Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Last Supper

Today we really start to get into the last part of the climax of our liturgical year, the Triduum leading up to the Resurrection at Easter. Yesterday Lent ended and during the last forty days we have been on a journey towards these decisive moments, almost two thousand years ago, all attention in heaven was as it were fixed on the events being unfolded.... even although at that time much of the world did not even notice this decisive moment in salvation history... but now it is our time to participate.

The Gospel for Holy Thursday, the institution of the last supper in John's Gospel (13:1-15) focuses on Jesus' washing the feet of His disciples. The passage starts with the opening phrase "having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end." (Joh 13:1 RSV) and this straight away sets the tone, everything is centered on love: "for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Joh 3:16 RSV). Now the time has come that this is going to be fulfilled, when Jesus is really showing His disciples what real love is for "greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Joh 15:13 RSV). It is a love of complete self abandonment, completely giving yourself for to sake of others.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Palm Sunday - the Triumphant entry into Jerusalem

Still at the tale end of essays, and one more to finish before Easter (2 down 2 to go!). So I am lazy, and rehashed my reflection for Palm Sunday of last year...

The Gospel this Sunday is the passion narrative of the Gospel of Luke (Lk 22:14-23:56). However, I will take the passage which is read with the blessing of the palms as it is more relevant to Palm Sunday and I will reflect more on the passion on Good Friday. So the we take Lk 19:28-40.

We read in this passage about the entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem, five days before His death. It starts with the two disciples who are sent out to get the colt on which "no one has ever yet sat(Luk 19:30 RSV) to be used for His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. After they got the cold, many spread their garments on the road before him, "As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen" (Luk 19:37 RSV) saying "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luk 19:38 RSV). We can easily hear the resounding of the prophesy of Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass. (Zec 9:9 RSV)

Friday, 19 March 2010

Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again (Joh 8:11 RSV)

This weeks Gospel is from John 8:1-11, in which the Pharisees and scribes bring the adulterous woman to Jesus to test him. The Gospel starts with Jesus going to the mount of olives. In the Gospel of Luke we can learn that it "was his custom, [to go] to the Mount of Olives" (Luk 22:39 RSV), and it is possibly to pray as we read in so many places in the Gospels, as Jesus slips away late in the evening or early in to morning to be alone.

Early in the morning he goes back to the temple and "he sat down and taught [the people]" (Joh 8:2 RSV).
Notable, it is early in the morning, even though Jesus went out of the city for the night, he is back early and He does not give up preaching, even after the abuse of the day before. Also as I have mentioned before, I think that when it is specifically mentioned that Jesus sits down to teach, which is a symbol of authority, there is something important coming.

In this case "the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst" (Joh 8:3 RSV). We can imagine the scene where she is with disgust flung into the middle of the courtyard of the temple. The Pharisees and scribes trying to catch Jesus on something he is going to say while they make their charge. They tempted him in asking to judge the woman, calling him master now instead of deceiver as they did the day before. They did not come to ask real advice from the Son of God...

But after the charge is made, "Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground." (Joh 8:6 RSV) A silence probably follows, and a tension is in the air... Off course, we don't know what Jesus was writing exactly, but often suggested is that it could be the sins of the accusers, or something hinting at it. Finally, after they keep pushing Him for an answer, Jesus stands up and answers them:  "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." (Joh 8:7 RSV) and Jesus goes back to His writing...

Jesus challenges them first of all to their integrity, as "the hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death" (Deu 17:7 RSV). Did they really think it right that the woman was stoned, would they throw the first stone as they had to according to the law, was their own conscience concerning this matter, or their own integrity towards adultery? "When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him." (Joh 8:9 RSV) Did he write on the ground that they acted in a similar way as the woman, did they not come clear of the charge made to the woman themselves?

Jesus asks the Woman: "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" (Joh 8:10 RSV) She answers "no" and Jesus replies "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again." (Joh 8:11 RSV)

Just two brief thoughts: First off all, whatever Jesus wrote on the ground had some effect, possibly the realisation of the accusers that their own concious was not pure. It is not up to us to judge our neighbour but it is up  to God, and as such, they all left and Jesus was left alone with her. A remarcable thing in itself, if it was in the middle of the temple, but the fact states that "Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him" (Joh 8:9 RSV). Now indeed was she left before God alone to be judged...

Finally I think it could be noted that Jesus does not say anything about the nature of the sin, if it really happened, was it excusable, or was it grave? It does not entails that it didn't matter what the woman had done. But we have to understand that God is not necessary interested in our past and in our sins, but more in our future. Our sins have consequences, and we and others have to live with them. We have to repent from them, but the most important thing is that we "sin no more" and live a life closer to God. Jesus could look into the heart of the woman and saw the beauty in which He made her, and saw that she was on her way back to Him.

The adultery, a sin of the darkness was being brought to light, and although this is painful and ugly, at the woman seem to be reconciled with God... but what about the Pharisees and scribes?

Friday, 12 March 2010

"It was fitting to make merry and be glad (Luke 15:32)

This Sunday's Gospel is the story of the prodigal son (Lk 1:11-32). It is a lovely, but a challenging story and very well know. I will throw out of few of my own thoughts about this passage...

Jesus tells the story in the context of the Pharisees and scribes who were muttering "This man receives sinners and eats with them." (Luk 15:2 RSV) With the parable of the prodigal son He tries to try and make clear the radical love God has for us His creatures.

The younger son says to his father "Father, give me the share of property that falls to me." (Luk 15:12 RSV), and then in a few days gathers all his belongings and goes off to a far country and squandered all his money. It might be worth to note that the younger son asks for his inheritance. Normally you only get your inheritance once the person owning it is deceased, and as such we can maybe take from it that the Father is as somebody death to the son, he means nothing to him. We can subsequent try and think about our relation with God. It might in most cases be hard to imagine that our parents are as nothing to us, as being death while still alive, but what about God?

Monday, 8 March 2010

Talks on Dominican Spirituality

Just a reminder for the readers in Dublin:
Fr. Ciaran Dougherty OP will speak on the role of Study in the Dominican Spirituality, at 8pm in St. Catherine's Chapel here in St. Saviour's Priory, 9-11 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin 1.

The week after I will be talking myself on the role of preaching, and the final week Geraldine Flanagan, a member of the Lay Dominicans, will speak on what it means to be part of the Dominicans in the modern world.

Friday, 5 March 2010

If it bears fruit next year, well and good (Luke 13:9)

The gospel this weekend is taken from Luke 13:1-9. However, I apology for my regular readers for not having a reflection this week. The student here in St. Saviour's have their Lenten retreat this weekend. As there are a few essays due in the next few weeks, I didn't get a chance around yet to write something decent for this Sunday, and I won't be back to Sunday evening.

Also, the Series of Lenten talks is continuing every Tuesday @8 here in St. Saviour's and Fr. Ciaran Dougherty O.P. will be talking on prayer as part of Dominican Spirituality coming Tuesday. However, the week after is my turn, so I have to start thinking in writing that talk as well.

Nevertheless, there was a thought that struck me when reading the gospel this morning during my meditation.

We read that "some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices." (Luk 13:1 RSV) In the tradition of the time, this would often been seen as a punishment of sin, either by the person themselves or by some of the ancestors. The same would count for people with (physical) disabilities.

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