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Good Friday - April 15, 2022

Isaiah 52:13—53:12     Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9     John 18:1—19:42 As I read John’s version of the Passion of our Lord, I am astonished at the narrative detail he offers me. He paints vivid pictures of the torchlit scene of Judas’ betrayal; the sharp-edged interrogation of Jesus by the high priests; the blatant and repeated betrayal by Peter; the frustration Pilate’s probing questions reveal; the brutality of the flogging and the mockery of the crown of thorns; the agonized plea in Jesus’ last words; and the rushed but respectful preparation of Jesus’ body for entombment. John offers his audience so much detail when he evokes these scenes that it has always surprised me to read this description of the ultimate scene so central to our faith: “ 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.” Such starkness
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Holy Thursday - April 14, 2022

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14              1 Corinthians 11:23-26            John 13:1-15 Each Sunday, we Catholics remember together that sacred meal when Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to his disciples. However, it is on Holy Thursday when we remember another sequence of events that happened that same night when Jesus rose from supper, took off his outer garments, tied a towel around his waist, poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of his followers. It is this ritual act, so beautifully demonstrated in the liturgical tradition of the Visitation community that I will forever associate with one of the most moving faith experiences I’ve had. It happened at another sacred meal when my Catholic parish joined with a nearby Jewish synagogue for a Passover Seder.   That night, at a Jewish celebration, the assembly witnessed the same ritual washing remembered in the Gospel of John. As we were planning our interfaith Seder, we discussed the various rituals associated

Wednesday of Holy Week - April 13, 2022

Isaiah 50:4-9a      Matthew 26:14-25 Like many people, I have experienced great sorrow in my life and will likely experience more. Today’s reading from the Book of Isaiah speaks so clearly to me having encountered tragedy, but also as someone who has been lifted out of the trenches by faith and community. One lesson I draw from the text is that being a human is hard. But, as followers of Christ, we do not suffer alone and we do not suffer in vain. When I read, “The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue so that I may speak to the weary a word that will rouse them,” I understand that those of us who have suffered are blessed. Blessed because we can, perhaps, more deeply empathize with others and are best equipped to comfort others or listen without judgment as Jesus did. There are gifts in suffering with Christ, but they don’t make the hard times painless. If it were up to me, I would rather have not needed these gifts. But I see now we are not shielded from “bullets and spit

Tuesday of Holy Week - April 12, 2022

  Isaiah 49:1-6                John 13:21-33, 36-38 In today’s Gospel, John shares his accounts of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and Jesus’ declaration that Peter will ultimately deny him. Regardless of how many times I read or hear these passages, I am always taken aback by the immense sadness that I feel.  While our familiarity with the story allows us to know that Jesus’ resurrection is just days away, my heart always feels heavy when considering Judas and Peter. I have typically been content to accept this as part of the general somberness that permeates Holy Week, but today’s reading challenged me to explore these feelings.  Imagine first the sadness Jesus must have felt at Judas’ absence of faith. John references Jesus’ distress at Judas’ betrayal; however, his distress lies not in any sort of personal affront or feeling of being wronged by Judas. Instead, Jesus’ distress lies wholly in his concern over the spiritual condition of Judas, in his deep desire for Judas to believe and

Monday of Holy Week - April 11, 2022

Isaiah 42:1-7      John 12:1-11 I hadn’t much cared for the story of Lazarus the last couple of years. In fact, I didn’t much care for any of Jesus’s miracles or healing stories. These accounts begged the question tormenting me the most. In 2020, our young son Peter died. So, why was Lazarus saved and Peter not? Why are some people cured of blindness and others not? For that matter, why are people blind at all in a world with a loving God? Why do bad things happen to so many people? My trusty tools—reason and logic—were not giving me answers. Peter’s death conflicted with how I thought the world worked. During my grief though, other experiences made me feel hopeful, held, and trusting amid this horrific suffering. These events too did not conform to my epistemology—I was trained to trust what I could prove and to discount what I could not. But, they happened. Life was not comporting with my ideological framework. Today’s Gospel lays out a framework for a deeper faith. Some turned

Palm Sunday - April 10, 2022

Luke 19:28-40              Isaiah 50:4-7                Philipians 2:6-11         Luke 22:14—23:56 Palm Sunday often feels like a roller coaster of a day, which can be emotionally draining. We have the exaltation of the Lord as he processes into Jerusalem. There is the last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist, another beautiful and generous gesture of Jesus. And finally, we have the betrayal, death of Jesus, and despair for the future. How could we start the week so well, and then end up so badly by Good Friday? It is joyful, thankful, sorrowful, and finally–wonderful. We’ve all had weeks like that in our human lives, but we didn’t think it could happen to Jesus. I don’t think the Apostles ever thought it could happen either. Palm Sunday helps me remember that Jesus walked among us in this broken physical world. It reminds me that he took on the difficulties of our human condition and taught us through examples and miracles to honor our mothers and fathers; to love generously

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent - April 9, 2022

Ezekiel 37:21-28          John 11:45-56 This week’s reading depicts the covenant of God in which he promises a unified nation for all of the children of Israel. The people, however, must get rid of their idols and hatred in order for the covenant to be fulfilled. Once fulfilled, they will be cleansed of their sins and given David as their King. They will continue to birth new generations in this sanctuary through God’s covenant of peace. God describes this unified nation as one that is joyful and merry, a truly blissful place. Without trust in God, the Israelites would never have followed God’s covenant. Why would they when their idols were so tempting? By blindly getting rid of these idols and resentment, they were able to fully embrace God. For people in the present day, it may not be that easy to uphold their faith so strongly. I know that I struggle with it sometimes. I can’t see God and I haven’t witnessed any miracles, so why should I believe? I must learn to overcome my doub