Tag Archives: New Brunswick

Where is your Palm today?

You took some palm home with you Palm Sunday? Where is it today?

Following Jesus isn’t a one day thing, it’s a lifelong journey. Stay at his side day by day. To enter Jerusalem, he sat on a humble beast of burden, the donkey, who carried the burdens of the poor.

Follow him on his way and make it your way too.

Tuesday Night: Matthew’s Passion

Notice in Matthew’s account of the Passion that Jesus gradually becomes silent. As the hours before his death go by, his words become fewer and fewer. He works no wonders, no cures. His power seems to slip away and he becomes more and more helpless.

In the garden, he prays a short troubled prayer, over and over: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, yet not my will, but your will be done.”

He looks for the comfort of friends but finds none. They fall asleep and seem to not notice.  “Pray that you don’t enter temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” Jesus tells them.

When he’s brought before Caiaphas, the high priest, he doesn’t dispute the false witnesses that bring charges against him. Through his public ministry he’s quick to answer what’s false, but now he’s silent.  Only when Caiaphas directly asks him if he is the Messiah, the Son of God,  does Jesus answer: “ You have said so. I tell you from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Similarly, when Jesus is brought before Pilate, he is mostly silent. “Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asks him. “You say so,” Jesus answers. Then, he says no more.

He’s silent when the crowd calls for Barrabas; he’s silent when the soldiers scourge him with whips and crown him with thorns. He’s silent when they mock him and lead him away to be crucified.

The only words he says in Matthew’s gospel, as well as in the gospel of Mark, are the final words from psalm 22, which the evangelists quote in Aramaic, as well as Greek:  “My God, my God why have you forsaken me.?”

It’s not that Jesus is unaware of what’s happening to him, or that he has steeled himself and turned away from it all. He’s not retreated into his divinity. “He humbled himself, accepting death, even death on a cross,” St. Paul, the Apostle says.

His silence is his humble acceptance of death and all it entails.

Yet, his trust in God never fails, even when God seems absent.

What kind of cross do we carry? We know it when words and human solutions fail and we can accomplish nothing on our own. Think of the silence that followed the earthquake in Japan. People could hardly take it in. It’s not just  physical pain, it’s more than that.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

It was more than a question, Jesus was asking. It was a prayer. As he did in the garden, he threw himself into the hands of God, his Father, who knows all and receives us all. There he was safe and his soul found peace.

As he said to his disciples in the garden, he says to us, “Pray when the cross comes, put yourself in God’s presence our safety when the storm comes.”

Parish Mission: New Brunswick, NJ

This afternoon I begin a parish mission at St. Mary of Mount Virgin Church in New Brunswick, NJ, preaching at the Palm Sunday Masses  and conducting mission services till next Wednesday evening.

These days of Holy Week speak with “a well-trained tongue;”  We celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, remembering the days when Jesus was arrested, judged unjustly, scourged and crowned with thorns, led to a cross and was crucified.

“He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. On the third day he rose again,”

We take into our hands palm branches this Sunday, as those who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem did long ago. We listen to the story of his passion and death; they witnessed what happened to him long ago. They heard his call to faith as we do now. They promised to follow him, but the next days came. How many followed him then?

These are precious days when God’s graces are given and God calls again. The graces are given through Jesus Christ and his life-giving Cross; the call is made through his bruises and wounds and through his empty tomb.

Let us follow him, like those whom he invited into the supper room and received him in bread and wine. Like Simon of Cyrene, let us carry someone’s cross. Like the women who met him on the way, let us have compassion on those who are hurting or are in trouble. Let our hearts be open to the needs of our neighbor and the misery and hopes of our world. Like the thief, who called from his nearby cross, let us ask him for forgiveness. Like Joseph of Arimithea let us tend his body, like Mary his mother, let us hold him in our arms.  Like Mary Magdalen let us see him risen from the death; like Peter and James and John let us be enflamed with new dreams for our world.

From Monday to Wednesday, at 7 PM I will conduct of service of preaching and Benediction, followed by confessions.

The Passionists provide an excellent commentary on the gospel accounts of the Passion of Jesus and the devotions that arise from this mystery at Bread on the Waters. The commentary is by Fr.Donald Senior, CP. and can be found here.