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The Sorrow and Glory of Holy Week

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The interesting thing to ponder about Holy Week is that, in the moment, only Jesus knew what was going to happen. The apostles and disciples did not. They were coming into Jerusalem to observe the Passover as they did every year throughout their whole lives. Nothing different. Same old, same old. The only difference is that they were unsure of where they were going to celebrate it, but Jesus had that covered. The second difference is that they were greeted with a parade, and Jesus was the star! Imagine what that had to have been like. They proceed to go about their business in the city as usual to prepare for the feast during the early days of the week. You would think that they would have noticed how Jesus is on edge, and he isn’t exactly explaining why. His responses are cryptic at best. The Jewish leaders are really poking at him, which is making everyone a bit agitated. To be there in the moment had to be frustrating. I am sure the hope was that once everyone could settle into the Passover festivities, all would be well. The prayers are said. The songs are sung. Then the meal begins, but Jesus starts to do “it” different. He talks about the bread being his body and the wine being his blood. Then he tells Judas to go off and do what he needs to do. He tells Peter that he is going to deny him. It is all so strange. To be there, one couldn’t help but think that something was about to go wrong. In fact, unbeknownst to everyone, everything was about to go right.

The beauty of hindsight. Jesus had led everyone to it so that he could lead them through it. Looking at the events of Holy Week and then at Easter and the Ascension from the perspective of placing yourself “live” in the story, makes it the most sorrowful and yet the most glorious of experiences. This is why I LOVE my faith. Jesus is awesome! To experience the worst of humanity to bring about the best of humanity is more  than my feeble words can relay. God is so good! Thank you God!

The Continuation of the Gospel

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What does it mean when St. Paul implores us to preach the Gospel?  Does that mean we need to know every word of scripture and shout it from a soap box on a street corner? While this could be one way, I would argue St. Paul is talking about a more personal Gospel.

I once knew someone who was fond of saying that the Bible has many chapters, but it is only the first chapter in the larger Gospel, the Good News of God. She claimed each one of us, our individual stories, are a continuation of that Gospel. We all have episodes of time where we feel close to God, but then something, like sin, separates us from Him. He then restores the relationship with us, causing us to turn back to Him and His Church. Each of these personal stories that we hold in our hearts are little Gospels. When we tell others of these stories we are doing what St. Paul implores in 1 Corinthians 9: 16-19 .

When I first became Catholic, I hesitated to share what God did in my life, because I thought I might sound crazy to others. However, in every instance, when I thought it would be poorly received, I was met instead with open minds and curiosity, even while working in the secular world as a recruiter at ManpowerGroup Solutions. 

As Simon says to Jesus in the Gospel of Mark 1:29-39, “Everyone is looking for you.”  Everyone around us is looking for a savior, most spend years searching in the wrong places. It is our responsibility to share Jesus, by sharing the Gospel He works in our lives, with them, so they might see and hope in Him. 

Glory to God in the Highest

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“Do not be afraid; for behold I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” No, I’m not talking about a vaccine for the COVID virus, I am quoting from the gospel of Luke as to the pronouncement by the angel to the shepherds. The angel heralding the birth of Jesus. But the words are good ones to remember and live by.

The birth of Jesus is good news. It is THE good news and no matter what we are feeling, the recalling of God made one of us means that as we and the world are living through these times, so is Jesus. Knowing it was God’s choice to enter into the mess of humanity 2000 years ago, and still walks with us today, is the foundation of Advent and of joy.

It’s not too late to stop and enter into the mystery of Christmas. It’s not too late to find that joy which may have eluded you until the very moment you are reading this. Take this moment, right now, to ponder the reality of Jesus with us. What would it mean in your life and the life of your family if you lived each day, made each decision, knowing Jesus was at your side? Maybe, like the angel, you would become a herald of the Good News! Announcing the good news that God didn’t come to praise those high up, but to elevate the lowly, to bring comfort to those in sorrow, to quell fear to those distressed. God started life as a small vulnerable infant. Remember, as God cared for the Holy Family, you are cared for and protected.

This year may seem like one in which everything is askew, that nothing is what it was, and yet, on Christmas Day we celebrate a certainty. On Christmas Day, we celebrate that God loved us so much that He sent his only Son to be with us, and with that the world is changed forever. This year, we may need to draw this mystery out a little more. We may need to work harder at pondering the meaning of the birth of Jesus. We may have need to search deeper for joy, but it is there and it is waiting. It is not too late. Start with repeating, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Have a blessed Christmas season.

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