Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 10:34a, 37-43

Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with Him.
We are witnesses of all that He did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree.
This Man God raised on the third day and granted that He be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that He is the One appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To Him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in Him
will receive forgiveness of sins through His Name.”

We need to be like the Apostles and preach about Jesus to all people.  We are commissioned as they were because we, too, are witnesses of Christ.  We may not be with Him in His earthly Bodily Form, but we are witnesses of His mystical Body, the Church.  It is an honor although some may think it is a burden.  But what an honor to be given the responsibility to spread God’s Love.  The fact that He wants to use us is something to savor.  We should not keep Him to ourselves, but we need to go out into the world and make Him known.  Because of Him, our sins are forgiven.  Wiped away and clean.  If people truly believed this message, so many more souls would be saved.  There is no need to beat ourselves up and remove ourselves from God because we feel ashamed, rather Jesus heals the wound and is the Bridge to the Father.

Reading 2 Col 3:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right Hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with Him in glory.

Seeking what is above is difficult.  There is so much noise and fog that clouds our heads, minds, hearts, and souls.  So much stress results from us looking around instead of looking up.  We constantly want and claim we need things of the world because our focus is skewed.  We are not on the right track and become distracted by materialism, lust, drunkenness, gluttony, pride, anger.  We have these thoughts about what our lives are supposed to look like and in that we lose God.  God is where our meaning and purpose comes from, and nothing else will quench our thirst or satisfy us until we detach ourselves from the earthly things.  There is a certain peace that comes from looking up and above because only then do we find ourselves and what we are supposed to be, Christ’s mirror.

Gospel Jn 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put Him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered His Head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that He had to rise from the dead. 

How great a joy Easter produces! A time when we become more alive.  It is the start of such a happy season.  We are no longer slaves chained down by our sins but a people whose Savior defeated death.  Now death is not the end but a new beginning.  Jesus destroyed sin as well because all of our sin and suffering was on the cross with Him.  We can now be fully alive and know the end is not Good Friday.  There is more.  This is why we have hope, a hope that never fails.  It is the anchor to the soul.  The reason we continue to live.  Everything else in our lives should reflect Easter.  We are saved and remade, and we should act this way.  No longer do we have an excuse to keep sinning, and we are different.  We are whole and changed all because God came down in the form of man and gave up His Life in order that we may have life. Wow. Thank you, Jesus.  I never want to let the Easter miracle become just something I know.  I want to live it, love it, and promote it.

 

 

 

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Good Friday, April 14, 2017

Reading 1 Is 52:13—53:12

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

This passage pretty much sums up Good Friday.  Jesus is a King, but no one believed He was a King while on earth because He did not resemble earthly kings.  Many people avoided and disregarded Him, thinking He was nothing of importance or special.  This is a lesson learned that what you see does not tell the full story because He stunned many people.  Jesus is the greatest of all Kings, but people did not care to give Him a chance because He was not rich or gaudy or taking control and making people follow Him.  We cannot just judge by appearance and looks because there is so much more than meets the eye.

Why was Jesus on the cross? Simple. Because of our sins.  Not Herod, not Pilate, not the Jewish people…..we killed Jesus.  He without sin took the weight of the world and surrendered because He loves us.  Because we turn away from God, Jesus came to heal us and our brokenness. It’s the best love story of all time.  All of our sins and wounds were hung on that cross, and He took away our sins.  We are free, and the bonds are broken.  We no longer are slaves to sin because of Jesus’ humility to take on our sins and save.  Jesus saves.

Reading 2 Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

In the days when Christ was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.  

So many of us complain saying that no one understand what they’re going through or that God doesn’t get it because He is God.  But guess what.  God has already gone through every possible struggle, trial, pain, problem, etc. that you have experienced.  He is not a distant God that merely looks down on us; He came down to be with us and like us.  He was tempted, mocked, ridiculed, tortured, shamed, and made a spectacle.  Therefore, He is able to understand, and we can go to Him with anything and everything with pure honesty.  There is no reason to hold back because wouldn’t you want Someone who has already experienced it to give you the advice on what to do.  It provides a sense of comfort that He already knows the answer and has examples on what He did.  This helps us because He is perfect so is a Model of behavior for us to follow.

We should learn His reverence.  It is so humble and graceful that He had so much reverence for His Father as we should.  Something else to admire and follow is Jesus’ learning obedience through suffering.  How much we complain through every step of suffering, but here we can learn to find what God is teaching us through suffering rather than complain.  This is true obedience.

Gospel Jn 18:1—19:42

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley
to where there was a garden,
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place,
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards
from the chief priests and the Pharisees
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him,
went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”
They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
He said to them, “I AM.”
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, “I AM, ”
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them,
“Whom are you looking for?”
They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
Jesus answered,
“I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”
This was to fulfill what he had said,
“I have not lost any of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it,
struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave’s name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter,
“Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest,
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest,
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter,
“You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

The high priest questioned Jesus
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
“I have spoken publicly to the world.
I have always taught in a synagogue
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather,
and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them.
They know what I said.”
When he had said this,
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said,
“Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him,
“If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong;
but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
“You are not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said,
“I am not.”
One of the slaves of the high priest,
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said,
“Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium,
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said,
“What charge do you bring against this man?”
They answered and said to him,
“If he were not a criminal,
we would not have handed him over to you.”
At this, Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.”
The Jews answered him,
“We do not have the right to execute anyone, ”
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium
and summoned Jesus and said to him,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered,
“Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered,
“I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered,
“My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him,
“Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered,
“You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
“I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
They cried out again,
“Not this one but Barabbas!”
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head,
and clothed him in a purple cloak,
and they came to him and said,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them,
“Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out,
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
“Crucify him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered,
“We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus,
“Where are you from?”
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
“Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you
and I have power to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him,
“You would have no power over me
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin.”
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out,
“If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out
and seated him on the judge’s bench
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
“Behold, your king!”
They cried out,
“Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself,
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull,
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read,
“Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription,
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city;
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
“Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’
but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
Pilate answered,
“What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, ”
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.

This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea,
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews,
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night,
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices,
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day;
for the tomb was close by.

Here I am going to talk about Peter.  I always used to think it was so awful and disgusting how he denies Jesus.  I still do, but now I recognize where I deny Jesus in my own life as well.  When we avoid speaking about God when we have clear opportunities or when we tone down our passion for the Lord because the situation may be uncomfortable.  How about not only sin of omission but when we just flat out do not do what we should.  We love Jesus when we love our brother, but sometimes we hurt our brother.  This hurts Jesus.  We should grow stronger in faith, and it should be the thing we are most proud of.  We should never want to evade a conversation about our Savior; we should be eager to tell people about Him.  Think: how often do you tell people about that boy/girl you like?  I’m sure you could go on for hours.  Or the times when you stand up for your friends and don’t hold back at all….it is the same with Jesus.  He is your Lover, Best Friend, Everything.

 

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Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reading 1 Ex 12:1-8, 11-14

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
“This month shall stand at the head of your calendar;
you shall reckon it the first month of the year.
Tell the whole community of Israel:
On the tenth of this month every one of your families
must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household.
If a family is too small for a whole lamb,
it shall join the nearest household in procuring one
and shall share in the lamb
in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.
The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish.
You may take it from either the sheep or the goats.
You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month,
and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present,
it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.
They shall take some of its blood
and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel
of every house in which they partake of the lamb.
That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

This is how you are to eat it:
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the LORD.
For on this same night I will go through Egypt,
striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast,
and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.

“This day shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”

Isn’t it crazy that they are just talking about an animal here yet Jesus is the Lamb that was slain.  It is so barbaric how He died, and it can be related to the killing of the lamb for Passover.  Jesus was the Scapegoat/the Sacrifice for our sins, and it is His Blood that saves us just like the lamb’s blood saved the Israelites years ago.  It makes me sad that Jesus was slaughtered in such a barbaric way, and it should only be carried out for animals let alone the Savior of the universe.  We are set aside, special, because of Jesus’ Blood, and for this, we should sacrifice everything in our lives to make sure this is remembered and celebrated.

Reading 2 1 Cor 11:23-26

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

This reading reminds me of the Consecration at Mass.  It is such a holy moment that I think too often many of us take for granted.  It is the time when the bread and wine become Jesus’ actual Body and Blood.  We are entering the table of the Lord and are commanded to take part in the scene that He instituted the night before He was killed.  We should come to Mass with true joy knowing we are with God through the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is the Medicine and Healer of the world, and I was once told It is like radiation because It saves people from the illness/disease of sin and anything else.  The Mass should be a holy, pure, and inspiring time to rejuvenate and re-energize for the week ahead.  It is also the most important Prayer and closest time with God while still on this earth.  The Eucharist should be a Center in our lives and revered as Jesus would be if He was walking in the streets.

Gospel Jn 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

I need to be cleaned and purified by God.  I love the washing of the feet because it is so humbling.  There is so much dirt and garbage in all of our lives that need to be cleaned out, maybe even scrubbed.  There’s that sin we keep committing, the pain from regret, the anger in our hearts…So much that can and will be wiped away by God only if we allow Him.  Much of the reason we continue to sin is due to fear or pride.  The fear comes from the fact that once you are clean, you have to stay clean and that is a lot of work.  Pride gets in the way of everything because we assume we know more than God.  Just like how Peter said he wanted more of him washed, not just his feet.  We think we know what we are doing or have a better plan, but God needs to be trusted with simplicity.

Jesus is the Model to follow.  He is a King yet acts like a Servant.  This is a lesson for us.  We need to serve in order to love like Christ.  We need to give ourselves and listen when He says to do as He does.  We wander all over life and question what we should be doing, but the answer is right in front of us.  It’s so nice that we do not have to figure it out all on our own; Jesus is the Example.  Each day every decision should legit ask WWJD because He is perfect, and that should be the Goal.
 

 

 

 

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Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

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.

I want to be able to speak to the weary, to bring those fallen away to the Lord.  I want Him to use my words to glorify Himself.  I never want to turn back on God.  Unfortunately we all do in sin.  We reject God’s commands, and instead of obeying Him, we do what we want.  We should be walking with Jesus and not caring about the ones that mock or insult us because of that.  We will not be put to shame.  Our God is powerful and does not break promises.  With Him, there is nothing I shall want.  We should remember Jesus is our Savior, to help and heal.

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.

Isn’t that something…We all think we are gods, with our pride and egos, yet Jesus came to be like us so we could become like Him.  He was a slave because of our sin even though He never sinned.  He was so obedient to God that He gave up His own Life.  Shouldn’t we follow that example?  We should give our lives up to God and make daily sacrifices since He made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  I want to learn to be more humble and recognize that I have to serve my King.  Every knee should bow…Am I that reverent? Do I take Jesus for granted and think about Him too lightly? I need way more focus, respect, and awe when I pray or even think of God.  This Name saves, and too often in society it is said in vain.  Just repeating “Jesus” can do wonders, and that Name should be the reason behind all we do and all we live for.

Gospel 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!”  

How many of us are like Pilate?  We don’t want the blame and didn’t do the “worst” thing but definitely did not make the right choice.  We often know the right decision but fail to make it because of what others may think or say.  Pilate had several opportunities to stop Jesus’ death and to release Him, but he was being swayed by the crowd…..wow peer pressure still to blame?  I can think of many occasions where I held back or made the wrong choice just because of what others were going to say.  The fear of rejection causes us to reject God.  For example, how many times do people drink, smoke, do drugs, have sex, steal, cheat, etc all because it makes you look cooler to the crowd?  Guess what when the crowd, who do they have then?  Just like Pilate, you’re left with regrets.  But the worst regrets are the things you didn’t do rather than the things you did do.  The what ifs and the replaying events just to think you could’ve done more.  The cure is to want to please God more than pleasing people.  Who wants to gain the world if you’re going to lose your soul?

 

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April 2, 2017

Reading 1 Ez 37:12-14

Thus says the Lord GOD:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and have you rise from them,
O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live,
and I will settle you upon your land;
thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.

Open our graves.  Literally we will be given life.  We will rise like Jesus because we are God’s people.  He is defeating death for us.  His own Spirit will be in us, and that gives us so much more of a reason to live and have hope.  To know that God loves me so much that He is bringing me back to life is unfathomable.  It makes me want to shout for joy and jump up and down.  It really encourages me to want to live a better life since God is so heavily involved and so close to me.  I value my own life and others’ more knowing God is dwelling in me/them.

I do also think of the times when I do not feel alive.  All those moments where we feel defeated, let down, and did not have the strength to keep going.  The thing is that if God wants us so badly to be alive then we must push through.  We have to believe in the promises because God says He will do it.  I want to be more fully alive and want others to experience that, too.  Life is precious, and every moment is a gift to enjoy.

Reading 2 Rom 8:8-11

Brothers and sisters:
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit dwelling in you.

Sometimes I am in the flesh, and other times I am in the Spirit, but I always want to be in the Spirit.  The flesh is the drunkenness, lust, greed, pride, and every ugly thing that keeps us in chains.  These are the sins when we choose selfishness over what right and of God.  Being of the flesh is taking part in the vicious cycle of being a slave to the body instead of God, but the body is dead.  Only when we are of the Spirit will we be living and free, free from the traps and snares the devil sets up for us to take us away from our Savior.  When we choose to get out of the rut of sinning and being unhappy, it will feel as if a weight was lifted from our shoulders.  With that, nothing can stop us.

Gospel Jn 11:1-45

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
when Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him,
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?”
Jesus answered,
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.”
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

I could not honestly tell you what I would do if I saw a dead man come out and start walking after being in a tomb for 4 days.  This story has been told a lot, but think about it…..It should be!  Jesus has this healing and life-giving power that is overwhelming.  I am sitting here questioning why I do not trust Him as much as I should.  If He is raising people from the dead, I’m pretty sure I can leave my daily life problems up to Him to solve.  I am also just in such awe and need to worship more for the pure sense of worship since His might should be revered.  It is humbling to hear Jesus’ power and makes me want to die to self.  I truly believe that He can take every dead part of me and infuse life.  I need spiritual resurrection and to just surrender myself to Christ knowing that I can be remolded, renewed, and remade.  Jesus transforms, and I want to give in to the change so I can more fully glorify Him and make His Kingdom known.

 

 

 

 

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