Holy Saturday (an Ancient Homily)

I post this selection from today's "Office of Readings" every year because I can't think of a better reflection on Christ's descent to the dead. Enjoy! Second Reading From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday The Lord descends to the dead Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who l

"Ecce Homo!"

"Behold the man!" Pilate shouts to the crowd who has turned Jesus over to him. This Galilean is clearly innocent. But Pilate fears the rabble - if he refuses to condemn Christ, it will be proclaimed that he, the Roman Governor, is "no friend of Caesar's." If he does condemn him, he fears this man's followers may revolt. Pilate sees this in many respects as a lose/lose for him. The crowd shouts all the louder: "Crucify him! Crucify him!" And all the while the prisoner's words keep confounding him: "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice" (John 18:37). Who is this man? Where does he come from? Where is this kingdom of his, the kingdom he claims is "not of this world?" Pilate has

The Last Supper

Every year, the Church celebrates the "Easter Triduum" as the final three days of the season of Lent and the conclusion of Holy Week. By way of reflection, If you don't mind, I'd like to chime in along the way with a few observations and thoughts that might be beneficial. It all begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper, commemorating the establishment of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders. It was at the Last Supper that Jesus ordained the Apostles to be the first priests (bishops, for that matter) of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, he gave them the faculties to perform the sacred liturgy from that time on, and to hand down that authority to their successors so

What Does "Natural" Really Mean?

"I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God." (Ezekiel 36:25-28) Did you catch that little part in the middle? For some reason it hit me this morning like never before: "I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving yo

An Opportunity to Betray Jesus

"And he looked for an opportunity to betray him." (Mark 14:11) This should fill my heart with sorrow and a deep reflection. Judas is the Lord's friend. He has walked with him for three years, learned from him, received Jesus' love at every moment of every day. Judas has himself preached, healed, and shared in Jesus' ministry! And yet as we arrive at the threshold of the Passion where is Judas? Where are his heart and mind now? He is "looking for an opportunity" to betray his Master. We wonder how it's possible. We feel the deepest kind of pain and confusion. We can taste the betrayal and its bitterness makes us cringe. But we must humbly face the question that follows: "How often do I mysel

Rejecting Jesus

"They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away." Luke 4:29-30 How do we respond when Jesus confronts us? How often to we try to push him over the nearest cliff when his words cramp our style? For many decades now, so many have sought to emphasize the love of God while at the same time progressively pushing away any notion that this love makes demands on us. We want a "Gentle Jesus" who doesn't really care what we do - a God who makes no demands. We want to make God in OUR image. But license is not freedom, and real love requires growth and tran