Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Eternal Life

Last Tuesday, a two-year old toddler "Chase Martens" went missing from his family's farm in Manitoba, Canada. When the parents could not find him they asked for help. Immediately, hundreds of Canadians went on the search for the little one. RCMP and search-and-rescue crews combed a four-kilometer radius in the fields around the family's home near Austin including air and land search.  On Easter Saturday, the body of the toddler was found dead in a creek half-a-kilometer from home. We hope Chase is with God, but why have so many Canadians spent their efforts for a single toddler?  How important was his life for Canadians?

Life is important...It is important because society itself cannot survive without respect for every life and cooperation which could ultimately lead to love. The clear message is found in the development of civilization rooted in the death and resurrection of Christ. Before Christ, only kings and governors mattered, but with the humanism initiated by him, emperors and kings gave way to the culture of life for every human person. The early Church developed among peasants and soldiers in the base before the proclamation arrived to the palaces. Christian faith defends the vulnerable, the poor, the weak, and yes the Church prays for those who commit suicide. God always works through his Spirit in every soul on earth to help the seekers of goodness and truth repent and find God in Christ. "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock" says Christ (Revelation 3: 20). He wants to give life - eternal life and joy!

This is also why the Church does not agree with any measures or laws that are anti-life such as abortion of children in the wombs of their mothers, and assisted suicide.  Not only life here, but joy in eternal life that humanity seeks.

In scripture "Love is strong as death". What is stronger than death? Love of God that emerges from God. It is the other that can carry me not as a shadow but in reality when I die. This is only a small excerpt from Joseph Ratzinger's thought on the truth of the Resurrection of Christ here:
Joseph Ratzinger: The Truth of the Resurrection

Friday, March 25, 2016

O Sacred Head Surrounded

In this Holy Week, victims fell to terrorism in Belgium and many more fell in the Middle East too. European and North American politicians were quick to condemn the terrorist attack in Brussels. On the same night of the Brussels incident, the commentator Amr Adeeb in Cairo Egypt reflected on the image of Islam in the world after so many terrorist attacks by the so-called Islamic State. He said that the world today is different from the world before the Arab Spring which may very well turn against Arabs.
We can probably link this week's sufferings and death to Christ's passion and death. He was a victim and they too are victims. The difference is his acceptance to suffer and die according to the will of his Father.
[Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again, and said to them, "See, I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no crime in him." So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold the man!" When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him" The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God." When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid; he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin." Upon this Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend; every one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar."When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gab'batha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol'gotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, "Do not write, `The King of the Jews,' but, `This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written." When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfil the scripture, "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), "I thirst." A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness -- his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -- that you also may believe. For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, "Not a bone of him shall be broken." And again another scripture says, "They shall look on him whom they have pierced." After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body.  Nicodemus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight.  They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.] (John 19).
The gospel read on Good Friday in St. Basil's Roman Catholic Church reminds us of a homily by Fr. Georges Farah at Jesus the King Church years ago...It shows the forces that stood against Christ on his way to save them: the high priests, the Jewish people, and Pilate. The crowds were singing to Jesus a week earlier and now they turned against him. The high priests thought they were not doing anything wrong. Their duty was to keep the Law and to make sure that no revolution will take place when they are occupied by a staunch enemy: the Roman empire. They thought it is better for one man to die than the whole nation to perish. Pilate was a foreign governor who had no interest in religious Jewish quarrels. His dialogue with Christ before ordering his crucifixion sheds light on us today as much as it did then. He questioned Christ at length, prompted by his wife’s request to release him. But Christ remained silent! He then asked him “So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." Pilate said to him, sarcastically, "What is truth?" as if saying to him: You have nothing. You are going to be killed for saying things. Be wise. Forget about truth-Just worry about your life and survival here.  I can release you and you can go to Rome. Live your life there as a free man…Pilate could have said that to any other person but the answer of Christ is the same. The Truth is a big thing in Christ’s way of thought and life. He must defend the Truth to the end. He is not politically correct. And he cares for everyone even when everyone is against him.
“Behold the Man” Pilate tells the Jews when he is surrendering Christ to them. Christ is said to have been  crucified on the place called Golgotha i.e. The Skull, the skull of Adam- the skull of humanity. His blood went into the skull of humanity and he went to Hades so that he could save by his death the dead humanity. Christ’s Cross is tied to his Resurrection. No life without death.
Now look at Pilate and think of us: Do what you want – Just be silent in matters of truth. Is not this how we think today? Do not we crucify Christ everyday? Here Fr. Georges Farah ended his reflection. 
But the same question can be asked again in view of the surrender of Christ to his Father's will - He loved his Father from eternity but here he joined his human nature to that eternal love and cried out "It is finished" when he tasted to the full the darkness and spoke about  his imminent death; a death of God that embodies not only the self-emptiness of the Son but also the suffering of the Father with the Son on the cross according to Jurgen Moltmann in his book "The Crucified God". Who is king? Who is God? In the same gospel, let us view the  saints that accompanied Christ to his death and witnessed to his resurrection, notably the immaculate Virgin Mary Mother of Jesus, John the Apostle, Mary Magdalene, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus. 
Let us sing "O Sacred Head Surrounded":

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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