MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK     April 17, 2000    vol. 11, no. 76    SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW column
  • THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
  • APPRECIATION OF THE GIFT OF OUR FAITH: Installment 153 - part two


  • If Christ were running for office or on a television program today, would He be canceled for lack of interest?

       In his column today, Pat Ludwa, in the spirit of Holy Week, reflects on some of the reasons so many turned on Jesus even after He had performed miracles and wonders before their eyes. Citing many passages of Sacred Scripture, Pat shows that they were never mislead but rather 'assumed' He was what they wanted Him to be - an earthly king - whereas He was much, much, much greater, but they couldn't recognize the signs or His words. Why? Because they were blinded by pride and by their own egos in wanting to change their kingdom to their vision. Pat asks if the same scenario were to be played out today would the outcome be any different? Considering popularity and ratings, and the scant numbers who followed Him back then, it's highly doubtful He would be accepted today. The polls would mandate He be drummed out for lack of interest! For his column today, , see VIEW FROM THE PEW

    Before kingdom's change, men must change

          "The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying, 'Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, 'Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on an ass's colt!' His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of Him and had been done to Him. The crowd that had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet Him was that they heard He had done this sign. The Pharisees then said to one another, 'You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after Him'" (John 12:12-19).

          Oh what a difference a week makes. Thinking about it, I can't recall anyone or anytime when such a drastic turnaround occurred. From being praised one day to being vilified another. One would almost have to say that Christ had to work at being rejected so quickly. It wasn't really hard.

          Consider that Jesus spoke and taught in a relatively small area. The actual people He spoke to wouldn't fill a modern day football stadium. Those who saw Him, who heard Him, were enthralled by Him, for various reasons. But He had already lost a large number of His followers who no doubt joined the ranks of His detractors. (ref. John 6) But those in Jerusalem had only heard of Jesus the miracle worker, especially the claim that He rose Lazarus from the dead. Was it a case of celebration or celebrity that Jesus was hailed when entering into Jerusalem?

          The Sanhedrin, essentially the Magisterium of their day, saw something else. To be fair to them, I think most didn't know what to make of Jesus. They had heard of Him, but really didn't know Him, hadn't heard His teaching. Others already had the notion to put an end to Him but weren't sure how to go about it. But both saw a stark reality - Christ, being hailed as a King wouldn't sit well in Imperial Rome. There was a real potential for a blood bath here. It didn't matter that Jesus entered on an ass, hardly the mode of transport of a King, but the people may raise up in violent revolt with obvious consequences. But Christ knew what was about to happen. He knew how fickle mankind was. "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant be also; if any one serves Me, the Father will honor him.

          'Now is My soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour?' No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name. Then a voice came from Heaven, 'I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.' The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, 'An angel has spoken to Him.' Jesus answered, 'This voice has come for your sake, not for Mine. Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.' He said this to show by what death He was to die" (John 12: 23-33).

          The seeds of doubt and rejection had been sown. "The crowd answered Him, 'We have heard from the law that the Christ remains for ever. How can You say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" (John 12: 34)

          They were about to crown Him King, how can He say He's going to be gone? The Messiah was supposed to be there forever, to be a political leader to oppose Rome and re-establish Israel as a powerful Kingdom as in the days of David. Wasn't He? "When Jesus had said this, He departed and hid Himself from them. Though He had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in Him; it was that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 'Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?' Therefore they could not believe. For Isaiah again said, 'He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and turn for me to heal them' (John 12: 36-40).

          Political action and revolution wasn't what Christ was after, it wasn't what He was about. Rather, He had come to bring a spiritual revolution, a changing of the heart. A healing of their hearts and re-unification with the power of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. Fear of rejection also played it's part. "Nevertheless many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12: 42-43).

          Then it seems that Christ set out to separate Himself from anyone who might come to His aid. "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of Heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

          "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If any one swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.'

          "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

          "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity.

          "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

          "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets... You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

          "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" (Matthew 23:14-39).

          Hardly the something one would accept as loving words, even today. In fact, many even today would condemn Christ for being so intolerant and judgmental. So, it's doubtful He would find any support among the Scribes and Pharisees of the Sanhedrin. Even those who did believe in Him, and weren't included in this would not support Him out of fear of being ostracized. But the people still supported Him, though doubts had begun to creep in there as well. Then Jesus begins to alienate them. "Teacher, we know that You speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 'Show Me a coin. Whose likeness and inscription has it?' They said, 'Caesars.' He said to them, 'Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God's.' And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch Him by what He said; but marveling at His answer they were silent" (Luke 20: 21-26).

          Paying taxes to Caesar was not something easily accepted, especially coming from someone who was supposed to free from Rome. Why pay taxes to someone you're going to drive out? But Jesus continues: "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:20-24). Wait a sec!! The Messiah is supposed to be here forever! He's supposed to re-establish the Kingdom of Israel! But Jesus is talking about Jerusalem being surrounded, defeated, and sacked by the Gentiles? How can He be the Messiah the King of Israel?

          No doubt, many began to tell how Jesus was a friend to the Romans and retell of what He did in Capernaum. "As He entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to Him, beseeching Him and saying, 'Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.' And He said to him, 'I will come and heal him.' But the centurion answered him, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it.' When Jesus heard him, He marveled, and said to those who followed Him, 'Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' And to the centurion Jesus said, 'Go; be it done for you as you have believed.' And the servant was healed at that very moment" (Matthew 8:5-13).

          And so now, even the people had their doubts, and even probable open hostility to Jesus. Should we be surprised? "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…..If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father. It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause' " (John 15: 18-19; 24-25).

          Christ performed miracles, extraordinary miracles that not even Moses did. But because they had a preconceived notion of what the Messiah was, they rejected all He had done and said and judged Him by their wants, they judged Him by the standards of the world. And so, one day they praised Him as the King of Israel, and within a week, He was hated.

          Christ called them to change their hearts, not their government. But because mankind doesn't like to change themselves, because they want things to change to suit them, they reject anything and anyone who challenges that.

          There's a line from the movie "Jesus of Nazareth" which says, "Before kingdom's change, men must change." The people of Christ's day couldn't, or wouldn't, see the truth of what He taught because it demanded something they weren't willing to change….themselves.

          Today, many likewise can't, or won't, see the truth because it demands that they change. If Christ were to come today, are we so sure we wouldn't crucify Him as well? No doubt, various 'enlightened' political/social activist groups would cry out for His demise even today.

      Pax Christi, Pat

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    Holy Father shares the revelation of the Trinity at the Baptism of Christ with over 30,000 during his Weekly Audience

       Today we bring you the Holy Father's regular Papal Audience from last Wednesday where over 30,000 packed St. Peter's Square to hear the Vicar of Christ continue his catechesis on the Blessed Trinity. He spoke of his recent visit to the River Jordan, where the Father and the Holy Spirit were made manifest to mankind, as was the Son. The Pope's teaching makes the Trinity as meaningful to us today as the Holy Trinity was at the beginning of all time...at the moment of creation. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

    Holy Father's Wednesday Audience for April 12, 2000 from Saint Peter's Square

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

      1. The reading just proclaimed takes us to the banks of the Jordan. Today we stop spiritually on the banks of the river that runs between the two biblical Testaments to complete the great epiphany of the Trinity on the day in which Jesus presents himself at the forefront of history, in those very waters, to begin his public ministry.

          Christian art personified this river under the semblance of an old man who witnesses with astonishment the vision that is fulfilled in his aquatic womb. In it, in fact, as the Byzantine liturgy states, "Christ the Sun bathes." On the morning of the day of the Theophany or Epiphany of Christ, this same liturgy imagines a dialogue with the river: "Jordan, what have you seen to be so intensely shaken? - I have seen the Invisible naked and I was shaking with tremor. Indeed, how can one not be agitated and submit before him? The angels tremble when they see him, the sky runs wild, the earth shakes, the sea moves back with all the visible and invisible beings. Christ appeared in the Jordan to sanctify all waters!"

      2. The presence of the Trinity in that event is clearly affirmed in all the evangelical narratives of the episode. Just a moment ago, we heard that broader description by Matthew that also introduces a dialogue between Jesus and the Baptist. The figure of Christ emerges at the center of the scene, the Messiah who completely fulfills every justice (Cf. Mt. 3,15). He is the one who fulfills the divine plan of salvation, placing himself humbly in solidarity with sinners.

          His voluntary acceptance of humiliation obtains a marvelous elevation for him: on him resounds the voice of the Father who proclaims him 'My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' (Ibid., v. 17). It is a phrase that combines in itself two aspects of Jesus' Messianism: the davidic, through the evocation of royal poetry (Cf. Psalm 2,7) and the prophetic, through the quotation of the first song of the Servant of the Lord (Cf. Is 42,1). Therefore, one has the revelation of the intimate bond of love of Jesus with the heavenly Father together with his Messianic investiture before the whole of humanity.

      3. The Holy Spirit also erupts on the scene under the form of a "dove" that "descends and reposes" on Christ. We can take recourse to various biblical references to illustrate this picture: to the dove that indicates the end of the flood and the beginning of a new era (Cf. Gen 8,8-12; 1 Pt 3,20-21), to the dove of the Song of Songs, symbol of the beloved (Cf. Song 2,14; 5,2;6,9), to the dove that is almost a coat of arms to guide Israel in some Old Testament passages (Cf Hos 7,11; Psalm 68,14).

          In keeping with Genesis (Cf 1,2), an ancient Jewish commentary is significant, which speaks of the tender maternal fluttering of the Spirit over the primordial waters: "The Spirit of God fluttered over the surface of the waters like a dove that flutters over its offspring without touching them" (Talmud, Hagigah 15a). The Holy Spirit descends in Jesus as superabundant force of love. In referring to the Baptism of Jesus itself, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: "The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to 'rest on him'. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind" (CCC 536).

      4. Therefore, the whole Trinity is present at the Jordan to reveal its mystery, authenticate and sustain the mission of Christ, and point out that with him the history of salvation enters its central and definitive phase. It also involves time and space, human ups and downs, and the cosmic order, but primarily the three divine Persons. The Father entrusts the Son with the mission to bring "justice" to fulfillment in the Spirit, namely divine salvation.

          In the 4th century, St. Chromatius, Bishop of Aquilea, state in one of his homilies on the baptism and on the Holy Spirit, "As our first creation was the work of the Trinity, so our second creation is the work of the Trinity. The Father does nothing without the Son and without the Holy Spirit, because the work of the Father is also of the Son and the work of the Son is also of the Holy Spirit. There is but one grace of the Trinity. Therefore, we are saved by the Trinity because in the beginning we were created by the Trinity alone" (Sermon 18A).

      5. After the baptism of Christ, the Jordan also became the river of Christian baptism: the water of the baptismal font is, according to a cherished tradition of the Eastern Church, a miniature Jordan. This is proven by the following liturgical prayer: "We pray to you now, O Lord, so that the purifying action of the Trinity may descend on the baptismal waters and give them the grace of the blessing of the Jordan in the strength, action and presence of the Holy Spirit" (Great Vespers of the Holy Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Blessing of the Waters).

          St. Paulinus of Nola seems to be inspired by a similar idea in some verses conceived as an instructive inscription for the baptistry: "This font, generator of souls in need of salvation, emits a living river of divine light. The Holy Spirit descends from heaven into this river and unites the sacred waters with the heavenly source; the wave becomes impregnated with God and from the eternal seed generates a holy progeny with its fertile waters" (Letter 32,5). Coming forth from the regenerating water of the baptismal font, the Christian begins his itinerary of life and testimony.

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    Appreciation of the Price of our redemption through the Passion of Our Lord

        Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. Today we present the first part of the catechesis on The Passion of Our Lord as explained in My Catholic Faith and how it was necessary for the redemption of all that Jesus underwent this most extreme form of human punishment for the remission of sins committed by all generations. For part two in the 154th installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

    installment 154: The Passion of Our Lord part two

          From the Last Supper, Christ went with His Apostles to the Garden of Olives to pray. There He was overwhelmed with sorrow and agony so that He sweated blood.

          Our Lord looked forwward to His agony, saying to His Apostles, "That the world may know that I love the Father, and that I do as the Father has commanded Me. Arise, let us go from here" (John 14:31). In the Garden, Jesus felt so sad at the sins of men and at what would befall Him that He said, "My soul is sad even unto death" (Matt. 26:38). To His Father, He cried out in pain, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). In agony, "His sweat became as drops of blood, running down upon the ground" (Luke 22:44).

          Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas, seized by soldiers, led before the high priest, and condemned to death. The Sanhedrin, the council of the Jews, headed by Caiphas the high priest, condemned Jesus to death for the crime of blasphemy, because He claimed to be Christ the Son of God. "Then the high priest, standing up, said to Him, 'Dost thou make no answer to the things that these men prefer against Thee?' But Jesus kept silence. And the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure thee by the living God that Thou tell us whether Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.' Jesus said to Him, 'Thou hast said it.' Then the high priest tore His garment saying, 'He has blasphemed: what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think? And they answered and said, 'He is liable to death'" (Matthew 26: 62-66).

          Jesus Christ was led to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea, to have His sentence confirmed. Ast the time the Jews were forbidden by their Roman masters from putting anyone to death without the confirmation of the Governor. Pilate questioned Christ time and again, but had to say to His accusers: "I find no guilt in Him."

          The Jewish Priests and Pharisees hated and persecuted Jesus because they expected the Messiah to be an earthly king. They were so wicked that in spite of the proofs of Christ's divinity, they would not believe a poor man could be the Messiah. They hated Jesus; He had rebuked them for their sins.

          But Pilate wished to please the Jews, and had Jesus scourged. Jesus was bound to a pillar, His clothes torn off; strong men with whips, cords, and straps with iron spikes scourged Him, and the whole body of Our Lord was one great wound. "And the soldiers, plaiting a crown of thorns, put it upon His head, and arrayed Him in a purple cloak. And, they kept coming to Him and saying, ''Hail, King of the Jews!''and striking Him. Pilate therefore again went outside and said to them, 'Behold, I bring Him out to you, that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.' Jesus therefore came forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, 'Behold the man!' "

          At last, fearing that if he did not permit Jesus to be put to death the Jews would accuse him before Caesar, Pilate gave in to the insistence of the Jews and delivered Him to them to be crucified. Christ was made to carry His cross through the streets of Jerusalem to Mount Calvary. He was nailed to the cross about noon, dying three hours afterwards, crucified between two thieves.

      Tomorrow: The Calvary part one

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    April 17, 2000     volume 11, no. 76
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