Friday, March 29, 2013

The Seven Last Words of Christ

The Seven Last Words of Christ

1. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do"

His executioners expected Him to cry and curse like all those who had been crucified before Him. Instead, He cried out for the Father to forgive those who were executing and mocking Him (soldiers, Pilate, Herod, etc.).

Forgive who? – forgive the soldiers who mocked, scourged, and struck him

Why forgive? Because they know what they do? No, because they know NOT what they do. If they knew what they were doing (killing the Redeemer), they could not be saved. “It is not wisdom that saves; it is ignorance!”

If we knew: how terrible sin is and kept sinning...about the Incarnation and rejected Christ...about Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and didn’t take up our own...about mercy in the Sacrament of Penance and still refused it..about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and didn’t receive...the Truth of the teachings of Christ’s Church and rejected them like other Pilates...”if we knew all of these things and still stayed away from Christ and His Church, we should be lost!”

2. "This day you shall be with me in Paradise"

The thief (Dismas) next to Christ realized he was next to the Redeemer: “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom”

Christ was losing his life and saving a soul

He wouldn’t speak to Herod, wouldn’t respond to those who jeered and mocked, but strained to say the words that will save him: “This day you will be with me in paradise”

"No one before (the thief on the right of Christ) was ever the object of such a promise, not even Moses, nor John, not even Magdelen nor Mary!"

“God is more anxious to save us than we are to save ourselves”...more than anything, God wants us to give Him our sins...Dismas does and he is promised paradise

3. "Woman, behold thy son"

He had already given away everything – his blood to the Church...his garments to the soldiers...paradise to the thief...soon his body to the grave and his soul to the Father

“to whom, then, could he give the two treasures which he loved above all others, Mary and John?” He gave them to one another.

'Thy son' is John, who represents us (the Church). "Woman!" is the 2nd Annunciation; "behold thy son" is the 2nd Nativity. We are born of Mary in the 2nd Nativity of the spirit; Christ is born in the 1st Nativity of the flesh.

It has been said that Jesus never denies His Mother anything. Do I ask my Mother to intercede to her Son for me, my friends and family...she who is the mother of Him who can do all things?

4. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

Darkness covered the earth when spoken...the protest of nature to the Crucifixion
Separated from the Father? No, otherwise how could he cry, “My God, my God...”
Pain and desolation of not being able to see the Father’s when it’s cloudy but sun is still there

While He is still in union with the Father, Christ brings atonement to all those who have abandoned God, doubt God's presence in their lives, or are indifferent towards God.

For all Christians who abandon God when they don’t feel His presence...they identify being good with feeling good...for a doubting world that asks, “why...why...?”

For indifference in the world...last 20 centuries of apathy is more torturing and crucifying than the pains of Calvary

Christ reaches out to all those who have been rejected, are lonely, isolated, hurt, etc...He knows what I'm experiencing whenever I've been abandoned, rejected, lonely, hurt or isolated. If he experienced this and rose from it, anyone in union with Him in these ways will rise with Him

5. "I thirst"

Not said to anyone there at Calvary, or even to God. He says to all mankind, "I thirst...for love!"

Suffering of God without man (5th word); suffering of man without God (4th word)
Creator cannot live without creatures; shepherd cannot love without sheep
Christ has done all he can do for us; “it is no wonder that he thirsts for love having poured forth all the waters of his everlasting love on our poor, parched

Christ thirsts for my love; do I give him only vinegar and gall when he asks for a drink? Do I quench Jesus’ thirst with my love or do I leave him parched with my hardness of heart? Do I thirst for Jesus? For love? For Heaven? Do I thirst for others like Jesus does?

6. "It is finished"

Redemption, the Father’s work, is now accomplished; we were bought and paid for
Christ won in a battle with five wounds (hands, feet, side), torn flesh, a cry (‘forgive them’ not ‘crush and kill them’), and dripping blood

Christ triumphantly says this, like an artist who puts the finishing touches on a masterpiece.

Work of acquiring divine life is finished, but not the distribution. Is our work finished? No. He has finished the foundation; we build on it. It depends on us becoming other Christs and to take up our cross and follow Him

His work of Redemption is finished, but not complete (see Col 1:24). As the Mystical Body of Christ, we complete Christ's work of Redemption (by taking up our own Cross).

Do I accept crosses in my life with faith?

7. "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"

Like the Prodigal Son who returns to his father's house...33 years ago, left the Father’s eternal mansion and went off to a foreign country of this world...spent himself and being spent...divine riches of power and wisdom spent on his last hour, he gives to “the last drop” of his precious blood

Now on the road back to the Father’s house...sees the face of the Father and lets out the word, “Father, into...”

Mary at the foot of the Cross with crucified body,,,Bethlehem has come back:
-thorn-crowned head was head at her breast (at Bethlehem)
-faded eyes who glanced at her from the manger
-feet with nail marks were once adored with gold, frankincense, and myrrh
-embrace at the foot of the cross = embrace at the side of the crib

At Bethlehem, Mary gave Jesus to man; at Calvary, sinful man gave him back to Mary

Do we entrust our lives to our Father in Heaven? Do we commend our spirits to God? Do we give Him everything we’ve got- heart, mind, soul, and strength? Do we have our eyes on Heaven...think about it regularly?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homily - "Not my will, but yours be done"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.

Jesus prayed in the garden, "Father, if it is possible, take this cup away from me". Take this suffering away from me...this passion...this martyrdom. In his human nature, Jesus is saying, 'I don't want to do will is to avoid the Cross'. Imagine if the Father had taken the cup away from him. Imagine if there was no suffering or passion or cross. Imagine that he stopped sweating blood in the garden, that he wasn't whipped over a hundred times front and back, that he wasn't crowned with thorns, that he didn't carry a heavy cross, or hang on the cross for at least three hours before suffocating to death. Imagine that there was no Cross or Good Friday.

If there was no Cross, there would be no Resurrection. If there was no Good Friday, there would be no Easter Sunday. We wouldn't even be here...there would be no Church, no Christianity. If Jesus had lived a long life and died a normal death (this is all hard to imagine), we would not have a savior. We would still be in our sin and the gates of Heaven would still be closed. We would have no hope of eternal life.

Thank God for the second part of Jesus' prayer: "not my will, but yours be done". The absolute necessity and primacy of Jesus' humility and obedience to the Father's Will...for us! The absolute necessity and primacy of humility and obedience to God's Will in our own lives!

When we come to the Eucharist at every Mass, we say, "thank you, Jesus". Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your humility in saying, "not my will, but yours be done".

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Homily - "Resurrected in His love"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.

We had a great service trip to Appalachia over spring break.  Twenty of us worked hard during the day fixing up homes for low-income families, and then had tons of fun at night.  The day we had the most fun was our day off when we watched the coverage of the Pope’s election.  When we saw white smoke, we went nuts!  One night, I went into my room about 10:30 or so.  My room was right next to the main room.  I turned off my light and caught up on news and sports scores on my phone.  Everyone thought I was asleep.  So, when I came out about an hour later, I was like Lazarus coming out!  People were freaked out saying, “we thought you were asleep”.  I was like, “nah, I’m just getting started”. Imagine if I had been in my room with the light off for four days and people thought I was dead. That’s what it was like for the situation with Lazarus. 

Lazarus represents all of us – spiritually and physically.  We can be dead spiritually: our souls can die from mortal sin.  Also, we can be spiritually dead through despair or darkness or just a general lifelessness.  Confession can be a resurrection experience like the one Lazarus had.  One of our students wrote about this in our recent newsletter.  He writes about his experience of going to Confession this time last year for the first time in four years. “That confessional was transformed into the tomb of my lack of faith, my emptiness, and my drifting.  I walked out with Jesus at my side, resurrected in His love”.  The person walking out of Confession is like Lazarus walking out of the tomb.  You will have the opportunity for this before Easter.  For example, I will be offering confessions on Tuesday nights at the Newman Center before Easter. Please take advantage of the opportunity to experience this kind of death and resurrection before we formally celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Christ in Holy Week.

Lazarus represents us physically as well.  Our bodies will experience a resurrection.  Jesus says that if we live and believe in Him, we will be raised up on the last day.  At the “resurrection of the dead”, the final judgment, our bodies will reunite with our souls forever.  This will be as real as the resurrection of Lazarus’ body.  That is for the next life.  But, our bodies can be resurrected in this life, too.  I just saw a woman today who I hadn’t seen for a few years.  When I last saw her, her body was in terrible shape.  She had been beaten by her husband and kicked out of their house by him.  Today, she appeared out of the blue and looked great.  Her body was in much better shape and she was dressed impeccably.  She has had a resurrection experience.

The Gospel stories of the last three Sundays which are used for the Scrutinies of those coming into the Church at Easter tell us what it’s all about: Christ is our life.  For those like the woman at the well who are in slavery, Christ is our freedom.  For those like the man born blind who are in darkness, Christ is our light.  For those like Lazarus who are dead, Christ is our life.

Finally, the Eucharist is the risen Body and Blood of Christ.  The Spirit who raised the dead body of Lazarus also raised the dead body of Christ.  His Body was dead and has been raised.  We celebrate this at every Mass.  It is the same risen flesh and blood of Christ that came from the tomb.  Through the Eucharist, may we be raised up on the last day in the resurrection of the dead.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Habemus Papam! (by Cardinal Wuerl)

March 15, 2013
Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ,

We have a Pope! A Pope who, although vested in white, didn’t lose his characteristic humility and charm as he first stepped out onto the loggia of Saint Peter’s Basilica and greeted the tens of thousands of people in the square and millions more around the world – simply saying “Brothers and sisters, good evening” - demonstrating a simplicity which clearly shines through in his choice of a name, Francis, after the beloved St. Francis of Assisi.
How exciting it was for me personally to be part of the conclave that elected our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, the first Pope from America - the Western Hemisphere. When we Cardinal electors celebrated Mass Wednesday morning, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio came in and happened to sit down next to me. Sitting with him at Mass and talking to him during this process was very different than seeing him later in white as Pope – which I do not believe he had any idea going into the conclave would happen to him. When he stepped in from the loggia – after having asked the people to pray for him – he returned to the conclave residence where we were all staying and joined us for supper. When he entered the dining room, he did so in the same way he had every other time in this conclave, he greeted his brothers and simply took his seat.
While the first Pope from the New World opens a new chapter for the Church and brings a new vision, as he now takes on the responsibility of being Chief Shepherd for the worldwide Church, he will share the same Gospel message that the Church continues to offer the world.

While here in Rome, I have been able to visit and celebrate Mass at my titular church, the Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains with all of our Washington seminarians studying here. Every time I do, it reminds me of our connectedness to Peter, the first Pope. We all have a special bond, every Catholic has a tie with Peter. We all have this connection because he is the touchstone of our faith, as commissioned by Jesus himself, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:16-18). Peter is now called Francis.

The role of Peter continues in the Church today in the ministry of his successor, the Bishop of Rome. Throughout the Book of Acts, we see Peter acting consistently in his role as Chief Shepherd and universal pastor. This Petrine ministry, now taken up by Pope Francis, is an essential and central component for preserving and promoting the Church’s unity, holiness, universality and apostolic teaching. Our Holy Father offers us direction and guidance so that we can be confident as we give an explanation to anyone who asks for a reason for our faith.

In his homily at the first Mass he celebrated as Pope, Francis spoke of our being on a journey, a journey of love, being sure that we are walking always in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, continuing to build up the Church, and professing always Jesus Christ Crucified.

As we continue our journey during Lent on the way to the Paschal Mystery and the pledge of life everlasting, we offer thanks to God for sending us our new Holy Father. Joining in the cheers of the people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square and around the world, we joyfully proclaim, “Viva il Papa!”
Faithfully in Christ,

Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington

Friday, March 08, 2013

March 26: March for Marriage

About the Marriage March

Click here to go to MfM website.

Why the March for Marriage?

On March 26th the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Perry case, which will determine if Proposition 8 – the citizens initiative approved by the people of California in 2008 to protect marriage – is constitutional or not. More importantly, the question of same-sex “marriage” and the right of Americans to protect marriage will be decided. We believe it is imperative that political leaders, the media, and the culture see that we care about protecting marriage enough to stand up and march for it.

Who is the March for Marriage?

The March is being organized by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) alongside a broad coalition of pro-family organizations, state partners, African-American, Latino, Catholic and Protestant leaders. Please check the Sponsors page for an up-to-date list of co-sponsoring organizations and the Speakers page for a list of confirmed speakers.

Rally Location and March Route

Marriage March Map
Click here to download the map & schedule in PDF format.

Schedule of Events for March 26, 2013

  • 08:30 AM: Gather at National Mall location between 10th Street and 12th Street NW and between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW [BOX]
  • 09:30 AM: March to the Supreme Court [ARROWS] and then return to the National Mall location [BOX]
  • 11:00 AM: Rally begins at National Mall location (live music, speakers and more)
  • 01:00 PM: March for Marriage concludes

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Homily: "Close Encounter"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.

The woman at the well.  This is one of the best stories in all of the Gospels.  There is so much here to unpack.  This story is used for the first Scrutiny with those preparing to be baptized at  the Easter Vigil; Jesus speaks of water “welling up to eternal life”.  The woman experiences a conversion of heart; we are in Lent, a season of conversion of heart.  We see her inner conversion exemplified even in the way her address of Our Lord progresses: from “Jew” to “Sir” to “Prophet” to “Messiah” to “Christ”.  Also, the well is a deep structure; the Lord goes deep with her as He has gone deep with us in the past or will go deep with us in the future.  But, I’d like to focus on the well and what is really going on here.
The well was where people met their future spouses.  In the Old Testament, we see many of these encounters.  Isaac met his future wife at a well.  Jacob and Moses also met their wives at a well.  And, the Samaritan woman meets her true husband at the well.  Jesus talks to her about her “husbands”.  Interestingly, the Hebrew word for husband commonly used was “Baal”.  A Baal husband was like a master-husband…like a master to a slave.  Men in the Old Testament often had a free wife and a slave wife.  Abraham, for example, had Sarah, his free wife (the wife he was supposed to have) and Hagar, his slave wife.  When the Lord says to the Samaritan woman that she has had five husbands, he is referring to her five Baal husbands.

And then, he says, “and the one you have now is not your husband”.  Not yet, at least.  He is referring to himself. Samaritans knew what the prophets foretold: that the Messiah would be the true spouse.  She recognizes this and says, “you are a prophet”.  I think she recognizes him, too, as the Messiah at that moment. She recognizes that he is her true spouse and that can be free in relationship to him.  We might see her as the first consecrated woman.  We see the fruits of their spousal relationship when she evangelizes those in her town, essentially giving birth to her new-found relationship in Christ.  How many women do we see evangelizing others in the Gospel! Mary Magdelene, for example, evangelizes the whole Christian world when she announces that Christ is risen.
The Samaritan woman is in a position to recognize Christ.  Life has pretty much brought her to her knees; we might say that she is at rock bottom.  Because she has suffered so much from the slavery of her Baal husbands, she can recognize and appreciate her true, free spouse in Christ.  We might have been in the same situations when we’ve had such powerful experiences with encountering Christ.  We have had our own Baal spouses: addictions, vices, sin, attachments (Lent helps us move away from attachments), maybe even tragedy or suffering.  We have been slaves to these “masters”; Christ has come to us as he came to her.  Maybe this was on a retreat or in prayer or in some other powerful moment.  He meets us where we are and doesn’t force himself on us.  He goes to the matters of our hearts…those things which means the most or have troubled us the most.  He reveals himself as our true love and offers us his freedom.  We are more able to recognize him when we’ve been brought to our knees…recognize him as the Christ and as our true spouse.

Finally, we have the same opportunity for an encounter with Christ that the woman had.  We encounter him in the Eucharist at Mass or in prayer; it is the same Christ.  May we recognize him as our true and free spouse.  May we have the same experience that she had: of having him change our heart and change our life.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Can you donate $20 for our Appalachia service trip?

A group of GW Catholics, Amy (our campus minister), and I will go on a service trip to Appalachia (rural West Virginia) over spring break from March 9-16. It's called "Alternative Spring Break". We will be building and renovating homes for low-income families. 20 of us are going...our largest group in years, maybe ever.

The students have to raise over $10,000 in order to go on the trip. This covers their transportation, housing, project fees, tools, food, gas, etc. Can you help them meet their goal?

You can help send these students on the trip by donating through our website. Click here to go to our site. Click on the orange PayPal "donate" button. Your donation will go to the GW Newman Center which will put it toward the Alternative Spring Break trip.

A donation of $20 will pay for a student's housing for a night.

A donation of $50 will pay for a student's tools and equipment for the week.

A donation of $100 will pay for a student's transportation for the week.

On behalf of the students, thank you very much for your generosity!