Little Johnny was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from church with his mother. His father returned from church holding a palm branch. The little boy was curious and asked, "Why do you have that palm branch, dad?" "You see, when Jesus came into town, everyone waved palm branches to honor him; so we got palm branches today." "Aw, shucks,” grumbled Little Johnny. "The one Sunday I can't go to church, and Jesus shows up!"
The Church celebrates today as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday as we enter into Holy Week, and welcome Jesus into our lives, asking him to allow us a share in his suffering, death, and resurrection. In order to receive new life, death must happen. Death and resurrection happen in our day-to-day lives.
On Holy Thursday there is a Chrism Mass in Cathedral Churches because it is a solemn observance of Christ's institution of the Eucharist and priesthood. In order to make the opportunity for most priests and laity to attend this Mass, the Bishop may celebrate prior to Holy Week, as we celebrated in our diocese. At this 'Chrism Mass' the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism and Confirmation.
The Holy Thursday liturgy in parish communities is celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown. After the Holy Thursday evening Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain 'entombed' until the communion service on Good Friday. Finally, there is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the people during the night, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives before the betrayal by Judas. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection.
Holy Week can become "holy” for us only if we actively and consciously take part in the liturgies of this week. During Holy Thursday’s institution of Eucharist Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my body broken for you; this is my blood, and shed for you” and we see on Good Friday that this sacrifice is completed on the cross. He broke himself for us and fed us. This is also the week when we should lighten the burden of Christ’s passion as daily experienced by the needy people through our corporal and spiritual works of mercy; break and share.
On Good Friday we start the nine days of the novena for Divine Mercy Sunday. On Good Friday we see Jesus open his heart on the Cross and pour his love and mercy for each one of us. Let us look at the cross and prepare during this week for Easter!
Please welcome our new Janitor Gary Eitrem, born and brought up in Park Falls. I am sure you all know him. He will do great job. Also join me to thank Jim Jirschele for his years of commitment. He had back surgery and is recuperating, please keep him in your prayers. Thank you Jim Jirschele and welcome Gary Eitrem.
New Life: A True Gift!
A man was surprised to read the announcement of his own death in the obituary column of the local newspaper. Ringing up his close friend, he enquired, “Did you see the announcement of my death in the paper this morning?” ”Yes,” was the frightened answer in a shivering voice. “But where are you speaking from? Heaven or Hell?”
We are a week away from the start of the Holy Week. In the next two weeks, we will live the Gospel passage of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus asks us to have faith in him. During the fifth Sunday of Lent Year A, the prophet Ezekiel reminds the Israelites during their Babylonian captivity of the Lord’s promise to not only bring us back to life, but to bring us back to home. St. Paul, in the second reading, assures us that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, and who dwells within us, will give life to our mortal bodies. In the Gospel, the revival of Lazarus is the foreshadowing of the resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus cries at the tomb of Lazarus. When confronted with death, Jesus reacted the same way you and I react. He cried. But then Jesus did something: he called Lazarus out of the grave. He did this not just because he wanted his friend to live, but because he wanted us to know that he was the Lord of Life.
Believing in Jesus is not just a life and death issue. it is also a death and life issue. Believing in Jesus gives us the ability to enjoy his life even after our death. Believing in Jesus helps us make some sense of the mystery of death in the world. Our loved ones die to this world, but live in the Lord.
In living our faith, in practicing Christian morality, we are often confronted with life and death issues, but this does represent a complete view of Christianity. The martyrs knew this. And they refused to deny Christ but not because they wanted to die. They chose Christ because they wanted to live. As Christians, we have to have a profound faith, a fundamental belief, in death and life.
How can we understand death? We can only understand death as a transition from this life to the next. It can happen two ways, one way is die to this world physically, or another is to die to this world spiritually. When we leave this world we have eternal life; when we leave the selfish man, we are resurrected, and we are in spirit and new life.
The Sacraments are special ways we meet Jesus and receive grace of life. This reading is also relevant for our RCIA candidate, Michael, as he prepares for the Sacraments. It is relevant for all of as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection. He comes and touches us with new life.
We are in the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Traditionally this Sunday is known as “Laetare Sunday,” from the Latin word for “Rejoice!” It sets a tone of joyful anticipation of the Easter mystery. The theme of the reading is sight.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went camping. They pitched their tent under the stars and went to sleep. In the middle of the night Holmes awoke and exclaimed, “Watson, look up; tell me what you see?” Watson opened his eyes and said, “I see billions of stars. It’s likely that some of these have planetary systems. Furthermore, it’s possible that life has developed in a few.” “Is that what you see?” Holmes replied, “No, you idiot. Somebody stole our tent!”
Most of us have good eye sight. Some of us have to wear glasses to have good vision. Today’s readings remind us that it is God who gives us proper vision in the physical as well as in spiritual sense and instructs us to be vigilant and not to fall into spiritual blindness. The fourth Sunday of Lent connects with the Candidate who are preparing to receive the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil.
In today’s First Reading the prophet Samuel has been sent to the house of Jesse to anoint the new king of Israel. When Samuel was sent out, in his mind was the figure of Saul, the present king. Samuel thought Jesse’s son Eliab would be a good replacement, because he was tall and handsome, much like Saul. The Lord said to him, “Not as man sees does God see.” Jesse presented seven of his sons, but not David. Even Jesse didn’t think God would chose David. When David came the LORD said to Samuel, "There—anoint him, for this is the one!" Samuel tried to make decision based on appearance, in another word, based on his sight. God direct him to see beyond physical sight.
In today’s Second Reading, Paul reminds us that the Lord has brought us from darkness to light. Sin not only disfigures us, but it also blinds us. So Paul encourages us to live as children of light, which gives us true sight.
The Gospel story tells us how a blind man received sight. The man, who was born blind, not only received the gift of sight, but he also received an opportunity to see that Jesus was the one who healed him. The man who received sight could not deny what was right in front of his face. He gave witness for the gift he received and what he experienced. The Pharisees were kept asking how Jesus opened his eyes. They couldn’t praise God or recognize Jesus for what he did, but the blind man was able to do so. He received sight and insight. Others could see, but they couldn’t recognize.
Our Lenten prayers and sacrifices should help us receive true sight so that we can see the great things God has done in our lives and in the lives of the people around us.
We all experience two kinds of thirst in life. The first kind of thirst is horizontal, our desire for things on earth: food, drink, companionship, fun, entertainment, a nice house, a good income, success at work or school and many more.
The second kind of thirst vertical, a deeper desire built into our nature: a desire for meaning and purpose. But unlike horizontal thirst, our vertical thirst cannot be satisfied by our own efforts. Only God himself can satisfy it.
On the third Sunday of lent, we see in first reading and the Gospel is about thirst. In the first reading Moses was leading people out of Egypt from slavery. People were thirsty in the dessert and their question whether God is even there. God asks Moses to strike the rock and he provided water and satisfies the thirst of the complainers. In the Gospel Jesus thirst for soul of Samaritan woman. On the other hand the Samaritan woman’s thirst was for real love.
Jews and Samaritans were not on good terms, so the Samaritan woman was surprised to see Jesus, a Jew, is asking her water. Normally women used to go to fetch water in the morning or in the evening when it was not too hot. But she came to fetch water at noon. She may have been trying to avoid the crowd. Jesus came to her level to reach out and walk with her and leads her to faith. Jesus reveals himself as the source of Living Water.
The liturgy makes use of the symbol of water to refer to our relationship with God. It represents God’s Spirit which comes to us in Baptism. The water that Jesus promises is closely linked to conversion and the forgiveness of sin. In the second reading, Saint Paul asserts that, as the savior of mankind, Jesus poured the living water of the gift of his Holy Spirit into our hearts. Samaritan woman, in the Gospel, once embraced the faith, Jesus, the living water, becomes a missionary who brings others to Jesus. Once she had life changing experience, she couldn’t hold it for herself.
Jesus THIRSTS for our faith. Do we thirst for him? Yes, we do. The question is, do we recognize it? Lent invites us renew our faith and receive the spirit. This week and the next two weeks we take reading from the Year A, because we have RCIA candidates. Please pray for Michael Zilinger who is preparing to receive Sacraments during Easter Vigil.