Monthly Archives: March 2021

Where Did They Stay?


Bethany, St. Martha

Where did Jesus and his followers stay when they came to Jerusalem for Passover? John’s gospel today points to Bethany near the Mount of Olives. On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Bethany was the first place Galilean pilgrims reached coming up the road from Jericho after traveling down the Jordan Valley,

The meal recalled today suggests they were welcomed by Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, who lived here. They were friends of Jesus, who raised Lazarus from the dead. Bethany would be a safe place for Jesus and his followers to stay.

My community, the Passionists, have the Church of St. Martha and a retreat house next to it standing over the ancient village of Bethany, today part of East Jerusalem. Olive trees once covered this area in Jesus’ time; they grace the property of St. Martha today. Ancient caves are found here. In Jesus’ day they probably provided shelter for visitors to the feasts. In our first reading today Isaiah speaks of God’s humble Servant bringing peace, not crying out, not making much of himself. Could he have stayed in a cave like this? Bethany evokes memories of the time Jesus was here. 

Caves in Bethany, St. Martha

The traditional tomb of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead,  is a short distance from St. Martha’s, although an Israeli security wall blocks access to it now.

Slavic pilgrims Lazarus Tomb, Bethany

 

From Bethany Jesus and the others would go to the temple. He taught there and made claims that unsettled the city’s leaders, then he returned to the safety of Bethany, staying among friends. Judas knew the place. On Holy Thursday he gave Jesus up as he prayed in Gethsemane, the Garden of Olives, a short distance away..

Luke’s narrative of the Passion mentions “ A large crowd of people followed Jesus” on the way to his death “including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children…’” 

Bethany 1800s

Were Martha and Mary from Bethany, who anointed Jesus’ feet, among them? Was Mary his mother and the other women who came with him from Galilee also there. I think so.


A Word to the Weary

The Passion of Jesus is a “word to the weary”. This is how to hear the story of the Passion of Jesus, the Prophet Isaiah says in our first reading for Palm Sunday. (Isaiah 50:4-7)

It will “rouse them” the prophet says.

Who are the weary? The gospel of Mark points them out.  They’re the disciples of Jesus who fall asleep in the Garden before the challenges of faith. They’re the religious leaders and political leaders who can’t see beyond their nation and its security. They’re the crowd that cries out for the death of One promising them a kingdom. They’re the soldiers blindly carrying out an unjust sentence. 

Mark’s Gospel, like the others, tells a story that takes place mostly in darkness. In a dark garden Jesus prays and is betrayed, on a dark day he is sentenced and crucified, the day ends in the darkness of a tomb.

But there are  moments of light for seeing more. There’s the room in Bethany where costly perfume is poured on Jesus’ head, anointing him for his death. There’s the room near the temple where Jesus took bread and wine and gave them to his followers, pledging to bring them to his Kingdom. There’s the centurion who suddenly sees “ the Son of God” as Jesus breathes his last breath. There’s Joseph of Arimathea and the women who do not abandon him but carefully buried him.

Who are the weary? We are, for we also look on in the darkness, not seeing God’s great Love and its promises. Yet Isaiah says, speaking of Jesus, “the Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” He speaks to us in his Passion, a story to rouse us.

Palm Sunday

For this week’s homily please watch the video below.

Fr Rick Frechette is a Passionist, a priest and a physician, who has spent most of his priesthood  in developing countries.

He was born in 1953 in Connecticut, joined he Passionists as a novice in 1974, was ordained in 1979, and received a Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine in 1998.

The movement he started in Haiti to both  improve the lives of the very poor and empower them with leadership, is under the patronage of St Luke, evangelist and physician.

For more information, see StLukeHaiti.org

The Raising of Lazarus

In the desert of Lent, we fast from food, but feast on the Word of God. The ancient practice of lectio divina, or sacred reading, invites us to chew on the words of Scripture and savor them.

In the eleventh chapter of St. John, we meet the Christ who has power over life and death. Earlier, the disciples had already witnessed his power over nature, as when he calmed the storm on the sea and healed the sick. Yet his divinity does not overshadow his humanity. The shortest verse in the Bible, “And Jesus wept,” eloquently proves this. 

Thomas appears in this passage full of doubt. He is on a journey toward faith, from witnessing the raising of the dead Lazarus to life, to putting his hand in the side of the risen Christ at the end of the Gospel. Let us ask the Lord for the gift of faith as we journey toward Easter.

March 22nd- 28th.

March 22 Mon Lenten Weekday

Dn 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 or 13:41c-62/Jn 8:1-11 

23 Tue Lenten Weekday [Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo, Bishop] Nm 21:4-9/Jn 8:21-30 

24 Wed Lenten Weekday Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95/Jn 8:31-42 

25 Thu THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD Solemnity

Is 7:10-14; 8:10/Heb 10:4-10/Lk 1:26-38

26 Fri Lenten Weekday  Jer 20:10-13/Jn 10:31-42

27 Sat Lenten Weekday Ez 37:21-28/Jn 11:45-56 

28 SUN PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD

Mk 11:1-10 or Jn 12:12-16  /Is 50:4-7/Phil 2:6-11/Mk 14:1—15:47 or 15:1-39 

John’s Gospel, recalling Jesus’ days in Jerusalem, is read most days this week. Because of their importance in the mission of Jesus, the account of the Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41) and the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45) may be read on any lenten weekday this week. Jesus brings light and life to the world.

The ancient Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, March 25th, announces who Jesus is and why he came among us. In early times many believed this day was the same day Jesus was crucified and the world its was created. 

Even though the pandemic still prevents celebrating the lenten mysteries in our churches, we can still follow them online. The readings for this week are here. Morning and Evening Prayers for this week, week I, can be found here. Suggestions for praying with children can be found here.

The Passion Narrative for Palm Sunday is from Mark’s Gospel, which is read on most Sundays this year. A commentary on Mark’s Passion Narrative is here.

5th Sunday of Lent b

For this week’s homily please watch the video below.

Fr Rick Frechette is a Passionist, a priest and a physician, who has spent most of his priesthood  in developing countries.

He was born in 1953 in Connecticut, joined he Passionists as a novice in 1974, was ordained in 1979, and received a Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine in 1998.

The movement he started in Haiti to both  improve the lives of the very poor and empower them with leadership, is under the patronage of St Luke, evangelist and physician.

For more information, see StLukeHaiti.org

March 15-20, 4th Week of Lent

March 15 Mon Lenten Weekday6 Is 65:17-21/Jn 4:43-54 

16 Tue Lenten Weekday Ez 47:1-9, 12/Jn 5:1-16

17 Wed Lenten Weekday [Saint Patrick, Bishop]

Is 49:8-15/Jn 5:17-30 

18 Thu Lenten Weekday [Saint Cyril of Jerusalem] Ex 32:7-14/Jn 5:31-47 

19 Fri SAINT JOSEPH, SPOUSE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Solemnity

2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16/Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22/Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a or Lk 2:41-51a 

20 Sat Lenten Weekday Jer 11:18-20/Jn 7:40-53 

21 SUN FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Jer 31:31-34/Heb 5:7-9/Jn 12:20-33 

or, for Year A, Ez 37:12-14/Rom 8:8-11/Jn 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45 

Our gospel readings for this week and the remainder of lent are mostly from St. John’s gospel. Until now, they were from the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel – Jesus’ teaching on prayer and mercy and forgiveness of others, and also some readings from Luke’s Gospel.  They reported on Jesus’ journey through Galilee where he taught and worked wonders, but he was not well received. 

Yet God’s Mercy, made flesh in Jesus Christ, continues a saving journey.

As he reached Jerusalem, Jesus worked wonders, gave sight to the man born blind, raised Lazarus from the dead and taught in the temple, but opposition to him grew stronger, John’s Gospel reports. 

More than the other gospels, John sees a glorious Christ on his way to accomplish his mission to bring life to the world, even if that world opposes him or clings to the darkness, like Nicodemus. (John 4:43-54)

Different ages give us saints, we’re reminded in the saints we celebrate this week. Joseph, spouse of Mary, was a holy man who raised Jesus as a father. Cyril of Jerusalem was 5th century bishop who revered the place where Jesus suffered, died and rose again. Patrick was a great 5th century missionary to Ireland.

God’s saving Love makes all ages holy.

Try our new website for everyday prayer. www.praydaybyday.org . Morning and Evening Prayers, Week 4