theROCK

Didymus

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I love Doubting Thomas! He’s one of my favorite saints, because he’s just so relatable. We often use his title as a negative thing, perhaps calling someone a “Doubting Thomas.” Really, he is just like you and me. Thomas put his heart and soul into Jesus, followed Him for three years, and gave away everything to be His disciple. Then what happened? Jesus was killed and laid dead in the tomb. Thomas’s heart was shattered.

So many events happen in our lives that shatter our hearts and which cause us to put up walls to protect ourselves. Like if we burn our hand on a hot stove—we make sure to be more careful the next time. Thomas got burned once, so he was not going to blindly believe and get burned again.  However, when Jesus appeared to him and showed Thomas his hands, feet, and side, what was his response? Thomas fell to the ground and cried out “My Lord and my God!” He simply believed.

Jesus says, blessed are those who believe and have not seen. True, we have not seen him like the disciples did in the upper room. However, we have seen the risen Jesus in many ways. In particular, we receive Jesus in the Eucharist.  Every time Jesus is placed in our hands, we should be filled with joy and be reminded of just how much Jesus loves each one of us.

A Voice in the Crowd

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Every Palm Sunday I struggle. As members of the parish in the pews, we are asked to participate in the Gospel, reading aloud the role of "the crowd." We have lines like: "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us." And "Crucify him! Crucify him!" The crowd persists in their call for Jesus' death, and sadly, their voices prevail.

It's hard for me to recite these words during Mass. I understand that I'm playing a part. I know that I'm simply participating in a dramatic interpretation of the events. But it's still hard. Sometimes I simply sit and listen to others read the lines. While the reading of the lines has made me a bit uncomfortable, this experience has actually made me think. What would I say if I was actually a member of the real crowd, the one in Luke's Gospel? Would I join in and cry "Crucify him? Crucify him!" Would I stand silently by and simply listen?

Or would I have the courage to speak up and say, "I believe him. I think he truly is the Son of God."

Crowd mentality is real and it's challenging. It's easy to simply blend into the group and be swept along with the emotion at hand. We experience it today, some 2000 years later.

So that's my challenge this Holy Week. If I'm a believer, a true disciple, am I willing to stand out above the crowd and speak my truth? Am I willing to fight for my faith? Even at a consequence? If I'm not willing to speak the negative words at Mass, am I ready to say the positive words in my daily life?

 

Posted by Dan Herda

It's Never Too Late

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What causes radical changes in our heart from day to day or week to week?  I can have days where I heavily invest in my relationship with God, and the next, push God aside and fail to spend personal time with Him in prayer.

A Jesuit at Marquette once told me that if Satan cannot tempt you into sin, he will keep you busy. Busy with work, busy with school, busy with extra-curricular activities. We run around all day until we collapse of exhaustion at night, only to repeat the next day.

That is the gift of Lent, to slow down and focus on what truly matters: God. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are meant to help us focus on our love for Christ over everything else that could control our lives. I, like many others, get caught up in the busyness and my good intentions fall to the wayside.

Yet, I am drawn to the second criminal on the cross. His life is done, he does not believe he can be or should be forgiven, yet he decides to put his trust in Jesus. Jesus responds by saying: "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise." It’s never too late. There is nothing you can do to lose God’s love. If you desire God’s love and ask for it, you will receive it.

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