Archive for the ‘Passion’ Category

A Solar Eclipse Q & A

August 15, 2017

What is it like to experience a total eclipse?

For places within the 70-mile-wide “path of totality” of this Monday’s eclipse it will be like sunset suddenly arriving in the middle of the day. The air temperature will drop, stars may appear, and animals could become confused.

Is this eclipse a sign of the end of the world?

Quite likely not. On average, total eclipses occur on earth more than sixty times every century. This particular eclipse simply happens to span across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. However, it is always a good time to “repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Will we be able to see the solar eclipse in Wisconsin?

The Moon will not completely block out the Sun’s light in Wisconsin, but about 80% of the Sun will be obscured here on Monday at 1:10 PM local time. (Click here to check for your own zip-code, and review this important eye-safety info on viewing the eclipse.)

How do we know this eclipse is coming?

The Sun, Earth, and Moon move through the heavens according to God’s physical laws like clockwork. This makes it possible to accurately predict when eclipses will happen in the future or to calculate when they have occurred in the distant past.

Has our part of Wisconsin ever been in the direct path of a total eclipse?

This has happened here several times since Jesus Christ was born: on April 2, 610[*]: the year Mohammad began preaching Islam; on September 21, 1205: the year after the Crusaders sacked Constantinople; on April 6, 1503: the year Leonardo da Vinci began the Mona Lisa; and most recently on June 30, 1954: the month “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Did Jesus ever see a solar eclipse during his lifetime in Israel?

One solar eclipse’s “path of totality” went through nearby Syria on November 22, 29 AD and perhaps Jesus saw the Sun become more than 90% obscured that day. Luke’s Gospel records that “the sun was darkened,” or eclipsed, the afternoon of Jesus’ crucifixion. Since solar eclipses are not naturally possible when there is a full moon (as at the time of the Jewish Passover) this failing of the Sun’s light must be due to some other natural or supernatural phenomena.

[*] – All Julian calendar dates (October 15, 1582 and earlier) have been converted to Gregorian calendar dates.

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But It Was Not Enough For Him

April 16, 2017

At Passover, in Jesus’ day and in our own, the Jewish people remember and celebrate the great Exodus, how God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt and led them into the freedom of the Promised Land. Through Moses, God commanded his people to keep the Passover feast as an everlasting memorial. Jesus’ Last Supper was something of a transformed Passover meal, and his Passion, Death, and Resurrection are the mystery that the Passover foreshadowed and prefigured.

Jews today observe their annual Passover meal with an assortment of ancient traditions. Among these is singing or reciting an up-beat Hebrew song named “Dayenu” (Da-yea-nu.) Dayenu means “it would have been enough for us!” Here is an English translation of this more than one thousand year old song:

If [the Lord] had brought us out from Egypt, and had not carried out judgments against them
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had carried out judgments against them, and not against their idols
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had destroyed their idols, and had not struck their first-born
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had struck their first-born, and had not given us their wealth
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had given us their wealth, and had not split the sea for us
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had split the sea for us, and had not taken us through it on dry land
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had taken us through the sea on dry land, and had not drowned our oppressors in it
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had drowned our oppressors in it, and had not supplied our needs in the desert for forty years
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had supplied our needs in the desert for forty years, and had not fed us the Manna
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had fed us the Manna, and had not given us the Sabbath
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had given us the Sabbath, and had not brought us before Mount Sinai
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had brought us before Mount Sinai, and had not given us the Law
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had given us the Law, and had not brought us into the land of Israel
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

If He had brought us into the land of Israel, and not built for us the Holy Temple
Dayenu, it would have been enough!

It would have been enough for us,” for how could we demand more than what God had given? He created the universe out of nothing and every good thing is his gift. Apart from God’s promises (freely-imposed upon himself by His covenants) we could not rightfully insist upon anything more. As Job said at the onset of his trials, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” We could not demand more—but we would still desire more.

We would continue to desire life without end. We would still want deliverance from evils, outside us and within us. We would still desire unending delights, for as King Solomon observed, “The eye is not satisfied by seeing nor has the ear enough of hearing.” And would long for divine intimacy with the Holy Source of all good. All these desires are fulfilled for us through Jesus Christ.

We could not demand more, but we would still desire more, for the Lord has placed these desires within us. He did this that He might fulfill our desires and they reflected his own desires for us.

The Lord did all the great things that came before
— But this was not enough for Him!

He did all these great things, and then He became man for us
— But this was not enough for Him!

He became man for us, and then He taught us the New Law of Love
— But this was not enough for Him!

He taught us the New Law, and then He suffered and died to forgive us
— But this was not enough for Him!

He suffered and died to forgive us, and then He rose from the dead to save us from death
— But this was not enough for Him!

He rose from the dead to save us from death, and then He left us the Church
— But this was not enough for Him!

He left us the Church, and then He wedded and united himself to us through the Holy Sacraments

What God has given us, what Jesus has done for us, what we are given, what we are promised — this is enough for us. Let us rejoice in Him this day!

The Cross of the Passion

March 15, 2017

A local parishioner has drawn upon the best available evidence to create this realistic sculpture of Jesus Christ on his Cross. Come to St. Wenceslaus in Eastman on Friday, March 24th at 7 PM to encounter this impressive, life-sized crucifix. Father Victor Feltes will speak about the historical sources on which this crucifix is based and lead some short devotions.

The Virgin Mary was a Martyr

September 15, 2016

 St.

The martyrdom of the Virgin is set forth both in the prophecy of Simeon and in the actual story of our Lord’s passion. The holy old man said of the infant Jesus: “He has been established as a sign which will be contradicted.” He went on to say to Mary: “And your own heart will be pierced by a sword.”

the-swoon-of-the-virginTruly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus – who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours – gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.

Or were those words, “Woman, behold your Son,” not more than a word to you, truly piercing your heart, cutting through to the division between soul and spirit? What an exchange! John is given to you in place of Jesus, the servant in place of the Lord, the disciple in place of the master; the son of Zebedee replaces the Son of God, a mere man replaces God himself. How could these words not pierce your most loving heart, when the mere remembrance of them breaks ours, hearts of iron and stone though they are!

Do not be surprised, brothers, that Mary is said to be a martyr in spirit. Let him be surprised who does not remember the words of Paul, that one of the greatest crimes of the Gentiles was that they were without love. That was far from the heart of Mary; let it be far from her servants.

Perhaps someone will say: “Had she not known before that he would not die?” Undoubtedly. “Did she not expect him to rise again at once?” Surely. “And still she grieved over her crucified Son?” Intensely. Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.

Islam Cross Examined

April 26, 2016

View From the Cross by TissotOnce, at a picnic in college, I learned from a Muslim professor about what Islam teaches regarding Jesus — that he is not the divine Son of God but a prophet of Allah. Of course, my own Christian beliefs differed but I sat patiently listening — until he told me something about ‘Jesus (peace be upon him)’ which left me manifestly incredulous. He said Jesus was never crucified; Allah only made it appear as if he suffered and died. Reportedly, most Muslims (like this professor) believe that Allah gave someone else Jesus’ physical appearance to die on the Cross instead.

The relevant portion of the Quran [4:157] says:

That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah’; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not…

I began asking the professor clarifying questions on this point to make sure that I understood and after a while he asked me why. I replied that if the eyewitnesses to the Crucifixion were not merely mistaken but actively deceived by Allah, then Allah is the author of a lie. God is Truth and “can neither deceive nor be deceived.” (CCC #156-157) So how could Islam’s doppelganger explanation for denying the Crucifixion of Jesus be true? (Similarly, creationists may argue that evolutionists are misinterpreting the ancient fossil record, but they may not say that God has planted false evidence to test our faith.) The now-ruffled Muslim professor retorted that Christianity’s belief in ‘the three gods of the Trinity’ did not make any sense, and we let our interfaith picnic dialogue end there.

But what if Allah can lie? If Allah acts against Truth then his omnipotence would be unlimited in every sense, transcending beyond both logic and goodness. But if Allah transcends good and evil, if God is not absolute goodness in a way that human beings can recognize, then what is our motive to worship him besides submission before his power? C.S. Lewis wrote in opposition to Calvinism’s doctrine of mankind’s “Total Depravity” with words which are just as applicable here:

[I]f God’s moral judgment differs from ours so that our ‘black’ may be His ‘white,’ we can mean nothing by calling Him good; for to say ‘God is good,’ while asserting that His goodness is wholly other than ours, is really only to say ‘God is we know not what.’ … If He is not (in our sense) ‘good’ we shall obey, if at all, only through fear – and should be equally ready to obey an omnipotent Fiend.”

In Plato’s Euthyphro, Socrates asks the title character, “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” Or, put another way: “Is morality right simply because God declares it so, or does God acknowledge it as right because it is right independently of Himself?” Christianity answers that Euthyphro’s dilemma is a false choice. Goodness comes from God’s eternal nature; nothing could exist without Him. God’s word calls forth the good from Himself. He creates good things, sustains them, and sees that they are good. This is the good God we know; the true God “who does not lie” (Titus 1:2); the God who is supremely revealed by the death on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for all people.

He Proved Faithful — Good Friday Homily

March 25, 2016

Few proved faithful to Jesus on Good Friday, but on Good Friday Jesus proved himself faithful to us.

The political leaders were supposed to serve justice, but Pilate and Herod failed to protect Jesus as an innocent man. Jesus protected us when we were guilty.

The religious leaders were supposed to serve holiness, but the High Priests and the Sanhedrin failed to accept Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus accepted us so that we might become holy.

The disciples were supposed to serve their teacher and lord, but Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, and the others abandoned him. By enduring his suffering and death, Jesus proved himself faithful to us.

Jesus’ mother Mary was faithful. She stood with him at the foot of the cross. It was a consolation for Jesus to have her there. Two of his beloved disciples were also there: Mary Magdalene and the apostle John. Jesus was grateful to have them close by.

Today, on this Good Friday, by the grace of God, we are at the foot of the cross. Let us pray for mercy, for ourselves and for others. Despite our past unfaithfulness, let us honor his faithfulness to us. Jesus is pleased that we are here with him, and he is grateful for our gratitude.

View From the Cross by Tissot

Reflections on the Passion in Luke

March 18, 2016
  • Christ Carrying the Cross by Hieronymous Bosch, 1485-1490.At the Last Supper, Jesus says he has “eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…” Jesus did not allow stress to prevent him from enjoying the people and good things in his life. Do I experience joy at Holy Mass? Do I eagerly desire it?
  • Taking a cup, Jesus says, “I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” The next time Jesus drinks wine is on his cross; so God’s kingdom has begun on earth. Despite my trials, what good things am I looking forward to?
  • An argument breaks out among the apostles about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. Justifying ourselves through comparisons with others undermines our personal growth. Instead, Jesus commends imitating him as a servant to all.
  • To save Jerusalem, David tearfully fled the city by way of the Mount of Olives to escape his traitorous son, Absalom. Jesus also retreats there but resolves not to elude his betrayer and escape his death so that he might save us all.
  • Jesus is in such agony, praying so fervently in the garden, that his sweat becomes as drops of blood falling on the ground. This describes Hematidrosis, which has been observed in rare modern cases of people undergoing acute fear and intense mental contemplation. While I seek relief, do I offer my physical and emotional sufferings as a sacrifice?
  • He approaches Jesus to kiss him and Jesus asks, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Does my familiar intimacy with holy things lead me to hold them cheaply?
  • Jesus’ disciples realize what is about to happen and ask, “Lord, shall we strike with a sword?” However, they act before he can reply. Do I discern prayerfully and wait patiently for the Lord’s direction?
  • One of the disciples (St. Peter) strike the high priest’s servant (Malchus) and cut off his right ear. Jesus exclaims, “Stop, no more of this!” He touches the servant’s ear and heals him. Those without faith in Jesus cannot be converted by violence, that cuts off their ears to hear. Do I share Jesus Christ and my Catholic Faith in a winsome way?
  • Peter was willing to fight and die for Jesus in the garden, when he thought it would make a difference, but Peter did not recognize the importance of acknowledging Jesus to those around the fire. Do I recognize the importance of being faithful to Christ in all company and every moment?
  • Both Peter and Judas regretted what they had done, but Peter returned to Jesus. When I sin, do I delay to repent and return to Jesus?
  • Jesus was condemned for identifying as the Son of God and king of the Jews. When was the last time I suffered for telling the truth?
  • Pilate is glad to refer Jesus’ case to Herod. Pilate never hates Jesus, but sins through not caring about him. Who am I indifferent towards?
  • Herod enjoyed listening to John the Baptist until he had him executed. Jesus gives the unrepentant Herod only silence. Do I receive and heed God’s written and preached word when I can?
  • Barabbas is a murderer and a rebel. His name means “Son of the Father.” The crowds call out for him to be released to them instead of Jesus. Is my hope greater in political actors rather than the Lord?
  • Peter three-times denies Jesus and Pilate condemns Jesus after three-times declaring him innocent. They fold because they fear what others will say or do. Do I allow other people to persuade me to compromise on the truth or what is right?
  • The crowd cries, “Crucify him!” Every decision to sin chooses, at least in a small way, to exile Christ from our world.
  • Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, was pressed to carry Jesus’ cross. If Simon Peter had remained faithful, perhaps he would have come to Jesus’ aid. When I sin, what good do I forfeit?
  • The women of Jerusalem mourning and lamenting Jesus, crying for his Passion to end, may have served as a temptation for Jesus. He redirects them to pray for their own families’ deliverance. Do I pray for the salvation of my family and friends?
  • Two criminals were crucified beside Jesus. They symbolize all humanity, and Jesus suffers and dies among them. One is saved and one is likely lost.
  • One criminal acknowledges, “We have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Do I consider what my sins would deserve apart from the saving mercy of God?
  • Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Do I assume malice where simple ignorance could explain the behavior of others?
  • Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” and breathes his last. What do I want my final, dying words to be?

Time Travel & God’s Prophesies

March 3, 2016

Many science-fiction stories have explored the idea of traveling through time and changing the past. For example, 1980’s “The Final Countdown” imagined a modern-day U.S. aircraft carrier being transported back to 1941 and facing the choice of either thwarting the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor or allowing history to play out unchanged. In the early 1990’s, the TV time traveler Dr. Sam Beckett would “Quantum Leap” into other people’s lives, “striving to put right what once went wrong.” Just last fall, the internet hotly-debated the morality of going back in time to kill Adolf Hitler when he was still too young to have chosen or have committed any crimes.

ITardiss it possible to go back in history and change the past? There’s good reason to think that it is logically impossible. Here is why: Imagine traveling back in time and, by some tragic accident, killing your grandparent as a child. This would mean that one of your parents would have never been born… so you would have never been born… which raises the question: who killed your grandparent? Or imagine a time traveler’s intended history-changing mission succeeding, such as stopping JFK’s assassination. If so, then there is no cause for the time traveler to have ever been sent back from the future at all. This sort of logical contradiction is called a paradox.

Most serious time travel stories avoid this paradox problem using the premise that the past can be visited but never truly altered. Time travelers simply fulfill the role they have always played in those past events. Any and all attempts to avert some disaster in history will either prove useless or actually contribute to bringing about the calamity.

Time travel is merely fantasy, but the prophesies of God, which have correctly foretold future events, are very real. Consider, for instance, these passages from the 22nd Psalm written by King David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit some 1,000 years before the coming of Christ:

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? … All who see me mock me… Like water my life drains away; all my bones are disjointed. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me. As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue cleaves to my palate… They have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They stare at me and gloat; they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots. … I will live for the Lord…”

This psalm is clearly fulfilled in Christ’s sufferings on the cross; the onlookers’ gloating mockery, the gambling over his garments, his dehydration and laboring heart, wounds cutting to his bones. What other form of torture is there that pierces the hands and feet? Jesus spoke this psalm’s opening words even while sharing the psalm’s closing hope in a life restored. These events were accurately described a millennium before they occurred.

God prophesying future events raises questions about human freewill. If Jesus’ crucifixion could be long foretold then what responsibility could Judas, Caiaphas, or Pontius Pilate possibly bear for their roles in the Passion? The answer is that Eternal God, from his vantage point outside of time, can behold all of history, including the free choices that each of us make. C.S. Lewis reconciles God’s knowledge and our freedom in these passages from his book “Mere Christianity”:

“…God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call ‘tomorrow’ is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call ‘today’. All the days are ‘Now’ for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not ‘foresee’ you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never supposed that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing. Well, He knows your tomorrow’s actions in just the same way— because He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you. In a sense, He does not know your action till you have done it: but then the moment at which you have done it is already ‘Now’ for Him.”

God’s knowledge of our free choices does not make our choices any less free. As St. Augustine once noted, “Just as you do not compel past events to happen by your memory of them, so God does not compel events of the future to take place by his knowledge of them.” God’s divine knowledge does not strip us of human freewill, but it does permit him to communicate perfect prophesies to his people concerning events further along our timeline. Such prophesies concern not only the Messiah’s life, but our times and future as well.

Jesus Christ has already victoriously prevailed. His Second Coming in glory is foretold and assured, and his people’s final victory over sin and death is prophesized and certain. This is the connection between time travel stories and the prophesies of God: like the futility of time travelers attempting to avert some historic disaster, any and all attempts to prevent the ultimate triumph of Christ will either prove useless or actually contribute to bringing about the coming of his Kingdom. The enemies of Jesus schemed to destroy him and his movement, but their very plotting led to the fulfillment of his mission and the birth of the Church. This knowledge is a cause for Christian endurance and joy, even amidst our times of struggle. We know that we are free to serve a faithful role in helping bring about the great, holy, happy ending of history.

A Chalice Reflection

October 13, 2015

Virgin Mary by the Host by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1854.     How could we possibly celebrate the Holy Mass without the chalice? Without the chalice, how would we adore the Precious Blood? The chalice holds the Lord and it gives form to his presence. He is not lifted up in sacrifice without its close collaboration. Perhaps our Lord could have chosen another means but this is the one He chose. The chalice at Mass is not divine, but when our Lord is adored it shares in His glory.

The chalice at Mass is an icon of a person. The chalice of Jesus Christ is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She held the Lord within her and from her He received his human form. He was not lifted up in sacrifice without her close collaboration. Perhaps our Lord could have chosen another means, but she is the one He chose. Mary is not divine, but when our Lord is adored she shares in His glory.

“One on His Right, the Other on His Left”

March 24, 2015

Revealing fascinating prophetic connections between Moses, Joshua, Samson, and Jesus Christ on the Cross; featuring the religious paintings of James Tissot (1836-1902.)

Reflections on The Passion of the Christ

February 26, 2015
  • Jesus Writing on the Ground from the Passion of the Christ with Jim CaviezelThe 2004 film begins quoting Isaiah 53, “He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah foretold Christ’s sufferings seven centuries before they came to pass.
  • We see a full moon, for Passover was always celebrated upon a full moon (similar to how Easter is always the Sunday after the first full moon following spring equinox on March 20th.)
  • We find Jesus in the garden, praying the psalms to his Father: “Rise up, defend me” (Ps 94) “Save me from the traps they set for me” (Ps 141) “Shelter me, O Lord, I trust in you. In you I take my refuge.” (Ps 16)
  • Satan appears in the garden; androgynous, attractive, and deathly pale. He speaks doubts to Jesus: “Do you really believe that one man can bear the full burden of sin? No one can carry this burden… No one. Ever. No. Never. … Who is your Father? Who are you?” Jesus never speaks to the devil throughout the film, but here he stands, locks eyes with Satan, and crushes the snake’s head underfoot. This recalls God’s words to the ancient serpent in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.
  • Awoken from her sleep, the Virgin Mother senses something is awry. She asks Mary Magdalene, “Why is this night different from every other night?” She answers, “Because once we were slaves and we are slaves no longer.” This quotes the traditional dialogue of the Jewish Passover meal ritual.
  • Given the choice, the crowd calls for the unsavory prisoner Barabbas, a violent revolutionary, to be freed instead of Jesus. “Barabbas” means “Son of the Father.
  • At the pillar, Jesus quotes Psalm 108: “My heart is ready, Father. My heart is ready.” In Hebrew, to say “very,” you repeat a word twice. To say something is so in the greatest measure, it is said thrice (e.g. “Holy, Holy, Holy.”) The Romans directing the flogging of Jesus say “Satis / Enough” three times.
  • The angry crowd from the Passion of the ChristPilate presents the lacerated Jesus saying, “Ecce Homo / Behold (the) man!” The shot is from behind, emphasizing the angry, riotous mob in the background, for these words are a critique of fallen man/mankind.
  • Pilate asks, “Shall I crucify your king?” The high priest replies, “We have no king but Caesar,” denying the kingship of God.
  • The 14 Stations of the Cross make appearances throughout the film, including the three times Jesus falls.
  • Embracing his cross, Jesus alludes to Psalm 116: “I am your servant Father. Your servant and the son of your handmaid.
  • Mary, recalling when Jesus once fell as a child, rushes to his side. Jesus tells her, “See, Mother, I make all things new,” foreshadowing Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I make all things new.
  • Veronica, who gives Jesus her veil to wipe his face, has a name which means “true image.”
  • Jesus’ experiences at Golgotha are paralleled with flashbacks to the Last Supper. Jesus is stripped, the bread is uncovered. The Host is lifted, his cross is raised.
  • The Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross calls Jesus, “Flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart…” echoing the words of Adam toward Eve.
  • On the cross, Jesus quotes Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

By Satan’s Power — Friday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

October 10, 2014

Readings: Galatians 3:7-14; Luke 11:15-26

Some in the crowd said of Jesus, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” In a certain sense, those people would be right.

Satan’s power in the world led to Jesus’ Passion. The devil probably thought he was winning by getting Jesus crucified, for ‘cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’ Yet Jesus surprised him by turning this curse into ‘a blessing for all nations.’ Jesus suffered Satan’s power, but brought good out of the evil. In this way, by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, Jesus drove out demons from the world.

Originally posted on October 8, 2010

The Stations of the Cross

March 29, 2014

Christ Carrying the Cross by El Greco, 1580.1. Pilate Condemns Jesus to Death
– Jesus stood his ground, with neither fight nor flight
– Pilate only pities and does not protect the innocent
– Holiness is not admired by all, and often condemned

2. Jesus Carries his Cross
– The Good Shepherd takes his staff to seek lost sheep
– Your unique cross is designed and meant for you

3. Jesus Falls the First Time
– When you fall, get back up
– To recreate man God goes down to earth’s dust again

4. Jesus Meets his Mother
– Saints may suffer more than most, but are rewarded
– God gives us people to help us through our trials

5. Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
– We know neither what good we do nor our sins’ cost
– It could have been Simon Peter instead if he’d come
– Simon helps Jesus with his masculine strength

Christ Carrying the Cross by Hieronymous Bosch, 1485-1490.6. Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
– Veronica helps Jesus with her feminine tenderness
– The name “Veronica” means “true image” in Latin
– All loving deeds bear the likeness of Jesus

7. Jesus Falls the Second Time
– Let us kneel before Jesus

8. Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
– Jesus used his sufferings for compassion to others
– Jerusalem would be destroyed some 40 years later

9. Jesus Falls the Third Time
– Three falls, three failures, but none of them sins

10. Jesus is Stripped of his Garments
– A seamless garment, as Jewish high priests wore
– Jesus is made as naked as Adam

The Three Crosses by Rembrandt. 165311. Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
– Behold the new Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
– Jesus is showing us how much he loves us

12. Jesus Dies on the Cross
– Jesus extends his arms between Heaven and earth
– Our crucified God endures the problem of evil

13. Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
– Love can require letting ourselves be a “burden”
– The world took all it could, but God had more to give

14. Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
– From a new womb to a new tomb, both freely offered
– The mustard seed is planted

The Seven Last “Words” of Christ

March 21, 2014

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34)

To the good thief:  “Amen, I say to you: this day you will be with me in paradise.”  (Luke 23:43)

To Mary:  “Woman, behold your son.” And to his beloved disciple:  “Behold your mother.”  (Luke 19:26-27)

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  (Mark 15:34)

“I thirst.”  (John 19:28)

“It is consummated.”  (John 19:30)

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”  (Luke 23:46)

Tempting the Messiah — 1st Sunday in Lent—Year A

March 7, 2014

Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness by James Tissot 1886-1894.The devil suggests Jesus should change stones into bread. He wants Jesus to be a materialistic Messiah who will focus on nourishing bodies to the neglect saving souls. Jesus replies that “one does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Christ shall change bread into himself at the Last Supper “for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)

A depiction of Jesus being tempted at the temple by James Tissot, 1895The devil takes Jesus to a precipice atop the temple in Jerusalem and challenges him to throw himself down. He wants Jesus to be a Messiah who will hope to never suffer. Jesus responds that “you shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test” by trying to force him into doing our will. Christ shall be tested and condemned by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem and be made a suffering Savior according to God’s plan. (Isaiah 53)

The devil takes Jesus up to a very high mountain, shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and promises to bestow them all if Jesus would simply prostrate himself and worship him. He wants Jesus to be a compromised Messiah who will pursue good by doing (or serving) evil. Jesus replies that “Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” By unwavering obedience to his heavenly Father, Christ shall become the king of all nations, enthroned high upon a cross on Mount Calvary. (Matthew 20:21)