The Need to See Some Skin

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There is this delightful story about a four year old child who awoke one night frightened by a dream. She could not fall back asleep, and her mind convinced her that there in the darkness of her room, lay in waiting, an assortment of monsters and ghosts.

Alone, she ran to her parent’s bedroom. Her mother calmed her down and taking her by the hand, led her back to her own room. Her mother put on the light to dispel the demons and reassured her child with these words, “You needn’t be afraid, you are not alone here. God is in the room with you.”

The girl replied “I know that God is here, but I need someone in this room who has some skin!”

This is what the apostle Thomas is, in essence, asking of the resurrected Jesus. He’s saying,” I need to see some skin.” This is the best explanation for our whole experience with Jesus, since his announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel - until this moment.

This Easter is unlike any I have ever had. How about you? I long to celebrate with someone who has some skin. Maybe this Easter we can celebrate knowing Jesus came in the flesh, died, and then rose again. He sits at the right hand of the Father and is with us here on earth. We have been accustomed to our relationship with Jesus without some skin, and today, I ask you to unite with our entire St. Dominic Catholic Parish family…unite in love. Unite in the power of God’s love.

I ask you to close your eyes and think about being with people you enjoy, family, friends…Now open your eyes. How do you feel when you think about spending time with them? Now close your eyes again and think about stuff you have. Now think about spending time with the stuff…How does that make you feel? Which of the two feelings would you like to experience more often? That’s the power of God’s love.

This Lenten season, you were to tame your desires for stuff, to strengthen your will against things you thought you needed. This at-home experience is showing us what we really need, and to see the power of God’s love, the same love which raised Jesus from the dead…for us. To see again with new eyes. To see with the eyes of Jesus. His eyes see the value in relationships.

Have a blessed Easter. Until we can see each other in the flesh.

The Symbolism of Ashes

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The liturgical use of ashes can be found throughout the Old Testament. Ashes symbolized penance, mourning, and mortality. the prophet Daniel wrote, "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes." -Daniel 9:3. This and other Old Testament examples illustrate a recognized practice of using ashes and a common understanding of their symbolism.

Jesus Himself made reference to ashes: "If they miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have reformed in sackcloth and ashes long ago." -Matthew 11:21

In the early Church, those required to do public penance had the priest sprinkle ashes on their heads upon leaving confession. Since the Middle Ages, the Church has used ashes to mark the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, as we remember our mortality and sorrow for our sins.

In our present Ash Wednesday liturgy, ashes made from burned palm branches distributed on Palm Sunday of the previous year, are blessed by the priest or deacon and imposed on the foreheads of the faithful, making a sign of the cross and saying, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel."


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