Good Friday, April 3, 2015

Tradition explains that Jesus hung dying between the hours of 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm.  For three hours He hung between “two robbers… one on the right and one on the left.” (Matt 27:38)

Tradition also explains that one is identified as a “good thief” and the other as a “bad thief.”  This seems appropriate as Jesus is always in-between what is good and what is bad.

The Gospels record part of the conversation between the good thief and Jesus.  The thief confesses, “I am a sinful man. My fate is my own doing.  In Your charity… will You remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.”  (Lk 23:42)

Those words were sweet music to the ears and heart of our Lord.  They were words coming from the thief of confession and contrition and seeking peace and a new way.  Just when it seemed like that the “Sanhedrin Plot” was going to work out and Jesus would finally be pushed into obscurity… “out of sight, out of mind”… the mystery of the Holy Spirit moves the heart of a dying man to confess his sinful ways and seek a life with Jesus.  The “hidden fruit” of the Cross is already blossoming.

Who knows how many people passed by the Cross screaming their insults and ridicule and taunting Jesus to show what power He had and “come down from the Cross.” (Matt 27:40)

Jesus was deeply moved by the petition of the thief. His heart was filled with joy. “I assure you, Jesus replies, that this day you will be with Me in Paradise.”  (Lk 23:43)

The fruit of the Cross is limitless because it is always at work. It’s power and authority has filled the world with God’s peace, and with His grace and loving forgiveness.  It has restored peace to the guilty, and given everlasting happiness to souls who seek God’s Kingdom. Today the Cross reminds billions that everlasting salvation is available today, any time, any place, anywhere.

The redemption which Christ carried out on “the hill of the skull” is now applied to those who open their heart and will to receive Jesus and His way. The Son of God loves, thats all He can do.  And He died for you in the hopes you would come to love His sacrifice.

A precious way we access the eternal Cross and its fruits are in the Mass Jesus established in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday night.  By receiving Holy Communion we are able to stay on the path He has made for us that moves us from death to life… from struggles and sins to new beginnings and healing.

Monday of Holy Week, Mar. 30, 2015

On Monday of Holy Week we read about the anointing of Jesus while He was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper.  This narrative is found in Mark 14:3-9 or in John 12:1-11.

While Jesus sat at table eating a woman, identified in John’s Gospel as Mary (not the Mother of our Lord) “came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over His head.” (Mar 14:3) The oil Mary used was an expensive aromatic essential oil.  To achieve the level of purity noted in the reading it would have taken a great deal of time distilling the oil from flowering plants. But Mary “broke the jar open” and literally drenched Jesus with this fragrant oil. Then she knelt down and anointed and rubbed the oil into His feet with her hair.

The people in the room saw this and were very upset with what seemed to them as wasting expensive oil. Jesus replied to them saying, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me… She has … anointed my body beforehand for burying.” (Mar 14:6-8)

Jesus’ strongly defends Mary’s actions. Then He called attention to the growing aroma of this oil that was filling the house.  He linked the fragrance of the oil to the ‘sweet fragrance’ of His costly sacrifice that He will begin in the Upper Room and consummate at 3:00 pm on Good Friday.  In His offering of Himself on the Cross our Lord takes us by the hand and leads us through the sacred triduum to atone and heal our soul with His sacred flesh and blood in order to become the “aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Cor 2:15-16).

Mary gave her very best. Jesus gave His very best. Both are acts of pure love and both involved a “labor” intensive process. Mary and Jesus call us to give in the same way. But for us to get to where we are freely giving involves for many intensive spiritual labor on our part. To love without strings attached is not easy to do. To love in spite of pain is hard.  But when we are able to act from a heart purified by the Holy Spirit, a heart that has been graced with the Easter love of God, we find ourselves becoming the ointment and “light” that Isaiah spoke about.  We are God’s servants to the nations.

Holy Week And Easter Services

Holy Week And Easter ServicesPalm Sunday, March 24, 2013 
6:00 pm Saturday, Sunday 8:00, 9:00, 11:15 am
(the 9:00 and 11:15 services will begin at the front door of the church with the Liturgy of the Palms)

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Forty Days of Lent

Lent St. Johns“Lord, What Shall I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?”
Applying the 10 Commandments & the Beatitudes of the Lord!

Wednesdays in Lent 6:30 to 8:00 pm

Beginning with a Lenten Meal

In the parable of the Rich Young Man, Jesus addresses the heart of His saving mission: to bring eternal life to those who seek it! This Lent at St. John’s we are going to step into this man’s shoes and listen for the same call to holiness!

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