Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Cycle C

Gospel at the Procession with Palms
Luke 19:28-40
Jesus sends his disciples for a colt and then rides into Jerusalem.

First Reading
Isaiah 50:4-7
The Lord’s Servant will stand firm, even when persecuted.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 22:8-9,17-20,23-24
A cry for help to the Lord in the face of evildoers.

Second Reading
Philippians 2:6-11
Christ was obedient even to death, but God has exalted him.

Gospel Reading
Luke 22:14—23:56 (shorter form: Luke 23:1-49)
From the cross, Jesus speaks words of forgiveness and promises that the good thief will be with him in paradise.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday, called Palm or Passion Sunday, is the first day of Holy Week. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday are called the Triduum, three days that are the highlight of the Church year. There are two Gospels proclaimed at today’s Mass. The first Gospel, proclaimed before the procession with palms, tells of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Riding on a borrowed colt, Jesus was hailed by the crowds as they shouted blessings and praise to God. This event is reported in each of the four Gospels.

Luke’s Gospel is the only one to report the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees as Jesus enters Jerusalem. Jesus’ response shows that this event, and those yet to come, are part of a divine plan. We hear this echoed again in Luke’s description of the Last Supper when Jesus speaks of Judas’ betrayal, saying that the Son of Man “goes as has been determined.”

At the Liturgy of the Word on this Sunday, the events of Jesus’ passion are proclaimed in their entirety. In Lectionary Cycle C, we read the passion of Jesus as found in the Gospel of Luke. We will hear these events proclaimed again during the Triduum when we read the passion of Jesus from the Gospel of John.

Throughout Luke’s Gospel we see that Jesus’ words and actions proclaim the Kingdom of God. This motif continues throughout Luke’s passion narrative. Jesus appears to be in total command of events at the Passover meal as he hands over the kingdom to his disciples. He welcomes them to the Passover meal announcing that this will be his last until the Kingdom of God is fulfilled.

As throughout Luke’s Gospel, however, the disciples show little understanding of this kingdom that Jesus often announces. Following the meal, the disciples argue about who is the greatest. Jesus takes the opportunity to distinguish the meaning of leadership in the Kingdom of God from the forms of leadership seen in the world.

Jesus initiates a conversation with Simon and predicts his denial. Jesus then instructs his disciples to prepare themselves for the events that will follow. His words reveal an awareness of the challenges that all of them will face in the days ahead. As the disciples and Jesus enter the Mount of Olives, Jesus indicates the importance of the disciples’ time in prayer, telling them that through prayer they will be able to face the challenges ahead.

As he prays, Jesus is tested. In the garden, an angel is sent to strengthen him and to prepare him for the events ahead. After this moment, Jesus is again in charge of the events and circumstances.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as active and vocal throughout his passion. When one of the disciples strikes the high priest’s servant, Jesus heals the man, an event reported only in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus stops the disciples’ protest against his arrest by noting that this is the “time for the power of darkness.” Jesus engages and responds when brought before the Sanhedrin; his words speak about the “power of God” that will bring about the reign of the Son of Man. When questioned by Pilate, Jesus responds with just one phrase; yet before Herod, Jesus refuses to speak.

When Luke describes the Way of the Cross and Jesus’ crucifixion, he calls to our attention many events that are not reported in the other Gospels. Throughout his Gospel, Luke has paid heed to the women who accompanied Jesus. Now, on the road to Calvary, Jesus speaks to the women who walk with him. Only Luke reports Jesus’ words of forgiveness spoken from the cross. And only Luke reports the dialogue between Jesus and the good thief. Finally, in contrast with the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Luke reports no words of abandonment spoken by Jesus on the cross. Instead, Jesus, in full command until his death, commends his spirit to his Father and takes his final breath.

Throughout Holy Week, we will continue to reflect on the events of Jesus’ passion and death. As we meditate on the cross, we ask again and anew what it means to make the statement of faith that Jesus, in his obedient suffering and dying, revealed himself to us as God’s Son and brought to fulfillment the Kingdom of God.-loyolapress.com

Pope Francis’ April 2019 Intention

Universal: Doctors and their Collaborators in War Zones

 

For doctors and their humanitarian collaborators in war zones, who risk their lives to save the lives of others.

 

Prayer

God of Kindness,
that you contemplate your Son Jesus,
we feel called to be generous,
to put in first place the needs of our brothers and sisters
before our own comfort and safety.
Help us not to be indifferent and lazy
to perform the well that is within our reach.
We ask that your grace
will be the strength of doctors and the volunteer staff
that serve the victims of war.
Be their refuge in moments of discouragement and tiredness,
so that their example may be light in the midst of darkness.
Our Father…

Liturgical Feasts/ Anniversaries/ Observances

(Legend: Ab=Abbot Ap=Apostle pP=Pope Bp=Bishop Ch=Children De=Deacon Dr=Doctor Kg=King Ma=Married Mt=Martyr Pr=Priest Qu=Queen Re=Religious Vg=Virgin Fd=Founder, Hm=Hermit)

April 2: Francis of Paola (Hm)

April 4 : Isidore (Bp, Dr)

 April 5: Vincent Ferrer (Pr)

April 7 : 5th Sunday of Lent (3rd Scrutiny)

April 11 : Stanislaus* (Bp, Mt)

April 13 : Martin I (Pp, Mt)

April 14: Palm/Passion Sunday

April 15: Monday of Holy Week

April 16: Tuesday of Holy Week

April 17: Wednesday of Holy Week

April 18: Holy Thursday: the Lord’s Supper

April 19: Good Friday

April 20 : Holy Saturday

APRIL 21: EASTER SUNDAY

April 28 : 2nd Sunday of Easter

April 29 : Catherine of Siena (Vg, Dr)*

April 30 : Pius V (Pp)

 

Prayer for our nation

Leader:
Let us proclaim the name of the Lord; and ascribe greatness to our God!

All:
Lord, Your work is perfect. And all your ways are just.  Let Your voice be heard today by all the nations.

O God, Judge of the nations, put fear into our hearts so that we may know that we are only human. Father, the whole of creation groans and labours to be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Lord Jesus, send forth Your Spirit of Truth and let this Spirit prove to ‘the powers that be’ how wrong they are about sin, righteousness and judgment. O Lord, declare the power of Your works to Your people and let us be filled with the knowledge of Your glory as the waters cover the sea.

Gather us, O Lord, in Your Name and may all worship the One True God. Amen.

(A prayer composed from various Scripture verses of the Bible – Herald Malaysia)

Archbishop John Wong’s Message for Easter 2019

The encounter with True Love is in the silence

AS the Universal Church rejoices at the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior, let us together proclaim “The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

It is in this Rising from the dead that has given significance to the birth and death of Christ. The world experiences births and deaths every day and many a time, these experiences give and take away hope and joy respectively. Yet, it is in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that has set the foundation to true Hope, true Joy because we are promised with Eternal Life.

When I reflected on the accounts of the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I could not still fully describe and comprehend the immensity and intensity of the Love that is given so generously to us. “It is proof of God’s own love for us, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5: 8) It is not just any love that the world is promoting and living by today. This Love gives of Himself (1 John 4: 8) fully and freely, even unto death. It is called the Sacrificial Love, one that is given willingly for the good and life of the others. Yet, through my own experience, I believe anyone who has truly encountered this Love could not ever resist it. Moreover, this Love would draw one to be committed to lead a life transformed in the way of Christ.

With the signs of times and urgent issues the Church and the World are facing, we see clearly that the love of the world centers on the interest of the “I”. During the season of Lent, I was very moved when the psalmist said “Save me in your Love, O Lord” (Psalm 31:16). It has drawn me into a deeper contemplation of what this Love means and how it could save. It has convicted me more and more that the only remedy to these issues could only be countered purely from the decision of each person to will the good of the other person, just as Jesus Christ has chosen to lay down His own life for our salvation (John 10:18).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, to be the channel of love, we are to first encounter Love Himself. For me, the encounter of this Love lies in the empty tomb. The tomb, to many of us, may signify darkness, sorrow, despair and death. Yet, J.R.R. Tolkein once wrote a profound quote,  “Christian joy produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.”

Likewise, I see this truth in the empty tomb. It is at dusk that the first sunlight will break through darkness. It is in the darkness of defeat, sorrow, despair and death, Jesus meets us there. As St Paul the Apostle wrote to the Ephesians (4: 8-10) “He went up to the heights, took captives, he gave gifts to humanity.” When it says, ‘he went up’, it must mean that he had gone down to the deepest levels of the earth. The one who went down is none other than the one who went up the heavens to fill all things. Jesus has Himself entered into this pit and won victoriously! Hence, we could proclaim “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15: 55). Love Himself has conquered death!

Today, Jesus continues to meet us where we are, with the same Passion for our Salvation. It takes only our openness to respond with a ‘Yes” to reach out to His Hands which has been extended waiting for ours decision to want to be saved. This is where we will experience the power of love through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It brings us true Joy, true Hope and Eternal Life.

In order for us to encounter this True Love, I strongly urge us to “Listen”. Only when we choose to stop, be still and listen, we would encounter True Love Himself, for He is found in the silence.

Two very practical steps to listen are: (1) to soak ourselves in the Word of God, and (2) to frequent ourselves to the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation.

The Word of God is filled with God’s Truth and His covenant Love for us. He wants to speak Love to us. Moreover, He wants to show us His tangible Love through the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation. When we avail ourselves to these Sacraments, it is in fact God initiating to give, reassure and restore us to fullness. He knows all that we are, but He remains faithful to love us totally.

Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the victory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us also give our honour to our Most Holy Mother of God, Mary. She was present all through the life of Jesus, convicted by the life that they walked through together, that Jesus is the Messiah the whole nation of Israel has been waiting for. She remained standing even at the foot of the Cross, trusting that God’s Will is fulfilled. She encountered Love, carried Love and lived with Love.  Therefore, let us continue to ask for her kind intercession that we, too, will encounter this Abounding Love that can be found in Jesus Christ Alone. Carry this love, live and share it to all.

We are redeemed children of an ever-abundant Father! Be Courageous! Let Love reach you, touch you and motivate you to go forward. Have a Blessed Easter!

Fifth Sunday of Lent, Cycle C

First Reading
Isaiah 43:16-21
The Lord is doing something new for his people.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 126:1-6
A song in praise of the Lord’s marvelous deeds

Second Reading
Philippians 3:8-14
Paul says that he counts all things as lost and focuses on one goal, Christ.

Gospel Reading
John 8:1-11
Jesus does not condemn the woman caught in adultery.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The Gospel for the fifth Sunday of Lent continues to offer lessons about God’s mercy and forgiveness. Last Sunday we heard the Parable of the Prodigal Son from the Gospel of Luke. Today we hear not a parable, but the report from John’s Gospel of an encounter among Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees, and a woman caught in adultery.

In John’s Gospel, the conflict between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees occurs much earlier than in the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem is reported at the beginning of John’s Gospel. Even after this event, Jesus continues to teach in the Temple. After returning to Galilee for a time, Jesus again enters Jerusalem and cures a man on the Sabbath. From this point forward in John’s Gospel, the Pharisees are described as making plans for Jesus’ arrest and seeking his death.

In the chapter preceding today’s Gospel, Jesus was teaching in the Temple area. Feeling threatened by his teaching and his actions, the chief priests and the Pharisees are already sending guards to arrest Jesus. The guards return, however, without arresting Jesus because they have been impressed by his words. Even more than this, some among the crowds are considering the possibility that Jesus is the Messiah. The chief priests and the Pharisees change their plan. Before making an arrest, they seek to gather more evidence against Jesus by posing a question intended to trap Jesus.

Today’s Gospel begins by reporting that Jesus is again teaching the crowds in the vicinity of the Temple. The scribes and the Pharisees approach Jesus, bringing a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery. They put to Jesus the question of what ought to be done in this case.

The Pharisees state clearly that according to the Law of Moses, those caught in the act of adultery were to be stoned to death. Under Roman occupation, however, the Jewish people did not have the authority to execute people; this is cited in John’s passion narrative. To answer the Pharisees’ question, Jesus must propose an action that will be either contrary to the Law of Moses or contrary to Roman law. The purpose of the question appears to be similar to the question about paying taxes found in Mark 12:13-17. Either answer, yes or no, will support the Pharisees’ case against Jesus.

Jesus avoids the trap, however, by offering an answer that was not anticipated by those who posed the question. Jesus, after writing on the ground with his finger, addresses those who stand before him and suggests that the one without sin cast the first stone. Jesus then returns to his writing. This Scripture reading, by the way, is the only evidence we have of Jesus writing. Yet there are no specific details about what he wrote.

We can easily imagine the scene as the Pharisees and the elders disperse, one by one. Jesus has eluded the trap they had prepared. We might also give credit to the elders and the Pharisees who do not, in the end, claim to be sinless and worthy of passing judgment. These Pharisees are not as self-righteous as the portrait found in the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector (See Luke 18:9-14).

Left alone with the woman, Jesus asks where the accusers have gone. With no one remaining to condemn the woman, Jesus (the one who truly is without sin) sends the woman on her way, refusing to pass judgment on her and exhorting her to avoid future sin.

Jesus’ response to those who accuse the woman is more than a caution to us about making judgment of others. It is a profound lesson in divine mercy and forgiveness. As sinners, we are all unworthy to judge the sins of others and we would stand convicted by God for our transgressions. Yet Jesus, the one without sin and thus our judge, offers us who are sinners his mercy and forgiveness. Redeemed by Jesus’ compassion, we are sent to sin no more and to live in God’s love and peace.- loyolapress.com

Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle C

First Reading
Joshua 5:9a,10-12
The Israelites celebrate the Passover in the promised land.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 34:2-7
A prayer of praise to God.

Second Reading
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Paul preaches our reconciliation with Christ.

Gospel Reading
Luke 15:1-3,11-32
Jesus teaches about forgiveness in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The parable Jesus tells in today’s Gospel is unique to the Gospel of Luke. Jesus has been teaching the crowds as he journeys to Jerusalem. As he teaches, the Pharisees and scribes complain and challenge Jesus because he is welcoming sinners at his table. Today we hear the third of three parables that Jesus tells in response to his critics. These three familiar parables—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and today’s parable of the prodigal son—invite us to consider the depth of God’s mercy and love.

The Pharisees taught a scrupulous observance of Jewish Law. In their interpretation and practice, observant Jews who shared table fellowship with sinners would be made unclean. Like Jesus, the Pharisees hoped to lead sinners back to God. The Pharisees, however, required that sinners first become ritually clean—observant of the Pharisees’ interpretation of Jewish Law—before sharing table fellowship. This appears to be one of the major differences between the Pharisees and Jesus. Jesus reaches out to sinners while they are still sinners, inviting them to conversion through fellowship with him. Jesus is God acting among us; by befriending us, he is inviting us to return to friendship with God. Through friendship with Jesus, our sins are forgiven and we, in turn, bear fruit for God. Recall last Sunday’s Gospel and the barren fig tree.

Our familiarity with today’s parable risks dulling us to its tremendously powerful message. We call this the parable of the lost son or the prodigal son. Any focus on the younger son, however, must also be balanced by an examination of the unusual behavior of the father.

First we must imagine our first response to the audacity of a son who asks for his inheritance before his father has died. Indignation would certainly be a justifiable response to such a request. Yet the father in this parable agrees to honor the son’s request and divides his property among his two sons. How might we describe such a father? Foolish comes to mind, but so does trusting. Without property of his own, the father must rely upon his sons to provide for his well-being.

The younger son takes his inheritance and leaves home. The older son remains, continuing to provide for the father and the household. Having been disgraced by the younger son, the father spends some time watching the road for the return of the lost son. When he eventually sees his wayward son returning, the father not only welcomes him but also runs out to greet him and then honors him with a party. We say that this father is loving and forgiving. Yet these adjectives only begin to describe the depth of love and mercy that characterize the father.

We find no surprise in the anger of the older son. Yet the father appears sad and even confused by the older son’s indignation. He says in reply that they should celebrate because the lost son had returned. The father is filled with gratitude and love for the older son’s faithfulness. This love is in no way diminished by the father’s rejoicing at the return of the younger son. Yet the older son’s jealousy reveals his limited understanding of the depth of his father’s love.

The Fourth Sunday of Lent is traditionally called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is a Latin word that means “rejoice.” Today’s Gospel describes the reason for our joy: God’s great love for us has been revealed in Jesus. Through his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, Christ has reconciled us with God and one another.- loyolapress.com

Third Sunday of Lent, Cycle C

First Reading
Exodus 3:1-8a,13-15
God speaks to Moses from the burning bush and sends him to the Israelites.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 103:1-4,6-7,8,11
A prayer in praise of God’s mercy

Second Reading
1 Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12
Paul teaches that the Scriptures were written to set an example for us.

Gospel Reading
Luke 13:1-9
Jesus preaches a lesson on repentance.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Now into the third week of the Season of Lent, our Sunday Gospel prepares us to hear Lent’s call to conversion and repentance. Today’s reading is found in the chapters of Luke’s Gospel that describe Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. During this journey, Jesus teaches and heals. He must also respond to those who question and challenge his authority and actions. There is no parallel in Mark’s or Matthew’s Gospels for today’s reading from Luke. While Mark and Matthew describe an incident in which Jesus curses the fig tree, today’s reading makes the barren fig tree the subject of a parable.

Luke tells us that some among the crowds report to Jesus a massacre of Galileans by Pilate. The intention of the crowd seems to be to ask Jesus to explain why these people suffered. It was commonplace to render people’s suffering as evidence of their sinfulness. Jesus challenges this interpretation. Those who were massacred were no more or less sinful than the ones who report the situation to Jesus. Jesus replies that even a fatal accident, a natural disaster, ought not to be interpreted as punishment for sin.

Jesus’ words at first appear to have a fire-and-brimstone quality. Jesus says in essence, “Repent or perish as these people did; all are sinful before God and deserving of God’s punishment.” The tone changes, however, in the parable that follows. The parable of the barren fig tree contrasts the patience and hopefulness of the gardener with the practicality of the property owner. When told to cut down the fig tree because it is not producing fruit, the gardener counsels patience. If properly tended, the barren fig tree may yet bear fruit.

Throughout his journey to Jerusalem, Jesus has been teaching about the Kingdom of God. In this parable, we find an image of God’s patience and hopefulness as he prepares his Kingdom. God calls us to repent, and it is within his power to punish us for our failure to turn from our sinfulness. And yet God is merciful. He delays punishment and tends to us so that we may yet bear the fruit he desires from us.

This, then, is our reason for hope: Not only does God refuse to abandon us, he chooses to attend to us even when we show no evidence of his efforts. Next week’s Gospel will give an even clearer picture of the kind of mercy that God shows to us.-loyolapress.com

Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle C

First Reading
Genesis 15:5-12,17-18
God makes a covenant with Abraham, promising him many descendants.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 27:1,7-8,8-9,13-14
A prayer to God who is our salvation

Second Reading
Philippians 3:17-4:1 (or shorter form, Philippians 3:20-4:1)
Paul encourages the Philippians to remain firm in their faith that Christ will subject all things to himself.

Gospel Reading
Luke 9:28b-36
Jesus is transfigured in the presence of Peter, John, and James.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On the second Sunday of Lent, we move from Jesus’ retreat to the desert and temptation by the devil to the glory shown in Jesus’ Transfiguration. On the first Sunday of Lent, our Gospel always tells the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. On the second Sunday, we always hear the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration.

The report of Jesus’ Transfiguration is found in each of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The context for Luke’s Transfiguration story is similar to that found in both Matthew and Mark. The Transfiguration occurs after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ prediction about his Passion. After the prediction there is a discussion of the cost of discipleship in each of these Gospels. The placement of the Transfiguration story close to Peter’s confession and Jesus’ prediction encourages us to examine the Transfiguration in the larger context of the Paschal Mystery.

The Transfiguration occurs on a mountain in the presence of just three of Jesus’ disciples—Peter, James and John. These are among the first disciples that Jesus called in Luke’s Gospel. We recently heard this Gospel at Mass, on the fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Only Luke’s Gospel, which often describes Jesus at prayer, indicates that Jesus is praying as his appearance changes to bright white. Luke indicates that the three disciples were sleeping while Jesus prayed. They will be sleeping again as Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane before his Passion and death.

As they awake, Peter and the disciples see Jesus Transfigured and Elijah and Moses present with Jesus. Elijah and Moses, both significant figures in the history of Israel, represent Jesus’ continuity with the Law and the Prophets. In Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospels, there is reference to conversation among Jesus, Elijah, and Moses, but only Luke’s Gospel explains that this conversation is about Jesus’ later accomplishments in Jerusalem. Luke describes this as his exodus, connecting Jesus’ Passion, death, and Resurrection with the Israel’s Exodus from Egypt.

On witnessing Jesus’ Transfiguration and seeing Jesus with Elijah and Moses, Peter offers to construct three tents for them. Having just awoken, perhaps Peter’s offer was made in confusion. We also notice that Peter reverted from his earlier confession that Jesus is the Messiah, calling Jesus “master” instead. As if in reply to Peter’s confusion, a voice from heaven speaks, affirming Jesus as God’s Son and commanding that the disciples listen to him. This voice from heaven recalls the voice that was heard at Jesus’ baptism which, in Luke’s Gospel, spoke directly to Jesus as God’s Son.

In his Transfiguration, we see an anticipation of the glory of Jesus’ Resurrection. In each of the reports of the Transfiguration, the disciples keep secret what they have seen. Not until they also witness his Passion and death will the disciples understand Jesus’ Transfiguration. We hear this story of Jesus’ Transfiguration early in Lent, but we have the benefit of hindsight. In our hearing of it, we anticipate Jesus’ Resurrection even as we prepare to remember Jesus’ Passion and death. – loyolapress.com

First Sunday of Lent, Cycle C

First Reading
Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Moses describes the offering of praise for God’s deliverance of Israel.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 91:1-2,10-11,12-13,14-15
A prayer for God’s protection

Second Reading
Romans 10:8-13
Paul teaches that we are saved by faith.

Gospel Reading
Luke 4:1-13
In the desert, Jesus is tempted by the devil.

Background on the Gospel Reading

In each of the three Synoptic Gospels, after his baptism, Jesus is reported to have spent forty days in the desert, fasting and praying. In Luke and in Matthew, the devil presents three temptations to Jesus. The devil tempts Jesus to use his power to appease his hunger, he offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will worship him, and he tempts Jesus to put God’s promise of protection to the test. In each case, Jesus resists, citing words from Scripture to rebuke the devil’s temptation.

Each temptation that Jesus faces offers insight into the spirituality we hope to develop as we keep the forty days of the Season of Lent. We can trust God to provide for our material needs. We worship God because God alone has dominion over us and our world. We can trust God to be faithful to his promises. Jesus’ rejection of the devil’s temptations shows that he will not put God to the test. Grounding himself on the Word and authority of Scripture, Jesus rebukes the devil by his confidence in God’s protection and faithfulness.

This Gospel highlights for us one of the central themes of the Season of Lent. We are dependent upon God for all that we have and all that we are. Anything that leads us to reject this dependency or to distrust its sufficiency, is a temptation from the devil.

Luke ends his report of Jesus’ temptation in the desert by noting that the devil departs for a time. The implication is that the devil will return. Jesus knows that he will be tempted again in the Garden of Gethsemane. The depth of Jesus’ trust in God is shown most fully when Jesus rejects the temptation to turn away from the task God has given to him. Jesus’ final rebuke of the devil is his sacrifice on the Cross.

Jesus’ responses to the temptations of the devil teach us how we can respond to temptation. As we start our journey through Lent, this Sunday’s Gospel calls us to adopt the same confidence that Jesus had in the face of temptation: God’s word alone will suffice, God’s promise of protection can be trusted, and God alone is God.- loyolapress.com

Pope: the archives on Pius XII will be opened next year

In announcing his decision, Francis stressed that the Pacelli Pope fought to “keep the flame of humanitarian initiatives lit during periods of more intense darkness and cruelty, of hidden but active diplomacy, of hope in possible good openings of hearts”

In the picture: Pius XII among the victims of the bombardment of San Lorenzo. (Rome, 19 July 1943).

Vatican City – The Vatican Archives for the pontificate of Pius XII will be opened next year, Pope Francis announced today during a meeting this morning with the Vatican Secret Archives officials, on the 80th anniversary of the election of Pope Pius XII.

In announcing the opening of the archives will take place on 2 March 2020, Francis noted how “The figure of that Pontiff, who found himself guiding the Barque of Peter at one of the saddest and darkest moments of the twentieth century, agitated and lacerated by the last world war, with the consequent period of reorganization of the nations and post-war reconstruction, has already been investigated and studied in many aspects, sometimes discussed and even criticized (it could be said with some prejudice or exaggeration). Today he has been appropriately re-evaluated and indeed placed in the correct light for his many qualities: pastoral, above all, but also theological, ascetic, and diplomatic.”

Affirming that “the Church is not afraid of history; rather, she loves it, and would like to love it more and better, as God does!” The Pope added that “that serious and objective historical research will be able to evaluate, in the proper light and with appropriate criticism, the praiseworthy moments of the Pontiff and, without any doubt, also moments of serious difficulties, of tormented decisions, of human and Christian prudence, which to some might have seemed to be reticence, and which instead were attempts, humanly also very hard-fought, to keep the flame of humanitarian initiatives lit during periods of more intense darkness and cruelty, of hidden but active diplomacy, of hope in possible good openings of hearts.”

Francis also recalled that the project for the inventory and preparation of the substantial documentation produced during the pontificate of Pius XII was elaborated by wish of Benedict XVI, after part of the documentation was already made available by Paul VI and John Paul II. – AsiaNews

Ash Wednesday

First Reading
Joel 2:12-18
Return to the Lord for he is merciful.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 51:3-6b,12-14,17
Create a clean heart in us, O God, and be merciful.

Second Reading
2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2
Be reconciled to God; now is the day of salvation.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Jesus teaches that almsgiving, prayer, and fasting should be done in secret.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of the liturgical season of Lent. In this season, we prepare ourselves to celebrate the high point of our Christian life, Easter. Each year, the readings for Ash Wednesday are the same. They call us to a change of heart and teach us about the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These disciplines are to be part of the Christian life during every season, but during the season of Lent, we renew our commitment to them.

The meaning behind tracing a cross on our foreheads with ashes (the liturgical sign of Ash Wednesday) is a summary of our Christian life. On one level, the ashes remind us of our origin and our death. (In the words of the prayer said when we receive ashes: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”) The ashes are also the sign of our victory: the cross of Christ. In his death and resurrection, Christ conquered death. Our destiny as Christians is to receive the victory over death that Christ won for us. We acknowledge that victory when we “[t]urn away from sin and [are] faithful to the gospel,” words from the alternative prayer when we are signed with ashes.

Today’s reading is part of the Sermon on the Mount. In the sermon, Jesus warns his followers against acting for the sake of appearance. When Jesus’ disciples give alms, pray, and fast, they are to do so in such a way that only God, who sees the heart and knows what is hidden, will know. Although our Lectionary reading omits the Lord’s Prayer, we can recall that Matthew presents that prayer as a model for the disciples’ prayer (Matthew 6:9-15). – loyolapress.com

Copyright © 2019. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.