"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Thursday, 15 March 2018


Judica me Deus -Introit

Reading 1 JER 31:31-34

The days are coming, says the LORD, 
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant, and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.

The Characteristics of the New Covenant:
a) I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; (I do not live but Christ lives in me.)
b) I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Christ as Temple and Sacrifice.)
c) No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, (He who eats my body and drinks my blood, I shall live in him and he in me)
d) for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.  (This is the year of the Lord's favour.)

Confitebor tibi Domine-Offertory

Reading 2HEB 5:7-9

In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears 
to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Gospel JN 12:20-33 
He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. - Hebrews

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and
asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew;  then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

Jesus answered them, 
"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.

Whoever serves me must follow me, 
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honour whoever serves me.

"I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?  'Father, save me from this hour'?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name."
Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him." 
Jesus answered and said, 

"This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.  Now is the time of judgement on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I 
will draw everyone to myself."

He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Christ glorifies his Father on the Cross by manifesting and reflecting in his own sacrificial love the truth that God is Love.  The same idea is behind the pairing of the Transfiguration scene and the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane in the Synoptic Gospels: the light of the former and the suffering obedience of the latter depict the same Love, the same Glory under different circumstances.  It also tells us that we cannot have the wonderful light without the Cross in this life.
In the Crucifixion, we are presented with the sacrificial Love of God in Christ.  How we respond to this reality is how we are judged.  Christ crucified is the Judgement of the world, it is the light from which those who prefer darkness flee.
Confitebor tibi Domine
(Escolania Escorial)

The readings for Passion Sunday show us how Jesus Christ is both the culmination of Old Testament religion and radically new at the same time. The old covenant is brought to perfection but is embedded in a new covenant in which "I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts."
For one thing, the Law is not a written document: it is a Person who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, who lives in us and we in Him as we celebrate the Eucharist and live it out in our daily lives.

He also fulfils the function of the TempleThe purpose of the Temple was so that God could live among His people and that the people could approach Him without being obliterated in the process.  No one can see God and live, and  (korban), sacrifice, the main activity of the Temple, comes from the verb 'to approach'.   As incarnate Lord, fully God and fully man in one divine Person, Jesus is the closest unity between Creator and created that could ever be devised and hence more than adequately fulfils the function of the Temple. 

Within the Holy of Holies there was originally the Ark of the Covenant, sometimes called the "Throne of God", sometimes his footstool.   This too has been superseded by a human being who more than adequately fulfils the function of receiving Christ on behalf of us all.  She is the Theotokos, the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  When she entered the house of Elizabeth, John the Baptist jumped and danced in his mother's womb like David before the Ark.  In icons, she is recognised as the new Ark by two cherubim on either side of her, adoring the Child she carries.

There are two acts of humble obedience absolutely essential to bring about our salvation.   The first in importance is that of Jesus, "Not my will but Yours be done!"  In so far as he lived this out to the ultimate shedding of his blood, he earned the salvation of the human race and the corresponding transformation of creation. However, He had to become Man in order to save humankind and to unite the Creator with His creation. The second act of humble obedience was that of the Blessed Virgin Mary who said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord..."   By living this out, by living in intense obedience , in synergy with  the Holy Spirit, she made possible the Incarnation and became the personification of all who receive Jesus into their hearts in humble obedience and live in synergy with the Holy Spirit. This humble obedience placed her at the foot of the Cross  She is the personification of the Church when it says "Yes" to Jesus and the first among all human beings to carry Him in their hearts.  Thus, she is not only the Ark, she is also the New Eve to Christ's New Adam.

As the Word who enlightens every man coming into this world, as Source of the Father's Spirit who unites all human beings of all times and places to his death and resurrection,  Christ more than fulfilled the function of all sacrifices that have ever been offered by letting us share in the historical event by which He passed from history into eternity and into his Father's Presence.

Jesus is the Bread from Heaven that gives us Life, not just any life, not simply a more vital and intense human Life, but a share in the very Life of the triune God.   As St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross wrote:
The soul in which God dwells by grace is no impersonal scene of the divine life but is itself drawn into this life. The divine life is three-personal life: it is overflowing love, in which the Father generates the Son and gives him his Being, while the Son embraces this Being and returns it to the Father; it is the love in which the Father and Son are one, both breathing the Holy Spirit. By grace, this Spirit is shed abroad in men's hearts. Thus the soul lives its life of grace through the Holy Spirit, in Him, it loves the Father with the love of the Son and the Son with the love of the Father.
In the old covenant, the Presence of God with his people could be located out there, in a building called the Temple, very near, certainly, but manifested and at the same time hidden behind the veil of the Holy of Holies.   In the new Covenant, God's personal Presence is manifested and at the same time hidden in the human nature of Jesus Christ, deep down in his Heart.

The Church Fathers have taught us that, deep down at the centre of every human being there is what is our most intimate point, where God's Love is loving us into existence.   In being estranged from God by sin, we became estranged from our heart, from our own most intimate self.   Jesus, because he is truly human, also has a Heart where the Word is being made flesh and from where his Spirit goes out to enlighten everyone who comes into this world.  However, being without sin, he is not estranged from his Heart, and it has become the Heart of all hearts that are open to him.

Our religion is a religion of the heart.  Jesus is the Heart of humankind beating in the Presence of the Father in time with countless souls he has saved and the whole of heaven.  As Pope Francis has said, the Eucharist is the beating heart of the Church, in which the Church across time and place, and with the Church the whole of humankind, participates in the life, death and resurrection of Christ and shares in the liturgy of heaven.  And, as we receive Christ in communion, so our own hearts become temples of the Holy Spirit and dwelling places of Christ; and we become a living sacrifice of praise (EP IV) with Him as He makes us an everlasting gift to the Father (EP III).

Hence, as Jeremiah foretold, God will forgive people their sins and place in their hearts the law of sacrificial love.  In the words of the Cistercian founder, we will live in order to love and die in order to rise again.  As Jesus himself says in the Gospel,
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.
The more we live in Christ, the more He lives in us, the more we will spontaneously manifest his Presence in the Spirit by sacrificial love.   The Church is made visible to the world by this quality of love and becomes just one other worldly institution when it is lacking.

Moreover, while God's Presence among His People in the Temple was an exterior presence, even though a very close one, His Presence among us is from Heart to heart and very intimate. The death of an animal was necessary to offer its life completely to God; but the animal was only a symbolic substitute for ourselves.   Now that we have been invited to share the life of Divine Love, it needs our own death to permit us to give ourselves totally, holding nothing back, so that we can love as God loves; but this is only possible if our death is made one with that of Christ, so that we can rise again with Him.  Hence, our death as the end of life has been destroyed by Christ's death and it has become a doorway into his life of love for all eternity.

A Jesuit Ministry
Background on the Gospel Reading

Jesus teaches his disciples about the way in which he will be glorified by God, and a voice from heaven is heard to affirm this teaching.

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from the Gospel of John. We are reading much further into John’s Gospel than we have for the past two weeks. Chapter 12 of John’s Gospel is a preparation for the beginning of the passion narrative to follow. Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead—an important sign in John’s Gospel, which inspired many people to believe in Jesus. This event also marks the turning point in Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish authorities. John’s Gospel tells us that the Sanhedrin met after this event and made plans to kill Jesus. In the 12th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is anointed at Bethany and enters Jerusalem in triumph. We again see evidence of the significance of the raising of Lazarus to this event; John reports that the crowds also gathered to see Lazarus.

Following his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus predicted his suffering, death, and Resurrection and prepared his disciples to believe in the salvation that his death would accomplish. Using the metaphor of the grain of wheat, Jesus presented the idea that his dying would be beneficial. He also taught that those who would be his disciples must follow his example of sacrifice. This theme will be repeated in John’s account of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as an example of how they must serve one another.

The final section of today’s Gospel might be read as John’s parallel to the agony in the garden. Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John does not record Jesus’ anguished prayer in the garden of Gethsemane before his arrest. Although comparable words are found in today’s reading, Jesus gives a confident response to the question he raises when asking God to save him from his impending death. After announcing his conviction that it is for this purpose that he came, a voice from heaven speaks, as if in answer to Jesus’ prayer. This voice, like the one heard at Jesus’ baptism and at Jesus’ Transfiguration—events reported in the Synoptic Gospels but not in John’s Gospel—affirms that God welcomes the sacrifice that Jesus will make on behalf of others. In John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches that this voice was sent for the sake of those who would believe in him.

In today’s Gospel, we also hear Jesus speak about the cosmic framework against which we are to understand his passion, death, and Resurrection. Through his death and Resurrection, Jesus conquered Satan, the ruler of this world. In this way the world is judged, but the judgement is not condemnation. Instead, through Jesus’ dying and rising, salvation is brought to the world.

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