22 March 2013

'When we journey without the Cross . . . we are not disciples of the Lord.' Sunday Reflections, Palm Sunday Year C

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel for the Procession Luke 19:28-40. (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)

When Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, "Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here. If any one asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you shall say this, 'The Lord has need of it.'" So those who were sent went away and found it as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of it." And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their garments on the colt they set Jesus upon it. And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road. As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out."

Antiphon for The Procession   Matthew 21:9

Hosanna to the son of David;
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel.
Hosanna in the highest.

Setting by Thomas Weelkes (1576 - 1623)

Text used in the video:

Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna, thou that sittest in the highest heavens!
Hosanna in excelsis Deo!

Pope Francis celebrated Mass on 14 March with the cardinals who elected him. The concluding part of his homily gives us food for reflection and prayer as we enter Holy Week. I have highlighted parts of the homily.

This Gospel [Matthew 16:13-19] continues with a situation of a particular kind. The same Peter who professed Jesus Christ, now says to him: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. That has nothing to do with it. I will follow you on other terms, but without the Cross. When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

My wish is that all of us, after these days of grace, will have the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward.

My prayer for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, will grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ
crucified. Amen.

While Pope Francis was speaking at the Mass to the cardinal electors he is speaking to all of us. There seems to be a certain expectation among many that he will be some kind of Messiah, that he will get rid of all the Church's problems. There is only one Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Yes, there are situations that only a courageous Pope can deal with. But the renewal of the Church, the conversion of the Church, involves each of us and all of us.

In his Message for Lent to the people of Buenos Aires this year the then Cardinal Bergoglio wrote: Lent comes to us as a cry of truth and sure hope, which answers yes, that it is possible not to put on makeup and draw plastic smiles as if nothing is happening. Yes, it is possible that everything be made new and different because God continues to be 'rich in kindness and mercy, always willing to forgive,' and He encourages us to begin again and again. Today we are again invited to undertake a paschal journey to Truth, a journey that includes the cross and renunciation, which will be uncomfortable but not sterile. We are invited to admit that something is not right in ourselves, in society and in the Church, to change, to turn around, to be converted.

Further on Cardinal Bergoglio writes: This Year of Faith we are living is also an opportunity that God gives us to grow and mature in our encounter with the Lord who makes Himself visible in the suffering face of so many youth without a future, in the trembling hands of the forgotten elderly and in the vacillating knees of so many families that continue to face life without finding anyone to support them.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires he was clearly calling each of his flock to be fully involved in the life of the Church, not to leave it to the Pope and bishops to do everything.

And he concluded his message as he began his new life as Bishop of Rome with a plea: Please, I ask you to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin look after you.


G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

When fishes flew and forests walked 
And figs grew upon thorn, 
Some moment when the moon was blood 
Then surely I was born; 

With monstrous head and sickening cry 
And ears like errant wings, 
The devil's walking parody 
On all four-footed things. 

The tattered outlaw of the earth, 
Of ancient crooked will; 
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, 
I keep my secret still. 

Fools! For I also had my hour; 
One far fierce hour and sweet: 
There was a shout about my ears, 
And palms before my feet.

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