LITURGY for TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK - April 18 and 19, 2000
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."
Wednesday, April 19, 2000
Purple or violet vestments
First Reading: Isaiah 50: 4-9
Psalms: Psalm 69: 8-10, 14, 21-22, 33-34
Gospel Reading: Matthew 26: 14-25
WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK
What price is it worth to jeopardize Eternal Life?
Would we chance failing to gain Eternal Life for a million dollars? How about a billion dollars? After all Judas Iscariot forfeited his opportunity to experience everlasting bliss for a mere thirty pieces of silver. We might say 'no way would we ever do anything like that...there's no earthly price we could be paid to betray Jesus.' Yet do we realize we do everyday when we opt for worldly pleasures over the rigorous but rewarding task of daily prayer, sacrifice, fasting and daily Mass. When we choose to see this movie or that television show which we know in our heart offends Jesus and His Immaculate Pure Mother Mary do we realize we are contributing to our own demise and growing closer to being Judas-like than Christ-like? When we speak against others or rudely to others do we realize we are pawns for satan? When we put our own interests before God's do we realize we are heading down the primrose path toward hell?
Unfortunately, the politically correct thing today is to downplay hell and the devil, to play up that God is all merciful and will allow anything. Wrong. True He is all merciful and will forgive anything, but He will not allow anything. This is where we have to be on our guard. Too many are advocating that this is okay, or that is okay. Turn the clock back thirty years. What would we have said if we heard there was nudity and illicet sex in the movies, even on TV? Would our stomachs be turned with all the violence on the tube or on the Hollywood celluloid today? What would our reaction be to the idea of advocating abortion and condoms, of embracing homosexuality as normal...even to accepting same-sex unions which they brazenly call "marriage?" We would be indignant and in shock. Then why aren't we reacting the same way today? Because it's not politically correct to correct others. We can't rock the boat...just let bygones be bygones and all that garbage psychobabble that is definitely taking our society into a Sodom and Gomorrah-like culture...the culture of death as Pope John Paul II calls it. The Holy Father is one pillar who is not afraid to go against the wave and rock boats the world over. And we need to follow his example and join him for his way is Christ's way...the only way! True that way leads straight to the Way of the Cross but that's what being Catholic is all about. It's not the rewards and adulation of this life that counts, but the acceptance and pleasing of God that highlights our itinerary as we
map out our Heavenly destination.
But this rendezvous with Christ and His Church Triumphant can only be achieved if we take seriously our role as the Church Militant and speak out against atrocities and apathy toward God's Laws and His Holy Church which has become the prime target for bashing in the late 90's. We must ask ourselves when confronted with this movie or that song, this person or that situation, would Jesus and Mary approve? Would they sit and watch it with us? If not, what are we doing there? When we give in to the world's ways, when we blame everyone but ourselves we
are contributing to the purse that betrayed Christ. We make ourselves no better than the Iscariot. Let us not be the ones whom like Judas said "Surely it is not I, Rabbi" and then hear the fateful words of Jesus confirming our worst fear: "It is you who have said it" (Matthew 26: 25).