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How many of us have been called, yet waffle when it is time to "fish or cut-bait"? Going to Mass on Easter Sunday is a must, but to go on Palm Sunday, during Holy Week and especially taking part in the Easter Triduum seem to be too much. Oh, how weak we are. How we need to heed the words of Our Lady in this month's Medjugorje Message when she reminds us: "In this time, when due to the spirit of consumerism, one forgets what it means to love and to cherish true values, I invite you again, little children, to put God in the first place in your life. Do not let satan attract you through material things, but, little children, decide for God Who is Freedom and Love." She knows how these commercial and secular trappings do just that, trap us in a comfort zone that makes it difficult to acknowledge God first in our life. When we don't follow her advice and God's Laws through His Holy Church, the evil one manages to grab on harder, making it embarassing for us to admit our commitment to Jesus. His insidious world-first subtleties can cause our priorities and prudent time-management to turn topsy turvy. It's no fun being upside down. The best way to right ourselves is to resolve to do what Jesus' Blessed Mother requests. Thus, we need to take this Holy Week to reform our priorities, to look beyond the trees toward the Son-rise...to realize we cannot share or enjoy this glorious dawn of salvation without burying our pride and self-will and enthusiastically joining Jesus on the Way to Calvary by submitting totally to His Will for He says in Luke 14: 26, "He who does not carry his cross and follow Me, cannot be My disciple."
We can begin by meditating on the Passion of Jesus read at Holy Mass on Palm Sunday, then proudly proclaim our Catholicity and commitment by prominently displaying our blessed palm branches in our homes as a reminder that these same palms will be burned just before the following Ash Wednesday to be used to remind us that we are dust, and unto dust we shall return (cf. Genesis 3:19). Life is fleeting, Eternity is forever. The key to this Eternal Door is waiting for us to share the burden of the Cross. Are we willing to be Simon of Cyrenes and Veronicas? With God we can! Without Him, we are guaranteed to be among those who hissed and spit upon Him after they cheered Him in Hosannas! Do we really wanted to be counted in the latter, or be remembered for all eternity as His faithful chosen ones who responded when He called?<
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."
Many wish the clock could be turned back to prove once and for all that Pope Pius XII was not silent when it came to the Nazi menace, nor was he indifferent to the Jewish plight as some liberal Jewish factions have claimed. Catholic World News' reports in today's NEWS & VIEWS on the revelation that Pius had actually written, in his own longhand, a condemnation of Nazism but tore it up when he realized intuitively that such a statement would jeopardize the Jews further, not to mention European Catholics who were sympathetic to the Jews in their anguish and those who saw the evil of the Fuhrer's reign. For his discretion, which was the better part of valor, he is assaulted today by those who weren't there, who have no clue, but only clamor to place the blame on someone other than themselves.
Countless faithful in the Diocese of Dallas wish they could set the clock back to before Rudy Kos slithered into their midst. So many look back at the warning signs and few did anything to prevent this pervert from becoming a modern Judas Iscariot by betraying his God, his Church, his Bishop and especially his flocks by using his priestly position to manipulate and use young altar boys for his own prurient lust. For this sin he refused to repent as documents certify that Kos reacted defensively when confronted by both the past bishop Bishop Thomas Tshoeppe, now retired, and the current ordinary Bishop Charles V. Grahmann, both of whom were aware of rumors but could obtain no definitive proof. It is also known that the Vicar General of the time Monsignor Rehkemper is believed to have covered up the problems, thus furthering the travesties from not one but three parishes. When Bishop Grahmann discovered the terrible truth, he fired Kos, dismissing him of his priestly duties and that modern Iscariot fled to a gay section of Southern California to start anew his miserable life-style. He was finally apprehended in a Hillcrest bar in the gay barrio of San Diego and brought back in cuffs to face the music in Dallas. As we all know, he was convicted a few days ago and was sentenced to life yesterday - a fitting punishment for someone who has affected so many in such a sordid manner. Tell the victims, who this man exploited, if they wouldn't like to go back to before this happened; tell the parishioners who knew what was happening but could not get through to the bishop because of controlled chain of command; tell the new Bishop who inherited this mess and has suffered gravely from it both mentally and physically; tell the pastors and their parishioners throughout the Diocese who have had to live with this stigma; tell Holy Mother Church who strives to teach chastity in her priests, charity and obedience in her people, love and understanding of all God's children. It is a complex scenario that only God can decipher.
As the years creep up on all of us, we all realize only too well the mistakes we've made in the past and sometimes wish we could go back, but we know we can't. Or can we? Don't call it by the mundane name of time travel, but rather "Trinity Time Travel" for through prayer we can go back to our roots - to that state of Sanctifying Grace the Father gave us at Baptism and showered us with more graces through the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist in which we receive the Divine Son, body and blood, soul and divinity, and strengthened through the Sacrament of Confirmation in which we are instilled by the Holy Spirit.
So through "Trinity Time Travel" we can go back in time. We can return to that state of grace that marked us as innocents in God's eyes. Who wouldn't want to hop this sure-fire spiritual taxi to return to that safe shangrila of being embraced in the loving arms of the Father, near the Sacred Heart of Jesus and sheltered by the protective wings of the Holy Spirit? We all can; we all have been given that passport.
That is the beauty of "Trinity Time Travel," the key element in our lives, the saving factor of every regret and mistake in life. For God can forgive and forget. We can forgive as well, but the forgetting is much harder. The Jews who call for justice over the Holocaust may never forget and it will be some time before the people of the Diocese of Dallas can forget, but we pray they will all forgive. That takes superheroic effort - to forgive a man like Adolph Hitler and his bloodthirsty henchmen and to forgive a man like Rudolph Kos for the damage and ruin he has wrought. Many say they can't. God knows that. Maybe that's another reason He sent His Only-begotten Son to show us it can be done! What a role Model! Here was a totally innocent Man, as opposed to the two above, who forgave all. He knew those waving the fronds of palms to Him as He entered the city of Jerusalem would soon turn their emotions in the opposite direction, calling for His death by crucifixion. Yet He forgave. Christ knew it would be Judas who would betray Him, yet He forgave. He knew the weaknesses of His chosen Apostles who could not stay awake even an hour to pray with Him, yet He forgave. He knew Peter's weakness despite Peter's boasts that he would never deny His Lord, yet he did and Jesus forgave. He felt with the deepest human pain the satanic taunts and lashes from his torturers, yet He forgave. He grieved for the souls of those who turned on Him out of revenge, such as the Sanhedrin and Scribes, yet He forgave. He knew the sins of the thief Dismas, yet He forgave. And He knew the sins committed by every man throughout history, and He forgives. He knows the sins of Rudy Kos and those within the Diocese who covered up Kos's abherrent behavior, and He is willing to forgive. But in order to be forgiven, one must ask for forgiveness. Judas did not. Will Kos? We can only hope and pray for his soul as well as the souls of all hardened hearts.
And forgiveness is the key to putting the "Trinity Time Travel" machine in motion. God has given us the Sacrament of Penance in which we need only sincerely ask for forgiveness with the intent of not sinning again, and God not only forgives, He forgets. When we are absolved in Confession our slate is wiped clean. We are able to turn the clock back to that innocent time in our souls when it was pure, devoid of serious sin, basking in sanctifying grace. As we enter Holy Week every parish makes this healing Sacrament readily available to all in the sincere hope that all the faithful will partake of this gift of "Trinity Time Travel" which the Church offers as part of the requirements of the annual Easter Duty. It is an opportunity for all Catholics to strap on their headgear, by examining their conscience, and buckle in with a sincere Act of Contrition in order to gain the maximum graces and experience the thrill of a clean heart by springing into action within the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There, no matter the sins of the past, we can return to the abode of God's fullest Love and soak in the Rays of His Mercy. They say "home is where the heart is" and our hearts will remain restless until they rest in Him. Through Him we can settle that restlessness, spring ahead to a new peace of mind and soul, and, yes, contrary to Thomas Wolfe, through the mode of "Trinity Time Travel" we can go home again!
I am in Pilate’s court and the newly-tortured Jesus has been brought back before the Roman governor. Pilate’s court is large and very clean, compared to the rest of the city. He appears to me to be rather young, older than Jesus, but filled with energy. It shows in the way he sits, stands, stares at Jesus and barks orders at his servants and guards.
He is sitting upon a chair. It is hardly a throne but I am given to understand it is from this place that Pilate rules - trying to keep peace among the ever-garrulous Jews. When he sees Jesus returned to him after the scourging, his eyes, and a momentary flexing of facial muscles, give away his immediate reaction of revulsion at the site of the mutilated man. His eyes see an inevitable trail of blood wherever Jesus moves, and Pilate would like this blood, this evidence, instantly cleaned up.
But he is silent, realizing that until he has gotten rid of this prisoner in one way or the other, there will be blood on the floor. Wearily, sighing deeply, he gestures for Our Lord to come closer.
By His Will Jesus takes the required steps under His own power, and meekly, yet m majestically, before Pilate.
Pilate, shorter than our Lord, average in build, comes forward to be closer to the victim. "Who are You?" he whispers, half in awe, half in scorn. Pilate is clearly uneasy. A part of him, conscience-soul, recognizes that this is no ordinary man. But, he is wary! He has his job, and there is no real security with Rome’s emperor if the empire has any trouble spots.
Palestine has always been a thorn in Rome’s side, and Pilate must fight an internal battle because before him is a Jew, a Jew obviously hated by the Jews. Yet he, Pilate, sees something in this presence, and he cannot bring himself to believe that this Jew not only commands, but also deserves respect! An unthinkable thought for a Roman. And Pilate paces, careful to keep a distance so his own sandals do not touch upon any of the blood which continually drips on the floor.
"They," sneers Pilate as he gestures out beyond the long portico where the scribes, Pharisees and elders still await final judgment, (behind these Temple leaders a vast crowd has gathered) "have accused you of many things. Yet you make no answer?" A rhetorical question. Pilate is perplexed.
In this moment I see again the demons of hell all around the large outer area beyond the portico of Pilate’s palace. They swarm by the thousands and their high-pitched screams which impart no human words, but which do register in their minds as agitation, and they grow restless. A murmur that grows into a rolling wave of hatred, trying to push into and against Jesus and Pilate.
Jesus remains motionless. Pilate seems unnerved. A servant comes rushing in with a scroll for Pilate. Pilate is irritated. Yet, the interruption postpones the decision he must make. He takes the scroll and the ring which the servant also gives him, and returns to the judgment seat. Opening the scroll, Pilate reads. Pauses. Rereads.
"By the gods of Olympus, I do not understand!" he mutters, looking to his right where a long corridor leads into the residence quarters of the palace. I follow his own gaze and see, just beyond the doorway, crouched against a pillar, a woman, tall, slender, beautiful, but obviously frightened. I am given to understand this is Pilate’s wife. As she catches her husband’s look she nods affirmatively to him, and then her eyes dart to the prisoner, who has only remained in a bowed position of excruciating pain.
Pilate crumbles the scroll and rises. He goes directly to Jesus and, being of shorter stature, stares up into His eyes. They are swollen, filled with fever, sweat and blood. But - they are the eyes of the Son of God.
"Answer me! Art thou the King of the Jews?"
For the first time Jesus opens His mouth. His lips are swollen, cracked, bleeding, yet His answer, spoken directly to Pilate’s heart, contains all the truth, the Divine Will.
"Thou sayest it!" NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part two of Lesson 13: THE JUDGMENT BY PILATE