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Showing posts from March, 2018

Am I The Centurion?

Scripture The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Mt 27:54) Reflection Unlike Jesus' friends and even the Pharisees, who were present at the crucifixion because of the vested interest they had in Jesus' death, the Centurion and the other guards were there because they  had  to be, not because they  wanted  to be. The scriptures tell us of how the Centurion, after witnessing the signs and wonders which occurred in nature after Jesus' death came to believe in him. The Centurion experienced conversion - a shift in his heart from cold, distant unbelief, to lively, certain faith that led him to boldly proclaim that Jesus was the "Son of God". Father Cantalamessa, in his book Life in Christ,  urges all of us to experience the Passion from the inside out, not merely as detached observers recounting a piece of histor

Am I the Good Thief?

Scripture Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43) Reflection Here in Luke's Gospel we witness the dialogue from the cross between Jesus and the two thieves who are crucified with him. The one thief, caught up in his own pain and self-pity, joins with the crowd in mocking Jesus, while the other thief looks upon the face of Jesus and sees him for who he truly is. In this revelation, the Good Thief, known today as St. Dismas, immediately acknowledges his own sins and begs the Lord to "r

Am I Simon?

Scripture "As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross."  (Mt: 27: 32) Reflection Simon the Cyrene was not a willing helper to Jesus. Different translations of Matthew's gospel use the verb "compelled" and "forced" to describe how Simon came to be part of Jesus' long walk to Calvary. In Luke's account Simon is described as being "seized" by the soldiers. (Luke 23:26) This was not exactly a volunteer job. And yet, through this experience, Simon was given the  privilege of assisting the Lord in carrying the very cross that would be his salvation - the salvation of all the world. The cross is the source of life and blessings, hidden under pain and suffering. However, we will only experience the life that the cross and resurrection promises us if we are willing to not only pick up our own crosses, but also help others carry theirs.  St. Paul instructs the  Galati

Am I Pilate?

Scripture Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" (John 18:37-38) Reflection Pilate is full of questions for Jesus - "Are you a king?", "Are you the king of the Jews",   "Where are you from?", and finally, the infamous "What is truth?"  In his interrogation of Jesus, you can almost hear the desperation in his voice. Here is a man caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, desperately looking to make the decision that will bring the least amount of personal and political harm to himself. He is so entrenched in his own world that he cannot or will not recognize Jesus as the truth that he seeks. Yet, there is something compelling for him about Jesus. He clearly recognizes Jesus' innoc

Am I Peter?

Scripture Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not."...Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said to him, "Are not you one of his disciples? He denied it and said, "I am not." One of the servants of the high priest, a kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him? Peter  again  denied it; and at once the cock crowed.  (John 18:17, 25-27) Reflection The denial of Peter is one of the most-recognized moments in the passion narratives and is recorded in all four Gospels. There we see all of Peter's bravado and solemn declarations of loyalty spoken on Holy Thursday dissolve into a heap of panic and cowardice when he is faced with the reality of Jesus' arrest. Peter's repeated denial of Jesus seems to be an epic failure and an  irrevocable  breach of friendship. But that is simply not true. No sin or

"Who Am I?" A Series of Reflections for Holy Week

"Who am I this Holy Week?"  This was the question posed a few years ago by one of our parish priests during his homily on Palm Sunday. He explained further: "Which of the people we meet in the passion narratives from the Scriptures do we most identify with?" Am I Peter, full of bravado initially, but overcome by fear and unable to stand for Jesus? Am I Pilate, pressured by the circumstances of the world into condemning Jesus? Am I John, loving disciple of Jesus who stood at the foot of the Cross, faithful to the end? At the beginning of each Holy Week, I ask myself this question. Each year I find that I  identify with someone different, some of whom I am not exactly proud to admit. This year, as we begin this most sacred week, let us ask ourselves which of the people present during the Lord's passion, death and resurrection do we most relate to. It is important to not be fearful of the answer, but rather to allow the Lord show us the truth about o