!  Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!  St. Joseph, pray for us!

The Holy Thursday readings and Father Kevin’s homily follow.

God bless,

Pam

Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
April 9, 2020

First Reading:  Ex 12:1-8, 11-14

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel:
On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household.  If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.
They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb.  That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

“This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.  It is the Passover of the LORD.  For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.  Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.  “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18.

R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
 in the presence of all his people.
R. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.

Second Reading:  1 Cor 11:23-26

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Gospel:  Jn. 13: 1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.  He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So, when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?  You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Homily

 “If I, your Teacher and Lord, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

John 13: 1-15

It’s a strangely quiet Holy Thursday this year.

Many of us will not celebrate the beautiful liturgy of the Lord’s Supper – and if and where we can, the ritual washing of the feet will be omitted.

So, it’s up to each one of us to mark this day by “washing someone’s feet” – not physically of course, but by doing something for someone else, someone in your own household, someone in need or crisis.  And, better still, do it quietly, saying nothing – just extending a kindness or offering support, listening with quiet understanding, helping someone through the stress of these days with patience and optimism. Like tonight’s Gospel, our own Mandatum begins with embracing the spirit and example of Jesus on Holy Thursday – to bend down to wash the foot of another person requires a spirit of humility and selflessness, of respect and love for the other person; to allow another to wash our feet requires us to trust, to let go of our compulsion to be in control, to acknowledge our need to be healed and forgiven.

It’s only when we become authentic “foot washers” will we become the Church, the people of God envisioned by Jesus, and the witnesses of the resurrection that Jesus calls us to become tonight.

First, in our own home, for our own community.

Holy Thursday Extra Story – A Holy Thursday Foot Washing Encounter

            A couple was attending the Holy Thursday liturgy at a monastery near their home. During the liturgy, the monks invited everyone to have their feet washed and to wash the feet of one another. Two rows of chairs were set up on each side of the altar. The monks provided basins of warm water and towels so everyone present could participate in the simple but beautiful rite.

            One congregant felt a little self-conscious as a young woman knelt before him and washed his feet. Then it was his turn to be Jesus. Robert remembers kneeling down on the cold marble chapel floor and took the towel and basin. He recalls in an essay in Commonweal Magazine [March 23, 2018]:

            “Suddenly a large grotesquely disfigured foot with red bumps and bruises dipped into the basin. If leprosy was still around, this looked like it. Flashing through my mind was: I don’t want to do this! I might hurt or catch something! Of course, I instantly realized that he would not have put his foot into the water unless he wanted it to be washed. So, I did what Jesus would do. I washed his foot, wounds and all, and gently dried it. Then I did look up. And what did I see? A healthy, handsome, strong young man about twenty-five years old giving me one of the most stunning and grateful smiles I have ever seen. I was on the verge of tears . . .

            “After I finished, I realized that I was going to have trouble getting up gracefully, or at all, from the hard floor. When the young man reached out to thank me and shake my hand, I whispered, ‘Can you help me up?’ And, with one hand in mine, he lifted me up like a feather.

            “Although the chapel is quite small, I did not notice the young man receive Communion nor did I see him at the end of the service. [In the Bible], angels always disappear after delivering their message. He certainly looked and felt like a real person. Was he also an angel? I don’t know, but I believe I did see Jesus that night.”

            Jesus’ washing of the feet is an invitation to meet him in one another. To wash the feet of another — in whatever way we can — is to not only to follow Jesus but to recognize him in the brokenness, the hurt, the despair, the fear of those we meet. The relief we provide, the reconciliation we enable, the hope we realize is our following Jesus in the role of foot washer; at the table of the Eucharist, we become the Church of the compassionate service — all in memory of Jesus.

            Although this year we cannot gather and celebrate the Passover meal that Jesus celebrated with his disciples and transformed for us into the eternal covenant between God and us.  Wherein he showed us that this meal is about our service to one another.  This story touched me and I wanted to share it with you.

As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, may we humbly and joyfully wash the feet of one another and allow others to wash our feet in their acts of kindness and forgiveness. May we be Christ’s body and blood for our broken, hurting world; may we be grateful and generous foot washers.

Spiritual Communion

I believe, O Lord, and confess that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners.

Accept me this day, O Son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical supper. I will not reveal your mystery to Your enemies, nor shall I give you a kiss like that of Judas, but like the thief, I confess to you: Remember me, O Lord, when you come into your kingdom.

Remember me, O Master, when You come into Your kingdom.

Remember me, O Holy One, when You come into your Kingdom.

May this spiritual partaking of Your holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation but for the healing of soul and body.

God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me.

COMMUNION

    O Eucharistic Heart of Jesus,

    I wish to be united with your eternal oblation to the Father,

    with each Eucharistic sacrifice

    being offered at this moment upon this earth.

    Lord, Jesus, come and dwell in my heart,

    nourish me with the Bread of Life, Yourself;

    cleanse, wash and purify me in the bath of Your Precious Blood.

    Our Father, Who art in heaven;

    hallowed be Thy name.

    Thy kingdom come;

    thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    Give us this day our super substantial bread (the Bread of Life);

    and forgive us our debts,

    as we forgive our debtors,

    and lead us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from evil.

    Amen

Lord, I am not worthy that thou should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

AFTER HOLY COMMUNION

Having been made worthy in a mystical way to partake of Your immaculate Body and precious Blood, O Christ Our God, I acclaim and bless, worship and glorify You, and proclaim the greatness of your saving acts, now and forever and ever. Amen.

Parish Daily Update 4/7/20

Dear St. Joseph Family,

First, please allow me to apologize for the email blast not going out yesterday evening.  We use MailChimp for our email server and were having difficulties getting it to send yesterday.  We had to go around the world, but I think we have it fixed now.  That being said, I will not do a lot of “extras” in this evening’s email.  I will copy from yesterday’s (in case you didn’t see it) the “business” and “prayer intention” paragraphs for your information:

Business – Our collection deposit for last week was $7580 for the general fund.  There were some Special Collection offerings as well, but those have not been processed as yet, and I will report on those next week.  I want to say a profound thank you to everyone who continues to support our wonderful parish!  These are strange times and we all seem to have to make extra effort to do things that are normally effortless (like dropping an envelope or check in the basket on Sunday).  So thank you to everyone who is making that effort!!!

You can send your envelopes and checks by mail to 127 Church Rd., Madison, MS 39110; use your bank’s online bill pay option and have the bank send a check to the church; or last week we got the online bill-pay option up and running.  You can go to our giving website: https://giving.parishsoft.com/app/giving/stjosephgluckstadt  There are 2 ways to give right now:

  1. Choose give now and make one-time donation.
  2. Register – you can make recurring gifts – you can use credit card or bank account.

We are not set up for “text” giving yet, but hope to have that option soon as well.

Our intentions today:

–For the repose of the soul of Zetta Lafleur, mother of parishioner Cheri Browning.  Mrs. Zetta passed away yesterday, and we pray as well for Cheri and her family and all who mourn Mrs. Zetta’s passing.

–We continue to pray for those intentions mentioned in previous emails; as well as continuing to pray for all who are sick and suffering, either from the virus or other illnesses; for all those working on the front-lines (medical personnel, first responders, Health Department personnel, Emergency Management personnel, political personnel, etc.) to protect us and keep us safe from this pandemic; for those researching treatments, cures and vaccines for COVID-19, that their efforts are fruitful; for all who have died; and for all intentions we hold deep within our hearts.

The Mass readings for tomorrow along with Father Kevin’s homily follow:  As we walk this week with our Lord, Jesus Christ, please remember each other and all who are suffering right now.

God bless you all,

Pam

Wednesday of Holy Week

April 8, 2020


First Reading:  Is 50:4-9a

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help; therefore, I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.  He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let him confront me. See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34

R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother’s sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
R.    Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
R.    Lord, in your great love, answer me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving:
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”
R.    Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Gospel:  Mt 26:14-25

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”

He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, my appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.” The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me.  The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.  It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

Homily

Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him 30 pieces of silver . . .  Matthew 26: 14-15

A few years ago the British playwright Harold Pinter wrote Betrayal, the story of a marriage that falls apart. But Pinter tells the story backwards: the audience knows the outcome at the beginning of the play. As the curtain opens, the couple has divorced and the ex-spouses begin to go their separate ways; then Pinter sets up a series of scenes portraying the acts of betrayal and mistrust that will lead to the end of the marriage.

The scenes between the husband and wife and the husband’s best friend (whose own acts of “betrayal” contribute to the breakup) are painfully polite. The lines spoken are so innocuous, so meager, so bland that the audience must supply the missing lines. But from our own struggles with relationships, from the pain we know of being betrayed by another, from the guilt we feel from our own acts of betraying those we love, we “write in” the unspoken lines.

And we know the words of betrayal. We know how to avoid, how to remain aloof, how to stand back. We know how and when to fire that one word that will sting and hurt. We know how to stay in control. We know how to protect our own interests.

Today’s Gospel recalls Judas’ tragic act of betraying Jesus, supposedly for thirty pieces of silver. But many scholars have wondered if Judas betrays Jesus not for money but because of his disappointment in Jesus, that Jesus has not been the politically powerful Messiah he and others had hoped for, that Jesus did not restore Israel’s earthly fortunes as Judas and his brethren had expected. In Judas’ mind, he is the one who has been betrayed by Jesus.

We, too, use our own disappointment and hurt to justify our own acts of betrayal. The thirty pieces of silver we pocket are a pitifully small price for the hurt and destruction our betrayals can wreak.

The governor knew that the prisoner dragged before him was innocent, the victim of one of the greatest smear campaigns ever perpetrated. But justice was not the governor’s concern. Keep­ing things under control for his Roman masters — in order to hold on to his comfortable position — was all that mattered. And the death of a nobody carpenter was a small price to pay. Jesus is crucified on the cross of Pilate’s cowardice.

The high priest was an admired and revered figure among the Jews, a devout and sincerely religious man. He saw it as his duty to protect the faith from this anarchist who questioned the rituals and challenged the teachings the high priest held sacred. He and his Sanhedrin put creed before mercy and institution before community — with disastrous results. Jesus is crucified on the cross of the rigid, dehumanizing, intolerant belief that the high priest alone possessed the “truth.”

He didn’t really do it for the money. He was cutting his losses. At first, he saw promise in this young rabbi. Maybe this is the one, he thought at first. This could be the long-awaited Messiah who would restore our nation to power. But it became clear that they didn’t share the same vision of the Kingdom of God: While he envisioned the “kingdom” as the restoration of his people’s political and economic power, the rabbi kept talking about a Kingdom of spirit, a Kingdom of peace and justice, a Kingdom founded on selfless generosity and humble service to the poor and forgotten. He couldn’t wait any longer. Take the money and find another Messiah. Jesus is crucified on the cross of Judas’ impatient, singular need to push his agenda through and over whoever gets in his way.

The officers and soldiers who arrested Jesus? Just doing our jobs. The crowds who watched him stumble through the streets under the crossbeam strapped to his shoulders? Too bad. He did a lot of good things for people. But if you’re gonna take on the big guys, you’re gonna get hurt. Those who walk by the dying Jesus hanging on the tree? Please, we don’t want to get involved. It’s not our busi­ness.

Jesus is crucified on the cross — a cross made of cowardice, self-righteousness, power, expediency, fear and silence.

[Adapted from The Cross: Meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ by Morton T. Kelsey.]

The cross of Jesus symbolizes the very worst we fail to see in ourselves, that part of us we deftly rationalize to justify the crucifixions we execute. As we enter the mystery of the Easter Triduum tomorrow evening, may we realize the crosses we have sanctioned and our need to transform them into experiences of resurrection by taking them up in the spirit of Jesus’ humble and selfless compassion.

Lord Jesus, on this eve of the Triduum of your Passover, open our hearts and spirits to recognize ourselves in the betrayals and failures that lead you to your cross. In the light of Easter hope, may we take up our own crosses in your spirit of humble love, making our crosses vehicles for reconciliation, peace and compassion; may we make our own journeys to Calvary in the certain hope of your Easter promise.

AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION:

My Jesus,

I believe that You

are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,

come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.

Never permit me to be separated from You.  Amen.

Email System

Our Email Blast System is now working again. If you regularly receive our Parish Updates, you should have received the 4/6/20 update at 12:30pm today. Our update for 4/7/20 will go out later this evening. Thanks again for your patience. Stay safe!

Email Blast

We are currently experiencing problems with our Email Blast system. We are diligently working on getting the problems resolved. We thank you for your patience and hope to have it corrected as soon as possible. We will continue to post the updates on the website. Thank you for your patience!

Parish Daily Update 4/6/20

Dear Parish family,

The Communion Antiphon from today’s Mass:  “Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress.  Turn your ear towards me; on the day when I call, speedily answer me.”  Ps 102:3

I don’t have profound thoughts today (do I EVER?? -ha).  But I want you all to know that I am joining you all in prayer during this Holy Week.  We walk with our Savior as he steps ever closer to his death – for us. 

Business – Our collection deposit for last week was $7580 for the general fund.  There were some Special Collection offerings as well, but those have not been processed as yet, and I will report on those next week.  I want to say a profound thank you to everyone who continues to support our wonderful parish!  These are strange times and we all seem to have to make extra effort to do things that are normally effortless (like dropping an envelope or check in the basket on Sunday).  So thank you to everyone who is making that effort!!!

You can send your envelopes and checks by mail to 127 Church Rd., Madison, MS 39110; use your bank’s online bill pay option and have the bank send a check to the church; or last week we got the online bill-pay option up and running.  You can go to our giving website: https://giving.parishsoft.com/app/giving/stjosephgluckstadt  There are 2 ways to give right now:

  1. Choose give now and make one-time donation.
  2. Register – you can make recurring gifts – you can use credit card or bank account.

We are not set up for “text” giving yet, but hope to have that option soon as well.

Our intentions today:

–For the repose of the soul of Zetta Lafleur, mother of parishioner Cheri Browning.  Mrs. Zetta passed away yesterday, and we pray as well for Cheri and her family and all who mourn Mrs. Zetta’s passing.

–We continue to pray for those intentions mentioned in previous emails; as well as continuing to pray for all who are sick and suffering, either from the virus or other illnesses; for all those working on the front-lines (medical personnel, first responders, Health Department personnel, Emergency Management personnel, political personnel, etc.) to protect us and keep us safe from this pandemic; for those researching treatments, cures and vaccines for COVID-19, that their efforts are fruitful; for all who have died; and for all intentions we hold deep within our hearts.

You can send your prayer intentions to pam@stjosephgluckstadt.com or text me at 601-573-2053.  Mary, Mother of our Savior and our Mother, pray for us!  St. Joseph, pray for us!  St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, founder of hospitals dedicated to caring for the sick, pray for us!

Tomorrow’s Mass readings and Father Kevin’s homily follow.

God bless you all!

Pam

Tuesday of Holy Week

April 7, 2020

First Reading:  Is 49:1-6

Hear me, O islands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God.  For now, the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength!

It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 71:1-2, 3-4a, 5ab-6ab, 15 and 17

R. I will sing of your salvation.
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.
R.    I will sing of your salvation.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R.    I will sing of your salvation.
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
R.    I will sing of your salvation.
My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R.    I will sing of your salvation.

Gospel:   Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So, Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night. When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”

Homily

Jesus foretells how Judas and Peter will betray him.  John 13: 21-33, 36-38

They were both part of Jesus’ very select group of Twelve.

One was an idealist. He found Jesus a compelling leader and his message filled with hope. Establishing the Kingdom of God in the here and now was enormously appealing to such a young, enthusiastic zealot. But as the months stretched into years, he lost his idealism — or he grew impatient with the lack of progress Jesus was making. Maybe the last straw was Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on an ass, greeted by the poor and powerless. Shouldn’t Jesus be using his considerable gifts to take on the established order and entrenched leadership in order to create the new kingdom he kept talking about? Prayers and piety are one thing, but politics is the way to get things done. Over time, his unrealized hopes brought him disappointment, sadness, frustration, anger and bitterness.

Judas the idealist became Judas the cynic.

The other was the headstrong leader of the group, used to the hard, no-nonsense work of running a fishing operation. Whatever the issue, he charged ahead. He could ask the hard questions and be willing to say the wrong thing that was on everyone’s mind. He often served as Jesus’ foil. He was the only one of the Twelve to say it: “You are the Messiah . . . you alone have the words of everlasting life.” But then Jesus the Wonder worker, Jesus the esteemed Teacher, Jesus the transfigured Beloved of God, became Jesus the accused, Jesus the condemned, Jesus the crucified. And his hope was trumped by fear; his faithfulness was sacrificed on the altar of self-preservation. At the sound of the crowing cock, Peter awoke to the reality that his beliefs did not match his words.

The stories of Judas and Peter are stories of enthusiasm that fades over time, hope that deteriorates in the wake of constant disappointment, idealism that shatters in the face of hard reality. Both men are unable to understand that the journey to Easter is by way of the cross. The Kingdom of God they longed for was built in hearts transformed in the love of the Gospel Jesus.

In the passion and death of his beloved, God is rejected and humiliated, God suffers and dies — just as every human being experience. But God allows himself to be broken in order that we might understand the fragile, impermanent nature of this life. As we will see as the Gospel unfolds this week, the brokenness we both suffer and inflict can be healed in the love God: love that is humble, love that is sincere, love that is centered in gratitude and selflessness.

In the broken body of Jesus, we are reconciled with God; in the broken body of Jesus, our lives are transformed in the perfect love of God; in the broken body of Jesus, God’s Spirit of humility and compassion becomes a force of hope and re-creation in our hurting and despairing world.

The experience in the Holy Week Gospel of Judas and Peter is not unlike ours. To experience the new life of the Easter Christ demands our “passing over” with him from the death of self to the re-creating of the heart in the compassion and forgiveness of God.  As we struggle through self- isolation and the terrible news around the world, as we know and hear of friends and acquaintances stricken with the virus and others who simply are overwhelmed by the whole situation, we too are called to follow Jesus through the Passion to New Life.

Gracious God, do not let us lose hope in the possibilities of your compassion and mercy in our own time and place. May your grace sustain our hope in your life conquering death, your spirit of reconciliation healing estrangement, your justice reigning over all peoples and nations. 

AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION

My Jesus,

I believe that You

are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,

come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.

Never permit me to be separated from You.

Amen.

Parish Daily Update 4/5/20

Dear St. Joseph family,

As we enter this most Holy of Weeks, one of my favorite scripture passages keeps coming to me.  In the Last Supper Discourse in the Gospel of John, chapter 17, Jesus is praying for all the apostles and disciples that the Father gave him while he was alive on this earth.  Then in verse 20 – “I pray not only for them, but also for THOSE WHO WILL BELIEVE IN ME THROUGH THEIR WORD…….”  I clearly remember the day that I read those words – not for the first time but with new clarity.  Jesus, in his final days on this earth, as he was facing his Passion and death, prayed for ME, individually and personally!  I came to believe in him through the words of the apostles, so Jesus prayed for ME.  And, as each of you has come to believe through the words of the apostles, he prayed for YOU, individually and personally, as well!  These words and this reality give me comfort and hope during these days of uncertainty and difficulty.  As Jesus prayed for us then, he continues to pray for us and to walk with us daily throughout our good times and bad.   Thank you, Jesus, for being with us!

Our prayer intentions for today:

–For Charles and Connie Rhoten, parents of Becky Adkins.  They live in a retirement community in Madison, Indiana, and Mr. Rhoten’s speech therapist has tested positive for COVID-19.

–For Kimberly Napper, who has the virus and is in the intensive care at UMC. 

–For the repose of the soul of Melissa Thomas, whose birthday is today.  And for Frank and Trey and all who mourn her death.

–For all the intentions mentioned previously in these emails.

You can send your intentions to me pam@stjosephgluckstadt.com or text to 601-573-2053.

From our lieutenant governor, Delbert Hosemann, and with approval from Bishop Kopacz:

“At 6 p.m. every day beginning Monday, April 6, and until Monday, April 20, we are asking all of our houses of worship across the State to ring their church bells for one minute in recognition of our healthcare workers on the front lines, in prayer for those who are sick, and in an attempt to unify Mississippians in sound and spirit.  We are also asking each citizen and their families to go to their front yard and ring their bells at the same time.  We may not be able to physically be with our friends and neighbors, but our sound can convey our support for one another.” 

Last night on the news he also said to “honk your car horns.”  So, I guess if you don’t have a bell to ring, get to honking!

And finally, a message from Patti Greene, our Youth Minister.  Our youth are participating in Project YM during this pandemic.  Tonight they have a special guest!  It’s free to log in so, if you can, I encourage you do to so.  See below:

Just a quick reminder about ProjectYM Live tonight at 7pm Central (8pm Eastern)…

Tonight’s worship will be led by Andrew Laubacher (aka Alob) followed by a Palm Sunday teaching from Fr. Mike Schmitz.  We’ll also be joined by special guests Bishop Joseph Kopacz (Diocese of Jackson) and Bishop Earl Boyea (Diocese of Lansing).  We are so excited to continue this weekly program with you tonight.  You can log in live at PROJECTYM.COM/WATCH

Have a safe and blessed Holy Week.  We will continue to pray together for an end to this pandemic, a treatment for those affected, a vaccine to be developed, for the healing of those who have the virus, and for all who have died.  Mary, Mother of our Lord, pray for us!  St. Joseph, pray for us!  Saint Jude and Saint Rita, patron saints of impossible causes, pray for us!

God bless you all!

Pam

Monday of Holy Week
April 6, 2020

First Reading:  Is 42:1-7

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my Spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street.  A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spreads out the earth with its crops, Who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk on it: I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R.    The Lord is my light and my salvation.
When evildoers come at me
to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies
themselves stumble and fall.
R.    The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart will not fear;
though war be waged upon me,
even then will I trust.
R.    The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R.    The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Gospel:  Jn 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.  Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. 

So, Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”  The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.

Homily

. . . the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. John 12: 1-11

In the midst of this Coronavirus Holy Week, there are stories of good souls who have managed to bring a spark of Easter light to this difficult time.

One such good soul is chef Jose Andres. Andres is turning eight of his Michelin-rated restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C. that have been shuttered by the coronavirus outbreak into community kitchens. Meals to-go will be free for those in financial difficulty and $7 for customers who can afford it.  The restaurants will be staffed by salaried employees who volunteer for the gig and will be open daily from noon to 5 p.m.

The charismatic, impulsive, fun, blunt and driven chef also leads a small army of chefs and volunteers in humanitarian efforts around the globe. Andres’ organization World Central Kitchen has set up mobile kitchens in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in the northeast, Hurricane Harvey in along the Gulf Coast, and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico; World Central Kitchen has also fed thousands in Haiti, Australia and a dozen other countries and regions devastated by natural disasters. 

Andres forges ahead under one basic principle: “People have to eat . . . Not everybody is going to be able to go to the supermarket. We have areas in America that are food deserts. We have millions of Americans that, if you go to their kitchens, their kitchens are empty. Not everybody has money to fill up for a month. That’s the reality. What are we going to do?”

“What we’ve been able to do, says Andres, “is weaponize empathy. Without empathy, nothing works.”  [TIME Magazine, April 8/13, 2020.]

In community kitchens like those Jose Andres operates, the love of God is broken open like the liter of perfume Mary uses to wash the feet of Jesus: the “fragrance” of compassion, generosity and forgiveness filling our own houses. Just as Mary’s breaking open the jar is her act of gratitude that embraces everyone there, our own acts of kindness and care are signs of God’s presence embracing those desperate to experience the hope of that presence in their lives.

Sometime today, follow Mary’s example: break open your own jar of kindness, of generosity, of understanding, and let it “fill” your house with the love of Jesus, the always present if unseen Guest.

O God, may we fill our own homes with the oil of compassion and the fragrance of generosity; may we “break open” our own abilities to bring your peace and forgiveness to those we love. Embracing the attitude of your Christ, may we empty ourselves of our own needs and wants in order to bring healing to the victimized and ridiculed, to lift up the fallen and afraid, to bring back and welcome those driven away and lost.

AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION

My Jesus,

I believe that You

are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,

come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.

Never permit me to be separated from You.

Amen.

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Parish Daily Update 4/4/20

Dear St. Joseph family,

“While optimism makes us live as if someday soon things will get better for us, hope frees us from the need to predict the future and allows us to live in the present, with deep trust that God will never leave us alone.”    -Henri Nouwen

Happy Palm Sunday!  As we welcome Jesus today with cries of Hosannah, we will walk with him this week to the Last Supper on Thursday, his death on Good Friday, and his glorious Resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Even though, because of our “shelter in place,” we are unable to walk through this week together in our beloved church building, we CAN walk together spiritually as a church family.  Please join with me, Father Kevin, the rest of our St. Joseph family, and with our fellow Catholic Christians around the world, meditating on the Scriptures, and spending some extra time in prayer.  We have much to be thankful for, especially the gift of Christ our Savior, and the gift of our faith.

I haven’t received any special intentions today, so we will continue to remember all the intentions listed in previous emails.  We pray for an end to this pandemic around the world, for a cure to be found, and for a vaccine to be developed.  We also continue to pray for those who are sick and suffering, and for those who have died.  Please send me your intentions, pam@stjosephgluckstadt.com or text to 601-573-2053.

The readings for Palm Sunday Mass, along with Father Kevin’s homily, follow.  Even though these readings are very familiar to us all, take some extra time to sit with them and allow God to speak to you through them. 

Father Kevin will, privately, bless our palms.  The bishop has directed, for safety purposes, that the palms should not be distributed, but should be retained until we are able to come back to church.  We will have them available at that time for you all.  Have a blessed Holy Week!  Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!  St. Joseph, pray for us!

God bless,

Pam

Holy Week at Home

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion


First Reading:  Is 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.  I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help; therefore, I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

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

R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him.”
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
they have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
“You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Second Readings:  Phil 2: 6-11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.  Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 Gospel:  Mt 26:14-27:66

I would like to offer this YouTube video of the reading of the Gospel.  It is the same Gospel if you want to read along or simply listen to the reading and reflect on the images offered going through the reading.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfvuL4zCNIc#action  Passion of according St. Matthew-Palm Sunday

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”  They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.  On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”  He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”  The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”  Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?”

He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me.  The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.  It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.
I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.”
Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, “This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken, for it is written:
I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed;
but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.”
Peter said to him in reply, “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.”
Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”
Peter said to him, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.”
And all the disciples spoke likewise. 

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples,
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress.
Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.”  He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible,
let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
When he returned to his disciples, he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass
without my drinking it, your will be done!”
Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open.
He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again.
Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.”

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests and the elders of the people.
His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.”
Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.
Jesus answered him,  “Friend, do what you have come for.”
Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.
And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?  But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?”
At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me?  Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me.
But all this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.”
Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.  Peter was following him at a distance as far as the high priest’s courtyard, and going inside he sat down with the servants to see the outcome.
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus
in order to put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward who stated,  “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God
and within three days rebuild it.’”
The high priest rose and addressed him, “Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?”
But Jesus was silent.
Then the high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,  “You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed!  What further need have we of witnesses?  You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?”
They said in reply, “He deserves to die!”
Then they spat in his face and struck him, while some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy for us, Christ: who is it that struck you?”
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said,
“You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about!”  As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.”  Again he denied it with an oath,
“I do not know the man!”  A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away.”  At that he began to curse and to swear,
“I do not know the man.”  And immediately a cock crowed.
Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.”  He went out and began to weep bitterly.

When it was morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, deeply regretted what he had done.  He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.”
They said, “What is that to us?  Look to it yourself.”
Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself.
The chief priests gathered up the money, but said, “It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is the price of blood.”
After consultation, they used it to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.  That is why that field even today is called the Field of Blood.  Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet,

And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of a man with a price on his head, a price set by some of the Israelites, and they paid it out for the potter’s field just as the Lord had commanded me.

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd one prisoner whom they wished.  And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had handed him over. 
While he was still seated on the bench, his wife sent him a message, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man. I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,  “Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said, “Let him be crucified!”
But he said, “Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder, “Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.  Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him.  They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.  Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.  As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.  And when they came to a place called Golgotha —which means Place of the Skull —, they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.  After they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. So, he is the king of Israel!  Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.  He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he wants him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”  The revolutionaries who were crucified with him also kept abusing him in the same way.  From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 
Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge; he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.  The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was  happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”
There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.  Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.  When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.
Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock.  Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed.
But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.

The next day, the one following the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said, ‘After three days I will be raised up.’ Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day,
lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’
This last imposture would be worse than the first.” 

Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go, secure it as best you can.” So, they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.

Homily

[Christ Jesus] emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2: 6-11

Ultimate freedom

            During the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, Buddhist monks were the targets of violence and persecutions in order to undermine the deeply rooted spirituality of the Tibetan people. As Chinese forces would invade Tibetan villages, the monks would flee into the mountains.

            But when the Chinese invaded one particular village, all the monks had fled — except one. On learning that a single monk dared to remain, the enraged Chinese commander marched up to the monastery and kicked in the gate. There in the courtyard stood the lone defiant monk.

            “Do you know who I am?” the commander roared. “I am he who can run you through with a sword without batting an eyelash.”

            The monk replied: “And do you know who I am? I am he who can let you run me through with a sword without batting an eyelash.”  [From Peacemaking Day by Day, published by Pax Christi.]

            The commander could not comprehend this “crazy” monk standing before him – but the monk possesses a centeredness in God that enabled him to detach himself from ambitions and quests for power and wealth in order the find peace and hope in the certainty of God’s reign. The monk mirrors the Jesus of Holy Week, who “empties” himself of his divinity to take on our humanity in order to restore us to the peace and compassion of God.

In our remembering the passion and death of Jesus, we realize the destruction our sins can wreak. Jesus’ body becomes a looking glass in which we see ourselves in the arrogance and intolerance of those who bring him to the cross. But in his broken, scarred body, we realize the possibilities for re-creating our lives and worlds in his Gospel of justice and compassion. God takes on our humanity in its brokenness in order to heal us of that brokenness: to open our eyes to realize our need for one another; to open our ears to hear the cries for compassion, forgiveness and justice around us; to open our spirits to embrace one another in our disappointments and pain. This week we meet a God of such great love for us that he becomes one of us in order to make us whole in such love.

            If we looked at the cross of Jesus honestly, we probably would not place so many crosses on others.

            Palm Sunday invites us to just such conversion of heart, to examine our own actions and attitudes and proclaim that we are followers of Jesus and children of the merciful God he witnessed to.

            If we condemn or judge any of God’s people, we fail to accept Jesus as the Messiah.  If we abandon the radical call to open our hands in welcome and peace, we turn our back on Jesus.  If we wash our hands of the pain of the world’s people, we wash our hands of our own brothers and sisters. 

            Normally on this Sunday we gather outside of the church and bless the palms.  We hear the Gospel of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with the people singing Hosanna.  And then we too sing Hosanna and process into the church.  Once in the church we hear the Passion of Jesus.  We, like those people of Jerusalem, move easily between singing our praise of Jesus and what he has done in our lives and the lives of those we love to in frustration and anger complain “why doesn’t God do something about this …”   Instead we need to recognize the cross as our strength and find the courage to be faithful in hope, because we know that the cross of Jesus — his faithfulness even to death — will lead us to resurrection.

            For if we do not know the cross, we cannot know Easter.  I am sure that you have heard the saying, “You can’t have Easter without Good Friday.”  God doesn’t always come when we want but when God arrives, he is always right on time.

            The cross that is Jesus himself embracing our own sorrows and brokenness in the love of God; we stand censured by the crosses we construct — crosses of hatred and selfishness on which we crucify one another.  The call of Holy Week is to embrace the spirit of the humble and compassionate Christ to take up the cross of dismantling the crosses we have laid on others.  In doing so we will be transformed by the love of God.

            Normally this holy week we will use simple things to remember the story of Jesus: bread and wine will speak of the compassion of Jesus; a basin and towel will teach us the humility that Jesus ask of us who would be his disciples; wood, in the form of the cross, will testify to the loving sacrifice of Jesus’ emptying himself for our sake; fire will announce his resurrection at the Easter Vigil; water will invite us to wash ourselves clean in the new life of Easter.  But this week as we are not able to gather together, we need to take these symbols into our homes ourselves.  God will speak to us this week in the simplicity of bread, wine, wood, flame and water; and through them, God invites us not only to remember but to enter, heart and soul, into the Passover of his Christ and to be born anew in the love and life of the Risen One.

            But this year as we are unable to gather, I would suggest that where possible you set these symbols up in your own home.   Despite our ability to come together as the Body of Christ, Christ remains with us and calls us to the same simple acts of compassion and humility.  In our own homes we can find simple ways to remember Christ is with us – place an empty glass and plate in a place where all in the house can see it as a remembrance of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples.  It was the place that had been set for Elijah (it is always set up for him in every Seder meal in every home), set a place at your table for Elijah.  It was that plate set for Elijah that Jesus took and instituted the new eternal covenant in the meal we call ‘Eucharist’ or ‘Communion’ he took the bread at Elijah’s place and broke and gave it to all.  He took the chalice that had been set there for Elijah and told that it is the chalice of his blood and told us all to drink of it.  If possible, set a bowl of water and towel as a reminder of his washing the disciples’ feet, a call for all of us to serve one another.  On Friday be sure to pray the Stations of the Cross either silently or using a link to one of the Stations on the computer.  Be sure to have a crucifix or cross that everyone in the home can venerate or kiss.  And on Saturday have a new candle to light as a reminder of the new light that comes with Jesus resurrection.  Remember that when the Easter Candle is carried into the church all present light their candle from it.  At our baptism we were all given a candle lit from that one fire, the Easter Candle.

An extra place set with plate and glass

Bowl and towel to remember washing of feet

Cross or crucifix to venerate

new candle

Extra

            The Civil Rights movement in the 1960s was a violent, dangerous time.  Many young white men and women from the North traveled to the South to be part of the struggle to secure equal rights for all Americans, black and white.  Many of these young men and women – which included priests, sisters and ministers – paid dearly for their work and witness.

            One young man, who had just graduated from college, went to the Mississippi delta region to work in voter registration.  While there, he was invited to a retreat at a Benedictine monastery.

            The monks asked him, “Isn’t that dangerous work you’re doing?  We hear the reports of hatred and violence.”

            “It’s true,” he said.  “The hatred is vicious, and the punishment is violent.”

            “Have you ever been hurt yourself?”

            The young college grad replied:  “Yes, I’ve been spit on, beaten with fists, with pipes, with chains and left a bloody mess.”

            “But you’re pretty big guy,” the brothers said.  “Weren’t you able to protect yourself, to fight back?”

            “Yes,” he said.  “At first I did fight back.  I made some of them sorry they had attacked me.  But then I realized that by fighting back I wasn’t getting anywhere.  The hatred coming at me in those fists and clubs was bouncing right off me back into the air, and it could just continue to spread like electricity.  I decided I would not fight back.  I would let my body absorb that hatred, so that some of it would die in my body and not bounce back into the world.  I now see that my job in the midst of that evil is to make my body a grave for hate.”

            The monks were deeply moved by the young man’s story.  “We were all shaken by what this young man said,” one brother recalls.  “But what he was describing was the Gospel of Jesus.”

[From “The Good Fight: How Christians suffer, died and rise with Jesus,” by Abbot Jerome Kodell, O.S.B., America, April 25, 2011.]

            In the events of Holy Week, Jesus gives over his own body as a “grave” for hate.  In our remembering the passion and death of Jesus, we see, in stark and real terms, the destruction our sins can wreak.  Jesus’ body becomes a looking glass in which we see ourselves in the arrogance and intolerance of those who bring him to the cross.  But that same body, in which evil dies, rises to newness and goodness on Easter morn.  In Christ’s body that rises from its scars and brokenness, we realize the possibilities for re-creating our lives and worlds in his Gospel of justice and compassion.  God takes on our humanity in its brokenness in order to heal us of that brokenness: to open our eyes to realize our need for one another, to open our ears to hear the cries for compassion, forgiveness and justice around us, to open our spirits to embrace one another in our disappointments and pain.  God takes on the hopelessness of the cross in order to win for us the triumph of the empty tomb, to transform death from the final humiliation into the beginning of something much greater and sacred.  This week we meet a God of such great love for us that he becomes one of us in order to make us whole in such love.

An Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.

Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

Parish Daily Update 4/3/20

My dear parish family,

“My help comes from the Lord,

the maker of heaven and earth.

The Lord will guard you from all

evil; he will guard your soul.

The Lord will guard your coming

and going, both now and forever.”  Ps. 121:7-8

As we prepare to enter into Holy Week on Sunday, I must be honest, I’m a bit depressed.  Even though I’ve developed a “new” daily routine, I can’t help but be sad at the loss of “normal.”  As we approach Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the glorious celebration of Christ’s Resurrection at the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses, I am mourning the enormous loss of these events that are so sacred and important to all of us Catholic Christians.  I know you are all feeling the loss as well, and I pray that when we are able to celebrate our precious sacraments together again, we will all have an even greater appreciation for the gifts we have been given.  I pray for that day to come SOON!

Father Kevin found some resources for celebrating Holy Week at home as a family.  Please take a bit of time and consider how some of these might be incorporated into your family time over the next week.

Holy Week at Home

Various prayers for a holy hour in your own home  http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/eucharistic-devotion/index.cfm

Priests, deacons, and Lay Ecclesial Ministers received an email from the bishop yesterday.  Some of the specific items included in his letter which I would like to share with you:

            –Our churches will be closed through April 30, a reality to be reviewed in the second half of this month.

            –The traditional blessing of palms will take place this weekend, but because of the well-founded fear of contamination and further infections, palms will not be distributed in our parishes until we regather in our churches.

            –Effective immediately, in response to the Governor’s executive order which established a state-wide shelter-in-place for Mississippi we are suspending the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation until further notice.  God honors our hunger and thirst for his mercy and the eventual celebration of the Sacrament of Penance will bring it to fulfillment.

            –The Chrism Mass will be celebrated on a date yet to be determined during the Easter Season.

These points are, obviously, nothing new (with the exception of the suspension of Reconciliation), but I wanted to let you all know that the bishop does continue to be in touch and is as aware of the difficulties in our lives and in our church as we all are.

Our prayer intentions for today:

–For Renee Sanders, daughter of Louis and Muriel Greer, who is a pediatric intensive care nurse at University Medical Center. 

–For all the intentions listed in previous emails.

I continue to pray for you all, for a swift end to this pandemic, for all those working on the front lines to protect and care for us all, and for a quick development of a cure and a vaccine.  Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!  St. Joseph, pray for us! St. Rocco, you are venerated for your prayers for those suffering from infectious diseases, pray for us!

The Mass readings and Father Kevin’s homily follow.

God bless you all!

Pam

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

April 4, 2020


First Reading:  Ez 37:21-28

Thus, says the Lord GOD: I will take the children of Israel from among the nations to which they have come, and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land. I will make them one nation upon the land, in the mountains of Israel, and there shall be one prince for them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms. No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols, their abominations, and all their transgressions. I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy, and cleanse them so that they may be my people and I may be their God. My servant David shall be prince over them, and there shall be one shepherd for them all; they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees. They shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where their fathers lived; they shall live on it forever, they, and their children, and their children’s children, with my servant David their prince forever. I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD, who make Israel holy, when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.

Responsorial Psalm:  Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12abcd, 13

R. The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
he who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd his flock.
R.    The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings:
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
the sheep and the oxen.
R.    The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
R.    The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.

Gospel: Jn 11: 45-56

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.
But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So, the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come
and take away both our land and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So, from that day on they planned to kill him. So, Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim,
and there he remained with his disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem
before Passover to purify themselves. They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the temple area, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?”

Homily

[Caiaphas] said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.”

John 11: 45-56

Since he was high priest that year, [Caiaphas] prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So, from that day on they planned to kill him.  John 11: 45-56

In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ passion, we encounter humanity at its worst. We witness not only the cruelty humans are capable of inflicting on one another but humankind’s uncanny ability to twist events and manipulate the facts to justify such evil.

Caiaphas is a case in point. He’s the high priest at the time of Jesus’ trial and as such, he would preside at the proceedings — nothing takes place without Caiaphas’ approval.

Although the office of high priest was controlled by aristocratic families from Jerusalem, the occupant held office for as long as he enjoyed Roman favor. Several of Caiaphas’ immediate predecessors had very short reigns as chief priest, each running afoul of the Roman establishment. Caiaphas’ 18-year tenure as chief priest is a testimonial to his political shrewdness and savvy.

In today’s Gospel, the leaders of the Jewish community are meeting to deal with the “Jesus problem.” The popularity of this itinerant rabbi could have disastrous consequences for the Jewish community — and for their leaders. The Romans do not take kindly to would-be Messiahs whose popularity among the people begins to unsettle the peace of their rule.

And Caiaphas knows it. The unscrupulous and arrogant Caiaphas, exhibiting his characteristic disdain for others, is determined to get rid of this Jesus who so threatens his comfortable, self-serving order. The justice of the sentence is of no concern to Caiaphas. Exercising his official prerogative to “prophesy,” Caiaphas rationalizes that the death of Jesus will be for the “good” of the nation, that it will be a means uniting “the dispersed children of God.”  Caiaphas’ “prophecy” becomes Jesus’ death sentence.

And yet, despite the anger and deceit behind Caiaphas’ words and the travesty of justice Caiaphas’ Sanhedrin will carry out, Caiaphas’ cruel “prophecy” will be realized in ways he cannot imagine: that God will act in the death of Jesus to bring his “children” together in the light of the resurrection.

Sometimes we use God and faith as the means to an end that is anything but faithful: we invoke God to judge and condemn, we appeal to our “faith” to protect us from what scares us. God has given us the gift of faith not to be Caiaphas-like agents of judgment and destruction, but Christ-like vehicles of compassion and justice.

Jesus does not call us to be admirers or supporters or cheer­leaders or scholars of his Gospel — he calls us to be followers: to take up our crosses as he did, to imitate his spirit of humility and compassion, to pay the price of Good Friday in order to realize the fulfillment of Easter resurrection. Discipleship demands that we embrace our crosses as Jesus takes up his. The promise of the resurrection is fulfilled in our lives only when we make that Good Friday journey with Jesus. No Caiaphas-like excuses can justify or rationalize our walking away or remaining silent.  Being true to our baptisms requires a clear, unequivocal, ac­tive yes to the Gospel of the Crucified Jesus.

God of forgiveness, help us to be the means of resurrection rather than agents of death. May our faithfulness to your Son’s Gospel compel us to seek your love in every relationship, your forgiveness in every crisis, your justice in every trial.

AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION

My Jesus,

I believe that You

are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment

receive You sacramentally,

come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.

Amen.

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