Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Monday, 30 March 2015

Holy Tuesday 2015


Holy Week is a valuable time to begin or expand your practice of the “Prayer of Examine”. This prayer approach to self-examination of the state of one’s heart and soul comes from St. Ignatius.


First, ‘become aware of God’s presence’ - take some time to remember that God is present with us in our everyday lives. He has been near to you and with you throughout the events of your day. Perhaps take an icon or a cross or image to remind you of His presence with you.


Second, out of this awareness of God having been present with you, ‘review the day with gratitude’. What are you thankful for? What were the gifts of the day? What did you receive from others? What did you give to others? How has God been at work? Where was God? In conversations? In the actions of others? in the events of the day? In nature? Was He speaking? Perhaps He was shouting out His goodness in the morning sunrise? Or perhaps you saw Him in the kind actions of a friend?


After reviewing your day and noticing where God was at work with gratitude, ‘pay attention to your emotions’ St. Ignatius emphasised how through the movements of our emotions we can detect the presence of God. Reflect upon the emotions you felt throughout the day: anger? jealousy? compassion? boredom? joy? What might God be saying to you through these emotions? 

Perhaps there’s an area where you need to seek forgiveness. Maybe you were you frustrated by an unwanted interruption? or responded in anger? perhaps you resisted God’s nudging to offer someone help. Is there a way you could reach out to that person today?


Next ‘Choose one feature from the day and pray for it’. Maybe there’s something that particularly stands out to you? It may be a particular conversation or event, or an emotion you felt. Pray about it.


Lastly, 'look forward to tomorrow’. How do you want to live differently? How can you become more aware of God’s presence and promptings and the gifts of the day. Perhaps carry something with you throughout the day to remind you of God’s presence with you.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Holy Monday (Fig Monday) 2015

Postings for Holy Week will contain links to various resources to support your prayer and meditation. Click on the title for the link.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop

The passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the hope of glory and a lesson in patience.

What may not the hearts of believers promise themselves as the gift of God’s grace, when for their sake God’s only Son, co-eternal with the Father, was not content only to be born as man from human stock but even died at the hands of the men he had created?

It is a great thing that we are promised by the Lord, but far greater is what has already been done for us, and which we now commemorate. Where were the sinners, what were they, when Christ died for them? When Christ has already given us the gift of his death, who is to doubt that he will give the saints the gift of his own life? Why does our human frailty hesitate to believe that mankind will one day live with God?

Who is Christ if not the Word of God: in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God? This Word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us. He had no power of himself to die for us: he had to take from us our mortal flesh. This was the way in which, though immortal, he was able to die; the way in which he chose to give life to mortal men: he would first share with us, and then enable us to share with him. Of ourselves we had no power to live, nor did he of himself have the power to die.

Accordingly, he effected a wonderful exchange with us, through mutual sharing: we gave him the power to die, he will give us the power to live.

The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.

He loved us so much that, sinless himself, he suffered for us sinners the punishment we deserved for our sins. How then can he fail to give us the reward we deserve for our righteousness, for he is the source of righteousness? How can he, whose promises are true, fail to reward the saints when he bore the punishment of sinners, though without sin himself?

Brethren, let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim, that Christ was crucified for us; let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory.

The apostle Paul saw Christ, and extolled his claim to glory. He had many great and inspired things to say about Christ, but he did not say that he boasted in Christ’s wonderful works: in creating the world, since he was God with the Father, or in ruling the world, though he was also a man like us. Rather, he said: Let me not boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Chrism Mass Readings

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Palm Sunday - (Passion) 2015

Postings for Holy Week will contain links to various resources to support your prayer and meditation. Click on title for the link.

Prayers from Mass

Almighty ever-living God,
who as an example of humility for the human race to follow
caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross,
graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering
and so merit a share in his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer after Communion
Nourished with these sacred gifts,
we humbly beseech you, O Lord,
that, just as through the death of your Son
you have brought us to hope for what we believe,
so by his Resurrection
you may lead us to where you call.
Through Christ our Lord.


 From a sermon by Saint Andrew of Crete, bishop

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel

Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will toward his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with himself, we are told in Scripture, above every sovereignty, authority and power, and every other name that can be named, now comes of his own free will to make his journey to Jerusalem. He comes without pomp or ostentation. As the psalmist says: He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets. He will be meek and humble, and he will make his entry in simplicity.

Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.

In his humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and he is glad that he became so humble for our sake, glad that he came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to himself. And even though we are told that he has now ascended above the highest heavens—the proof, surely, of his power and godhead—his love for man will never rest until he has raised our earthbound nature from glory to glory, and made it one with his own in heaven.

So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lent 2015 - Nine

Passion / Death / Glorification

The HOUR has come 
for the Son of Man to be glorified.

As we prepare to enter Holy Week there are two important words that will focus our attention: HOUR and GLORIFY. Sometimes the word "hour" refers simply and literally to a short period of chronological time (a 60-minute period during the day). But in John's gospel, "Jesus' hour" refers more broadly and metaphorically to the climactic event of Jesus' death and resurrection, which it also refers to as his "glorification". (Jo.12:23; 17:1)

As you see these words occurring throughout the course of John's gospel, you realize how important they are to understanding the message of the gospel. Jesus understood well why he was sent, "... it is for this HOUR that I have come". We must understand how we too are connected to these words; that Jesus' HOUR continues through time, for it is the final HOUR in the story of creation. It is now our hour in time.

To be a true Christian, one must be drawn into the effects of this HOUR, for it is our destiny as well. We must share in the passion of the Cross by the "Christ-like" acceptance of the crosses in our lives. We must undergo the death of all desire for what is sin, the product of evil, until it no longer has influence over us. Finally, we say with Jesus, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit and we enter into our glorification.

We may be able to identify with suffering in its many manifestation. So too, we can appreciate the struggle that is required to conquer the inordinate passions that would subdue us. We will all face our own death, our final hour on earth. But how do we understand glorification?

It is not uncommon to hear the expression, "glorious", used to describe something one beholds with their eyes, i.e. a theatrical production, a celebration, such as a wedding or an Easter liturgy, sunset and sunrise, the vista of a natural landscape. By glorious we mean something of breathtaking beauty, fulfilled to perfection, eclipsing all our superlatives.

Jesus' disciples beheld such a vision in the transfiguration of Jesus.

( He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Mtt. 17:2)

St. Paul beheld the glorious risen Jesus, which began his conversion. In Acts he describes it in his own words:  “But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ ... “And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. Acts 22:6

Paul tells that the glorious brightness of the light caused him to be temporally blinded so that he had to led by the hand into Damascus.

This glorification, seen in Jesus, is the glorification God has planned every soul that comes into His presence. It is natural humanity transfigured into a new state, the state of grace. St. Catherine of Siena was given a vision of a soul glorified.
The Soul in the State of Grace- Catherine of Siena was permitted by God to see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace. It was so beautiful that she could not look on it; the brightness of that soul dazzled her. Blessed Raymond, her confessor, asked her to describe to him, as far as she was able, the beauty of the soul she had seen. St. Catherine thought of the sweet light of that morning, and of the beautiful colours of the rainbow, but that soul was far more beautiful. She remembered the dazzling beams of the noonday sun, but the light which beamed from that soul was far brighter. She thought of the pure whiteness of the lily and of the fresh snow, but that is only an earthly whiteness. The soul she had seen was bright with the whiteness of Heaven, such as there is not to be found on earth. ” My father,” she answered. “I cannot find anything in this world that can give you the smallest idea of what I have seen. Oh, if you could but see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace, you would sacrifice your life a thousand times for its salvation. I asked the angel who was with me what had made that soul so beautiful, and he answered me, “It is the image and likeness of God in that soul, and the Divine Grace which made it so beautiful.” (Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena )
The goal of the prayer of meditation/contemplation is to connect us consciously with the process of glorification that has begun in us, through our state of grace. This way of prayer opens a vista for us to see into our souls. We experience on a human level what is happening to us on a mystical level. The ways we perceive this experience can vary, from a sense of peace coming over our heart, to visions and revelations, such as describe by the saints and the spiritual writers, (like Catherine of Siena).

It is important that we realize our glorification has already begun in us by the state of grace of our souls. People may not be blinded by our outward appearance as we walk around, but there is an evidence that is perceptible to everyone. It is the fruit of our lives, the works of holiness and charity that we display by our actions. All the trees may look alike. You can tell the good ones by their fruit. (Mtt. 7:16)
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The following are the references for Jesus' Hour in John's gospel.

  • Jesus, to his mother, at the Wedding at Cana: 2:4 “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”
  • Jesus, to the Jews (using the word "kairos"): 7:6 – Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.”
  • The Evangelist/Narrator: 7:30 – Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 8:20 – He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
  • Jesus, to his disciples, before raising Lazarus from the dead: 11:9 – “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world.”
  • Jesus, to his disciples, after Andrew and Philip tell him that some Greeks wanted to see him: 12:23 – “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” 12:27 – “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.”
  • The Evangelist/narrator, beginning the "Book of Signs"; introducing the Washing of the Feet:13:1 – Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
  • Jesus, to his disciples, in the Last Supper Discourses: 16:2 – “They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.” 16:4 – “But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.” 16:21 – “When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.” 16:25 [Jesus, to his disciples] – “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father.” 16:32 – “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.”
  • Jesus, praying to his Father, at the end of the Last Supper Discourses: 17:1 – After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.”
  • Jesus, just before his dies on the cross: 19:27 – Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Lent 2015 - Eight

So what's it all about, life on planet earth? When you examine the social/political structures of our world, it is evident that there are many different approaches people have undertaken to make their societies work and to give life meaning and purpose. Here are the five most common political systems operating around the world:
  1. Democracy: in a more traditional sense is a political system that allows for each individual to participate.
  2. Republic: the main characteristic of a republic is that the government is subject to the people, and leaders can be recalled.
  3. Monarchy: commonly thought as absolute monarchy, in which the monarch truly has the ultimate say in matters of government.
  4. Communism: where states are dominated by a single party, or a group of people, often considered an authoritarian political system.
  5. Dictatorship: where a dictator is the main individual ruling the country making most of the decisions, and usually having enforcers.
In all of these systems, those having power and authority make the rules by which everyone is to conduct their life in that society. When a person refuses to live by the rules, they will be punished, they are taken by force and separated from the rest of the society. The most severe form of this is execution, otherwise it is imprisonment.

But there is one overall governing order for everything that exists, which we know as God's Kingdom of heaven and earth. God alone is the creator of heaven and earth. It is God, who has designed the heavenly realms and all that they contain. It is God who created the universe we know and assigned everything its purpose in creation. God created this world and gave life to all living things. The crowning form of all life that God created is human kind; it is us, who scripture reveals are created in God's image and likeness.

So why are we here? Philosophy and science, and all the social designs of man, can only bring us to the outer doorstep of the visible universe. They have no way of accessing, directly, knowledge of the Kingdom of God, nor can they tell us anything of the special purpose God has designed for us in creation. For this information we must turn to revelation. Revelation tells us that God, who has given us natural life, has planned for us to be transformed and to take on a new form of existence. We are to live in God's presence, in harmony and peace forever.

To live in God's presence, we must first learn how to live in God's presence. Our minds and hearts must be purified of all falsehood. They must be re-formed into perfect harmony with God's will. This purification of our minds and hearts begins here, in this life. The bible has our books of studies, and our lessons of formation begins with the Ten Commandments.

Revelation tells us that among the heavenly beings that God created, there were some who rebelled, rejecting the purpose God had given them. Because of this they were expelled from God's presence. They are the Fallen Angels or Devils and Lucifer is their leader. But their ongoing rebellion against God's creative design continues. Now they attempt to persuade us, to reject God's plan and join them in their rebellion. (There is a tradition that suggests that the reason some angels revolted was learning about God's plan to give man, this lowly worm that evolves out of the mud of the earth, a dignity that will be higher than they; What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor. Ps. 8:5)
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Rev. 12:7
Their strategy is simple, lies and deception. And so it begins:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen. 3:1
There is a REASON for everything. But who assigns that reason? How do we know what is true? Who do you believe? If you believe in God, then you must trust, must give your whole existence over in faith. But what if you are wrong?

It's this seed of doubt with its many convincing arguments, that is constantly whispered in your soul - are you sure - but what if ...?

Today, one of the predominant propositions set before us is atheism; "there is no God". It is up to you to determine, "what is good and evil".  A spin off of this is the discrediting of religion. Who's God do you believe? Why do religions fight each other? What of all the scandals if religion is so holy? If God is good, why all the suffering in the world? If there is a God, where is the evidence? And you, you who believe, why is doubt always there in the back of your mind? 

And then there is the ever present, "I'm a good person, I can figure out 'what is good and evil'."

Lent begins with Jesus in the wilderness, but not alone. It climaxes in the garden, and again, he is not alone. That voice, ever present voice, questioning, casting a pall of doubt and fear; twisting, deceiving, ever rational and logical, yet always outside of the whole truth works on him.

In the wilderness, Jesus' response is precise and clear, dispatching his antagonist summarily. But in the garden the voice has returned with a new weapon. What is it, how is it able to crush the heart of Jesus so that the very sweat of his struggle is his life's blood? We discover it in Jesus' words on the cross. “My God, my God, why have you abandon me?”

Abandonment. There is nothing more destructive to a trusting faith than to experience being abandon. St.  Ignatius, in his rules for discernment, tells us that God will allow some souls to experience such a test. He calls it "desolation". The full weight of all the negative arguments against one's trust comes crashing down. The soul is left alone and is no match for the Prince of Darkness. Once our faith has passed through the test of abandonment, the devil has no greater weapon left with which to attack our faith.

Jesus brings with him into the garden his disciples, to pray with him as he prepares to enter his test of abandonment. He comes and finds them sleeping, (a condition not unfamiliar to many believers). His exhortation to them and to us: "Stay awake and prayer, that you may not undergo the TEST" 

As we enter these final days of Lent, Jesus' exhortation is now addressed to us. Are you ready and awake? Are you praying for the grace of "unshakable trust"?

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In his passion of ABANDONMENT, Jesus' prayer on the Cross draws on the words of psalm 22. It offers us much support and inspiration for our prayer at this time. The following is the first part of psalm 22.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why so far from my call for help,
from my cries of anguish?

My God, I call by day, but you do not answer;
by night, but I have no relief.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the glory of Israel.

In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted and you rescued them.
To you they cried out and they escaped;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm, not a man,
scorned by men, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they curl their lips and jeer;
they shake their heads at me:

“He relied on the LORD—let him deliver him;
if he loves him, let him rescue him.”

For you drew me forth from the womb,
made me safe at my mother’s breasts.
Upon you I was thrust from the womb;
since my mother bore me you are my God.

Do not stay far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is no one to help.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Lent 2015 - Seven

Forth Sunday of Lent - "The Sign of the Cross"

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Jn 3:14-21

The Bronze Serpent
But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.”
So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. Num. 21:4-9
It is quite interesting to see this story unfold among the Jewish people, because of their strict prohibition of any kind of idol worship. In the First Commandment we hear: You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or serve them. The serpent was an object of idol worship in the ancient world, yet, here God is instructing Moses to make this bronze object. Perhaps it is meant to be a symbol contradicted by the true source of healing power, who is God alone. The book of wisdom gives such an explanation: 
For when the dire venom of beasts came upon them and they were dying from the bite of crooked serpents, your anger endured not to the end. But as a warning, for a short time they were terrorized, though they had a sign of salvation, to remind them of the precept of your law. For the one who turned toward it was saved, not by what was seen, but by you, the savior of all. By this also you convinced our foes that you are the one who delivers from all evil. Wisdom 16:5
Later, when Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah, became king, he removed the high places, shattered the pillars, cut down the asherah, and smashed the bronze serpent Moses had made, because up to that time the Israelites were burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) 2 Kings 18:1 
It is interesting that the "Nehushtan" has been adopted as a symbol of healing by various medical groups.

Bronze Serpent                              Nehushtan                              Cross of Christ

Finally, in the New Testament, the true sign of God's redemptive power of healing is revealed - the Cross of Christ. For the Romans, the cross is a symbol and instrument of death. But the Cross of Jesus, followed by his resurrection, gives the Cross a new meaning. Sin brings death, the Cross brings forgiveness and redemption. 

The Sign of the Cross is an essential part of the signs of grace found in the administration of all the sacraments. All prayer begins and ends with the Sign of the Cross. We begin the holy season of Lent by marking our foreheads with the Sign of the Cross, made with ashes, then begin the Easter season with the Sign of the Cross, made by the sprinkling of the Easter baptismal water.

Regrettably, the Cross is used as an ornamental object, often in disrespectful ways. It is a popular subject for tattoos, all-be-it, well meaning by some. There are those who want the Cross removed from all public display. Even some Catholics are hesitant to make the Sign of the Cross in public, or it may be made in a haphazard way. We should remember that making the Sign of the Cross is a prayer in itself.

The question that is before us now, as we enter the second half of Lent, is what meaning does the the Cross have for me personally? 

  • Do I realize that on the day of the Cross I was there ... 
  • that on the day of the Cross, my name, and my sin was carried in the heart of Jesus, and forgiveness spoken, "Father, forgive ..." 
  • that the Cross was not about the Jews and the Romans, it was about me, dying because of my sin ... 
  • that on the Cross, Jesus wrestled my soul free from Satan's grip ...
  • that by Jesus' wounds on the Cross, I was being saved from dying, eternally ...
  • that from the Cross I rose with Jesus into eternal life ...

When the Serpent impales its fangs
And its venom of sin invades your soul
Look to the Cross
And the Love that is upon it
That the power of forgiveness
Flowing from His wounds
May deliver you

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Lent 2015 - Six

Third Sunday of Lent

I Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside.” Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith.

(2nd Reading - 3rd Sunday Lent)

For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 
but we proclaim Christ crucified, 
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, 
Jews and Greeks alike, 
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. 

It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”


"For Jews demand signs ... " At the time of Jesus, Jews were expecting God to send a Messiah to deliver them from the tyranny of the Roman occupation of their land. Naturally they believed that this would take an exceptionally charismatic leader who would command great leadership and power. They were looking for any sign that such a powerful Messiah was rising up. Reports about Jesus, what he was teaching, the powerful miracles he was performing, began to raise hopes that he was the one. But any hope that Jesus was the Messiah were crushed by his Crucifixion. The two disciples, on the road to Emmaus, reporting events to the risen Jesus, whom they did not recognize, summed it up this way: He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. (but then) The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. Lk 24:19

... and Greeks look for wisdom". In order to have a full and prosperous life one needed to acquire a body of knowledge about the how and the why of the this world's systems. For the Greeks, the sum of all this knowledge added up to wisdom. In the city of Athens there was a meeting place called the Areopagus, where people would gather to share and debate their ideas, in search of wisdom. In the Book of Acts, chapter 17: St. Paul goes to this meeting place to share the wisdom of the gospel. 
Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) Acts 17:19ff
So Paul begins by commending them for their inclusion of religion in their search for wisdom. However, he goes on to point out that their ideas about God are all wrong.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. Vs. 24
Paul goes on to affirm that it was indeed God who put into man's heart a desire to know him, but this would be fulfilled in a new life, after death and resurrection from the dead, (as seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.)
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” Vs. 32
"Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles"

The argument of the Roman cross is: the one who can kill is the one with real power. The rebuttal, proven by the Cross of Christ is: the One who gives life has true power and authority. The Cross of Christ/Resurrection of Christ, are linked as one. They are inseparable from one another. Paul sums it up succinctly: If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 1 Cor. 15:14
The assault against our faith is the crosses we suffer. That is why Lent is such an important time for us. For in Lent, we deliberately take on the enemy's crosses inflicted against us, our suffering and the suffering of others, that bears down on our life, constantly threatening to rob us of the goodness of life, and to destroy us in the end.

We all struggle with the one and the same enemy, with the cross of suffering and death, whether we be religious or not. We commend the scientist and the politician in their search for remedies, and readily join with them in their efforts to advance life and peace. But the hope that empowers us, that is never defeated within us, comes not from our efforts alone, but from the power and inspiration flowing from the Cross of Christ and his resurrection.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Cor 15:53

"Take up your cross and follow me"

During these days of Lent, through prayerful examination, seek to identify the crosses that are working against your faith, that undermine your hope and the peace it brings you.

*+* physical suffering, your own, and that of love ones, especially children
*+* injustices, against you and others, seeing the unjust prosper
*+* convincing arguments against faith coming from modern science
*+* discredit of religion by fundamentalist ideologies, Christian and others
*+* scandals caused by religious leaders
*+* personal sins, your own life's failures
*+* the voice of doubt casting an ever-widening shadow over your faith
*+* that cross that seems to never be healed, that returns to haunt you
*+* others you name

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