Sunday, April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday Reflection: Does Christ Really Triumph?

Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday is the last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. Today we remember the Passion of Christ. Jesus entered Jerusalem while the people shouted Hosanna and threw Palm branches in his path.

He is the king, the Messiah, the one the Jews were expecting for centuries.  As He enters Jerusalem, He is seen as a triumphant King. A king of the Jews.  But was He really Triumphant.  Today's events are forcing many to question this.  The closing of Churches and lack of faith by bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity has really scandalized the image of Christ being triumphant.   Are we truly shouting Hosanna from the heart or only when things are "normal" in the world?

Hosanna is an exclamation of supplication in a moment of emotion. The Palms are a sign of victory and joy.  The people celebrated the Triumphant entry of the King of Kings into Jerusalem. Ironically just a few days later these same people will call upon Pilate to crucify Him.

Zechariah 9:9 prophesied this day. The account of the story is read prior to the procession with the Psalms and comes from Matthew 21: 1-11.   In the Catholic Church, red vestments are used to symbolize the blood Jesus would shed as a result of His entry into Jerusalem.

The first reading during Mass is from Isaiah which is connected to Jesus.  It reflects on how Jesus' is a gifted speaker who spreads the Good News, yet offends many.  Because of this, He is beaten, his beard is plucked and He is mocked.  This reading is a foreshadowing of the Passion of Christ. Despite being abused by the people, Jesus returned no insult or attack.  He braved it all for the sake of all.  Today we live in a world where Christ's message is not popular.  Priests, religious, laity and even our separated Christian brethren face all kinds of hardships just for speaking the name of Christ and what He stands for.  This is very true today when the Church is undergoing a massive trial. Many are questioning the validity of the faith and if it is even worth believing.  With bishops closing churches and denying the Sacraments, why even believe in them?  The government has even threatened the Church and ministers of all persuasions.  We must be strong and not give in to the pressures of the world and preach Christ in season and out of season (2 timothy 4:2). This means even during a pandemic. Like Christ, we must bear it all for the sake of salvation.  It may seem like God has abandoned us and this is why the responsorial Psalm begins with this phrase. This Psalm is another foreshadowing of Christ's passion.  Christ Himself felt abandoned by the Father.  However, this is not so.  God is there present comforting Him and us as well who struggle today during this pandemic.We cannot truly know why this Covid-18 Coronavirus is happening now and why it is infecting so many people around the world. Doctors may say it is spreading because of close contact, bodily aerosols, or contaminated surfaces. But they have contradicted themselves several times. Scientists say the same; some even claiming that the virus came from bats, is airborne or may have been living in humans for decades and mutated to the point it is now.  But they too have contradicted themselves. Some religious groups are saying this is the end times, a chastisement or a warning from God.  But we cannot know for sure. Lastly, environmentalists, both scientists and armchair ones are claiming that this is earth attempting to calibrate the disorder man has caused due to global warming and over population.  But again, we cannot know for sure.  Man cannot know it all. His fields of inquiry and technologies have failed.  Perhaps this is a reminder that we are not gods. We are not masters of life or this world and have to focus on the one who is the Master of all.  God has not abandoned us. We have abandoned him.  

Finally, the Gospel tells the account of Jesus' last supper where He instituted the Holy Eucharist.

Christ defined for all the true meaning of the Passover meal by breaking bread and sharing wine which are His body, blood, soul and divinity.  We read how Judas is there present during the meal. He sells out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  Judas is the first to leave the first Mass.

How many times do we see people leave Mass early? Perhaps we may have done it ourselves?  We are imitating Judas the betrayer when we leave Mass early.  In doing so, we make whatever we are leaving Mass for more important than Christ.  Granted, there may be emergencies we may have to attend to, but this is where faith comes in.  God will take care of any emergencies for us. Moreover, we continue reading how Christ tells the disciples how they will flee when He is arrested.  Each boldly claims that he will not leave Christ.  How many times have we been vain in thinking that we have total control of faith?  How many times have we thought that we control grace in us?  It is God who sustains our faith and nourishes us with His grace.  We only cooperate by the suspension of our free will to submit to God's will.

Christ then goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  He cries tears of blood showing the pain and anguish He was going through.  Like in last week's Gospel with Lazarus, we again see Christ's humanity.  He is one of us!  He is the perfect Adam we must imitate.

However, like the disciples, we often fall asleep when we are in His presence.  Instead of praying, we slack off and get distracted to the point of dosing off.  We must avoid this by asking God to teach us how to pray and give us the strength and demeanor to be in His presence to pray even when our human frailness gets in the way.

Lastly, we continue reading how Christ is taken to trial.  The Son of God, God Himself is treated like a criminal.  He is sentenced to be killed by way of Crucifixion.  His crime is love.  Christ came to save all, first to His own people the Jews.  Ironically, it is sometimes our own that betray us.  We must avoid being like the Jews of Christ's time who were with Him, saw His works and still wanted no part of Christ.  Like the Jews in the desert, they saw His works and still did not want to believe as the first reading of the third week of Lent told us.  Christ is then made to go through a horrible death.  First He is made to carry a heavy cross.  Throughout the way, He is mocked, spat on, hit and falls down three times for the sins of the past, present and future.  He dies on the cross and is buried.  God is dead!

Today, this phrase still echoes among societies throughout the world, especially in universities teaching our youth.  Some believe philosopher Nietzsche to have coined the phrase "God is dead," but this has existed way before his own birth. Christ is nailed to the cross and dies.  The people of His time said, "God is dead."

The Son of God who performed miracles, preached the good news dies.  We know that in reality He is still alive.  Man can kill God because God allows it out of love.  Today's age or secularism, atheism and relativism shout, "God is dead, we have killed Him!" However, God is alive and well.  He rose from the dead showing He is the God of the living and dead.  He is the one who IS; who is dependent on no one for existence.

We must not be like the Jews of the old covenant who saw and still did not believe, nor do we want to be like the Jews in Jesus' times who like their ancestors saw Christ's works yet did not believe as well (Psalm 95:9, Hebrews 3:9). They even proclaimed Him as their king by throwing palms onto His path only to reject Him and call for His execution days later, according to some scholars.  We should not be like them.  We must never lose faith nor let the world silence it.  This is important today now more than ever.  The Covid-19 Coronvirus has forced many to question their faith in God.  God seems absent. The closing of Churches and denial of the Sacraments to the faithful has added to this doubt.  We read in Scripture, Tradition, the writing of the saints and heard even from Our Lady in apparitions that God protects, that Mary protects. 

However, how is this true when churches are closed and Masses are suspended due to a mere virus introduction into nature which happens naturally?  Many are seeing this contradiction.  They are also seeing the hypocrisy of saying the Church is a field hospital while shutting out the wounded and abandoning them; not to mention the call for bishops to acquire the scent of the sheep.  How is that done while hiding in rectories and episcopal mansions?  These optics are not good. They demonstrate to the world that God is dead. If the alleged successors of the apostles behave this way, then why even bother to believe?  Why even bother to be Catholic?  As stated, we must never lose faith nor let the world silence it. Today, this is what is happening. The government is even threatening churches if they do not obey their demands while keeping abortion mills and liquor shops open.  If this is not the spirit of the Antichrist, then I do not know what is.  So as you sit home without being able to attend Mass, meditate on this. Choose your side. Jesus did triumph. Let us truly believe this.  If not, then we are just believing in Spinoza's God who is limited to the laws of physics and processes of nature.  This is not our God.  Our God has power over what He created.  This includes viruses.  Our God can protect against anything, even viruses.  Our God can set aside the laws of nature and work miracles that defy reason, science and the imagination. 

Faith is key!  Please do not lose it due to the actions of our bishops and priests.  Please do not lose it due to the cowardice of religious and lay people.  Please do not lose it due to the news of deaths and widespread contagion.  If you believe churches should be closed, Mass suspended and Sacraments denied to the people, then your faith is lukewarm and you do not shout Hosanna today because Christ did not triumph to you.  Trust in God.  Jesus has triumphed! 

Today we lift up our palms -virtual or imaginary ones- not like those hypocrites in the Gospel reading before Mass, but like those in Revelation 7:9 who see the Lamb of God, hold their palms out to Him in joy and wear clean white robes showing they are made spotless by the blood of Christ shed for all during His Passion.

May Christ teach us how to live and suffering in faith.  Let us shout Hosanna to the King with sincerity and remain with Him through good times and bad times until the end of time comes.    




Readings: www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040420.cfm

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Lectionary: 35 and 38


At The Procession With Palms - GospelMT 21:1-11

When Jesus and the disciples drew near Jerusalem
and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately you will find an ass tethered,
and a colt with her.
Untie them and bring them here to me.
And if anyone should say anything to you, reply,
‘The master has need of them.’
Then he will send them at once.”
This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Say to daughter Zion,
“Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.
They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them,
and he sat upon them.
The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
And when he entered Jerusalem
the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”
And the crowds replied,
“This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

At The Mass - Reading 1 IS 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

Responsorial Psalm PS 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

R/ (2a) My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him.”
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
“You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Reading 2 PHIL 2:6-11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel MT 26:14-27:66

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity
to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”’”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

While they were eating,
Jesus took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and giving it to his disciples said,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink from it, all of you,
for this is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed on behalf of many
for the forgiveness of sins.
I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it with you new
in the kingdom of my Father.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them,
“This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken,
for it is written:
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed
;
but after I have been raised up,
I shall go before you to Galilee.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Though all may have their faith in you shaken,
mine will never be.”
Jesus said to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
this very night before the cock crows,
you will deny me three times.”
Peter said to him,
“Even though I should have to die with you,
I will not deny you.”
And all the disciples spoke likewise.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,
and he said to his disciples,
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee,
and began to feel sorrow and distress.
Then he said to them,
“My soul is sorrowful even to death.
Remain here and keep watch with me.”
He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying,
“My Father, if it is possible,
let this cup pass from me;
yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep.
He said to Peter,
“So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again,
“My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass
without my drinking it, your will be done!”
Then he returned once more and found them asleep,
for they could not keep their eyes open.
He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time,
saying the same thing again.
Then he returned to his disciples and said to them,
“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
Behold, the hour is at hand
when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go.
Look, my betrayer is at hand.”

While he was still speaking,
Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived,
accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs,
who had come from the chief priests and the elders
of the people.
His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying,
“The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.”
Immediately he went over to Jesus and said,
“Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.
Jesus answered him,
“Friend, do what you have come for.”
Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.
And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus
put his hand to his sword, drew it,
and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him,
“Put your sword back into its sheath,
for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father
and he will not provide me at this moment
with more than twelve legions of angels?
But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled
which say that it must come to pass in this way?”
At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,
“Have you come out as against a robber,
with swords and clubs to seize me?
Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area,
yet you did not arrest me.
But all this has come to pass
that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.”
Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Those who had arrested Jesus led him away
to Caiaphas the high priest,
where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
Peter was following him at a distance
as far as the high priest’s courtyard,
and going inside he sat down with the servants
to see the outcome.
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin
kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus
in order to put him to death,
but they found none,
though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward who stated,
“This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God
and within three days rebuild it.’”
The high priest rose and addressed him,
“Have you no answer?
What are these men testifying against you?”
But Jesus was silent.
Then the high priest said to him,
“I order you to tell us under oath before the living God
whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“You have said so.
But I tell you:
From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power’
and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
Then the high priest tore his robes and said,
“He has blasphemed!
What further need have we of witnesses?
You have now heard the blasphemy;
what is your opinion?”
They said in reply,
“He deserves to die!”
Then they spat in his face and struck him,
while some slapped him, saying,
“Prophesy for us, Christ: who is it that struck you?”
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard.
One of the maids came over to him and said,
“You too were with Jesus the Galilean.”
But he denied it in front of everyone, saying,
“I do not know what you are talking about!”
As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him
and said to those who were there,
“This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.”
Again he denied it with an oath,
“I do not know the man!”
A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter,
“Surely you too are one of them;
even your speech gives you away.”
At that he began to curse and to swear,
“I do not know the man.”
And immediately a cock crowed.
Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken:
“Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.”
He went out and began to weep bitterly.

When it was morning,
all the chief priests and the elders of the people
took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
They bound him, led him away,
and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned,
deeply regretted what he had done.
He returned the thirty pieces of silver
to the chief priests and elders, saying,
“I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.”
They said,
“What is that to us?
Look to it yourself.”
Flinging the money into the temple,
he departed and went off and hanged himself.
The chief priests gathered up the money, but said,
“It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury,
for it is the price of blood.”
After consultation, they used it to buy the potter’s field
as a burial place for foreigners.
That is why that field even today is called the Field of Blood.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah
the prophet,
And they took the thirty pieces of silver, 
the value of a man with a price on his head, 
a price set by some of the Israelites, 
and they paid it out for the potter’s field 
just as the Lord had commanded me.


Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha
¬—which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
“Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus
feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”
There were many women there, looking on from a distance,
who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.
Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph,
and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening,
there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph,
who was himself a disciple of Jesus.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus;
then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.
Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in clean linen
and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock.
Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb
and departed.
But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
remained sitting there, facing the tomb.

The next day, the one following the day of preparation,
the chief priests and the Pharisees
gathered before Pilate and said,
“Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said,
‘After three days I will be raised up.’
Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day,
lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people,
‘He has been raised from the dead.’
This last imposture would be worse than the first.”
Pilate said to them,
“The guard is yours;
go, secure it as best you can.”
So they went and secured the tomb
by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.

Or MT 27:11-54

Jesus stood before the governor, Pontius Pilate, who questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha
— which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
‘Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus
feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Taylor Marshall Behind Amazon 'Pachamama' Carvings Vandalism

During a You Tube broadcast, conspiracist Taylor Marshall had on Alexander Tschugguel. Tschugguel had contracted the coronavirus and is recoverying (see: https://www.sacerdotus.com/2020/03/alexander-tschugguel-contracts-covid-19.html). As many of you know, Tschugguel was the man who vandalized the carvings used during the Amazon Synod in Rome. He threw them into the Tiber (see: https://www.sacerdotus.com/2019/11/pachamama-good-thief-alexander.html). Many voiced their disgust at the action, though others, mainly so-called conservative Catholics, praised it. Tschugguel became a hero to them; the "new St. Boniface." Well, some in the Catholic blogosphere have long suspected that Taylor Marshall may have been behind the stunt in order to garner publicity and sell more books regarding his conspiracy theories. Well, it turns out that the suspicions were correct.

During the webcast, Marshall revealed that he supported and funded the effort. At 106:40, Marshall begins to explain his role in the vandalism of the carvings:




Taylor states:

 “Alexander and I had met in Rome … even before the Pachas were out, and when we learned about the tree that was planted in that ceremony with the Pachas, we were at dinner and we were discussing how we might go and rip that tree out of the ground, That kind of scared us a little,” Marshall chuckled, “but we really didn’t know about the Pachas (yet) … They were still saying that they were Mary and Elizabeth, which none of us really bought, but at least it wasn’t outright idolatry. “So you worked out your plan with your friend, and I wired you some money for airfare, and you guys flew from Vienna over to Rome, and you got it done, a wonderful thing. This has never been told before. I just waited until you texted me and said, ‘Our airplane is off the ground in Rome. We’re free. We’re out of Rome.’ And at that point I uploaded the footage to YouTube. None of us wanted you to get detained or stuck in Rome.”

Tschugguel apparently knows some people who reside near the Vatican gardens and planned with them to enter the church and steal the carvings. However, he voiced concern about possible snipers on the roof of the Domus Sanctae Marthae where Pope Francis lives.  Marshall continues to rant about the Coronavirus being a punishment from God due to the "Pachamama" at the Vatican.  There is no word from the Vatican or Italian police regarding the claims.  They made it clear that they will be investigating and possibly charging those responsible.  Both Marshall and Tschugguel have admitted to the crime and can face possible charges.

In my opinion, charges should be filed. People cannot enter churches and steal things in order to make a statement by vandalizing them. Regardless of the reason, this is wrong and illegal. It is a disruption in civil society.  Rational people use words to fight and do not get physical. The Vatican and even the pope have made it clear several times that the carvings were not "Pachamama" or anything related to the myth (see:  http://www.sacerdotus.com/2019/10/pagan-pope-pagan-vatican-ceremony.html and http://www.sacerdotus.com/2019/10/pope-francis-says-amazon-figures-are-of.html).  The pope did describe them as "Pachamama," but simply because this was how the Italian media was describing them. He did not mean that they were literally "Pachamama."

Moreover, the claim that Coronavirus is a punishment from God due to the display at the Vatican with the carvings is silly. As stated, the carvings are not Pagan nor "Pachamama." They were simply symbols just like many churches use an eagle to represent freedom or a pelican to represent God. These carvings were never worshiped nor was there any direction to use them to replace Christian themes.  Furthermore, let us give Marshall the benefit of doubt.  Suppose this virus is a punishment due to the display of the carvings at the Vatican, then why did Alexander contract the virus? If Alexander is a "hero" by vandalizing the "pagan idols," why did he become part of the punishment?  Moses did not suffer the plagues. Noah did not drown with the others. So why did Alexander get caught up in this alleged punishment from God due to the display of the cravings at the Vatican?  We can see how Marshall simply does not make any sense. The more we see him broadcast and tweet, the more it becomes clear that he is suffering from something deeply spiritual, and perhaps, psychological.

It is also selfish for Marshall to put this young man in harm's way. If there are snipers on a roof, he could have been shot dead!  Moreover, he could have gotten arrested. We hear Marshall in the video state his concern that Alexander leave Rome for Austria immediately.  He know the legal ramifications of the stunt, yet he wired money to this young man to commit this crime.  Hopefully Vatican and Italian police will issue charges.  This is unacceptable behavior.  Marshall is a coward.  Why did he not do it himself?  He is a wealthy person who has the means to hire lawyers in case he got caught.  Why pay off a young man to do his dirty work?  Marshall prides himself in masculinity, but what he did was very cowardly. It is no wonder that Marshall disappeared from Twitter during this period (see: https://www.sacerdotus.com/2019/10/twitter-suspendsbans-conspiracist.html).   

What are your thoughts?  Post below on Disqus. Be sure to follow the rules for commenting.  





Source:

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/maryland-ordered-into-lockdown-major-announcement-for-virginia-coming-at-2-pm-live-updates

Sunday, March 29, 2020

5th Sunday of Lent: Faith and the Resurrection in Dark Times

Today’s readings deal with Faith and the Resurrection. We need a crash course reminder of this especially during these hard times where Covid-19 or the Coronavirus has taken the world by storm.  Many thousands are dying due to complications from the virus and hundreds of thousands more are infected. The situation seems hopeless. Churches are closed, Mass is suspended for the general public, even Sacraments are being denied. Our bishops have seemed to become pusillanimous in the sight of the world.  A false faith is being presented where things are interpreted via the mundane and secular.  The closing of churches, suspension of public Masses and denial of the Sacraments takes away the supernatural element from them. The Church has now become simply a corporation offering "services" with different franchises run by pastors instead of the Bride of Christ that not even hell can prevail against.  The events of today bring to mind the prophecies by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich who states on May 13, 1820:  “Then the vision seemed to extend on every side. Whole Catholic communities were being oppressed, harassed, confined, and deprived of their freedom. I saw many churches closed down, great miseries everywhere, wars and bloodshed. A wild and ignorant mob took violent action. But it did not last long…” and again on July 1820: “I saw the Holy Father surrounded by traitors and in great distress about the Church. He had visions and apparitions in his hour of greatest need. I saw many good pious Bishops; but they were weak and wavering, their cowardice often got the upper hand…Then I saw darkness spreading around and people no longer seeking the true Church.”  Is what is happening today in 2020 what she was referring to?  I cannot state for sure, but it is eerily coincidental. The scene on Friday of the Holy Father alone in St. Peter's square was very telling.  I thought I would never see such as display with the pope all alone blessing what seemed like an empty world. It was like a scene from a doomsday movie or zombie apocalypse.  Where is the faith?  Is the Church dead?  Let us mediate on today's readings which touch on today's events.  

The first reading is from the prophet Ezekiel and tells us of how God brings life to those in the grave.  The world and Church seem dead today with the events happening.  God says that He will raise the dead of Israel and bring them back to their land.  Because of this, they will know that He is God.  He then promises that He will put His spirit in them. This is an allusion to the resurrection of Christ. As we know, Jesus was crucified, died and was buried.  However, He rose from the dead. We read in Matthew 27:50-54 how the dead walked out of their graves and entered Jerusalem. This event must have been frightening for those who witnessed it. However, it was not a scary scene like in “The Walking Dead” series. This event was foreshadowed in the first reading where God says that He will raise the dead of Israel and because of this the people will know that He is God.  Ironically, in Matthew 27:54, the centurion and those with him said, “Truly this man was God’s son.” God is the one who restores life to us both spiritually and physically. God will bring back life to the world and to the Church. The world today looks like a graveyard. God will change that, but we must respond with faith. So far, the world's religious leaders seemed to have lost it. 

This brings us to the responsorial psalm which begins with a cry out of the depths to God.  It is a prayer asking God for mercy, redemption and renewal. When we sin, our spiritual lives slowly die. There is nothing worse than a spiritual death. The human being becomes immoral, not knowing right from wrong.

He or she is lost in darkness and because of this, begins to fall not knowing where he or she is going. The Psalm reminds us that God is the one who saves us.  He is the one who brings us out of the depths of the spiritual grave.  This applies to us today in 2020 during this Coronavirus pandemic. We must trust in Him.

The second reading from Romans tells us that we cannot truly please God if we are in the flesh, or in sin. It is only in living in the Spirit that we truly please God because we are restored with God’s grace.  St. Paul makes it clear that if we do not have the Spirit of Christ, then we do not belong to Him.  When we sin, we die spiritually and physically.  This is why St. Paul tells us that the “body is dead because of sin.”  Because of sin, we are open to all kinds of ailments and diseases.  Original sin damaged creation and all things exist without the perfection it had prior to the fall of Adam and Eve. Christ will restore our lives to what they were supposed to be.  He rose from the dead and will give life to our bodies and entire existence as well.  This is why we should not fear dying, even of Coronavirus or anything else.  We cannot be preoccupied with trying to be safe from a virus when nothing is 100% safe. Social distancing and closing Churches contradicts today's second reading. It presents our physical state as being the most important thing. What good is Ash Wednesday's reminder that we are dust and will return to dust if we are afraid to die?  What about momento mori?  What about martyrs?  Should they have been worried about being targeted and killed?  Should they have practiced social distancing from those seeking to kill them?  We are not meant to be on earth forever.  We have to accept reality that we will die and must accept it even when practicing our faith puts us in death's path.

Finally, the Gospel tells us about Lazarus who is the brother of Mary who anointed Jesus with perfumed oil as well as Martha. Lazarus is extremely ill; basically at the point of death.  Jesus is told of the illness and replies that the illness Lazarus is going through is not to end in death but will serve as an example of the glory of God.  In other words, Christ was telling them that He will be using this opportunity to show God’s glory via a miracle.

Jesus then plans to go back to Judea where He had some problems with the people.  The disciples advise Jesus not to go because the people will stone Him. Jesus then reminds them that those who walk in light do not stumble basically reminding them that He will be safe.  Then He tells them that Lazarus is “asleep” and He will awaken Him.  They thought He was referring to sleep, but Christ was referring to the fact that Lazarus had passed away.  Jesus knew this despite not being at Lazarus’ home.  When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus had already been buried for four days. Martha and Mary met with Jesus and Martha voiced her frustration to Him telling Him that if He had been there that Lazarus would still be alive.

Nevertheless, she still has faith that whatever Christ asks of God will be granted.  Martha believes in the final resurrection on the last day and Jesus replies saying that He is the resurrection and the life and that those who believe in Him even if they die will live.  Christ then asks Martha if she believes Him and she replies, “Yes, Lord” showing her deep faith. Martha then calls Mary to tell her that Jesus is there and is asking for her.

Mary approaches Christ and falls to His feet voicing her frustrations as well just like Martha did. Next we see Jesus showing His human side.  Despite being the Son of God and the second person of the Blessed Trinity, He becomes “perturbed and deeply troubled” when He sees Mary crying and the Jews who were there crying as well.  He then asks to be taken to where they had laid the remains of Lazarus and they take Him.

Once again we see Jesus shows His humanity. He begins to cry as well.  Here we have God crying. The Jews present ask Jesus “could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?  The people are complaining as well just like Mary and Martha did. Jesus is perturbed again we read, but goes to the tomb to see Lazarus’ body. Martha tries to stop Jesus saying that there will be a stench because the body has been there for four days. Jesus reminds her that God will show His glory via the death of Lazarus and calls out “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead corpse once lying in state comes to life and walks out. Imagine the scene for a moment. A man is dead for four days and all of a sudden walks out still wrapped in bands like a mummy of sorts.  Had it been me witnessing this, I probably would have run faster than the cartoon character “Road Runner” and would have been screaming like Mariah Carey!

However, the scene should not bring fright.  It was not a scene of a zombie movie or “The Walking Dead” series.  Lazarus woke from his sleep as Christ said he would.  This Gospel shows not only that Christ is God and that God has power over life and death, but also shows Christ’s humanity and genuine love. We also see how the people get frustrated that Jesus did not act quickly in either preventing Lazarus from dying or raising him from the dead.

How many times do we get frustrated when we pray for something and God does not grant it right away or perhaps not in the way we wanted?  This is a natural reaction because we still do not see the full picture.  We are like little impatient kids who feel that waiting just one minute is like a lifetime, so we get frustrated. Our doubts grow just like atheists who see children suffering in the world and quickly declare God as non-existent or uncaring.  Those who let this impatience get the best of them eventually doubt and fall into atheism believing God to not exist.  We must not be like this.  This is very true today in 2020 with what is going on. Many have messaged me expressing doubts on God's existence.  Atheists are having a field day with this coronavirus and how religions shut down because of it.  We must trust God.  God is in control even when we are not. 

Like Martha and Mary we must have faith. Christ understand us. He shares our joys and pains as we read in the Gospel how He wept despite being God who can do anything.  God does care. He understands what we go through everyday. This is what is unique about the “God of Christianity” as atheists and academics describe Him.  The “God of Christianity” IS GOD. He is not a distant deity who demands sacrifices and does not interact with the people.  Christ is with each of us and shares with us our joys and our pains. The Gospel today is preparing us for Easter Sunday where Christ Himself rises from the dead. Death is something we all suffer. It is hard to get over the death of anyone, family or friend. However, it is our faith in Christ who is the resurrection and life that keeps us focused and of sound mind. We cry and are sad yes, this is a normal human response that even Jesus went through. However, we relax and know that death is not the end. Jesus is the resurrection and the life and will bring back to life those who believed in Him as St. Paul tells us in the second reading.  So keep the faith!  Believe in the resurrection.  We will get through what is going on today with Christ and Our Lady.  Social distancing will not work. Closing parishes will not work. Science and governments will not work. Only Jesus Christ works!  Our 2,000 plus history proves it.






Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032920.cfm

Monday, March 23, 2020

Pope: "Nature having a Fit"


Tabloid website Life Site News recently caused an uproar among Catholics on social media regarding some comments the pope made to a Spanish report via webcam. Regarding the Covid 19 or Coronavirus pandemic, the pope replied to a reporter who stated that "the planet hasn't been very clean for a long times:"

"There's a saying that you surely know: God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, [but] nature never forgives, fires, earthquakes . . . that is, nature is having a fit, so that we will take care of nature."



The comment that "nature is having a fit" caused consternation to Life Site News and its patrons, mostly Caucasian right wing supporters. Many of them on social media have criticized the pope for suggesting that nature has emotions or is somehow sentient. The criticism comes at the tail end of the Amazon Synod where many of the aforementioned made accusations of Paganism against the Holy Father and the Vatican. Based on this schema, these folks will now interpret any comment made by the pope using nature as him espousing pagan beliefs.

Those who are Latinos or understand language and literature know that the pope is not realistically suggesting that nature is upset or is having a fit. The pope is using metaphorical language in a colloquial manner. The Spanish word "patalear" can mean stomping or having a fit in the general sense, but also means "protest" or "make a fuss" when used colloquially.  Many Hispanic cultures and even Italian culture often make use of colloquial expressions which often are metaphorical.

When the pope says that "nature is having a fit," he is using a figure of speech with a colloquial tone that the Spanish reporter understands being both men are Hispanics. Even in English, expressions such as "It is raining cats and dogs" or "that is very cool" do not literally mean precipitation of felis catus or canis lupus familiaris; or that something has a decreased temperature. Colloquially, these expressions are understood as an exaggeration in the description of precipitation and a declaration of the social attractiveness of something.

It is not news that Life Site News is bent on playing "gotcha games" with the pope. They have targeted his every word and action since he published Laudato Si which focused on the issue of Climate Change. It is not breaking news either that climate change is not a popular issue for right wing supporters. What I see here with this tabloid story and the reaction from some Catholics is a disconnect between some non-Hispanic Caucasians and Latinos. They do not seem to understand that the world is full of people who express themselves differently and that they cannot see others via the "kaleidoscope of whiteness."  This kind of approach is pretty much implicit white supremacy.  We have to be careful with interpreting the words and actions of people from other cultures via our own ethnic filter. 

As per the Holy Father's words and as a graduate of the sciences, I agree with him. Nature is rebelling. This is not because nature is some sentient entity, but because of man's activities which have disrupted the natural norms governed by the laws of physics which God implanted into every particle in spacetime. A warmer earth means mutations in single cell organisms. In fact, this is what expedited evolution 4 billion years ago on earth where during the Archean Eon, the waters on earth were as hot as 185 degrees. We know this based on silicon and oxygen isotopes in quartz rocks in the oceans.  So as our world warms and its oceans follow, single cell organisms will evolve and change forming newer forms that immune systems will have no defense against.  This will force natural selection to take place.  Those with weaker immune systems will die off while those with stronger ones will survive. The latter will produce stronger organisms that can fight off the newer bacteria and viruses until the next evolution takes place.  

As the pope stated, "nature never forgives." This is true. Nature not only denies forgiveness to all living organisms, but it also always wins. This is because nature is a blind algorithm meant to maintain life. Life has to cooperate with it. If not, life loses.  When we are conceived, we enter in a "contract," if you will, with nature. We have to abide by the laws or simply perish. This is how God designed it. It is like an operating system on a computer or phone. If you tamper with it, the system will malfunction causing a crash and mass deletion of files. This is why we must take climate change seriously.

What do you think? Post below on Disqus. Remember to follow the rules for posting.  







Source:

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-blames-coronavirus-on-nature-having-a-fit-over-environmental-damage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU67VpChGXQ

https://disrn.com/news/pope-francis-on-coronavirus-nature-is-having-a-fit-so-that-we-will-take-care-of-nature/

https://www.pnas.org/content/114/18/4619.abstract?tab=author-info

https://www.astrobio.net/news-exclusive/hot-oceans-life-first-evolved/



Sunday, March 22, 2020

4th Sunday of Lent Laetare Sunday: Is There Anything to Rejoice About Today?

Today is "Laetare" Sunday or "rejoice" Sunday/Sunday of Joy. Celebrants at Mass have the option to use rose colored vestments today just as in Gaudete Sunday during Advent.  This Sunday is a day to rejoice and remind ourselves that our austere penance during Lent is almost coming to a close and the events that define Christianity are about to come, especially Resurrection Sunday.  This Sunday tells us, "we're almost there, so don't quit now."

Today's readings introduce interesting themes; in particular, faith, the true Shepherd and Redeemer, and "God is in control."  These are themes we need to be reminded of in these trying times.  I have been personally messaged by many Catholics, Protestants and even Atheists who were close to becoming Catholic who are now changing their minds. Many are doubting God in today's pandemic of Covid19 or Coronavirus. How can God allow this to happen?  Does God really protect anyone? If so, why did Churches have to close and Mass cancelled?  There are no easy replies to these questions.  They are all valid and are some which I ask myself.  Trials are not uncommon in the Christian life. Everyone is tested and faces burdens.  God choices each one of us for a specific purpose.

The first reading tells us about the Lord telling Samuel to get ready with his horn of oil because He has already chosen the king for His people. Samuel was the last Hebrew Judge and the first of the major prophets in Israel. God tells Samuel to find the new king from among the sons of Jesse who he is supposed to anoint with the oil in the horn.

Samuel looks at the sons and goes one by one assuming he chose the right one, but God tells him no. Human beings are prejudicial beings. We love to judge people based on appearance, or "lookism." Samuel was no different. He believed a leader/king should be of lofty stature and assumed a particular son with that characteristic is who God had chosen. However, God says, "Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him.  not as man see does God see, because man sees the appearance,but the Lord looks into the heart." These are powerful words we should meditate on by themselves. God looks at the heart, not at how we look. We should do the same.  Instead of judging people by profiling them, we should look at their heart - their personality.

After Samuel went trough seven sons trying to find out which one God had chosen and learning none of them were the one, Jesse introduces Samuel to the youngest who was a shepherd tending
sheep.  The kid's name is David. David is described as being handsome and ruddy, obviously young but God chose him. Jesse and David of course are the descendants of Jesus the Messiah. The choosing of this young kid who is a shepherd is a prefigurement of Christ Himself. Jesus is to be the Good Shepherd and is also the Son of God. Even in an early age Jesus was doing God's work ( Luke 2:41-52) making a link to David who was the youngest and was chosen. This should remind the youth in the Church that they are indeed important and should take an active role in their respective parishes.  The Catholic Church is not for the "old" only.

In response to the first reading, we read from the most famous and well known Psalm of all found in chapter 23 which begins with "The Lord is my shepherd." This Psalm connects both David and Christ. It speaks of how God is the shepherd and takes care of His own. He annoints with oil and fills the soul with grace (my "cup overflows"). God is indeed our shepherd and we should always have trust in Him. Last Sunday's first reading was about the Hebrews doubting God in the desert believing Moses to be some con artist who dragged them out to die. We should not be like them. Trusting God will bring "goodness and kindness" for the rest of our lives.

As shepherd, God guides us on our path which is dark. The second reading from Ephesians tells us about this. We were in darkness and now are in the light of the Lord, the reading begins.  St. Paul tells us that we should continue living as children of the light. He reminds us to do what is pleasing to God and avoid the things that are in darkness. Christ is the light (John 8:12).
Without light, we cannot see physically speaking.  The same applies spiritually. Today we live in a world that is adopting atheistic existential nihilism which originated from Nietzsche et.al and claims that life is meaningless, has no purpose and that we create our own "destinies." This philosophy, while claiming to liberate man has done nothing more than bring him down and imprison him in despair and psychological and spiritual oblivion. We are rational beings with free will and intellect; however, this does not mean we can guide ourselves. When we leave human beings to be an end in themselves, they guide each other in darkness and without proper vision in this environment, they all fall into the hole (Matthew 15:14).  Only Christ can show us the way even in darkness.  Only He can guide the way so that we won't fall into the hole.  This applies today with the current pandemic as well.  It may see as if God does not care, is not present or does not exist, but this is not so. We are not meant to be on this earth forever or to live life the way life exists now. God has something better for us.  In the meantime, we have to bear with the things of this world. 

The themes of light and darkness are touched upon in the Gospel. We read in the Gospel how Jesus performs one of His "strangest" miracles recorded. Jesus passes by and sees a man who has been blind since birth.  The disciples ask Him if this man is blind because of his sins or his parent's sins.  Jesus replies, "neither he nor his parents sinned" and goes on to tell them that his disability exists in order for God to show His works. The disciples are holding to the idea that people who are disabled are in that state due to their sins. This brings to mind the "Moral Model" in disability studies which claims it is the fault of the disabled person that he/she is in that state and that this has to do with divine punishment. Jesus obviously disagrees.

Jesus then does something that is both strange and disgusting, in human terms.  He spits on the ground and makes clay with it.  Then he smears the clay made with spit on the man's eyes.  He then instructs the man to wash in the Pool of Siloam.  When the man did as he was told, he came back with full vision.  Those in the neighborhood could not believe it and were saying to themselves "isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?"  They were in shock that this man is now able to see after they have gotten used to seeing him in a blind state begging for money.  Immediately they questioned him and brought the man to the Pharisees.  The Pharisees upon learning that Christ healed this man on the Sabbath declared that Christ is not of God. They made the Law in the Old Covenant into a god, so to speak.  The Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around (Mark 2:27).  The rest of the story tells us how the Jews did not believe and even questioned the beggar's parents who testified that he indeed was born blind. Then there is a debate on who Christ really is and His intentions.

This Gospel has so many things I can write on, but will briefly get into them.  First, the Gospel reminds us that we are born blind or spiritually blind.  Atheists often make the claim that we are "atheists by default," I refute this here: http://sacerdotvs.blogspot.com/2013/04/atheism-as-default-fails.html.  We are not "atheist" at conception but are merely spiritually blind. After Baptism, we start to regain our sight as we grow in faith and grace.  This is why the man only gets sight after he washes himself in the Pool of Siloam.  Once we have life in Christ can we truly begin to see like the beggar did.  Second, Jesus in this story shows us how God does not discriminate. He sees the beggar who is blind, probably dirty and smelly, yet still approaches him.  God does not judge by appearance as 1 Sam 16:76 states.

Third, here is an interesting connection as well in regards to the clay.  We read in Genesis 2:7 how God creates man from the clay of the Earth.  Jesus uses clay to heal the man.  Think about this for a moment. If pottery is broken, how is it repaired?  We use clay to repair it. God made man out of the clay of the Earth and sin broke him. Christ comes and uses clay with spit to "fix" broken man. Christ makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17).  We must approach Christ with faith and trust in Him, especially in today's trying times.  He will restore our sight and guide us as our shepherd through the "valley of the shadow of death" which surrounds this world.  God is always in control.  Despite Original Sin ruining nature, God still fixes it and guides it to perfection in Him.  He is the Redeemer, the Savior who restores the Image of God in us with His light.  There may not be much to rejoice about today with the number of cases and deaths related to Covid19, but we must look beyond themundane.  Today we rejoice with the "blind beggar" and shout out for all to hear: "I do believe, Lord."




READINGS:

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Alexander Tschugguel Contracts Covid-19 Coronavirus

Alexander Tschugguel, the Austrian who made the news last year for throwing the carvings used at the Amazon Synod into the Tiber had contracted coronavirus (see: https://www.sacerdotus.com/2019/11/pachamama-good-thief-alexander.html).

He is not doing well from what I heard. Conspiracist Taylor Marshall made the announcement on his You Tube Channel.



Alexander himself tweeted on his Twitter account:


Alexander also posted a statement:

Dear friends and supporters,

Many thanks for all of your prayers and your encouragement in recent days. It is now the 15th day of my illness and I am slowly on the path to recovery. The virus strikes much harder than expected and it strikes people of all ages. Now we must learn to confront it, which means understanding that God requires sacrifice from each of us. And during this Lent he is asking more from us than usual. Today we must contain ourselves a lot and know how to renounce many things and do penance for all of the evil things in the world, and especially for all of the evil things that have happened within the Church. God, in his immense Providence, has placed these limitations on us, and we must see them as a Cross that we must carry, above all for those for whom the virus was lethal, for all the families that have been destroyed, for all of the aborted babies, for the destruction of our homelands. For all of this suffering, we must now sacrifice our freedom, our prosperity and our usual way of life. Let’s do it together as believers. We can be certain that God will never deceive or disappoint us.

As soon as I am well, I will make a video about this virus and I will tell you how it makes you feel and what it does to you.
Cordial greetings, and may God bless us,
Alexander Tschugguel



Some people on social media have celebrated this and have stated that it is a punishment from God for desecrating the alleged carvings representing Our Lady of the Amazon. Let us keep him and his loved ones in prayer as he battles this. 



UPDATE March 23, 2020

Alexander is out of the hospital and recovering, though very week. He tweeted:





His recovery sends hope to those infected with the Covid-19 virus.  It shows that with property care and attention to each symptoms, recovery is possible. 


What do you think? Comment below on Disqus.  Be sure to follow the rules for commenting. 










Source:

https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/urgent-prayer-request-for-pachamama-assassin

https://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/coronavirus-latest-italys-bishops-call-for-all-churches-to-be-closed

https://www.corrispondenzaromana.it/coronavirus-un-messaggio-di-alexander-tschugguel/


Sunday, March 15, 2020

3rd Sunday of Lent: Mass Suspension of Faith

Today's reading for the Third Sunday of Lent have one main thing in common: Water. However, this theme is based on Faith.  As I write this, the world is in a pandemic that it has never experienced before. Covid19 or Coronavirus has spread throughout the world taking hundreds of thousands of lives and effecting billions more.  In response, many Catholic dioceses decided to suspend Mass, other Sacraments. Some have decided to close churches altogether. This decision has been praised by some, but frowned upon by many, including myself.

Our religion is at a precipice now. In a world that is slowly becoming more and more secular and atheistic, displays of spiritual cowardice is not the way to go.  To suggest that the Mass will become a conduit for the spread of disease is an overreaction. In fact, there is no study that suggests this nor has there been any recorded event in history that we can recall. Moreover, to ban reception of Holy Communion by the tongue, hand or both is also ridiculous. Would Jesus allow His body, blood, soul and divinity to become a conduit for contagion?  We read in 1 Corinthians 11:30-31 that the Holy Eucharist did make people sick and even brought death. However, this happened to people who received unworthily either by being in a state of sin or by treating the Sacred Species as another meal to eat alongside the offerings presented to the deities of the Greek-Roman era.

That being clarified, there is no way the Blessed Sacrament can become means to spread disease. This is just irrational and blasphemous to think. We are talking about Jesus' true presence here.  Already atheists and even protestants have started to mock the idea of transubstantiation due to the whining of bishops and others in the Church during this crisis. Suspending Holy Communion reception in any form and/or the Mass is just spiritual cowardice. It is a demonstration of lack of faith. In other words, it is implicit atheism. How can we believe God to be all powerful, yet not be able to protect His people from a microscopic organism?  How can we believe Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist and can spread disease?  How can we believe that God would allow the Mass to become a place of contagion?  Catholicism has become a mockery, a faith lacking faith.  The first reading touches on lack of faith.

The first reading comes from Exodus. In it, we read about Moses' struggle with the stubborn Hebrews who whined about being taken out of captivity. Go figure right?  They complain to Moses about being brought out into the desert to die of thirst.

The Hebrews actually preferred being in Egypt as slaves than in the desert.  Here we see a lack of faith. Despite all the wonders God performed, they still doubted and whined. Think about this for a minute.  They saw God send down plagues upon Egypt, one of them which transformed the waters to blood (Exodus 7:14-10:29). However, they still believe that they were taken to the desert to die of thirst.  How can they even think this after seeing how God had complete control over the molecules and atoms that make up water?

Again, the issue here is lack of faith. Humanity has not changed much since this time. I began with the Coronavirus and suspension of the Mass as an example in this reflection.   We still
whine, complain and believe man's tangible methods are best. For the pope, bishops and others to think man's ways make more sense than God's is just blasphemous. To suspend the Mass and instead trust in men defeats the purpose of Catholicism. We already saw how science, government and even suspending events or engaging in social distancing has failed.  The virus is still spreading!  Suspending the Mass is the dumbest attempt at a solution possible.  We reject the most powerful prayer on Earth all for nothing.  This is a lack of faith and it hurts our spiritual life.  We begin to doubt God. When God doesn't answer our prayers or answers them differently, we get upset. Some of us even lose faith altogether despite witnessing God work in our lives in the past. 

Moses himself becomes a bit stressed out and asks God for help fearing that the people will stone him. God calmly tells him to go with his staff and strike a rock and water will flow from it. Gods asks Moses to do this to show that He can do anything. Usually water comes from rain, but God wanted Moses to tap on a rock for it. I see this as an innuendo of sorts. The Hebrews then and us today are "hard-headed." God must sometimes tap on our rocky heads to get water to flow, so to speak.

This first reading should remind us of faith and how delicate it is. We can be the most zealous Christians on Earth jumping around shouting alleluia like the charismatics, but it takes just one disappointment in life to bring all that down. In an instant we can lose faith in God. This is dangerous. Moreover, the first reading can be connected to our own spiritual journey during Lent and the rest of the year. We are "in the desert" trusting God. The desert is not a comfortable place.  In fact, it is so uncomfortable that even being a slave in Egypt sounds better.The desert is a common theme in the Sacred Scriptures.  It is not only a real place on Earth, but a symbol of hardship and loneliness.

The Psalm response is linked to the first reading. It comes from Psalm 95 and mentions the incident of the lack of trust the Hebrews had at Meribah and Massah. The psalm calls God the "rock of our salvation."  This is a connection to the rock Moses tapped for water. Water is the "salvation" of a thirty individual.

It is no surprise that to each refrain we respond, "If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." This "hardening" is another connection to the rock in the desert and why I wrote a few paragraphs above that it is an innuendo. We often become "hard-headed" and harden our hearts as well.  The psalm reminds us that God is the one who made us and we should trust in Him. We must not repeat what our ancestors did where they did not trust Him and tested Him. The psalm ends in this manner.

The second reading speaks to us about faith. Again, it is all connected with the previous readings.  St. Paul reminds us that faith is what connects us with God. God gives grace to all freely, but we must respond with faith to it otherwise we will miss the grace.

This faith must then be put into practice for it to be truly valid because we must love God and have faith in Him not just because of commands, but because we choose it (James 2:14-26).  When we freely choose something instead of being forced to do something, it becomes more valuable and authentic. The reading continues speaking about hope that doesn't disappoint. No matter what hardships we face, God is still there.  Again, we must not repeat the mistakes of our ancestors in the desert who knew God was there but still doubted.

Lastly, the Gospel tells us about the Samaritan woman's encounter with Jesus. The Samaritans are a group of people who the Jews did not like. In about 700 BC, the Assyrians came to Israel and took over the north. They brought strangers to that area who would be called "Samaritans" later on. These people were Pagans but as they lived among the Jews in the land, they adopted some of their ideas and incorporated them into their own religion. Nevertheless, the Jews saw them as a pariah.

Jesus comes to a town called "Sychar." He is tired and sits down. Imagine that?  God is tired. This shows the humanity of Christ.

I digress..

As Jesus rests, a woman comes by and He asks her for a drink.  The woman is shocked because He asks her for a drink.  She does this because of the tension between the Jews and her people. Moreover, women at the time were not seen as full persons in those times due to culture. Jesus is showing He is a "feminist" per se. Moreover, Jesus then responds to her that if she knew who was asking her for water she would have been given the "living water" which is God's grace that comes from the Holy Spirit.

He continues telling her that the water He asks of her does not quench thirst but that the water He
gives will. Here He is saying that only God can satisfy us fully. Things of this world, including water, satiate. They do not satisfy us forever. The woman becomes interested and asks Jesus for this water.  Jesus then shows her that He knows her life by revealing that she had five husbands. The rest of the Gospel (if the longer version is read) continues with Jesus speaking about true religion in spirit and truth that comes from what He gives. The disciples also make an appearance and show their disapproval of the woman and Jesus communicating.

The Gospel is very long, but has deep and simple themes to reflect on.  First let us focus on faith. Here we see that it is God who comes to us, not the other way around. Jesus comes to the woman and asks for water. This is His way of saying that we have to respond back to God's grace with our faith and why He says, "I thirst" on the cross (John 19:28). He approaches us and asks for us to give Him water (our faith response).

Second, the woman belonged to a group of people that the Jews did not like.  Christ shows us that we must go to everyone with the Good News, not only our own. We must not be greedy and keep the truth for ourselves, but must share it with the "Samaritans" of the world today: non-believers, lukewarm believers, those who believe in other faith traditions, etc. We must not judge those who are not in our Catholic Church - the Mystical Body of Christ. Instead, we must approach them, be friends with them and reach out to them. We must also listen to them and learn from them just like Jesus listened to the woman.

The Gospel reminds us of "water." Water is the ultimate source of physical life.  Without water, there would be no life on this planet. Water is the engine of life. Jesus reminds us that He has the living water that gives us meaning and true life unlike the common H2o on Earth that we need to live on, physically speaking.

Ironically, in a desert that thing that is lacking the most and is the most desirable is water. When our
lives become dry, painful under the heat; the discomforts of the desert of life hit us hard, it is Christ who gives us the living water who keeps us going. In this time of Lent, we are walking in the desert with Christ. We are tempted to break our fast just like Jesus was tempted by Satan.

We naturally suffer spiritual dryness when we feel God is not there like the Hebrews who felt they were tricked into going to the desert to die. Our response is to trust in God even in bad times. We must not become hard headed and doubt God like those in Meribah and Massah. We know God is there. We have encountered Him in our lives. Our daily struggles should not push us to think God is not there in our lives. Faith is key. We must ask ourselves during Lent as we walk in the deserts of life: “Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

The answer is YES!  He is there with a nice clean cup of fresh living water to quench our thirst.

Today's readings of Meribah and Massah are being repeated today.  Despite seeing God's works, man is doubting again. Our very own leaders in the Church included!  To suspend the Mass, close Churches and trust in the suggestions of doctors and others who are as clueless on this pandemic as everyone else is a slap to the face of God.  Pope Francis loves to paraphrase St. John Chrysostom who said the Church is a field hospital. What field hospital disappears and shuts down service during war and when there are many who are sick?  Does that make sense?  Pope Francis, the bishops and others who are encouraging mundane methods to dealing with this pandemic are doing a great disservice to our Catholic faith.  I usually do not criticize the pope and bishops, but this time they went too far and hit me hard in the heart.  Everyone has failed during this crisis.  My mom bought 5 lysol containers for $9.99 each!  Stores a price gouging, people are panic buying everything forgetting that others need supplies as well. I find humanity's response more horrific than the Coronavirus itself.

Overreaction is what kills everything. When a non-human animal on a road overreacts, it runs into a car and gets killed.  When people overreact, they become like savages.  In fact, viruses themselves are not what kill people. What kills people is the overreaction of the immune system to the presence of the foreign body.  We must stop and have faith. We must not be like the Jews at Meribah and Massah who despite seeing God's works, doubted Him and wanted to do things their way (Psalm 95:5).   Pray and pray!  Repent and have faith!  This is what the pope and bishops should be calling us to, not to become timid and hide.  The Spirit God gave us is not a cowardly one (2 Timothy 1:7).  The pope must recall another quote by St. John Chrysostom and remind the bishops of it, it says: "The road to hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lampposts that light the path."  Our shepherds need to wake up to what is going on. This is all a cosmic test.  Let us keep the faith!


READINGS: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/031520.cfm

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