Sunday, April 11, 2021

Divine Mercy Sunday: Mercy Is Needed

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday.  It is the day that the mercy of God shines greatly over those who choose to receive it.  Our Lord Jesus appeared to St. Sister Faustina of Polish origin in the '30s.  He instructed her about God's mercy and how sin offends God but that sin doesn't have the last say.


God is a just God.  Many Atheists, Skeptics, and others question God's wrath which is highly illustrated through words in the Old Testament.

"How can this be a good God?"  they cry out in disgust.  Well God is good.  God has to be just in order for good to have a chance in a world full of evil and sin.

If crimes go unpunished, then we will live in an anything-goes society that will eventually collapse.  This is why we have laws and judicial systems in order to keep the common good afloat.  God is no different.  The God of the universe is just and does punish when necessary.  Moreover, this punishment is no different than a parent disciplining his/her child.  We belong to God and He can do whatever He wants with us.

However, the Divine Mercy devotion sheds more light on God's justice.  God above all is merciful. There is no sin He cannot forgive.  There is no evil that is greater than God's mercy.

Jesus left St. Faustina a chaplet that we should pray every day at 3:00 PM if possible.  This hour is of course the time Jesus completed His redemptive act on the Cross for all peoples in every time and place.  The chaplet is simple and easy to pray with Rosary beads.

How to pray the Chaplet:

1. Begin with the Sign of the Cross1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and The Apostles Creed.


2. Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).

4. Conclude with(three times):

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.



God is love and wants to forgive us all.  Approach His mercy with faith, hope, and love and He will forgive you!  

Today's first reading tells us how the first Catholics lived. They devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles, or the magisterium of the Church, and lived in community. These would be the prototypes of the parish or religious life.  They would also break bread and prayed. This, of course, is the Mass or the Eucharistic celebration of the sacrifice of Jesus.  Many wonders happened among them, or miracles.  All those who believed were united and had all things in common. There was no division or schisms. 

The first Catholics helped each other out. They sold things to help others and shared things to help each other in their need.  There was even daily Mass. First, they went to the temple every day and then broke bread at home.  This was the early Mass. The Catholic Church did not have majestic churches or cathedrals. The church was at home. The Liturgy of the Word was first done at the temple where they heard the Word of God, the Old Testament. There was no New Testament yet. Then they went home and had the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Eucharist was celebrated at private homes and reserved there. This is our history that we should recall and learn about. Some Catholics who called themselves "traditionalists" love to set Trent as the "proper" point that reflects authentic Catholicism. This is silly and ignorant. Before Trent, there was no unified Mass. Each region had its own rite. The claim that the "Latin Mass" is the only rite is just nonsense. 

In fact, the first Masses were in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek. Latin came later. The Mass rite from Trent was not used in the early Church. Claims to the contrary are based on poor knowledge and fanaticism. The rites of the Mass have been in development since the early days. It began as the Last Supper, then as what we read today in the first reading and continued to adapt until what we have now: the Extraordinary form and Ordinary Form.  This is only for the Roman Rite of course. Other rites developed in their own way, but all have two main hinges: Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Mass is not just a place to worship. It is also a place of community. As we read in the reading, the first disciples and followers were unified and helped each other. Unfortunately today, we have many schisms among the faithful. One group says they are the true Catholics because they pray in Latin, while another says they are the true Catholics because they accept Vatican II.  This is not the way to go about the Catholic faith.  

On Twitter, I read a tweet from someone replying to another Catholic who said the Pre-Vatican II liturgy created an atmosphere of ignorance among the laity where they just sat and prayed the Rosary at Mass without understanding what was going on.  The replier stated that understanding was not necessary, that people go to worship God.  While that is partially true, the replier failed to understand the need for community. The Church is a family, a community. The first reading tells us the importance of communal life. We are the Body of Christ with distinct parts working within one system. One part cannot work independently of the other. There has to be a community.  In this community, we worship God and give thanks, as the Responsorial Psalm tells us.  

We go to God's how and recall how His mercy endures forever. Today this is significant in that the homes of the laity have become small churches.  Like in the first century, Catholics are praying at home. We recall God's mercy on this day especially, Divine Mercy Sunday.  We are reminded of God's compassion.  The second reading tells us of this great mercy of God which gives new birth and hope.  It reminds us that we have an inheritance in heaven and the importance of faith during trials.  The Gospel tells us of Christ appearing to the apostles after His resurrection. He tells them "peace be with you." We all need peace today. So many are afraid and worried about the covid-19 coronavirus and the economic impacts it has caused. These are not to overshadow the loss of life and the fact that many families did not say goodbye to their sick loved ones and are now unable to have a proper funeral and burial for them.  The whole situation is horrible.  Nevertheless, they bring us to our knees to ask God for mercy.  God replies to us with "peace be with you."  The world cannot give peace, only God.  Jesus in the Gospel gives the apostles the power to forgive the sins of others.  We must make use of the Sacrament of Penance regularly.  

Many Protestants believe confession is a man-made idea. They think the popes and priests made this up. The truth is that Jesus gave us this Sacrament of Penance.  We must make use of it by going to confession and receiving absolution and the peace of God that comes with it.  I know many of you reading this, if not all, can attest to that sense of peace and relief one feels after confession. You come out of the "box" feeling brand new and at ease. It feels like an internal massage that released the tension and stress sin brought to the body and soul. Confession is awesome and I recommend it.  Before psychotherapies existed, there was confession which brings healing both spiritually and emotionally. Lastly, we read of Thomas doubting that Jesus was truly before Him. Jesus tells him to put his finger in his wounds. Thomas, in a sense, represents atheists, skeptics, and agnostics who need to "see evidence" or have empirical pronouncements that reflect actual reality.  Jesus invites us to get closer to Him and feel His wounds. It is His wounds that bring us to strong faith because we see how much God loved us. We can find God in nature and the awesomeness of the universe, but we can find God truly in the wounds of Christ. Those wounds express: God is Love.  

This is why Thomas replied, "My Lord and my God!"  We experience the Divine Mercy when we approach Jesus and feel His wounds. It is no wonder why Jesus appeared with two rays in the image. Those rays come forth from His wounded heart.  Jesus is always working in us. This is why in the Gospel we read that Jesus did other signs, so many that they were not recorded.  Not everything is in the Bible. The Gospel reminds us of this. Jesus did many more things which we may never know about until we meet Him face to face and He reveals everything. In the meantime, let us take advantage of God's Divine Mercy, go to confession and try very hard to live in unity and community. Let us learn the roots of our Mass and faith and not designate set points in time as the point of authentic Catholic faith or Liturgy. The Catholic Church is a work in progress.  Let us pray to the Divine Mercy for the world today plagued with this mysterious virus which may be nature at work or even man's meddling with genetics. Only God can save us from nature and ourselves.  Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us!  We need mercy today!


You can purchase Divine Mercy shirts, masks, etc at our store: https://teespring.com/stores/sacerdotus-store




Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Sunday: The Resurrection - Jesus Conquers

Today is Resurrection Sunday or Easter Sunday!  It is the most important day in the liturgical calendar.

A small baby boy was born unto us on Christmas. He grew, got baptized by John; performed miracles, and taught. However, what confirmed all of this was today: the resurrection. During Jesus' time, many men claimed to be the messiah, the chosen one of Israel.

Some were even named "Jesus" and even performed 'miracles' which were nothing more than parlor tricks. Magicians like David Blaine would have had a great following in those days because the people were ignorant and could easily be tricked into believing 'tricks' Jesus of course was suspected of being such fraud or magician. This was why He was heavily scrutinized, especially by the Pharisees and scribes who wanted to keep their monopoly on Judaism.

Well, Jesus proved them all wrong.  He said He would rise and He did (Matthew 17:23).  Jesus is the resurrection (John 11:25). Even after He died on the cross on Good Friday, the disciples wondered what would happen next. The shepherd was struck and the flock scattered (Matthew 26:31). Things seemed hopeless, but Jesus came back. Notice He appeared to a woman first.  Women are an important part of the body of Christ. In Jesus' day, women did not have much value. Their word was not as strong as that of a man's.  It sounds awful I know, but that was just how people thought back then. We cannot hold that against them because that was their culture. Nevertheless, the fact that Jesus appeared to a woman (Mary Magdalene) and she was the one who told Peter and the rest shows how important women are in God's plan (Mark 16:9). Women have worth.  Their word has value and strength.  They are equals to men. March is the month of Women's history and this fact of Jesus appearing to a woman should be focused on in Christians squares.

The resurrection proved to the disciples and others that Jesus was, in fact, the messiah, the chosen one of Israel. Catholicism would not have succeeded if Jesus did not resurrect. Christianity would have just faded just like other cults at the time led by false messiahs. The resurrection validated the new covenant and its beliefs. Think about it. If I today had a group of friends, said that I was the chosen one, spoke eloquently but did not back up my talk with honesty, truth, and authority, then there is no way my group of friends would develop into a worldwide major religion. It would just die out the instant I became boring to my friends or died and turned to dust.  With Jesus it was different.  Yes, He died like everyone else, but He rose again.  He showed that He was telling the truth.  He was no liar. 

God died for each one of us because we have value. We are made in His image and likeness.  He rose again showing He is in control of all things, including death (Romans 14:9). The resurrection is our hope. Death is not the end of it.  Death does not have the final say, Jesus does.  To the world, death seems eternal; but to us, death is just a nap (Wisdom 3:1-9). Jesus rose and His resurrection was a testament to everything He said. This was why people converted.  It was a historical event. This was why Catholicism spread around the Roman Empire and elsewhere faster than a virus. Atheists claim Jesus was a myth, but logically speaking, no myth can have so much weight so as to convert so many in such a short time. People convert because something happens; because truth takes hold.  They convert because they see the evidence and it speaks to them.  The resurrection was this evidence, this reason, this 'happening.

Do not let the stupidity of atheism put doubt in you.  Today is April's Fools Day and is the holiday of Atheists (Psalm 53:1).  Only a fool denies God exists.  Only a fool denies Jesus existed among men and rose from the dead. If the resurrection did not happen, Catholicism would have failed within days after the crucifixion.  Remember, there were charlatans going around Jerusalem claiming to be the Messiah.  These had their own following. However, these cults died out because their founders were not the Messiah.  Catholicism grew via the Apostles because what happened surrounding Jesus was true.  Think about it.  Would you believe me if I told you that someone rose from the dead after a week?  I think your answer would be a big NO!  The idea sounds and IS crazy.  Human beings have not changed much in regards to being skeptical about these extraordinary claims that defy nature.  Yet, an extraordinary event did happen and people believed it.  This was because the event really happened.  If Jesus did not rise from the dead then Christianity would not have been so successful. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key to everything.  It is the solemnity of all solemnities, the feast of all feasts.  Christmas, Jesus' baptism, temptation, transfiguration, crucifixion, etc would mean nothing if Jesus did not rise from the dead. 

Jesus proved that all He was about was true.  He is the Lord of life and death.  Today during this alleged covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, we are suffering great losses of life.  The resurrection is a reminder that death does not have the last say.   'Let us hope in Christ and await the final resurrection of the dead as we meet our Lord.  Jesus has risen from the dead and He said!  Alleluia!  Jesus conquers!  

    

   

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Easter Vigil

Today is Holy Saturday and the Catholic Church has its Liturgy of Light.  Ironically, this Liturgy will be reflected in dark churches with empty pews.  You can read more about the liturgy here in this older post.


The Easter Vigil with its Liturgy is supposed to reflect the Light of Christ bringing life to the Church. Jesus died on Good Friday and rose on Easter Sunday.  Without Christ, the Church is a desolate dark place without any meaning or purpose.  It is a barren wasteland with missing crucifixes, an open tabernacle with no one inside, and extinguished Sanctuary Lamp, and an undressed altar.  These aesthetics mystically reflect the Church today with empty pews. The Church is dark. The people are gone. Where are they?  Where is the faith?  This Lent and Holy Week is one to remember. The whole globe was forced to give many things up.  Everyone is being reminded that we are indeed dust and to dust, we shall return. Covid-19 Coronavirus has led to many deaths due to complications. While the flu kills more, this virus seems to be more aggressive. This along with the media distortions and aloof tone of the government have forced many to panic.  Science has failed. The government has failed. Even religion has failed. No one knows what to do.  Medical professionals and government officials are playing a guessing game. Each day they give contradictory information.  Now vaccines are being injected into people without being thoroughly vetted.  Some only have protection up to 6 months as new variants of the virus mutate.  It is just madness what is going on.  The bishops and many others have fallen into the frenzy as well without ever questioning.

They blinded accepted conclusions that were not based on accurate science. Catholics have demonstrated that they are susceptible to the Milgram experiment where people blindly followed orders to shock another person simply because someone in authority told them to. Their morals, objectivity, and reasons seemed to have vanished.  This is true darkness.  The Church is indeed dark today.  The closing of parishes and suspension of Masses without strong evidence to do this is disturbing. There is no record in the history of contagion spreading via Communion or the Mass. None at all. Despite this, our bishops blindly followed commands from officials.  Even atheists who are fond of "separation of Church and State" have gone deaf and blind as the State interferes with the Church.  What is going on?  Is the ushering in of the antichrist or the warning of Garabandal?  We cannot know for certain. However, there is indeed something on the cosmic spiritual level going on here.  It makes no sense to close churches while allowing liquor stores, abortion clinics, and supermarkets to remain open. 

In many areas, the latter attracts more people than Mass!  Yet, the Mass is deemed as not essential and a conduit for disease to spread.   The Easter Vigil reminds us that without Christ, the Church is nothing.  Christ is the light of the world.  Covid-19 has reminded the man that he is not in charge.  Science is not in charge, government is not in charge.  Not even religion is in charge.  We need Jesus.  This is not the time to close parishes and suspend the Sacraments where we encounter Jesus directly.  We need the light.  The Easter Vigil demonstrates how the light of Christ brings life to the Church. 

 The ceremony begins with a dark church building.  The celebrant meets the people outside with a fire.  He will bless this fire and prepare the Paschal or Easter candle.  The fire is then used to light the candles symbolizing the Light of Christ.

What is light?  Physics tells us that it is electromagnetic radiation made up of photons that is detectable by the
human eye as well as the eyes of other organisms.  It is composed of many wavelengths, not all of which are capable of being detected and processed by the human eye. The human eye can only detect the spectrum of wavelengths from about 650 nanometers where red is present and about 400 nanometers where violet is detected.

Light is the fastest substance in the universe traveling at 186,282 miles per second. Light presents to us spatial and temporal information of things around us. Matter in the universal absorbs and reflects light waves.  Depending on the charges of particles in an object, light is absorbed and some of it is reflected back allowing our eyes to see the object and its color(s) when the light enters the eye into the cones which process the information in the brain.  Nothing can travel faster or as fast as it. Despite this knowledge of light, we still do not truly understand it. However, light is extremely important for life to truly evolve and progress in nature.

In Scripture, light is mentioned many times.  As a matter of fact, it is first mentioned in the third verse of Genesis chapter 1. God says "let there be light." Prior to this, the author describes existence as dark and desolate. Darkness is something most of us do not like. When we are in the dark, we get moody, depressed, and sleepy. Our energy drains from our bodies and we feel lethargic especially during wintertime when there is less light.  Psychologists call this "Seasonal Affective Disorder" or "Winter Blues."  This goes to show how powerful light and darkness are.  They affect us in many ways. As the weather warms in spring and we see more daylight, we get cheerful and have a "bounce in our step." Light livens everything up.

Darkness may seem powerful.  It engulfs everything. However, it blinds and creates dangerous scenarios. Despite this, light is so powerful that it stands out even in the darkest area. The stars in the sky shine brightly against the darkness of the universe. These stars are light years away and despite this, their light reaches our eyes here on Earth. The light from our own sun takes 8 minutes to reach us, yet it is powerful enough to warm our planet and illuminate the material that composes it.

The Paschal candle reminds us of light.  Christ is the light.  We all walked in darkness as Isaiah 9:2 says. As I stated before, darkness is dangerous. Without light, we get disoriented and our brain has a difficult time processing spatial information by using stored memories of an environment and sounds. Psychologists call this "Sensory Deprivation" or "Spatial Disorientation."  Most of us have lived in our homes for many years and know it well.  However, this familiarity changes when we try to walk in the dark. We will stumble on things or crash into a wall most of the time.  Our souls when they are in darkness stumble as well (John 11:10).  We do not know where we are at and walk about until we fall into sin.

In today's world full of atheistic existentialism and relativism, we are getting lost in strange philosophies that push God away in favor of man's formulations of morality and his social constructions.  This is the "new god" that is blinding many societies today into rejecting the reality of life in the womb and setting aside the natural complementary union between a man and woman for counterfeit unions (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Jesus, the Light of the World (John 9:5) came into the world to illuminate humanity (John 1:4) and it still rejects this light in preference of the darkness (John 3:19).  The human being is stubborn in this way.  Evil and sin always seem to be "fun" while good and holiness is the pastime of boring people or prudes.  This is the Concupiscence in us driving us to incline towards the bad (CCC 405).

The Easter Vigil reminds us of this.  The church building is dark. We are in the dark without Christ. Despite this immense darkness, the small flame from the Paschal Candles is enough to light the way as we enter the church building.  This small flame allows us to enter without stumbling.  As the people light their candles from the Paschal Candle, the light grows more intense and we begin to see each other's faces more.  The light of Christ restores the image of God in us.  The light we receive must not be hidden, nor should we fall back into darkness for we are children of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5). 

We must go out into the dark world and illumine it just like each star illumines the night sky despite being small in appearance in contrast of the immense darkness of the universe.  Our Christian lives must be witness to Christ Jesus.  This is why Pope Francis has been centering his Papacy on Christian witness.  The light that we receive from Christ must not be so bright that it blinds others.  Nor should it burn them to the point of scaring them away.  We must be humble and present the light of Christ with love.

Christ is indeed the light that continues to shine even in this dark world.  He has risen!  He is with us and will return at the end of time.  Let us spend our lives on Earth bringing the light of Christ to the world.  We must have faith and not hide.  Jesus is the light of the world.  He is the Lord of death and life.  He defeated death.  Jesus commands the seas and winds, the molecules of water and wine, the nerves of the blind, crippled and dead. How can we believe that He has no command over viruses or pandemic events?   This is a lack of faith.  Let us believe truly in the resurrected Christ.  Christ can do all things.  Let us trust in Him and seek his light. 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Good Friday

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16


Today billions of Christians throughout the world are supposed to be commemorating the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.  However, due to the exaggerated policies of governments and Church officials, Good Friday is not the same.  Most people are forced to be at home and watch "services" on television or social media.  This faux attempt at worship is troubling. While live streaming and television are good to promote the faith and aid those who cannot attend Mass, to force everyone to rely on it is disturbing and unfortunate.  It encourages spiritual sloth.  Worship in Christianity has to be physical and communal. Let me be clear. This is not an attempt to disgrace or shame anyone. It is just a collective sigh of disappointment exhibited by many Christians of all denominations.  As a former atheist, faith is something that I have grown to love.  It was not easy, but it happened. To see our bishops, priests, religious and laity encourage the closing of churches and suspension of the Sacraments hurts a lot.

It makes me and many others wonder what faith exists on earth?  We all know that we are flesh and flesh is weak.  We will get sick, get hurt, get killed, etc. No one is Superman or the Brightburn character. No one is Hulk or Thanos.  Even Jesus faces the pains and weaknesses of the body. He was human in all things except sin. However, we must understand that while we are subject to nature and its qualms, this does not mean God will not protect anyone doing His will.  It is just not rational to think that Jesus would allow His Eucharistic presence to become a conduit for disease. It is just not rational to think that Jesus would allow contagion to spread during His Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  This is just absurd to think.  Nevertheless, there are some who literally believe this can happen despite absolutely no evidence of it in history.  A year after the onset of this pandemic and we still have no science showing the mass or Sacraments as conduits for the spread of Covid 10 coronavirus.  Once again, Jesus is abandoned by His alleged disciples today. Jesus is an often misunderstood person in history.  

Christ Jesus, the prophesied Messiah came not as a warrior of politics, but of love.  As an atheist, Good Friday was a hard concept for me to understand.  As I get older, I grow in its meaning.  At first, it seems like a bunch of superstitions.  Christians worship a man who died on a Cross - big deal right?  What is so important about this?

Many Catholic parishes and other Protestant sects have processions reenacting the Stations of the Cross or "Via Crucis" as it is called in Latin.  These are the events that took place as Jesus carried the Cross eventually meeting death at Golgotha.  Christians and Popes have described this act as an "act of love."  How is carrying a cross in a humiliating and painful way eventually leading to death by an "act of love?"  Why would God use this to redeem the world?  Is God crazy or a masochist?  Any true atheist or skeptic curious about the Christian faith would ask these and more.  Death entered the world due to the sin of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:14).  It is via death that Christ brings life and grace to all (Hebrews 2:5-18).

Love hurts most of the time.  How many times have we had a lover who we tried to impress with flowers, chocolates, and what not only for it to go sour later on?  Love is so good but can be bad, we often think.  Love hurts.  We give so much to a person and that person may not give as much back, if anything at all.  John 3:16 is often quoted and is perhaps the most quoted passage from the Bible.  It says to the effect that God loves the world so much that He sent His only son.

God sent His son Jesus for all of humanity.  This is the greatest love of all (John 15:13).  This act makes no sense to those who are limited in reasoning.
For Christ to lay down His life for all of us shows the extent to which God will go through in order to show that He seriously loves each one of us.  Jesus is willing to go through hell, so to speak, in order to show that we are loved and never abandoned.  This spoke volumes to me as an atheist.  Other gods or conceptions of gods that man has used to define the one reality of God present these beings as egoistic, limited, and unconcerned about the affairs of men.  In many instances, people were sacrificed for these conceptual gods. With Jesus, He becomes the sacrifice for man recalling how Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac his son after getting the command from God (Genesis 22).  Even philosopher Kierkegaard regarded this command and act as a "suspension of the ethical."   

However, Abraham was about to do this act out of love and faith.  Naturally, God was not going to allow him to kill his only son.  He was merely testing him to show that Abraham was not tainted by the rituals of paganism in his time which called for human sacrifices.  This story is also a foreshadowing of God sending His own Son to be the sacrificial lamb.  It is a preparation for love personified in the person of Christ giving His life for all of us.

We know Jesus was betrayed by Judas with a kiss.  A kiss is most likely the universal symbol of love and affection.  We use this physical symbol to show love to our parents, other relatives, friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives, and even people we have just met.  It is a simple gesture that is quick and sends the message that we are close to the recipient.  The kiss of Judas has an interesting context here.  It is a kiss of betrayal and hypocrisy.  Here we see two kinds of love presented: genuine agape love and selfish love.  Jesus is giving His life for all, including Judas.  Judas is giving "love" via a kiss but only for his own ulterior motives which are 30 pieces of silver.

In today's world, we see so many broken relationships.  Love is given conditions in order to function in society.  Many of us look for looks instead of hearts.  Our partners have to look a certain way, act a certain way, or have a certain amount in order for us to consider even meeting or dating.  It has gone even more bizarre with the promotion of same-sex unions which completely negates the psychological and biological function of courtship in the natural world.  Love is being twisted to serve the self instead of others.  This is what I call the "Judas effect."  Today we often love in order to get something in return.  Love becomes a stock bond in which we gamble to see what we gain and what losses we cut.  Marriages dissolve because of financial reasons or changes in personal desires - again selfish motives.  Calls for "marriage equality" are pushed down our throats in the name of love that cannot give of itself via reproduction and that promotes unions only of the sake of seeking rights to a partner's assets - again selfish motives.  It is no wonder why so many couples break up and so many marriages go down the path of divorce and why love and marriage have become a circus for the egotistical.  Our society has lost the love Christ preached and presented today on Good Friday over 2,000 years ago.

Christ gave Himself for us without condition.  He died for each one of us as we are.  Jesus did not care how we looked, what we had, who we associate with or who we are deep down.  Jesus died on the Cross because we are part of God's family and He loves us.  He is our brother and God the Father is our Father.  Good Friday should remind us of this.  We should not go to Good Friday liturgies and just go through the routines of the rites without adsorbing their meanings.  The events of today have so much wisdom for us to grow as human beings, not only in grace and spiritually, but also psychologically and socially with one another.

Jesus is the "just man" foreshadowed by Plato in his Republic (Book 2, 361e, 362a), "...the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, the branding-iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be crucified."  He is the model for all humanity to follow.  We all want love and want to love.  Jesus is the only one who can show us how through His Word and example.  God is indeed love (1 John 4:8).   We should return the favor by loving Him unconditionally. This Lent and Holy Week has been filled with a deep spiritual meaning.  Covid-19 Coronavirus has shown the world that man is not in charge. Science is not in charge. Government is not in charge. Not even religion is in charge.  Perhaps Covid-19 was meant to bring humanity to its knees to remind the species that there is a God and He will not have much more of its nonsense.  Let us reflect on this Good Friday what it means to love God and suffer; yes, suffer.  Many do not like the word, but it is part of Christianity.  So a Christian can attempt to hide from a silly virus, but life will come with something else for him or her to suffer.  This is why we must reflect on suffering and why it matters in the Christian life.     

I ask the Lord to bless you via my relic of the True Cross.  Behold the wood of the cross, on which hung the Savior of the world!

       

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Maundy Thursday

 


"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 'You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.'" 
-John 13:12-16

Today is Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. We recall how Christ celebrated the Seder meal or Passover which commemorates the events in Egypt during the Exodus (Exodus 12). During this ritual, Christ added something.  He washed the feet of his Disciples.  Here we have the Son of God and the second person of the Blessed Trinity washing the feet of creatures He created who constantly offend Him with sin. This shows the humility of God that He would serve the servant giving us all an example to follow (Philippians 2Matthew 11:29). Holy Thursday should remind us of serving others and being merciful (1 Peter 4:10Galatians 5:13-14).  Jesus even commanded that we serve others and wash one another's feet (John 13:12-14). Notice that He did not place any conditions on this service. I mention this in light of recent events surrounding the Covid-19 Coronavirus. Bishops have closed churches and are denying the Sacraments to the people.  They are contradicting Christ's demand for service to others.  Joining the bishops are many Catholics who agree with their decision which is devoid of faith in God.  They are complicit in this sin.  The Church does teach in the catechism that we can be an accessory to the sins of others.  The Catechism states:

Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
- by protecting evil-doers.
CCC 1868


An older text from 1888 goes into more detail:

"Nine Ways of being Accessory to another's Sin.
By Counsel
By Command
By Consent
By Provocation
By Praise or Flattery
By Concealment
By partaking
By Silence
By defense of the Ill Done
A MANUAL OF PRAYERS for the use of the Catholic Laity (copyright 1888)

How do we get around this? Well, I thought of the lesser of two evils model which posits that we choose what is least damaging. Only God is our judge and can read our hearts (James 4:12Psalm 75:7Psalm 139:23-24).  We can pray to God making it clear that we are not endorsing the decisions surrounding the alleged pandemic, but are serving the "least of our brethren," so to speak (Matthew 25:40). This is one way of getting out of the dilemma of being an accessory to the sin of another. We can also admonish the sinner with mercy and compassion (2 Thessalonians 3:15). There are ways of telling people that what they are doing offends God in a way that does not come across as judgmental or demanding. I believe this ties into today's Holy Thursday ritual.

We are called by Christ to "wash another's feet."  Remember, He never specified whom to wash, but said, just go do it!  God is the only one who can change minds and hearts (Ezekiel 36:26).  The parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind in this situation as well (Luke 10:25-37). In this story, Jesus is questioned by a lawyer who asks Jesus, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life," Jesus replies asking this man, "What is written in the law?"  The lawyer begins to cite from Leviticus 19:9-18 & Deuteronomy 6:5 which states to love God and neighbor. Jesus tells him that he is correct, but the lawyer then asks Jesus, "And who is my neighbor" to which Jesus replies with the parable,


"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion,  and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'"  

Jesus then asks the lawyer who does he think was the one who was neighborly to the victim of a robbery to which the lawyer replies, “The one who showed mercy on him.” After hearing this answer, Jesus tells the lawyer to do the same.

Here in this parable, we see a man who is a victim of a robbery. A priest or "man of God" saw the man there laying beaten and humiliated and moved to the other side, completely avoiding this victim of a crime. Next, a Levite passed by and did the same. A Levite had a special religious status in the tribe of Levi.  Despite this role, the Levite passed by the injured victim of a robbery.  However, a Samaritan comes by and stops to help him and even pays an innkeeper and requests that this innkeeper cares for him and even offers to pay any additional expenses the victim of the robbery may incur. The Samaritans were a rival group of the Jews at the time of Jesus. They were not expected to help their counterparts.  This is why this Samaritan is described as the "Good Samaritan."  Jesus used a Samaritan to tell His story to show that we must break past our differences and focus on the person by serving him or her.

In the washing of the feet, we see this transcendence of two "rival" entities: God (Jesus) representing holiness and perfection, and the disciples representing sin and imperfection. The uniting force is love. As Catholics, we are called to love others, even those who hate us and want to oppress us (Matthew 5:44). We are not called to be enemies of the LGBT, Atheists, Muslims, or anyone else who thinks and acts differently. In fact, we are called to serve them (Galatians 5:13).

After the events of the Last Supper, Jesus went to pray at the garden of Gethsemane.  While praying, He suffered greatly to the point of crying blood. The pain, anxiety, and depression were so great that we cannot even imagine how it must have felt. Jesus felt abandoned. This was His human nature with its weaknesses. Remember, Jesus was human in all things except sin. He felt pain, had emotions, had a body with many bodily functions to deal with, and so on.  After He prayed, Jesus found the disciples asleep. They could not watch one hour with Him in prayer.  Shortly after, Judas came with an entourage seeking to arrest Jesus.  After His arrest, the disciples ran off except John. Simon Peter, the first pope denied Him three times. Despite witnessing the works of Jesus, Peter denied Christ saying he does not know the man.  Today, humanity is being plagued with the Covid-19 coronavirus which is being labeled a pandemic. 

Despite being less contagious and deadly than the common flu, this virus is being presented as some kind of apocalyptic plague that will wipe out humanity. The exaggeration and panic have to lead to a frenzy that has brought about the literal closing of nations, economies, and even religion. Catholic bishops closed churches and suspended public liturgies out of fear that the people would be infected.  Despite no evidence at all of the contagion ever spreading in Mass or via Sacraments, the bishops listened to secular authorities and alleged medical professions who have pushed shoddy science and faulty models on society.  Along with the bishops, many priests, religious and laity have supported the closure of parishes and suspension of the Sacraments. Like the other disciples 2,000 plus years ago, these disciples today are cowards who ran away from Jesus. They, like Peter, denied Him. We know Jesus is God. We know what God is about. How can we even dare to think God would allow the spread of contagion via the Mass and Sacraments?  This is bad theology, not to mention, a deviant manifestation of faith.  A year has passed since this pandemic began on March 11 and the numbers have not been as near as projected.  Doctors and other medical professions have been playing it by ear instead of giving exact science.  Variants continue to appear, and despite this happening, the pandemic is not as widespread as the media portray. Cities are opening up, people are having parties and the like and we are not seeing the massive infection rates.  What happened?  Was all this exaggerated?  Where is the faith of our leaders?  

Lastly, during this night Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist. He did not abolish the old ritual of the Passover but fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17). The Holy Eucharist just like the Passover meal provided protection from death (Exodus 12:23). This is because we are given the bread of life who is Jesus, that allows us to live forever (John 6:35).  A few years ago, renowned Agnostic astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson made some comments conflating the Holy Eucharist and Scientology as "crazy." He said in the interview,


"So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy?" - http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/31/neil-degrasse-tyson-defends-scientology-and-the-bush-administration-s-science-record.html

Here we see his ignorance regarding Catholicism. First, I know of no one in the Catholic Church who calls Scientology or any other differing view "crazy."  The Catechism has this to say regarding other faiths, not in union with the Church:

"818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272 
819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276) 
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm

Moreover, as a former atheist, I can state with sincerity that the idea of the Holy Eucharist is "crazy." I say this with all respect, of course.  Let me explain why:  God is known to do things foolishly, illogically, and completely contrary to how we think things should be done and this foolishness of God, in reality, is wiser than anything a man can formulate (1 Corinthians 1:25). The Holy Eucharist is one of these "foolish" ideas which really is wise and shows God's genius. During the Last Supper, Our Lord took bread and wine, blessed it, and distributed it among the Apostles saying that they were His Body and Blood.  He instructed them to do this in His memory.  (Luke 22:7-20)  In other words, this meal was not a one-time thing.  It has to continue.

Was Jesus joking around when He said that bread and wine were His Body and Blood?  
The answer is no.  In John 6:22-69 Jesus gave a long talk about the "Bread of Life."  He goes on to say that the bread Moses gave was not the "True Bread."  The people asked Him for this "Bread of Life" and He then makes the radical statement that HE is the "Bread of Life" and the "True Bread from Heaven." The people began to murmur among themselves because they knew Jesus was the son of Joseph, and not to mention that His words were a bit strange and in today's world would be seen as psychotic.

However, it gets "stranger..."  Jesus continues saying that one has to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life.  This is when the people really had enough.  Many walked out on Him thinking He was a lunatic.  Jesus then turns to His disciples and asks them if they will leave as well. Peter replies saying that they can't go anywhere else because Jesus had the words of eternal life. Peter is always the first to speak up or to lead, this shows why the Pope is the first bishop among all bishops of the world - but that is another blog post.

Moreover, something interesting happens here in regards to how serious Jesus was about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  Many of our separated brethren believe the Holy Eucharist is a symbol and not literally Christ's Body Blood Soul and Divinity.  However, when people started abandoning Jesus for saying that one has to eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus did not run in front of them and say "hey, wait a minute, I was joking." Instead, Jesus let them go.  This shows that He was very serious about His flesh and blood being actual things that someone has to consume.  In 1 Cor 10:16, St. Paul reminds the people that the bread and wine are the Lord's Body and Blood.

Why bread and wine?
In Genesis 14:18 we read about Melchizedek - priest of God and king of Salem- giving Abram bread and wine.  He then blesses Abram.  Jesus uses bread and wine to make the connection to the Old covenant and to show that He is the True Priest who offers the True Sacrifice - Himself.  Bread is a food that is delicious that can be served with literally every food on Earth.  It has a lot of carbohydrates which in turn gives a lot of energy to the body.  It is a food that is easy to make but does a lot to appease hunger and give nutrients.  Then there is wine.  It is used to party with.  It was even used as medicine and a disinfectant agent for wounds. Jesus as Bread and Wine does exactly that to our souls.  He appeases the hunger for God and nourishes the soul.  He brings our souls to jubilation by uniting with it when one receives Holy Communion.  He heals the soul from the harm sin has caused.

Transubstantiation
One may ask:  at Mass, the Bread and Wine still look, taste, smell, feel like Bread and Wine, so how can it be the Body and Blood of Christ?  Well, God knows us well.  God designed the human body and mind.  He knows that human beings would cringe at the sight of eating raw meat and drinking blood.  How many times have we ourselves have gotten disgusted at looking at our own wounds?  It is not easy seeing blood and flesh in a traumatic form.

A few years ago, there was a big buzz in social media regarding the "Zombie" in Miami.  A man who was high on "salt" - a drug - attacked a homeless man and literally ate his face. People were disgusted at the news and the reality of how a human can even succumb to this evil cannibalistic act.  That being said,  God would not give us human flesh and blood to eat and drink in the material sense. Rather, He would use matter that we are all familiar with and that we enjoy: food and drink.

At consecration, the Bread and Wine do not turn into a piece of meat and human blood with DNA, platelets, red/white cells, etc - unless a Eucharistic Miracle has taken place which sometimes does occur.  The outside of the accidents of the bread and wine remain the same, but what it is, or the essence changes.  Think of it this way:  We see leaves on trees.  During spring and summer, they are green.  However, during fall they begin to change colors.  They turn red, orange, yellow, and brown. Now let's think:  which one is the REAL leaf?  At one point it was green, then red, then orange, then yellow, and then brown.  The leaf changed colors, so is it the same leaf when it was green?  The answer is yes.  The outside or accidents of the leaf changed, but the essence, or what it is remains the same.  The same with the Bread and Wine at Mass but in an opposite manner.  The outside remains the same (bread/wine) but the inside or what it is, changes and becomes the Body Blood Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Similarly, we ourselves go through many changes.  Our bodies grow and change as we age; however, our temperament remains the same.

Silly Neil, what's the deal?

So we can see how "God's foolishness/stupidity" and "craziness" are wisdom for us. God uses bread and wine because He understands us. He understands that no one is going to literally eat human flesh and blood.  As God, He can transform bread and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity without making it into a disgusting cannibalistic rite.  This is because with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Moreover, Neil Degrasse Tyson is the one who is crazy for thinking that tachyon particles or hypothetical particles believed to travel faster than the speed of light (186,282 miles per second) exist and can cause Cherenkov radiation, which is another hypothetical scenario where light creates a "sonic boom" effect if something forces it to go faster than it normally does, breaking its barrier.

So in closing, we must serve one another despite our differences, even if they hate us. Our Lord gave us Himself in the Blessed Sacrament and we should make every effort to visit Him and communicate (receive Communion) with Him while in the state of grace; and yes Tyson, the Holy Eucharist is "crazy" but this craziness reflects the wisdom of God which trumps the nonsense we human beings posit via materialistic philosophies and scientific ideas based on overactive imaginations.

Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist.  He gives us Himself completely so that we can have the grace necessary to love Him and one another.  Holy Thursday is not just about the Eucharist or the priesthood.  It is also about service to others.  Loving others is a mandate for every Catholic.  We are a community on this planet; brothers and sisters who have our origin in Adam and Eve.  Therefore, we must care for one another.  I know this is hard, but no one said it would be easy.  Nothing in Christianity is easy.  This is one of the reasons why it is worthwhile.  It challenges us to be superhuman; to be the ubermensch or "Superman" as philosopher  Friedrich Nietzsche coined it.  This can only be accomplished with the grace of God.  Reason and love come to work in the person of Jesus Christ.

On this Holy Thursday, let us focus on Christ and service to one another. We cannot deny the Sacraments to the people of God. This contradicts the very essence of Jesus' command that we "wash each others' feet" and serve one another.  We cannot be like the disciples who ran away or like Peter who denied Our Lord.  We must have faith and be an example to the world. Closing churches and denying the Sacraments shows the world that what we believe is a sham.  Let us vow to do better with how we reflect Christ to the world.   

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Spy Wednesday 2021

Today is Spy Wednesday. Those religious people who live double lives are like Judas who betrayed Christ. As you may know, Spy Wednesday is the day when Judas Iscariot conspired against his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ (Mark 14:10-11). Today, there are many ways we can conspire against Jesus.  Many Christians have abandoned faith in God during this time of the alleged pandemic. Immediately, churches were closed and public liturgies were suspended. Many have supported this action by the bishops. To them, it looks like "protection" from a contagion, however, to real Christians, it is a betrayal and lack of faith in Christ. 


To add insult to injury, many of them have tried to justify the actions by claiming that keeping Masses active or churches open will endanger others or even kill them. This kind of sophism is disgusting and something that can only derive from the devil itself.  How can one claim that going to Mass endangers others or even kills them?  This is very silly to state, for the sake of being polite. Where is their faith? Do they think God would allow the spread of contagion via the Mass or Sacraments?  Have they not read Psalm 91:1-8 which states:

"Whoever goes to the LORD for safety,
whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty,
can say to him,
“You are my defender and protector.
You are my God; in you I trust.”
He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers
and from all deadly diseases.
He will cover you with his wings;
you will be safe in his care;
his faithfulness will protect and defend you.
You need not fear any dangers at night
or sudden attacks during the day
or the plagues that strike in the dark
or the evils that kill in daylight.
A thousand may fall dead beside you,
10,000 all around you,
but you will not be harmed.
You will look and see
how the wicked are punished."

Even a year after the Covid 19 Coronavirus pandemic, we still see some religious leaders exaggerate their concern for contamination.  There have even been cases of priests and even Protestant leaders kicking members out of their communities for not wearing a mask.  Communion on the tongue is treated as dangerous.  Some bishops and pastors are even prohibiting processions.  What is troubling is that protestors are allowed o gather by the 10s of thousand, spring breakers are allowed to frolic on beaches, but the Church is scared to exist?  How can this be?  There are other ways we betray Jesus just like Judas did. Going to Church and then sinning as if the calls for repentance of the confiteor means nothing is one way. Being "religious," yet not being "religious" is hypocrisy. This kind of practice of religion is worthless (James 1:26). If we think that going to Mass all dressed up or walking around with a Rosary or Bible and not applying their essence in our lives pleases God, then we are fooling ourselves (Matthew 6:1).

This type of worship is in vain and offends God (Matthew 15:7-9).  The reason why we go to Mass, pray daily, receive the Sacraments, attend retreats and other religious events is to help us become more Christ-like. If we are to live in Christ who is the truth, then we too must be truthful (John 14:6, CCC para. 2468). Duplicity in living the Christian life serves no purpose to the worship of God and our sanctification. I call this an implicit form of atheism that mocks God.  The reason being is because we sometimes think we believe in God and are religious, but deep down we just do it as an obligation or to get attention; this rejects God (Titus 1:16). Sacred Scripture clearly states that those who reject God or lack belief in Him are fools (Psalms 53:1, Psalms 14:1).

Presenting an external devotion to God while not externalizing it is what Judas Iscariot did.  He was called by the Lord, traveled with Him, and even was at the Last Supper with Him, yet He did not internalize who this Lord was (John 1:10). We must not be like Judas who left early to collect his money. Either we are with God or with the world, there is no middle ground (Matthew 6:24). We only fool ourselves into thinking we are religious when in fact we are not deep down. God is never fooled or mocked (Galatians 6:7).  As we get closer to the Paschal Triduum, let us focus on ourselves and where we stand before God.  Are we truly transforming within, or has Catholicism become a ritual run by unconsciousness and conditioning?  We must ask ourselves these questions.

Our faith must be genuine. As many of you know, the first Mass was at the Last Supper. Judas left the supper early. He was the first one to leave Mass early.  Why did he leave?  He left to collect his money and set up the betrayal he was conceiving.  Judas took the bread, the Body of Christ, and left (John 13:30). While there may be valid reasons we can leave Mass, we must always try to avoid doing so. We must not be a spy for Satan. We must not be fake Catholics like Judas who followed Jesus as an opportunist.  We must not sell out Christ for the things of this world. 

Let us meditate on where we stand before God.  Are we like Judas seeking silver coins?

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Passion Sunday/Palm Sunday: Jesus Still Triumphs

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 is 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.  Passover coincides with Palm Sunday this year. We should reflect on this via the eyes of our elder brothers and sisters in the old covenant. 

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 disordered man has caused due to global warming and overpopulation.  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.  

The second reading tells us that Jesus is God but was not equal to God. What does this mean?  Does it mean Jesus is some demi-god like Jehovah's Witnesses and other sects claim?  No, not at all!  It simply means that while Jesus is God, He is also a man. His humanity is not equal to His divinity.  He was a man in human appearance with flesh, blood, pain, emotions, and so forth.  He "emptied" Himself of the infiniteness of God to take the form of a limited human being. In other words, Jesus was not this mutant from X-Men, Superman, or a Greek-god displaying powers of shapeshifting.  We see movies like Superman, Brightburn, or even the show Superman and Lois which show how the characters Clark Kent or Kal-el and Brandon Bryer discover their powers.  They cannot be cut or hurt.  Jesus was not like this. He was truly man and God.  This was why He was able to die. God died! His human body died. Jesus wanted to be one of us and experience what we experience. This was why He too was tempted by the devil. He felt pain, He got sick, got cramps, got cut, bled, got hungry and thirsty, and so on.  He was one of us in all things except sin. Jesus was obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross we are told. This means that Jesus basically obeyed the laws of physics and nature. He was obedient to them!  This is why before it says that "He humbled Himself." God truly humbled Himself becoming a slave to this universe just like we are all slaves to it. None of us can defy the laws of physics. We are trapped in this "biosphere" called the universe. Because of this, He became our example and was exalted.  This is why at Jesus' name we all bend the knee and confess that He is the Lord.  He is the one the Father sent. This is why when we hear the name Jesus, we should incline our head slightly during the liturgy. It is a sign of reverence. 

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

Christ defined 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 of 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 laypeople.  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 still triumphs! 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: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion | USCCB

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

5th Sunday of Lent - We Must Follow Christ

Today's readings tell us that God makes things new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We must follow Christ in order to be part of this renewal. This following of Christ will not be easy. We must suffer greatly (Matthew 10:18).

In the first reading, we are told that God is going to start a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. This covenant will be different from the one the Israelites were used to.  Before, God showed Himself to them and brought them out of slavery. He would work His wonders before them and others, showing that He is God (Psalm 95:9). Now things will be different.  He is going to place His law in their hearts (Psalm 37:31). Here we see how God is preparing humanity for Jesus. He is setting a place in man's heart for Himself (Ephesians 3:17). This new covenant will include not only Israel and Judah but the rest of the world (Jeremiah 31:1,3-4,7-8John 11:52).  The old covenant was a preparation for the new. This is why Jesus did not come to abolish the old, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).  The old is part of the new.  It is a religious and spiritual metamorphosis. However, in order to be part of this new covenant, we must be pure of heart, mind, and soul. This brings in the Psalm for today.

In the responsorial Psalm, we recite, "Create a clean heart in me, O God."  We ask God for mercy and ask that He in His generosity and goodness restore His image in us by wiping clean all that exists in us that keeps us from this image (Isaiah 1:18). Only God can do this (Psalm 51:7).  God is the only one who knows us inside and out (Psalm 139:2).  He can perceive our introspection and know our temperament. We were created by Him, we come from Him (Genesis 1:27). His breath and word are what keeps us in existence (Genesis 2:7Psalm 39:5Matthew 4:4). This washing of the soul brings back the joy in us. God reestablishes His friendship with us. In response, we must call others who are in sin and bring them to this spiritual laundry mat that is God's grace, so to speak (Colossians 3:16Romans 15:14James 5:20). This cleaning is done with the blood of the lamb who was slain (Revelation 12:11). His suffering redeems us and restores us as we read in the second reading.

The second reading reminds us that Jesus prayed and offered Himself for all of us. Today's second reading is sometimes used by Jehovah's witnesses and Muslims to claim that Jesus was not god.  To them, he was either a demi-god or a prophet. The words, "he learned obedience" and "was made perfect" seem to indicate this.  However, we must understand that Jesus was both God and man (John 1:114). He had two natures and one personhood. This is called the Hypostatic union. The fact that He was God did not make His humanity any different. He experienced everything human beings experience except sin (Hebrews 4:15). Christ ate, drank, cried, experienced different emotions, thought, learned, etc. He was not some magical deity walking the Earth like Hercules fighting Titans and whatnot. For all intent and purpose, Christ lived like an "average joe." So because of this, He learned obedience and was made perfect in the sense that His humanity was authentically human.  Since He did not succumb to any temptation and followed through with the will of His Father, Christ became the source of our salvation.  He is the new Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Finally, in the Gospel, we read of Jesus' agony.  Jesus announces the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. This hour is the new beginning. The beginning of the new covenant signed, sealed, and delivered by the suffering and death of Christ. Jesus says, "unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it produces much fruit." Here He is referring to Himself. His death on the Cross had to occur. Jesus had to suffer in order to redeem us. Humanity got into trouble via sin and death, so Christ would use the image of sin (humanity) and death to save the world (Romans 5:12-18). If we are to call ourselves Christians, then we too must suffer (Matthew 16:24). Jesus reminds us, "whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life." This means that we must be open to suffering and even martyrdom if it comes to that (Matthew 24:9).

This life that we live today is not what we were meant for.  Humanity was meant for so much more. The Covid 19 coronavirus pandemic has reminded us of the importance of life.  Today we are learning of the many Christians being killed. These are the martyrs of today who follow Christ to the cross. Their reward will be in heaven. Instead of focusing on the rewards of this life that wither like a crown of leaves, they focus on the crown in heaven that never withers (1 Corinthians 9:25). These Christians unite themselves to the suffering Christ. We too are united when we suffer for the faith (1 Peter 2:212 Timothy 2:12Romans 8:17). The agony of Christ shows us how Christ was truly human. This ties into what we read in the second reading regarding Jesus learning obedience and being made perfect. He suffered even before being scourged at the pillar.

Christ asks the Father to save Him from this hour. However, he did not quit and accepted what was coming. In the Mass, we join Jesus in this hour by reliving His passion, death, and resurrection. Christ has not been sacrificed again, He died once and for all peoples (Hebrews 9:28Romans 6:101 Peter 3:18). This death weakened the hold of the ruler of this world who is the liar Satan (Revelation 12:11). It is no wonder why today we see all kinds of evils and crazy ideas taking over society (Isaiah 5:20).  These crazy ideas are out there.  From so-called same-sex marriage to gender theory. Thank God the Vatican issued an answer to a dubia regarding blessing such parodies. The Vatican clearly stated that sin cannot be blessed.  We must be on the alert with things of this world.  Satan knows his time is up so he has to pull all stops to try to deceive many (1 Peter 5:8). However, Christ, as He is lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Himself (John 3:14-15). In the end, Christ wins. We must follow Christ.  May Jesus Christ be praised!

Readings: Fifth Sunday of Lent | USCCB


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