Category Archives: Lent

Lenten Appeals – Is Jesus Embarrassed?

Today, during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, our pastor reminded us about the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal, an annual exercise where pastors are required to direct their parishioners, while sitting in the pews, to actually fill out annual financial pledges for the Diocese.  He briefly reminded us about the pledge cards (from last Sunday) before he began the homily this morning.  I really appreciated the brevity, as it is our desire at that time to learn a lesson of God, not to be lectured on the needs of our very, very wealthy Diocesan church.

Resurrection and WoundsInterestingly, during he Liturgy of the Eucharist, with my eyes closed, I saw in my mind our resurrected Jesus Christ dressed in a common, dirty and dingy one-piece ankle-length tunic, as if atoning, standing behind the priest and deacon at the altar, inaudibly exhorting,

Come, all you who are thirsty and hungry! Come, take, eat, drink for free!  I give it freely! 

The Lord our God exhorts us that He does not charge us for His love.  He does not require from us a tithe to Him for what He offers.  It is offered freely, out of true love.  And, He gives us a symbol of personal atonement and embarrassment, on our behalf.

I sensed His embarrassment about the calls for funds, calls which seem to constantly emanate from the ambo in the sanctuaries of our parish chapels during these times.  The message is, “If you pay us, we will serve you and ourselves, too.”  This is not the Lord’s message, though, and He wants to make that clear.  For-pay permanent deacons, heed this warning.

I sensed His atonement for the sins of the Church Hierarchy.  The Lord is embarrassed at the many scandals which have been revealed – scandals at the hands of cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, religious, teachers and parents – and instead of the Hierarchy contritely atoning for sins, it continues – administering daily routines – focusing on the money that can be gathered in from the hands of the Faithful during this season of alms-giving, fasting and prayer.  But, who is atoning besides Jesus?  That is, who is making amends, in their hearts, for the wrongs that have been perpetrating on the Church by its own Hierarchy?

Perhaps, during Lent, the Church Hierarchy should be atoning with Jesus Christ and alms-giving, not project-promoting and wealth-begging.  Certainly, projects are necessary, but, perhaps, now during Lent is a very good time for atoning.  For as it is written and as it was read at the Ash Wednesday Liturgy of the Word,

Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?'” [Joel 2:17]

The Lord Jesus makes Himself present and known, “I Am here!  Know Me. I Am not leaving you.”  But, the Church Hierarchy sometimes makes Him seem less present, less real, more like Money, less like Love, less like He Who Atones and Redeems.  If priests participate in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, then priests should be moved, internally, to offer more outward signs of atonement for the sins of the Hierarchy.

At the end of the Mass for the final blessing, our Lord Jesus stood behind the altar, in front of His Tabernacle, and, with eyes closed,  I only saw His blessing.

 

I Will Know You in Your Wounds

image“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

~ The Lord, Jesus Christ to St. Thomas the Apostle, gospel of John, 20:27 NAB

Do you know someone close to you who has deep scars of some type, whether physical or emotional or both, and the circumstances surrounding those scars?  If you know the scars and the circumstances, do you not have a more intimate bond with them than someone else who is acquainted yet hasn’t this knowledge?  You do, and this knowledge draws you closer to them if you have the capacity for compassion and love, and if this compassion and love can flow freely from you to them.  But, these things can become thwarted or blocked by some obstacle – some vice or wrong or injustice, whether actual or perceived, which has been done between you two, where distrust is allowed to grow and fester.   True?

Isn’t this what happens between us and God when we commit sin or become self-absorbed, e.g., through anger, in some way?  By our sins or bad actions, we lose the ability to be tender and we become hardened.  We forget Who our Friend Is, and we inadvertently begin blocking the flow of life-giving love and mercy into our own souls such that we are unable and, eventually, unwilling to allow the love and compassion to continue flowing into and then out from us to others in need.

Is this not what happened to St. Thomas the Apostle?  Yet, when he returned to investigate and touch the Very Wounds of Christ, his spiritual eyes were opened and he knew with faith…the obstacles were removed and he was once again able to believe and hope and love…

“Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!'”

~ Gospel of John, 20:28 NAB

Was this not a miraculous healing of Thomas’ soul which had become hardened?

Ponder the Wounds of Christ during Lent.  Touch His Wounds in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  There is constant, salvific healing there.