LITURGY for MONDAY and TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK - April 17 and 18, 2000
Monday, April 17, 2000
First Reading: Isaiah 42: 1-7
Responsorial: Psalm 18: 2-7
Gospel Reading: John 12: 1-11
MONDAY OF HOLY WEEK
Worldly Riches are a mere drop in the Ocean of Heavenly Riches
The three gospels leading up to Holy Thursday deal with Judas Iscariot and his path to damnation. In the first reading, Isaiah records in Isaiah 42:1 "...My chosen one with Whom I am pleased." This Our Lord wanted so much to say about one of His Apostles, Judas. Yet, at every occasion, Jesus sadly saw the path Judas was on. No matter what He would say, Judas had his eyes on worldly treasures rather than Heavenly riches. This is made evident in the Gospel for Monday of Holy Week where John relates the account of Lazarus, whom Jesus commanded back to life. Lazarus was a rich man who used his riches for the good of others and serves as an ideal example for wealthy Christians today that they indeed can use worldly riches toward eternal treasures by
following the Gospel of Christ and heeding the teachings of Holy Mother Church. Judas had his priorities confused when he protested over the waste of expensive perfume Mary Magdalene used to anoint her Lord's feet. To Jesus, it was a humble gesture of love and obedience to God's Will; to Judas, it was a waste of money for he protested that "It could have brought three hundred silver pieces, and the money have been given to the poor" (John 12: 5). We get a good indication how the others felt about Judas' greed in the next sentence when John, the gentlest and most loving of all the Apostles curtly says in verse 6: "Now he said this, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and holding the purse, used to take what was put in it."
In the eighth verse Jesus hits the nail on the head, so to speak when He says in John 12: 8 after admonishing Judas to leave the Magdalene alone, "For the poor you have always with you, but you do not always have Me." The impact of this sentence hits home that the greatest Treasure is there among them in the flesh in the person of the Son of God, Who prophesizes His burial and the Magdalene's role by indicating in the verse before that she should keep the rest to anoint His body which she indeed did and was one of the faithful, along with John, to follow Jesus all the way to the Cross and beyond to the Sepulchre. It was only fitting she was rewarded for her loyalty by being the first to see Jesus after He had risen.
This lesson should help us put things in perspective, to realize the greatest treasures are not here on earth, but only in Heaven will we attain unfathomable wealth when we behold the face of God. Our lifespan is but a drop of water compared to the ocean of Heavenly Eternity. That in itself should help us put our priorities in order. Do we put more importance on that tiny drop of water than the entire Infinite ocean? Judas did and we all know his fate. That should strongly remind us the path he sought was a dead-end. When we realize the insignificance of this lifespan in relationship with everlasting life with God it will better help us join Jesus on the path to Calvary. There on the Cross was the greatest ransom ever made and for it, Jesus released to us untold of treasures that are
ours for the asking. All we need do is heed His Will and knock at the Door of His Sacred and Merciful Heart for the day's Responsorial Psalm says it all: "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation."
Tuesday, April 18, 2000
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Psalms: Psalm 71: 1-6, 15, 17
Gospel Reading: John 13: 21-33, 36-38
TUESDAY OF HOLY WEEK
The tale of two Apostles who both denied Christ
The Gospel for this day, from John, treats the two Apostles who denied Christ. One, of course was Judas Iscariot who swiftly left the Last Supper room to do his dastardly deed and ultimately despaired for the evil one had so greatly possessed him as John points out so poignantly in verse 27 when the Evangelist writes, "And after the morsel, satan entered into him." The other is Simon Peter. Always the inquisitive one, Peter presses Our Lord as to who is the one who will betray him. He even pledges his loyalty so boldly that he swears he will follow Jesus wherever He goes. Jesus knows only too well Peter's weaknesses and prophesizes in John 13: 38, "Amen, amen, I say to thee, the cock will not crow before thou dost deny me thrice."
Incredulous, Peter truly believes this will never happen, but alas we all know it did. We also know Peter went on to become the Rock Jesus had intended in founding His One True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. What was the difference between the two? Besides character, one asked for forgiveness and resolved to amend his ways just as the Good Thief Dismas also did as he was clinging to life on the cross with Christ; the other despaired, too proud to come in humility and ask to be reconciled. Judas' actions were also paralleled by the Bad Thief who hung there scorning Jesus and deriding Dismas.
How many times have we denied Christ? Oh, true, they were small, but they build up. As Catholics we have the saving grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But we cannot abuse it. We can't feel it is a convenient outlet to just wipe away the same sins we intend to commit again. No, we must make a commitment to sin no more as the priest commands at the end of Confession. Sure, because we are human, we will sin again...but it is not a will to sin, but our weakness that we fall. The shame is in staying in sin, refusing to get up. There is no shame in falling and rising again, asking forgiveness. Jesus is always there to help us, just as He was there to forgive Peter He was there to forgive Judas, but the Iscariot did not respond. Will we respond when we fail? Will we come running to the Merciful Heart begging for Mercy? Our Lady assures us of being forgiven and begs us to go to Confession often, at least once a month and more if possible. The more we take advantage of this wonderful Sacrament, the more we realize the graces inherent and the protective shell we can build around our soul and lifestyle to keep satan out. Like Peter, we too, have been chosen. Like Peter, we too, have fallen and will fall again. Like Peter, we can rely on the Holy Spirit to instill the Gifts that will enable us to continue joyfully on the way to Calvary as we eagerly repeat the words of the Psalmist in today's Psalm 71: 3 - 4, "Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked."