Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Year C – Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 24, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

2 Samuel 5:1-3; Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5 (R/. cf. 1); Colossians 1:12-20; Mark 11:19, 10; Luke 23:35-43

The image of a shepherd became linked to the role of the king in the Old Testament.  David, the youngest son of Jesse, who tended sheep, exalted the Lord through his harp music, and slew Goliath, was destined to become king of Israel.  The leaders of Israel came to David and asked him to shepherd them as king, fulfilling what the Lord had said to David, “You shall shepherd my people Israel and be commander of Israel.”

The life of David foreshadowed the life of Christ:  Bethlehem is the birthplace of both; the shepherd life of David prefigures Christ, the Good Shepherd; the five stones chosen to slay Goliath are typical of the five wounds of Christ; the betrayal by his trusted counselor, Achitophel, and the passage over the Cedron remind us of Christ’s Sacred Passion; finally, many of the Davidic Psalms, as we learn from the New Testament, are clearly typical of the Messiah.  Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe is not an earthly king though.  His crown is a crown of thorns, his royal purple robes are draped over his beaten body in mockery, his throne is a cross, and the only jewels he has are the nails that pierce his hands and feet.  They hang a sign on the cross above his head that says, “Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum,” (“Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”)  It is through this unearthly image of a king that he shepherds human souls into his kingdom.

Jesus picked up the image of the Good Shepherd in his preaching to human souls and carried it out in his actions as he sought to shepherd his flock into the kingdom, searching out the blind and the deaf, the lame and the sick, the possessed and the grief-stricken.  He became the king of the poor, the weak, and the suffering.  He is our king.  He is not just the king of a nation, or even of the world; he is king of the entire universe.  He is a king so powerful and feared that Herod tried to kill him as a defenseless newborn baby.  He is so powerful that he may shepherd those most astray back to the flock, no matter how far they have gone or how long they have been away.  He gives hope to those most in need and ushers them into his everlasting kingdom.  A kingdom, as he told Pilate, which is not of this world.  He ushers all in like sheep with wool, white and pure.

Even from the cross, Jesus seeks and saves the lost.  Over the heckling of the crowd and the verbal abuse of one of his crucified companions, Jesus responds to the faith of the nameless thief on his other side.  (Tradition calls him Dismas.)  Through his confession, repentance, and spiritual act of mercy by admonishing the sinner, Jesus absolves the criminal, promising him Paradise that day.  Dismas secures his salvation, becoming the first saint of the Church, through his longing for the kingdom and exaltation of Christ as God and King of the Universe.  Even as Jesus is laying down his life for his sheep, he is also carrying one on his shoulders into the kingdom.

How does it help you to see Christ the king as Jesus the shepherd, leading us to green pastures where he feeds us, gives us rest, and finally leads us through the dark valley of death into the kingdom of light and life?

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Year C – Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 17, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

Malachi 3:19-20a; Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9 (R/. cf. 9); 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:28; Luke 21:5-19

As the end of the liturgical year approaches, the readings call our attention to the “end time,” that “Day of the Lord,” referred to by both Old Testament prophets and most New Testament writings.  Throughout history, groups have predicted the end time was right around the corner.  In our own day, such dates have come and gone.  And we are still here!  Most recently, we all survived the supposed Mayan Apocalypse of December 21, 2012.

It may be more helpful to live aware that, while we do not know when the end of the world will come, we do know that one day we will face our own end, dying to this life as we know it.  We can take comfort in Jesus’ final words today, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”  For, if we persevere in faith, hope, and love, and if we strive to bring justice, mercy, forgiveness, and peace into our world, whenever the Day of the Lord comes, we will be counted among the just and experience it as the arrival of “the sun of justice with its healing rays.”  In the meantime, as Paul advises, go about your lives, working quietly to bring about the kingdom of God even now.

How does life’s eventual end influence your days?

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Year C – Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 3, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

Wisdom 11:22 – 12:2; Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14 (R/. cf. 1); 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – 2:2; John 3:16; Luke 19:1-10

One may say Zacchaeus was ripe for the picking because that is what Jesus did.  The man was up a tree and was plucked like a ripe apple to satisfy God’s hunger for lost souls.  As the head tax collector hence a collaborator with Rome, Zacchaeus would have been hated by most people.  Any crowd would have been a dangerous place, so being short was not the only reason he climbed a sycamore tree.  But the one who went up came down a different person.

Notice that Jesus asked nothing of Zacchaeus, other than inviting himself to his house, but the little man grew that day.  Was it the way Jesus greeted him so urgently saying, “Come down quickly for today I must stay at your house?”  Or did the grumbling reaction of the crowd influence him?  In any case, Zacchaeus was quickly transformed into a generous and repentant man.  Salvation did indeed come to his house in the person of Jesus.  New life flowed into and out of his heart.  In Jesus, who came to seek and save, Zacchaeus knew God as the “Lord and lover of souls” (Wisdom 11:26).

How have you accepted Jesus’ request to come to your home?

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Year C – The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day) – Dies irae – November 2, 2013

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Dies irae

Latin and English poetic translation

Dies iræ! Dies illa Day of wrath and doom impending,
Solvet sæclum in favilla: David’s word with Sibyl’s blending,
Teste David cum Sibylla! Heaven and earth in ashes ending!

Quantus tremor est futurus, Oh, what fear man’s bosom rendeth,
Quando iudex est venturus, When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
Cuncta stricte discussurus! On whose sentence all dependeth.

Tuba mirum spargens sonum Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth;
Per sepulchra regionum, Through earth’s sepulchres it ringeth;
Coget omnes ante thronum. All before the throne it bringeth.

Mors stupebit, et natura, Death is struck, and nature quaking,
Cum resurget creatura, All creation is awaking,
Iudicanti responsura. To its Judge an answer making.

Liber scriptus proferetur, Lo! the book, exactly worded,
In quo totum continetur, Wherein all hath been recorded:
Unde mundus iudicetur. Thence shall judgment be awarded.

Iudex ergo cum sedebit, When the Judge his seat attaineth,
Quidquid latet, apparebit: And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nil inultum remanebit. Nothing unavenged remaineth.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Quem patronum rogaturus, Who for me be interceding,
Cum vix iustus sit securus? When the just are mercy needing?

Rex tremendæ maiestatis, King of Majesty tremendous,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis, Who dost free salvation send us,
Salva me, fons pietatis. Fount of pity, then befriend us!

Recordare, Iesu pie, Think, kind Jesu! -my salvation
Quod sum causa tuæ viæ: Caused thy wondrous Incarnation;
Ne me perdas illa die. Leave me not to reprobation!

Quærens me, sedisti lassus: Faint and weary, thou hast sought me,
Redemisti Crucem passus: On the Cross of suffering bought me.
Tantus labor non sit cassus. Shall such grace be vainly brought me?

Iuste iudex ultionis, Righteous Judge! for sin’s pollution
Donum fac remissionis Grant Thy gift of absolution,
Ante diem rationis. Ere the day of retribution.

Ingemisco, tamquam reus: Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
Culpa rubet vultus meus: All my shame with anguish owning;
Supplicanti parce, Deus. Spare, O God, thy suppliant groaning!

Qui Mariam absolvisti, Through the sinful woman shriven,
Et latronem exaudisti, Through the dying thief forgiven,
Mihi quoque spem dedisti. Thou to me a hope hast given.

Preces meæ non sunt dignæ: Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
Sed tu bonus fac benigne, Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
Ne perenni cremer igne. Rescue me from fires undying!

Inter oves locum præsta, With Thy sheep a place provide me,
Et ab hædis me sequestra, From the goats afar divide me,
Statuens in parte dextra. To Thy right hand do thou guide me.

Confutatis maledictis, While the wicked are confounded,
Flammis acribus addictis: Doomed to flames of woe unbounded
Voca me cum benedictis. Call me with thy saints surrounded.

Oro supplex et acclinis, Low I kneel, with heart submission,
Cor contritum quasi cinis: See, like ashes, my contrition;
Gere curam mei finis. Help me in my last condition.

Lacrimosa dies illa, Ah! that day of tears and mourning!
qua resurget ex favilla From the dust of earth returning
Iudicandus homo reus. Man for judgment must prepare him;
Huic ergo parce, Deus: Spare, O God, in mercy spare him!

Pie Iesu Domine, Lord, all-pitying, Jesus blest,
dona eis requiem. Grant them thine eternal rest.

 

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Year C – Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 16, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13; Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11 (R/. cf. 5c); Galatians 2:16, 19-21; 1 John 4:10b; Luke 7:36-8:3 or 7:36-50

Last week, God’s love touched two powerless widows; this week God reaches out to two powerful men:  a king and a Pharisee.  In both cases today, God’s prophets made use of stories to confront and convert.  (One may want to read the entire Old Testament story in Chapters 11 and 12 of 2 Samuel). 

The prophet Nathan traps the conscience of an adulterous king by using a story of a man whose prized pet lamb was snatched for a rich man’s dinner.  Jesus traps the conscience of a Pharisee by using the story of two people whose debts are forgiven.  We know that David responds and repents, recognizing his sinfulness as he says, “I have sinned against the Lord,” and Nathan proclaims God’s forgiveness, though not without consequences.  The Pharisee grudgingly gets the point of Jesus’ story (those forgiven more, love more), but we do not know whether it frees him from his judgmental ways. 

Perhaps the most instructive figure is the woman who comes to the Pharisee’s house.  Her open heart and love for Jesus call us to love the Lord with abandon, recognizing that God’s forgiveness is ours for the taking, and responding wholeheartedly. 

Does God have to lure you into seeking forgiveness? 

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Year C – Second Sunday of Easter – April 7, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24 (R/. 1); Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; John 20:29; John 20:19-31

Easter has escaped the busyness that surrounds Christmas:  shopping, parties, get-togethers.  In addition, when one thinks of Easter music, hymns and oratories come to mind, since there are only a few Easter songs.  There seems to be something so sacred about this feast that even the merchandisers have refrained from commercializing it for the most part.  Nevertheless, we do not want to forget that Easter reminds us of the gifts the risen Lord Jesus brings.  We hear about them in the Gospel today.  To the frightened apostles, locked into the upper room, Jesus suddenly appears with gifts that release them from their fears.  First, he gives the God’s peace (shalom), that is, all God’s blessings that can enrich human life.  Then he breathes the Holy Spirit on them, empowering them to offer God’s forgiveness to all who seek it.  Finally, he gives to Thomas, and to all followers, the gift of faith in him as Lord and God.  To live at peace with God and others, to have the capacity to forgive and receive forgiveness, and to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, these are Easter’s gifts to us. 

How will you make use of these gifts this Easter season? 

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Year C – Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 10, 2013

Joshua 5:9a, 10-12; Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7 (R./ 9a); 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:18; Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

When Israel fled from Egypt, God’s chosen people began a journey into beginning a new creation – changing from a nation of slaves to a nation of free people, from under the heel of Pharaoh to an intimate covenant with God, from eating manna in the desert to feasting on the fruits of the Promised Land.  This journey took forty years and was not easy.

When the Prodigal Son finally “came to his senses,” he realized he would be better off back home as a hired worker than stealing slop from the pigs.  A journey began from being lost to being found, from “dead” to a new creation.  It did not take forty years, but how does one measure in time a journey that transforms the heart?  That path to being a new creation can take forty years, forty days, forty minutes, or forty seconds.  Sometimes it is an outer journey; it is always an inner one.  Only with God’s help is it possible.  Jesus walks with us.  Eventually we arrive at the celebration where our heavenly Father embraces us, welcoming us home.

What does it mean to you to be a “new creation”?

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