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An Easter Bouquet.
Joy to the world,

Easter is here!

Alleluia

He is risen!


It is a new beginning,
it is THE new beginning
and nothing will ever be the same,
the Good News will spread
to the ends of the earth
and to the end of time.

It's all about love and it's all about life,
the love of God and the new life in the Son of God:

"The Christian message is basically nothing else than the transmission of the testimony that love has managed to break through death here and thus has transformed fundamentally the situation of all of us".
(Ratzinger: Introduction to Christianity).




Luke:

God raised up Jesus on the third day and granted that he be seen, not by all, but only by such witnesses as had been chosen beforehand by God - by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and to bear witness that he is the one set apart by God as judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10-40-43)

John:
John, the "spiritual Gospel". Many Johannine emphases facilitate that insight, e.g.: the pedagogically simple picture that through begetting/birth in water and Spirit believers receive God's own life and that through Jeuss' flesh and blood that life is fed and nourished; the dramatic stress on one-to-one contacts with Jesus; the everymand and eerywoman role of Johannine figures like the blind man dnSamaritan woman, personifying different faith reactions; the language of love nding believers to Jesus just as love bidns the Son with the Father; the indwelling Paraclete through wohm Jesus remans attainable; the importance of discipleship which is a role that all can share. For John there are no second-class citizens among true belieers; all fo them are God's own children in Christ.

Paul's Letters:
No other follower of Jesus in NT times left behind a written testimony comparable to that of Paul. The way he communicates his love of Christ is often unforgettable. In the whole library of Christianity it is hard to match his impassioned eloquence. "I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:38-39).

Raymond Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament



Holy Saturday.

Le samedi saint.

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing his cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. "Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants, I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place".
(From the Liturgy of the Hours: an ancient homily on Holy Saturday).



In her book "Light in Darkness" Alyssa Lyra Pitstick says that traditionally, Christ's descent into hell "has been viewed as the beginning manifestation of his triumph over death and the first fruits of redemption. Gloriously descending to the holy souls in the limbo of the fathers, he bestowed upon them the beatific vision. Hans Urs Von Balthazar's, however, says that this doctrine does not do justice to the depths to which Christ went for man's redemption. Instead, he says that Christ must have suffered after his death the full force of what awaited mankind without the redeemer. He agrees the descent should be called glorious but his theology gives another sense to the words".

"The hour comes, and now is,
when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear shall live"
John 5:25.



Good Friday. . .


Le vendredi Saint


The betrayal, the mockery of a trial, the crowd yelling "crucify him!", the ensuing torture, the carrying of the cross, the nailing to the cross, the last 7 words of Jesus, the death of God, the veil of the Temple ripped apart, the earthquake, the darkness, the burial, the tomb, the silence.


The Sorrowful Mysteries (with Scripture quotes and my own meditations).

The Agony in the Garden. He prayed, saying: "Father, if you will, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." And to strengthen him, an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. Luke 22:42.

Meditation: Suffering and Acceptance. In our own dark hours of temptation and weakness, when we feel abandoned and hopeless, when suffering brings confusion, may we gain strength by turning to prayers, our own prayers and asking others to pray for us too. When giving up our own plans and submitting to God's plan takes every ounce of patience and humility in us, may we find courage in how you endured your own suffering, O Lord.

The Scourging. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. John 19:1.

Meditation: The Horror of Physical Suffering. Remembering the injustice done to you, may we learn to refrain from lashing out and hitting. May we transform our own violence and anger, impatience and short temper into true compassion and fortitude.

The Crown of Thorns. They clothed him in purple and weaving a crown of thorns placed it on him. They begun to salute him with "Hail, King of the Jews!" and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him. Mark 15:17

Meditation: Courage and Dignity. Mocking and ridiculing is a common reaction to what we don't understand. May we offer silence instead. May we accept with humility the trials and misunderstandings we encounter. May your courage under brutality and mockery, O Lord, inspires us to uphold the dignity of all who are battered.

The Carrying of the Cross. So they took Jesus and carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. John 19:17.

Meditation: Endurance. To have the courage to get up after falling, to try again after each failing. May we accept the help of others. May we always attempt to relieve the suffering of others around us, in small daily gestures of help and support and comfort. May we find the will to bear our own suffering without complaining and to endure our own trials as much as we can.

The crucifixion. "When they came to the place called The Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there too, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said: "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do". Luke 23:33

Meditation: Salvation and Redemption. The Son offered his suffering and death for us, for the redemption of our sins and, in the process, he opened up a way for us. For us, Christians, (which means: "little Christ"), we choose every year to relive his Passion to deepen our love and to renew our commitment. And in our own way, in our feeble and fumbling efforts, we can imitate him. Let us offer our love and devotion in return for his sacrifice. Daily, we can seek opportunity to offer the "death" of our egos as a personal sacrifice. May we always remember that when we forgive, we participate in the plan of Redemption, when we love our neighbor, we are loving him who loved us first.



Holy Thursday

Le jeudi Saint

The Institution of the Eucharist.


Jesus gave the supreme expression of his free offering of himself at the meal shared with the twelve apostles "on the night he was betrayed." (Mat: 26:20). On the eve of his Passion, while still free, Jesus transformed this Last Supper with the apostles into the memorial of his voluntary offering to the Father for the salvation of the world: "This is my body which is given for you". "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins". (Lk 22:19; Mt 26:28; 1 Cor 5:7).

Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them to perpetuate it. By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as priests of the New Covenant: "For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth." (Jn 17:19). This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection, a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us." (CCC 611, 1323) (Sacrosanctum Concilium).

Jesus says: "I have greatly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you that I will eat of it no more, until it has been fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Luke 22:15-16). All he desires is to be consummated in the Eucharist instituted immediately after these words as an eternal memorial of his death for mankind: "Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do the things I commanded you. No longer do I call you servants, because the servant does not know what his master does. But I call you friends, because all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You have not chosen me but I have chosen you, and have appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. These things I command you that you may love one another". (Jn 15). The mystery of Holy Thursday is the intrinsically impenetrable reality of sanctity descended from God as divinely unique as it is vulnerable. (Romano Guardini The Lord chapter IIX)

The Footwashing.

By performing himself this slave's task, the Master burns the lesson once and for all into their hearts. In an earlier discussion of how God approaches us through Jesus, we concluded that he comes through love. But there must be more to it than love, and we discover that this "more" was humility. The greater man bows before the lesser one because in his eyes the little man has a mysterious dignity. To recognize this dignity, to gather it up and bow before it, that is humility. Humility springs from the Creator and is directed towards the creature. The Incarnation is the fundamental humility on which all human humility rests (Phil 2:5-10).

That God took this sacrifice made possible and necessary by sin upon himself, not only Jesus the man but the incarnate Son of God, that is the truth that Jesus' act on Holy Thursday so poignantly reveals. It is the nothingness from which the second creation is born, creation of the new man, his face towards God, and once more participating, through grace, in sanctity and reality. Like humility also Christian sacrifice begins not with men but with God. (Romano Guardini The Lord chapter IX)

"Holy Thursday can wash away the poison of rancor from our souls".
says Pope Benedict XVI (Zenit 2008-03-20)

"This is what Holy Thursday exhorts," he said, "do not let rancor toward others become poison for the soul. It exhorts us to continually purify our memory, forgiving each other from the heart, washing one another's feet, so as to be able to go all together toward the banquet of God.

"Day after day we are covered by numerous forms of filth, of empty words, prejudices, reduced and altered wisdom; a multiplicity of falsities filter in continuously to our most intimate being.

"All this obscures and contaminates our soul, it threatens us with being incompetence with regard to the truth or the good."

The Holy Father said Christ synthesized charity and purification with the gesture of washing the feet of his disciples.

"If we take the words of Jesus with an attentive heart, they become true cleansers, purifiers of the soul, of the interior of man," the Pontiff said. "This is what the Gospel of the washing of the feet invites us to: allow ourselves to be washed again with this pure water, to be capable of communion with God and with our brothers and sisters."


 



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