Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Quinqagesima Sunday—15 February AD 2015

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man. For he shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon; and after they have scourged him, they will put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again.”[1]

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Lenten Observance

    Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent.  Today's Gospel is very appropriate, for, in a manner of speaking, we are preparing to “go up to Jerusalem” with our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Apostles had the advantage of being first hand witnesses of our Lord's wisdom and power.  They could accept what our Lord told them without much question.  But we are told that “they understood none of these things.”

    We have the benefit of hindsight.  We know that Jesus was referring to the central event of our salvation, the Sacrifice of the Cross.  You will note that in the very first sentence of the Gospel, Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man.”  This title suggests that He is telling the Apostles that He has taken on human nature in order to offer His Sacrifice to God the Father on behalf of fallen humanity, which had no adequate gift to make amends for the sin of Adam and Eve.

    The blind man referred to Him as the “Son of David,” still a Son of mankind, but a sure indication that the blind man recognized Jesus as the Messias promised in the Old Testament:

    And David himself saith in the book of Psalms: The Lord said to my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, [43] Till I make thy enemies thy footstool.[2]

    I said that we are making the journey to Jerusalem with Jesus.  Of our own selves, we have nothing adequate to offer the Father in Sacrifice, but Our Lord has willed that we can offer ourselves up, together with Him.  Every time you assist at Mass, you stand at the foot of the Cross with the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering yourself together with the Perfect Victim Who looks down upon you with love.  Holy Mass is the center of the Catholic Religion, and should be the center of your Lenten journey to Jerusalem—as often as possible during the forty days.

    Particularly during Lent, you can offer yourself to the Father by consciously detaching yourself from sin.  The practices of Lent are intended to strengthen your will by giving up innocent pleasures, in preparation for refusing those pleasures that are no so innocent.

    A very beneficial Lenten practice is meditation on the events of Our Lord’s Passion—His illegal trial before Caiphas and Pilate, the painful whipping He received, the crowing with thorns, the carrying of the Cross, being nailed through the wrists and the feet, and the slow excruciating, asphyxiating agony that could end only in death.  We will read the Scriptural accounts during Holy Week, but you can begin for yourself right now. 

    It also helps to read some of the literature that describes this Roman method of execution.  A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ As Described by a Surgeon by Pierre Barbet, M.D. clinically describes the agonizing death by asphyxiation endured by the crucified.[3]  Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard includes a perfectly awful description of the scourging of the victim before crucifixion—the victim was to be embarrassed through nakedness and loss of control over his body—a “softening up” for the cross.[4]  Such books are useful for modern Americans who (hopefully) will never witness an actual crucifixion—they put our Lord’s sufferings, and the seriousness of our sins, into perspective.  (Both books are in print, and your library can obtain them for your through inter-library loan.)

    Finally, today’s epistle describes another important aspect of offering ourselves to the Father.  Saint Paul tells us that we are nothing if we are without charity.[5]  This is more than generosity to the poor—although that is part of charity.  Where our translation uses “charity,” others use the word “love.”  Saint Paul wrote in Greek, and use the word “agapēn” (“ἀγάπην”) which means a sort of disinterested love, as God and man have for one another, and as man should have for his neighbor because he loves God.[6]  Every good deed done for the love of God is an act of charity, and a primary way of offering ourselves with Jesus Christ to the Father.

    This coming Wednesday we will begin our journey to Jerusalem.  Resolve to make this the best Lent of your life.  Offer yourself together with Jesus.  Attend Holy Mass as often as possible.  Unite yourself with Holy Mass being offered somewhere in the world if you cannot attend.  Read about and meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ, and the part our sins play in it.  Resolve not to add any more to His suffering.  Should you fall into sin, think immediately about the pain you just caused to the One who loves you beyond measure—resolve not to do it again.   Recognize that without the love of God we are nothing.

    If we persevere in the love of God, one day our firm and holy faith will give way to the direct knowledge of God; nothing more will remain to be hoped for, for we will possess everything in the Beatific Vision of God.  But the love of God, which brought us to this blessed state, will endure in eternity:  “And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.”

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man.”


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