LESSONS FROM THE PASSION

The last hours of Jesus’ life bear powerful truths for our daily living. Lessons and principles for following Christ are to be learned in almost every event of those last hours. Watch and learn…

On Thursday night, Jesus ate the traditional Passover meal with His disciples.Cross That night, He performed an act of great humility. The Messiah washed the feet of His apostles. He taught them that to be great, you must be small. The way to lead is to serve. Remember Jesus washing the disciples’ dirty feet if you feel unimportant, unempowered, or small.

Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. He declared his loyalty, even to the death. But Jesus sadly informed him that he would vehemently deny knowing the Savior three times before the rooster would crow in the morning. Remember Peter as he heard the rooster crow early Friday morning if you feel self-sufficient or confident in your own resources alone.

After the meal, Jesus went to the garden to pray. His followers chose sleep, not prayer. In the loneliness of those hours, Jesus’ heart was in great agony as He accepted death for our salvation. Remember Jesus kneeling alone in the garden if you find it hard to do the right thing.

Then, came the trials. First, Christ stood before the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin; then, the Roman governor, Pilate; next, Herod, the Jewish puppet king; and finally back to Pilate again. In cowardice, Pilate let the people choose: Jesus or Barrabus, a convicted criminal. Remember Jesus as He heard the crowd shout, “Crucify him. Give us Barrabus!” if you feel wrongfully accused.

The Roman soldiers beat Him, crowned Him with thorns, mocked Him and made Him carry His cross. Remember the humiliation of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa if you feel rejected or excluded.

Jesus was nailed to the cross with huge spikes that cut through His flesh. In the midst of His torture, He prayed for His executioners. Remember Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them,” if you find it hard to forgive

Those same soldiers gambled for His clothes. Remember how Jesus must have felt as the soldiers played games at the foot of the cross if you feel discouraged by power struggles, feel used or feel misunderstood.

There are lessons to be learned from all suffering, but the passion of Christ shows us the true heart of God. The Lenten season gives us 40 days to ponder Christ’s passion and learn from it.


PRAYER: Father – Give me the wisdom to learn lessons of service and humility as I consider Christ’s passion.

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Repentance

Close up of an 17th-century depiction of the 2...

Lent is a time for repentance. Repentance is far more that simple regret. Sorrow for sin is united with an unwavering decision to change. As the Holy Spirit makes us aware of our failures, repentance is our spiritual response.

Repentance for personal lack of obedience to God was addressed by Jesus. This repentance involves a regretful acceptance of your unrighteousness before God. This acceptance necessitates a transformation of your personal priorities, your attitude, and your behavior.

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth to affirm their repentance as a congregation. In his letter, Paul refers to repentance as “Godly sorrow,” and admitted that while the process was painful for the church, the result would leave no room for regrets for the pain endured. Repentance for the Corinthian church led to a renewed devotion to serve God.

The Old Testament prophets realized that as a nation, Israel had deviated far from the course set out for them by God. Repentance for the nation necessitated a “re-vision” of sight as a country with a new hope of God-centered living and priorities. Repentance for the nation gives us forgiveness for national selfishness and arrogance before God.

When repentance has occurred, a time of refreshing comes. Our lives have meaning, a clearer understanding of God, and hope for the future. God’s promise is that honest repentance brings its reward – the presence and blessing of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Use this season of Lent to experience the cleansing joy of repentance.


PRAYER: Father – I acknowledge my guilt and regret for my lack of obedience to you. Help me change those things in my life that do not honor you.

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Lent—A Time to Choose Direction

A great thought from Joan Chittister

Crucifixion_Icon_Sinai_13th_century.jpgLent is an opportunity to look again at who we are, at where we’re going in life, at how we’re getting to where we say we want to go. The Chinese say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” But the aimlessness, the confusion, the anomie that go with it, wear us down, wear us out.

Everybody needs to know that they have lived for something. Everyone has a responsibility to leave this world better than when they found it. Everyone needs to carry light into the darkness of the world around them so that others, too, may follow and find the way.

To go through life with no thought of responsibility for anything other than the self is to live like a leech off the riches of the world around us. To not ask the questions: What is my life goal? What am I contributing to this world? and hear the answer in the echo of the soul, is to be living a hollow life indeed.
Lent does not permit us the luxury of such banality. Lent ends in the shadow of the empty cross and in the sunrise of an empty tomb. There are great things to be done by each of us and each of them takes great effort, requires great struggle, will face great resistance. But the way to the empty tomb goes through the mount of the cross.

Lent is our time to prepare to carry the crosses of the world ourselves. The people around us are hungry; it is up to us to see that they are fed, whatever the cost to ourselves. Children around us are in danger on the streets; it is up to us to see that they are safe. The world is at the mercy of US foreign policy, US economic policy and US militarism; it is up to us to soften the hearts of our own government so that the rest of the world can live a life of dignity and pride.
We must “set our faces like flint,” let nothing deter the Jesus life in us, continue the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, knowing that however our efforts end, the resurrection is surely on its way.

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A Thought for Passion/Palm Sunday

Some years ago a book was written by a noted American historian entitled “When The Cheering Stopped.” It was the story of President Woodrow Wilson and the events leading up to and following WWI. When that war was over Wilson was an international hero, There was a great spirit of optimism abroad, and people actually believed that the last war had been fought and the world had been made safe for democracy.

On his first visit to Paris after the war Wilson was greeted by cheering mobs. He was actually more popular than their own heroes. The same thing was true in England and Italy. In a Vienna hospital a Red Cross worker had to tell the children that there would be no Christmas presents because of the war and the hard times. The children didn’t believe her. They said that President Wilson was coming and they knew that everything would be alright.

The cheering lasted about a year. Then it gradually began to stop. It turned out that after the war the political leaders in Europe were more concerned with their own agendas than they were a lasting peace. At home Woodrow Wilson ran into opposition in the United States Senate and his League of Nations was not ratified. Under the strain of it all the President’s health began to break. He suffered a stroke and in the next election his party was defeated. So it was that Woodrow Wilson, a man who barely a year earlier had been heralded as the new world Messiah, came to the end of his days a broken and defeated man.

It’s a sad story, but one that is not altogether unfamiliar. The ultimate reward for someone who tries to translate ideals into reality is apt to be frustration and defeat. There are some exceptions, of course, but not too many.

It happened that way to Jesus. They cried hosanna, He’s the son of David, but less than a week after the Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem, he would be dead. We enter Holy Week with that in mind.

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Prayer for the Journey

 

 

May your journey
through the universal questions of life
bring you to a new moment of awareness.
May it be an enlightening one.
May you find embedded in the past,
like all the students of life before you,
the answers you are seeking now.
May they awaken that in you which is
deeper than fact,
truer than fiction,
full of faith.
May you come to know
that in every human event
is a particle of the Divine
to which we turn for meaning here,
to which we tend for fullness of life hereafter.

 

Joan Chittister  OSB

 

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Eight Days

Eight days changed the world. These eight days have been the topic of a million of publications, countless debates, and thousands of films. These eight days have inspired the greatest painters, the most skilled architects, and the most gifted musicians. To try and calculate the cultural impact of these eight days is impossible. But harder still would be an attempt to account for the lives of men and women who have been transformed by them. And yet these eight days as they played out in Jerusalem were of little significance to anyone but a few people involved. We call these eight days Holy Week, and it begin this Sunday. What happened on those eight days?


1. On Sunday the first of the eight days, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to the shouts of Hosanna, fulfilling an old prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.

2. On Monday he walked into the Jerusalem Temple overturning tables where money exchange occurred, Roman drachmas were being exchanged for Jewish shekels. Roman coins were not allowed. The image of Caesar was a violation of the second commandment. But the Temple authorities were using the Commandment as means to cheat the people and making the Temple a place of profit rather than a place of prayer.

3. On Tuesday Jesus taught in parables, warned the people against the Pharisees, and predicted the destruction of the Temple.

4. On Wednesday, the fourth day, we know nothing. The Gospel writers are silent. Perhaps it was a day of rest for him and his weary and worried disciples.

5. On Thursday, in an upper room, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. But he gave it a new meaning. No longer would his followers remember the Exodus from Egypt in the breaking of bread. They would remember his broken body and shed blood. Later that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane he agonized in prayer at what lay ahead for him.

6. On Friday, the fifth day, following betrayal, arrest, imprisonment, desertion, false trials, denial, condemnation, beatings and sentencing, Jesus carried his own cross to “The Place of the Skull,” where he was crucified with two other prisoners.

7. On Saturday, Jesus lay dead in a tomb bought by a rich man named Joseph.

8. On Sunday, his Passion was over, the stone had been rolled away. Jesus was alive. He appeared to Mary, to Peter, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and to the 11 disciples gathered in a locked room. His resurrection was established as a fact.

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Food for Thought-Gratitude on a Sunny Irish Thursday Evening

Irvin J. Boudreaux:

A great list.

Originally posted on Richard's Food for Thought:

Publication2 On this sunny Thursday afternoon in the west of Ireland, I am writing about the following things for which I am grateful…

I am grateful for the opportunity to help our youngest daughter with her writing assignment.

I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to others in need, even though I do not know the right words to say.

I am grateful for the beautiful weather this afternoon.

I am grateful for the longer days and milder temperature.

I am grateful that Easter break is only around the corner.

I am grateful to witness the beauty of the trees in our yard when they come to life.

I am always grateful for the most meaningful relationships in my life; my wife, my children, and my parents.

I am grateful for the sometimes strange but the always loveable Ruby.

I am grateful for our family and friends in the United…

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Lose Yourself

What does a Christ-like mind look like as we live in the world? We can see it clearly in the great saints and martyrs, such as Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer. I’m drawn as well to the idea William Placher suggests in his book “Narratives of a Vulnerable God” as he uses an illustration from the world of basketball. Professor Placher writes, “In basketball the players who are always asking, ‘How am I doing? Am I getting my share of the shots?’ Those are the ones who never reach their full potential. It is the players who lose themselves who find themselves. And it’s that kind of self-forgetfulness that makes the best players.” And isn’t that the case with all of us in whatever we do?

I read about one of the fastest growing churches in the world, with branches in 32 countries already. It is called the Winners Church, and according to its leaders, it lives by a motto that comes from America’s religious culture. Here’s the motto: “Be happy. Be successful. Join the winners.” People flock to that kind of church, I guess. But it all depends, doesn’t it, on how we define winning? I wonder what kind of church you would have if your motto were “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.” Or about this one for a motto, “Those who want to save their lives will lose them and those who lose their lives for my sake, will find them.”

For the past several years I have lived with the Christian mystics, and sought that God would allow me to learn from them. One of the most important lessons they have taught me is the act of putting self behind. In doing so, I place God in front. He belongs there.

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What Does this Mean?

If a monk does not think in his own heart that he is a sinner, God will not hear him. The brother said, ‘What does this mean, to think in his heart he is a sinner?’ Then the old man said, ‘When someone is occupied with his own faults, he does not see those of his neighbor.’

—-Abba Moses of the Desert

Monk PrayingThis type of theme of careful introspection resonates very loudly in our grudge filled and judgmental society. The poet Anne Currin writes, “You’re so devoted to all your grudges, You cherish them like they’re a prize; You hold them with pride on your pedestal Bursting with bliss as your relationships die.” Many years before the poet wrote those words the people of the desert were pondering how to deal with such things. In this saying the Abba points us directly to our awareness of personal sin and its effect on our behavior toward others.

His advice is quite simple. We are called to believe in our hearts that we are sinners, and sin is our nature. Until we can recognize our nature, it is very difficult to improve our lot. When we turn our energies toward self – improvement we steer away from judgment of others, and towards unity with God. That unity, after all, is our primary goal. Own you sins and ask God to give you the grace to overcome.

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A Celtic Prayer

 

celtic-cross1

I know that I am not ready for what lies ahead.

I have heard what you have asked

and understand what this means.

I realize where this journey will end and

I must be prepared for my own culpability.

Now, as I walk through these days,

I know the excitement I feel will fade to fear.

The fear will become doubt.

May the fears of tonight be vanquished at dawn.

May the doubts of today be the answered questions of tomorrow.

And may my own deeds be forgiven by a mercy

I will never understand.

Amen.

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