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Archive for the ‘Homilies’ Category

Today we commemorate Holy Saturday, the quiet, somber interlude between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Instead of sharing my own reflections I’d like to share this ancient homily, composed by an anonymous source. It brings to life that stirring line in the Apostle’s Creed: “He descended into hell.”

he-descended
What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.

The Lord goes into them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: “My Lord be with you all.” And Christ in reply says to Adam: “And with your spirit.” And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”

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Friends, on this Easter we should remember that Jesus is not just a soul that’s gone to heaven. The resurrected Christ, as Paul said, is the first fruits of a new life. A whole new human nature has appeared and emerged.

Resurrection can’t simply mean, as many contemporary authors want us to believe, that the cause of Jesus goes on. (As though you listen to the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven and the society of Beethoven lovers says, “Well, the spirit of Beethoven goes on.”) People don’t give their whole lives, don’t go to the end of the world preaching, don’t go to their death in support of a vague metaphor. What galvanized the first Christians was that Jesus – the crucified one who had died-is now alive again.

On this Easter, we Christians must avoid another problem: seeing the Resurrection simply as a return to this life. Lazarus was raised from the dead, only to die again. He still belonged to the realm of death. When Lazarus came forth, he was still wearing his grave clothes. He still belonged, in some way, to the tomb.

That’s not what happens in the Resurrection. When Jesus rises from the dead, He leaves his grave clothes behind. Jesus now lives a new life exalted through the power of the Father. His relationship to space and time is now completely changed. He passes through locked doors. He comes and goes as he pleases.

Jesus is the first fruit of a new way of being, a new life. It’s still a human life, but it is now lived at a higher pitch of intensity. This is such good news for us because this is what God intends for all of us: that we now will share in the risen life of Jesus.

It’s our human life – yes, still bodily – but now lived at a higher level, spiritualized and glorified.

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Crucifix at Saint Etienne-du-Mont

Crucifix at Saint Etienne-du-Mont

What is the message that Jesus has for the world? At first he seems to confirm his followers’ hopes: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.” Great! Finally, after putting things off for so long, he is ready; the moment has come.

But then he clarifies: “I solemnly assure you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies it produces much fruit.” Believe me, this is not what his followers wanted to hear.

The Jews had had more than enough experience with death. They had lived under oppression for centuries and their glory days were long ago. The Roman boot was pressing down upon them. Those who would endeavour to throw it off were imprisoned or killed. And now this one, upon whom they had pinned their hopes, at the high point of his life, is speaking of falling to the earth and dying.

Then it gets stranger: “The man who loves his life loses it, while the man who hates his life in this world, preserves it to life eternal.” Come again?!

To understand what all this means, we should go back to the great image that Jesus uses, the grain of wheat that falls to the earth. A seed, resting by itself, can exist for a long time. In fact, they have found seeds in the tombs of the Pharaohs and seeds in fossil remains. But unless they fall into the soil and crack open, nothing further comes of them. Their life is inside, yes, but it’s a life that grows by being given away and mixing with the soil around it. It has to crack open and be destroyed. But even after a very long time, a seed can grow into a flourishing plant. The oldest seed that has grown into a viable plant was a 2000-year-old date palm seed from excavations at Herod the Great’s palace on Masada in Israel. It was germinated in 2005.

When you look at a great tree or a plant, you see none of the original seed, and yet you see life. The same is true of the cross. When Christians look at the cross, we no longer see death, but eternal life.

Originally published by Fr. R. Barron

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Introductory Prayer:

In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness.
How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless
trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in
you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you
have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me
so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Lord, make me more aware of the people around me who need
my help.

1. Nice Isn´t Enough –  The rich man in the Gospel story of Luke 16 is the
proverbial “nice guy.” His good qualities abound. He does, after all,
accept his fate meekly. He doesn´t ask to be released from hell; he
asks for only a drop of water to quench his thirst. And when he
can´t get even that much relief, he begs for a special messenger in
the hopes of sparing his own brothers a similar fate. He at least
thinks of the welfare of others. Yet, all that niceness didn´t save
him from eternal punishment. Do I ever think that just being a
“nice” person will get me to heaven? Might I be using my own
standards to judge my worthiness, rather than using God´s standards?

2. The “O” Word The rich man never seemed to be bothered by
Lazarus. The poor man was doubtlessly a pitiful sight to behold. Some
people would have been quick to send servants to chase the beggar
away. But not the rich man; no, he deliberately left the beggar
alone. And that is where the rich man erred. His was a sin of
omission. The rich man lost his soul not for what he did, but for
what he failed to do. Am I much better? Is there someone in need,
right under my nose, who I routinely ignore? Is there something I
could be doing to end an evil? Do I help the pro-life effort? Do I
contribute to the poor? Do I dedicate time to a needy child or
sibling or in-law?

3. Late Love The rich man, now condemned, shows concern for his
five brothers. They, presumably, are living it up — and
destined for the same end as their hapless sibling. The rich man´s
concern is well-placed, but his timing is late. If only he had shown
concern for his brothers´ souls when he was alive — then he
might have made an impact. Caring for family members, helping them
reach heaven, is the most loving thing we can do for them. Everything
else will be meaningless if our own behavior (or omission) prevents
others from attaining salvation. Does that prompt me to pray
constantly for family members? To offer up sacrifices for them? Do I
try to help others grow in their faith?

Conversation with Christ:

Lord, my time in this world is short.
Too many people suffer the unexpected death of loved ones and then
regret that they didn´t do more for them. Let me not make that same
mistake. Help me see that each day is a gift, and each encounter with
another person is an opportunity to show your love to them.

Resolution:

I will do an act of charity for someone whom I have
been taking for granted

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Today is Palm Sunday where we start Mass with the Procession of Palms to celebrate the victorious entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem but it ends in recounting the Crucifixion, with Our Blessed Lord being nailed to the Cross. Fr. Bonaventure preaches on the need to persevere in the Love for Our Lord even when others condemn and ridicule Him. Ave Maria!

Mar 28 – Homily: Of Palms and Nails – Video – Catholic Online.

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