MARCH 26, 2016 – HOLY SATURDAY (VIGIL) – AT THE TOMB

(Matthew 28:1-10)

Prayer: O Risen Jesus, show yourself to me in the quiet of this prayer.

Imagination: (Picture the holy women meeting Jesus.)

Context:

The four gospels have different stories about the Resurrection and the church has not tried to harmonize these accounts, because the diverse stories witness to the reality of the resurrection, the most world-shattering event. These resurrection stories begin with the empty tomb.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalen and the other Mary came to inspect the tomb. Behold there was a great earthquake, as the angel of the Lord descended from heaven. He came, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. In appearance, he resembled a flash of lightening, while his garments were as white as snow. Out of fear, the guards were struck with terror and became as dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid. I know that you seek Jesus, the crucified one. He is not here because he has risen as he said. Come and see the place where the Lord was laid. Then, go quickly and tell the disciples that he is risen and that he will go before you into Galilee. There you shall see him. This is my message to you.”

They left the tomb quickly, with fear and great joy, running to tell the disciples. On their way, Jesus met them and said, “Peace”. They came up, took hold of his feet and adored him. Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee. There they shall see me.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. The women are observant Jews, faithfully keeping the Sabbath rest.
  2. They are also Christian believers whose hearts lead them to Jesus’ tomb.
  3. It was dawn, not just for them, but for the whole world. A new day had come.
  4. What an experience, to see an angel roll back a stone and sit upon it.
  5. The angel gives them a tour of the tomb. After all, they were going to be witnesses.
  6. They do not need to see the Risen Jesus but they believe and are filled with joy.
  7. They become the first evangelists and preach to the disciples.
  8. Then comes the great favor. Jesus appears and allows them to touch him.
  9. They know he is God and adore him.

Affections: When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, I will not wait. I will seek you today.
  2. You are the dawn. When you come, the night is over.
  3. O Jesus, you provide all the evidence. I need to believe that you are the Lord.
  4. I will tell others that you are risen.
  5. O risen Jesus, come to me whenever I lift my heart to you.
  6. Do not let me fear. With you, I can overcome all of life’s difficulties.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will ponder today the great gift of Jesus’ rising from the dead.
  2. I will study my faith and witness to others.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

They fell at his feet and adored him.

MARCH 25, 2016 – GOOD FRIDAY – PART 2 – PILATE’S FAILED COMPROMISE

(John 18:38-19:16)

Prayer: Jesus, help me to live in the truth.

Imagination: (Picture Pilate with Jesus and the crowds.)

Context:

Talking with Jesus had strengthened Pilate. However, his resolve is weak and talking again with the Jewish leaders sways him. He thinks he can get out of this without making a decision. Compromise with truth always ends in disaster. Pilate is the prime example.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Pilate had Jesus scourged and then showed him to the crowds saying, “Look at the man. I find no guilt in him.” Yet the chief priests and the guards cried out, “Crucify him. Crucify him.”          Pilate said, “I find no guilt in him.” They said, “He must die because he made himself the Son of God.”

Fearing even more, Pilate asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” Because Jesus did not answer, Pilate said, “Do you not know I have the power to crucify you or to release you?” Jesus said, “You would have no power at all if you did not receive it from above. Those who handed me over, have the greater sin.”

Pilate wanted to release Jesus. The Jews, however, cried out “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend.” Pilate brought Jesus out and said, “Behold your King.” They shouted, “Away with him. Crucify him.” Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So Pilate delivered Jesus over to be crucified.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. Pilate voices his inner conviction that Jesus is not guilty.       However, he does not act on his beliefs.
  2. Fears overcome him. His emotions lead him astray.
  3. Pilate’s fate is sealed because he has abandoned truth.
  4. These lies entrap everyone, – Pilate, the soldiers, the crowds and the chief priests (who hate Caesar, yet proclaim him as their king.)
  5. The blood-soaked Jesus has fulfilled Simeon’s prophecy. He is a sign of contradiction for many in Israel.

Affections: When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, you are my King.
  2. Help me to live in your truth.
  3. When the world pressures me, confuses me, and entangles me, I will stand firm as your disciple.
  4. Jesus, only you can save me from the powerful whirlpool of evil that surrounds me.
  5. You are soaked in blood, the price you paid to save me.       Thank you.

Resolution: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will keep the blood-soaked Jesus before my eyes today.
  2. With Jesus’ help, I will resist my fears to compromise.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Pilate wanted to release Jesus.

MARCH 25, 2016 – GOOD FRIDAY – PART ONE – JESUS WITNESSES TO PILATE

(John 18:28-38)

Prayer: Jesus, let your Kingdom claim my heart.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus standing before Pilate)

Context:

John’s gospel presents a lengthy dialogue in which Jesus preaches to Pilate and offers him a chance to make a different decision. Pilate can even be a member of the Kingdom instead of an instrument used by the Jewish leaders. Unfortunately, he does not accept Jesus as King and turns his back on him.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus responded, “Do you say this by yourself, or have others told you?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and your chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”

Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly fight so I would not be handed over. But my Kingdom is not here.”

Pilate said, “Then you are a King.” Jesus responded, “You say that I am a King. For this was I born. For this I came into the world. That I should testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth, hears my voice.” Pilate said, “What is truth.” Then he went out to the Jews and said, “I find no guilt in him.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. Jesus speaks the truth. His Kingdom is not of this world.
  2. He is a unique king and those who belong to his kingdom recognize his voice.
  3. Jesus spends time with Pilate and explains everything.
  4. However, Pilate has no interest in truth and does not receive the Kingdom.
  5. Pilate, however, cannot deny his own feelings.
  6. He says honestly, “I find no guilt in him.”
  7. What a hero Pilate would have been if he had acted on this belief.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, You are my King. May you reign forever.
  2. Your Kingdom is in my heart. There, I hear your word.
  3. You call me to truth. You invite me into your light.
  4. Jesus, I will come quickly out of my darkness.
  5. To know you, to love you, and to serve you. For this I was born. For this I came into the world.
  6. I will proclaim to the whole world, “Jesus is my King.”

Resolutions: Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will commit my life to living the truth.
  2. I will choose the right King – Jesus the Lord.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

For this I was born. For this, I came into the world. To witness to the truth.

MARCH 24, 2016 – HOLY THURSDAY – JESUS WASHES THE DISCIPLES’ FEET

(John 13:1-13)

Prayer: Jesus, wash me and cleanse. Me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus washing the Disciples’ feet.)

Context:

This gospel highlights the great contrast. Jesus has all power, yet he acts like a servant. He washes the disciples’ feet as if they were the master of the house. He explains the meaning of this symbolic act. These powerful apostles must act like servants.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Knowing that the Father had given everything into his hands and that he came from God and was returning to God, Jesus rose from the supper and laid aside his garments. Taking a towel, he girded himself. Then he put water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and to wipe them with the towel around his waist.

After washing their feet, Jesus said, “You call me Master and Lord, for that is what I am. If I, who am your Master and Lord, have washed your feet, then you also, should wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example. As I have done to you, so you also should do.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. Jesus is not powerless. He has come from the Father and will return to the Father. “Everything is in his hands.”
  2. Yet, Jesus removes his garments, (a symbol of power) and girds himself with a towel, (a symbol of service.)
  3. He descends to the floor, and kneels before each apostle (even Judas).
  4. Although He is “Lord” and “Master”, he sets aside those titles to act as a slave and servant.
  5. “I have given you an example” is Jesus’ keynote speech at his finest hour.
  6. The apostles do not understand. Only the cross will make everything clear.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, You knew who you were, where you came from and where you were going.
  2. O Lord, with all your greatness, you still choose to serve me.
  3. You kneel at my side and you wash my feet.   How can I not love you?
  4. Your tenderness overwhelms me. Your actions touch me deeply.
  5. How can I respond to you?
  6. “Do the same for your friends,” You say. “I have given you an example.”

Resolution: (Possibly you might want to make your own)

  1. I will ask the Lord to cleanse me, again and again.
  2. From this day on, I will serve the needs of others.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Jesus rose from table and set aside his garments.

MARCH 22, 2016 – TUESDAY – HOLY WEEK – JUDAS ISCARIOT

(John 13:36-38)

Prayer: Jesus, may I always be loyal to you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus at the Last Supper.)

Context:

Jesus often spoke about his betrayal. Up to now however, Jesus never revealed his betrayer or said openly that he would come from the twelve. Now he must focus on this issue. So, Jesus reveals Judas as the one and determines the time by telling Judas to leave the Upper Room.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus grew troubled in spirit and said, “Amen, amen I say to you. One of you will betray me. “The disciples looked at one another, puzzled as to whom he could mean. Now the disciple whom Jesus loved was leaning on his breast. Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, “Who is he speaking about?” The disciple asked, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “The one to whom I give some food after dipping it in the dish.” He dipped it and gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.

After receiving the morsel, Satan entered into Judas. Jesus said, “What you have to do, do quickly.” The others at table did not know Jesus’ purpose. Having received the morsel, Judas went out immediately. It was night.

Thoughts: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. What a tragic story. Judas, called to be close to Jesus, becomes the knife in Jesus’ heart.
  2. Jesus often spoke about this moment. Now, it could not be postponed.
  3. Because of their simplicity, the other apostles worry if it could be themselves.
  4. The Beloved Disciple is so close to Jesus’ heart that Jesus tell him who his betrayer is.
  5. Jesus is still in control. He determines the time of the betrayal by telling Judas to act now.
  6. ‘It was night” everywhere – in Judas’ soul, in Jesus’ broken heart and in world history. This was the darkest moment.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, by your grace, my life will not be a tragic story.
  2. You call me to greatness. You have prepared a place for me at your table.
  3. Give me the simplicity of the apostles who were loyal to you.
  4. I will place my head on your breast and experience the love in your Sacred Heart.
  5. O Jesus, to depart from you is the darkest night. Hold on to me.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will value my friendship with Jesus above every other prize.
  2. I will be faithful to my friends.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

One of you will betray me.

MARCH 21, 2016 – MONDAY – HOLY WEEK – MARY’S ANNOINTING

(John 12:1-11)

Prayer: O Jesus, let me be generous in serving you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus at table with Martha, Mary and Lazarus.)

Context:

Lazarus has just been raised from the dead. This scene continues the death to life theme, but now it focuses on Jesus, not Lazarus. Martha and Mary play their familiar roles. Martha serves and Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. They made a supper. Martha served and Lazarus was at table. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made from genuine aromatic nard with which she anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped the feet with her hair. The odor of the ointment filled the house.

Then, Judas Iscariot, who was about to betray Jesus, asked, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred silver pieces and given to the poor? “ He said this, not because he loved the poor, but because he was a thief and controlled the purse. Jesus said, “Let her alone. She has done this for my day of burial. The poor you always have with you but me you do not always have.

A great crowd of Jews knew that Jesus was there. They came, not just to see Jesus but also to see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. The chief priests planned to kill Lazarus, too, because many Jews were going over to Jesus, believing in him on account of Lazarus.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you)

  1. What an experience – to sit at table with the Saviour of the world and with a man who had been dead four days.
  2. Martha and Mary use their personal talents. Martha serves the meal. Mary anoints Jesus.
  3. Mary has total generosity. She buys the costliest perfume.
  4. Judas reveals his heart. His eyes are on the money, not upon Jesus’ glory.
  5. Mary’s perfume fills the whole house just as the Spirit filled the temple.
  6. The perfume prefigures the glory of Jesus’ body after rising from the dead.
  7. Lazarus is a witness to Jesus’ power and leads others to believe.
  8. How many signs do the chief priests need to have their hearts touched?

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. I will be generous, Jesus, giving to you my most costly treasures.
  2. O Jesus, I will use my talents for you and your Kingdom.
  3. Let your glory and your blessings fill my whole house, my whole life.
  4. What love Martha and Mary had for you!
  5. Do not let money dominate my life. I could become a Judas.
  6. Your body is in heaven and you want my body to be there with you.
  7. How many signs you have given to me. Increase my faith.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. Where should I be more generous with my possessions?
  2. I will try to serve the interests of Jesus.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

She has done this for my day of burial.