Palm Sunday Heralds Holy Week

Palm Sunday describes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem in his final week on earth.  As the week unfolds, we see Him drawing closer and closer to the inevitable cross.  Holy Thursday we celebrate the washing of feet with its symbolism for all of us to follow His servant posture.  Good Friday with His brutal scourging and the cross, finally arrive.  He lays down His life for mankind past, present, and future.

He lays in the tomb until early Sunday morning and rises from the dead to defeat sin for all of us, and “by His stripes we are healed.”

There are three levels we should always consider and against which we should measure ourselves.  Level 1: Are we ready to lay down our life for someone we love deeply, like a spouse or family member?  Perhaps, most of us would.  Level 2: Are we ready to lay down our life for someone we consider a friend?  Here the number drops off a bit.  Level 3: Are we ready to lay down our life for a total stranger?  Hummm, here the number approaches zero.  And, if that stranger was a bad person, the number would definitely be zero.

Well, that’s what makes Christ’s sacrifice so absolutely incredible.  He laid down His life for all, the good and the bad alike.  Our God is truly one of a kind.

During this Holy Week let us measure ourselves by His actions and strive to love everyone, no matter how ‘good’ they are, no matter how valuable we think they are, and no matter how large or small their contributions are.  Our God loves us all, no matter where we land on any scale of value devised by mankind.

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And The White Smoke Curled From The Stack

With the appearance of white smoke from the stack of the Sistine Chapel we begin another chapter in the book that is the Papal history of the Catholic Church.  Every Pope brings the right gifts to the job for his time.  If you want to know what the Holy Spirit is saying to the world over all, look at the Pope and his gifts.

Hebrews 7, 12 tells us, “Where there is a change of priesthood, there is also a change in the Law” – that is, a change in the way things are done.  No where is that more true than in the changing of the Vicar of Christ on Earth.  It doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with what previous Popes did or didn’t do, it means that God is shifting to areas that He considers need to be addressed.

It is to our advantage to understand what God is desiring to address.  Once we can see & identify those areas, we can individually look to those areas in our own lives, and shift our own activities to align with them.  It gives us a tremendous sense of meaning and purpose to be about our Father’s business in the world.  It is actually an act of worship of God to move our efforts into alignment with His.

Prodigal Son, Other Son, Forgiving Father

On this Fourth Sunday, Cycle C, in Lent we are treated to the remarkable story of the prodigal son and secondarily to the story of the other son.  The younger son took his inheritance and squandered it in a foreign country.  The older son stayed at home but grumbled because his brother blew through half of his fathers net worth and yet his father rejoiced at his return.  His problem was righteousness over his not having done that to his father even though the story makes obvious he wished he had enough courage to do so.

The real story here is about the father’s actions.  In both cases, he went out to meet each son.  The younger son he saw coming from a great distance and ran to meet him.  The older son he saw pouting outside and went to him to help him overcome his anger.  This story could also be called The Forgiving Father and be an archetype of our Heavenly Father coming in search of us, calling us to himself, and loving us even in our own sinfulness.

In this final half of Lent as we begin to close on Holy Week and Easter, let us look at the people in our lives that we need to go out to, those who cannot bring themselves to ask our forgiveness.  Don’t make them wrestle with that dilemma, go to them and welcome them back into relationship with us.  That’s what God Himself does.  Can we do less?

(Taken from points in Confirmation homily by Bishop Emeritus Boland)