Saturday – First Week of Lent

To strengthen Jesus, an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. (LK 22:43-44)

Artists usually portray Luke’s account of the agony in the garden which says that Jesus is kneeling (Matthew and mark have him flat on the ground).
Also in Luke, an angel appears. The angel is God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer. And the answer is “no.”
God says, “This cup can’t be taken away, but I will be with you through it all.” This is expressed by the angel at Jesus’ side “to strengthen him.”
It is then that Jesus is in agony. Only Luke uses the word “agony” – the word by which we have come to characterize this whole scene.
“Agony” comes from a Greek word describing the mental and physical tension athletes feel when facing a contest. They may be confident, but one can never be sure of all that will happen.
So the prayer of Jesus now takes a different tone. He knows he will have to face the worst. He prays that he will be able to handle it well. And he begins to sweat profusely.
My prayers are often answered the same way as Jesus’ prayer. The answer is “no” … but God says, “I’ll be with you through it all.” I’m grateful for God’s presence, of course, but what I sometimes have to face isn’t easy. It’s agony.
This deserves a heart-to-heart talk. With Jesus. He’s been there.

Saturday – First Week of Lent

To strengthen Jesus, an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. (LK 22:43-44)

Artists usually portray Luke’s account of the agony in the garden which says that Jesus is kneeling (Matthew and mark have him flat on the ground).
Also in Luke, an angel appears. The angel is God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer. And the answer is “no.”
God says, “This cup can’t be taken away, but I will be with you through it all.” This is expressed by the angel at Jesus’ side “to strengthen him.”
It is then that Jesus is in agony. Only Luke uses the word “agony” – the word by which we have come to characterize this whole scene.
“Agony” comes from a Greek word describing the mental and physical tension athletes feel when facing a contest. They may be confident, but one can never be sure of all that will happen.
So the prayer of Jesus now takes a different tone. He knows he will have to face the worst. He prays that he will be able to handle it well. And he begins to sweat profusely.
My prayers are often answered the same way as Jesus’ prayer. The answer is “no” … but God says, “I’ll be with you through it all.” I’m grateful for God’s presence, of course, but what I sometimes have to face isn’t easy. It’s agony.
This deserves a heart-to-heart talk. With Jesus. He’s been there.

Daily Gospel – MT 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Pastoral on economic justice

‘Dealing with poverty is not a luxury to which our nation can attend when it finds the time and resources. Rather, it is a moral imperative of the highest priority.’ – Economic Justice for All (#170)

In 1986, the United States bishops approved the pastoral letter, “Economic Justice for All,” which stated that fulfilling the needs of the poor was to be “the highest priority” of economic policy.
The idea for the letter on economic reform and the use of material goods had been proposed at the November 1980 bishops’ meeting by Bishop Peter Rosazza, auxiliary bishop of Hartford, Connecticut.
Bishop Rosazza and four other bishops began working on the pastoral in the summer of 1981, spending three years on the first draft which would address the larger topic of the United States economy.
At the November 1984 bishops’ meeting, only 13 bishops commented on the first draft. One of them was Archbishop Francis Hurley of Anchorage, Alaska, who advised the bishops to ‘get to know poor people firsthand. Set an example of personal contact with poor people. Jesus was personally and visibly with the poor.”

***

Bishop Peter Rosazza was appointed auxiliary bishop of Hartford, Connecticut, on this day in 1978. He later served as archbishop of Hartford until 2010 when he resigned because of age.

Pastoral on economic justice

‘Dealing with poverty is not a luxury to which our nation can attend when it finds the time and resources. Rather, it is a moral imperative of the highest priority.’ – Economic Justice for All (#170)

In 1986, the United States bishops approved the pastoral letter, “Economic Justice for All,” which stated that fulfilling the needs of the poor was to be “the highest priority” of economic policy.
The idea for the letter on economic reform and the use of material goods had been proposed at the November 1980 bishops’ meeting by Bishop Peter Rosazza, auxiliary bishop of Hartford, Connecticut.
Bishop Rosazza and four other bishops began working on the pastoral in the summer of 1981, spending three years on the first draft which would address the larger topic of the United States economy.
At the November 1984 bishops’ meeting, only 13 bishops commented on the first draft. One of them was Archbishop Francis Hurley of Anchorage, Alaska, who advised the bishops to ‘get to know poor people firsthand. Set an example of personal contact with poor people. Jesus was personally and visibly with the poor.”

***

Bishop Peter Rosazza was appointed auxiliary bishop of Hartford, Connecticut, on this day in 1978. He later served as archbishop of Hartford until 2010 when he resigned because of age.

Mount of Olives Cemetery

‘On that day God’s feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is opposite Jerusalem to the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west by a very deep valley, and half of the mountain will move to the north and half of it to the south.’ -Zechariah 14:4

The Mount of Olives Cemetery in jerusalem is the city’s oldest functioning cemetery.
Its earliest tombs are located at the foot of the mountain in the Kidron Valley, where Jewish kings, priests and prophets (Zechariah) are said to be buried. Elsewhere in the cemetery are Jewish rabbis and Zionist leaders, a Nobel Laureate for Literature (S.Y. Agnon), and an Israeli prime minister (Menachem Begin).
All the bodies in the cemetery are buried with their feet facing the Temple Mount so that when the Messiah returns to earth, there will be no confusion as to which direction they should go. The cemetery is still used today but could run out of space in 10 years. There are more than 150,000 identified plots in the cemetery, and scholars expect there are many more that have not been identified.

Today is the 10th day of Lent. Look back to the Lenten practices written February 15. Talk them over with the Lord and see if they need any adjustments.

Friday – First Week of Lent

Then going out, Jesus went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take thi cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (LK 22:39-42)

Jesus had a strong sense of a God-given purpose in his life:
-Early in his ministry, when asked to stay in Capernaum, he says, “To the other towns also I must (go)… because for this purpose I have been sent.”
-Later, told of Herod’s death threat, he says: “I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day.”
-And now, having arrived in Jerusalem and hours away from death, Jesus says to the Father, “… not my will but yours be done.”

Perhaps God is nudging me to do something I don’t want to do. From time to time, a certain thought runs through my mind, an inkling to do something (or stop doing something). I shy away from it, slough it off and figure it’s just one of those odd thoughts, daydreams.
But maybe it didn’t come from me. Maybe it came from the Lord. That makes a difference.
Now, early into Lent, I should take a long look at this. If the Lord is nudging me toward something, I ought to do it.

Daily Gospel – MT 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

Thursday – First Week of Lent

Jesus said to the apostles, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing,” they replied. He said to them, “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, ‘He was counted among the wicked;’ and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.” Then they said, “Lord, look, there are two swords here,” But he replied, “It is enough!” (LK 22:35-38)

Earlier, when Jesus sent out the 72 disciples, he spoke of “a money bag, sack, and sandals.” Now he speaks of “a money bag, sack, and sword.” He is speaking symbolically, referring to a new time of persecution.
The disciples miss the point, take him literally, and produce two swords. His response amounts to: “Enough of that.”
We’re sometimes taught to be quick with the sword, and we’ve all got our own “swords” – glaring daggers at someone, making cutting remarks.
Throughout this Lent, I’ll watch Jesus face some “swords:” Mockery, manhandling, torture. The early Christians applied a passage from Isaiah to him:
He was led like a sheep to the slaughter
and as a lamb before its shearer is slient,
so he opened not his mouth.
(Is 53:7)
How did he do that? How could I do that? Ask him.

Thursday – First Week of Lent

Jesus said to the apostles, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing,” they replied. He said to them, “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, ‘He was counted among the wicked;’ and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.” Then they said, “Lord, look, there are two swords here,” But he replied, “It is enough!” (LK 22:35-38)

Earlier, when Jesus sent out the 72 disciples, he spoke of “a money bag, sack, and sandals.” Now he speaks of “a money bag, sack, and sword.” He is speaking symbolically, referring to a new time of persecution.
The disciples miss the point, take him literally, and produce two swords. His response amounts to: “Enough of that.”
We’re sometimes taught to be quick with the sword, and we’ve all got our own “swords” – glaring daggers at someone, making cutting remarks.
Throughout this Lent, I’ll watch Jesus face some “swords:” Mockery, manhandling, torture. The early Christians applied a passage from Isaiah to him:
He was led like a sheep to the slaughter
and as a lamb before its shearer is slient,
so he opened not his mouth.
(Is 53:7)
How did he do that? How could I do that? Ask him.