Tag Archives: the Passion of Christ

Holding on to the Past: The Letter to the Hebrews


We’re reading from the Epistle to the Hebrews these days at Mass. Raymond Brown calls the work “a conundrum”  in his “Introduction to the New Testament”. Who wrote it, where and when it was written, to whom, why?  Hard to figure out.

Indications are the letter was written after the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD to Jewish-Christians, perhaps in Rome, who wanted to reconstruct the temple and renew worship there.  Martin Goodman’s “Rome and Jerusalem” (New York 2008)  offers an interesting picture of the longing Jews and Jewish Christians had afterwards to rebuild the temple and  revive its rites.

Our letter sees Christ as fulfilling the Jewish past and creating something new. Without dismissing the past, he completes it.

Do we face something like this today as our world and our church face change, drastic change?  We hang on to the past, not knowing the future and afraid of what it will bring, yet we can’t recreate what has been, something new lies before us.

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us to face the future bravely, and keep before us the One who holds the key to what is to come. In his lifetime, Jesus struggled with the past, present and future.Remember his struggle. It’s ours.

“Keep your eye fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith, For the sake of the joy put before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and has taken his place at the right hand of the Father. Consider how he faced such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”

St. Leo the Great


November 10th is the feast of St. Leo the Great, a 5th century pope buried in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in the front of the church on the left side of the main altar.

A large picture over his tomb shows him meeting Atilla, the Hun, and his warriors who came in 452 to attack and plunder Rome. Barbarian tribes were then pouring through Rome’s defenses along the Rhine River and its northern frontier, threatening the Italian peninsula. In fear, most of Rome’s elite left for the safety of Constantinople, the new center of the empire. The rest, convinced the world was ending, barricaded themselves in their homes with everything they had. The army was too weak to defend the city.

Leo became Rome’s defense, persuading Atilla to leave Rome untouched by offering him tribute money. He was less successful when, a few years later, in 455  the Vandals returned to plunder Rome for 14 days.

Yet that’s not why Leo’s called great. A holy, learned man, he knew the church’s best defense was hope in Jesus Christ and the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection. In his sermons on the Incarnation,  preached in the course of the church year, he urged Christians to find their strength in Jesus Christ.

Leo believed, as Peter the Apostle did, that the church founded by Jesus had a future, despite the perilous circumstances it faced. As Bishop of Rome, he encouraged the bishops of the western church to hold on. He found his support in the Passion of Jesus Christ. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from him:

“True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity…Who cannot recognize in Christ his own infirmities? Who would not recognize that Christ’s eating and sleeping, his sadness and his shedding of tears of love are marks of the nature of a slave?

“It was this nature of a slave that had to be healed of its ancient wounds and cleansed of the defilement of sin. For that reason the only-begotten Son of God became also the son of man. He was to have both the reality of  human nature and the fullness of the godhead.

“The body that lay lifeless in the tomb is ours. The body that rose again on the third day is ours. The body that ascended above all the heights of heaven to the right hand of the Father’s glory is ours.

“If then we walk in the way of his commandments, and are not ashamed to acknowledge the price he paid for our salvation in a lowly body, we too  rise to share his glory. The promise he made will be fulfilled in the sight of all: Whoever acknowledges me before others, I too will acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven.”

 Sermon, Leo the Great

Palm Sunday

Lent 1
(Please read further for Spanish and Swahili)
Matthew’s story of the passion of Jesus (Matthew 26-27) is the first of the four gospels read in Holy Week. Why four? Because this story can’t be expressed easily; each of the evangelists has something to say.
It’s a story that begins when Jesus rises from the dead.

Appearing to his disciples at Jerusalem that day “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.” ( John 20,19-21 ) To the disciples on the way to Emmaus that same day, Jesus said: “‘Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24,26-27) The gospel narratives grew from these appearances of the Risen Christ and the scriptures he interpreted.

The Passion of Jesus is an Easter story that brings hope. He did not hide his wounds; he showed them to his disciples. He doesn’t dismiss his sufferings and death as an embarrassing setback; the power of God appeared in them. As Jesus revealed his experience, he made the hearts of his followers burn with rejoicing. As the story is told to us, we respond with a simple response of love.

“One loving word can keep your soul in prayer for a long time. For example, you are ready to meditate on Jesus Crucified and find yourself blank and unable. Make an act of love, like this: “O my Jesus Crucified, why are you on the cross?” Then, if you can go no further and your soul is a peace in the silence of love, lost in God, just continue that way. What a great prayer this is!”

May the Passion of Christ be always in our hearts!
Lent 1

Domingo de Ramos – Año A
Mateo 26, 14-75 y 27, 1-66

La historia de Mateo sobre la Pasión de Jesús (Mateo 26-27) es el primero de los cuatro Evangelios que se leen en la Semana Santa. ¿Por qué cuatro? Es que este relato no se puede expresar facilmente; cada uno de los evangelistas tiene algo que decir.

Este relato es contado inicialmente por Jesús Cristo después de resucitar de entre los muertos. Apareciendocele a sus discípulos en Jerusalén ese día, “Jesús entró y, poniéndose en medio de ellos les dijo, ‘Paz a ustedes.’ Cuando él había dicho esto, les mostró las manos y su costado.” (Juán 20,19-21) A los discípulos en el camino a Emaús ese mismo día Jesús les dijo, ” ‘¿A caso no tenía que sufrir el Mesías estas cosas antes de ser glorificado?’ Y comenzando con Moisés y todos los profetas él se puso a explicarles todos los pasajes de las escrituras que hablaban de él.” (Lucas 24,26-27) Estos narrativos del Evangelio provinieron de las apariciones del Cristo Resucitado y las escrituras que él interpretó para ellos.

La Pasión de Jesús es un relato de Pascua que trae esperanza. Él no escondió sus heridas; él se las enseñó a sus discípulos. Él no descarta sus sufrimientos y muerte como si solo hayan sido unas molestosas contrariedades; el poder de Diós se manifestó por ellas. Cuando Jesús revelaba su experiencia, él causaba que los corazones de sus seguidores ardieran con regocijo. Cuando nosotros escuchamos este relato, respondemos con la sencilla respuesta del amor.

San Pablo de la Cruz nos dice; ” Una palabra de amor puede mantener tu alma en oración por un largo rato. Por ejemplo, estás preparado para meditar sobre Jesús Crucificado y te encuentras incapaz, con la mente en blanco. Haz un acto de amor, como este: ‘O mi Jesús Crucificado, ¿por qué estás en esa cruz?’ Entonces, si no puedes proceder más allá y tu alma se siente en un estado de paz en el silencio del amor, perdido en Diós, pués continua de esa manera. Qué gran oración es esta! ”

Qué la Pasión de Cristo siga siempre en nuestros corazones!

Sikukuu Ya Matawi

Hadithi ya Matayo juu ya mateso ya Yesu ni ya kwanza kwenye injili nne

zinazosomwa wakati wa wiki takatifu. Kwa nini nne? Kwa sababu hii hadithi

haiwezi kuelezewa kwa urahisi; kila mwinjili ana jambo la kusema.

Ni hadithi iliyoanza baada ya Yesu kufufuka kutoka katika wafu.

Kuwatokea wanafunzi wake, siku ile kule Yerusalem “Yesu alikuja na kusimama

kati yao na kusema, ‘Amani iwe nanyi’. Baada ya kusema hayo, aliwaonyesha

mikono yake na ubavu (Yohana 20:19-20)”. Kwa wanafunzi wake waliokuwa

safarini kuelekea Emmaus siku ile ile, Yesu alisema: “ ‘Haikumpasa Kristo ateswe

mambo haya na kuingia katika utukufu wake?’ Aliwatafsiria maandiko matakatifu

na yale yote yaliyomhusu yeye mwenyewe, kuanzia kwa Musa na manabii. Luka

24:26-27.Simulizi la injili ya leo limekuwa kutoka katika kuonekana kwa Kristo

Mfufuka na maandiko matakatifu aliyoyaeleza/aliyoyafafanua.

Mataso ya Kristu ni hadithi ya pasaka yenye kuleta matumaini. Hakuficha vidonda

vyake; aliwaonyesha wanafunzi wake. Hatupilii mbali mateso na kifo chake

kwamba ni kitu cha aibu; nguvu ya mungu ilijionyesha ndani yao. Jinsi Yesu

alivyojifunua, alifanya mioyo ya wafuasi wake ichomwe kwa furaha. Nasi kadri

hadithi hii iliyvoelezwa kwetu, tunaitikia na mwitiko rahisi wa upendo.

Mtakatifu Paulo wa Msalaba

“Neno moja la upendo linaweza kuuweka moyo wako katika hali ya kusali kwa

mda mrefu. Kwa Mfano, uko tayari kutafakari juu ya kusulibiwa kwa Yesu na

unajikuta umetawanyika kimawazo na kushindwa kusali. Fanya tendo la upendo,

kama hili: “ O Yesu wangu uliyesulibiwa, kwa nini uko msalabani?” Alafu, kama

hauwezi kuendelea na moyo wako uko katika amani katika ukimya wa upendo,

umezama katika Mungu, basi endelea namna hii. Hii ni sala kubwa namna gani!”

Basi mateso ya Kristo na yawe daima ndani ya mioyo yetu.

The iPad

The iPad, the new mobile tablet from Apple, was “revealed” the other day and the reviews say it may change the face of communication. It offers email, internet access, ebooks, and audio-visual features from a 9” screen. The geeks are picking it apart for one thing or another, but one reviewer may have gotten it right. Apple didn’t make this for the geeks but for their mothers.

If I were thinking of producing media content today, which I am, I should think of producing it for the iPad.

If I had an iPad now, what would I be able to carry around with me? For starters, the whole bible, the readings for Mass, video Mass homilies and short bios of the saints,  courtesy of the US Bishops. http://www.usccb.org/nab/ The entire Liturgy of the Hours by way of Universalis: http://www.universalis.com/ Documents of Vatican II, The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Catechism from the Vatican site: http://www.vatican.va/

For Catholic news, there are the blogs from CNS: http://cnsblog.wordpress.com/ America Magazine,  http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/ Commonweal http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/ Zenit:http://www.zenit.org/0?l=english

I could have with me my homilies, my email, podcasts, slide and video presentations. Resources like Wikipedia, the Library of Congress, the New York Public library would be  available by way of the internet.

Not a bad treasure of  resources to carry around and work on as you go.

But, as Yeat’s poem says, “What then?”

We need to work on what we’re doing now, our websites, blogs, etc..What will they look like on the iPad?

The iPad could use simple catechetical material, strongly visual. I think it will be the basic tool for providing catechesis in tomorrow’s church, but it will mean rethinking how we catechize and what form our catechesis will take.  I like the approach used in the new US Catholic Catechism for Adults, which uses saintly people to say what faith means. Short 10 minutes or 24 minute presentations.I have been using it for retreat and mission talks.

We need good material on the Passion of Christ too. In a quote from yesterday’s blog, St. Thomas Aquinas said we human beings  find “relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives.”  How can we present the Passion of Jesus on the iPad?

Let’s think about it.

David Carr, in the New York Times for  January 31, looks into the future of the iPad. It’s there, he says, now book and magazine publishers and other providers of media content have to think about it and work on prototypes and figure out the financials of it all.

Lord, I cry

“‘Lord, I have cried to you, hear me.’ This is a prayer we can all say. This is a prayer  of  the whole Christ.”
In the selection from his great commentary on the psalms found in today’s readings, Augustine sees them as universal prayers. They’re not just prayers of an anonymous person from long ago, or prayers that have become part of Jewish worship or Christian worship, or even prayers I make my own today.

“This is not my prayer, but the prayer of the whole Christ.”

The psalm he calls a prayer of the whole Christ is a cry of pain, of fear. Hardly any words to it at all.  Christ prayed like this in the darkness of the garden of Gethsemani, the saint says, when his sweat became drops of blood. His prayer was not made of well-framed thoughts, it was the groaning of his heart.

All the cries of human heart are in that cry of Christ, Augustine continues, and his prayer does not end.  The story of the Passion of Jesus does not end. The garden is an everywhere, a timeless place, and his cry embraces all.

But the cries of Jesus are heard, the saint concludes, his pain and fear are taken away. Resurrection came for him, and it comes to those who are united to him.