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‘Easter is the feast of the new creation…’ Benedict XVI

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It is finished…It has begun.

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Francisco’s teaching: feeding us food for thought, the heart the mind and soul.

 

(The Pope’s homily is copied from Vatican News. Emphasis mine)

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1. Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk 19:38).

Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul. Now he enters the Holy City! This is Jesus.This is the heart that looks on all of us, watching our illnesses, our sins. The love of Jesus is great. He enters Jerusalem with this love and watches all of us. It is a beautiful scene, the light of the love of Jesus, that light of his heart, joy, celebration.

At the beginning of Mass, we repeated all this. We waved our palms, our olive branches, we sang “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” (Antiphon); we too welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God, but he humbled himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. Here, he enlightens us on the journey. And so today we welcome Him And here the first word that comes to mind is “joy!” Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! It is at this time that the enemy comes, the devil comes, often disguised as an angel who insidiously tells us his word. Do not listen to him! We follow Jesus! download (3)

We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world of ours. Let us bring the joy of the faith to everyone! Let us not be robbed of hope! Let us not be robbed of hope! The hope that Jesus gives us!

2. A second word: why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: he is riding on a donkey, he is not accompanied by a court, he is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk, who sense that there is more to Jesus, who have the sense of faith that says, “This is the Savior.” Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers; he enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood. And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross!

I think of what Benedict XVI said to the cardinals: “You are princes but of a Crucified King”that is Christ’s throne. Jesus takes it upon himself..why? Why the Cross? Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including our own sin, and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, which no-one can bring with him.

My grandmother would say to us children, no shroud has pockets! Greed for money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And – each of us knows well – our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation. Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Christ brings to all of us from the Cross, his throne. Christ’s Cross embraced with love does not lead to sadness, but to joy! The joy of being saved and doing a little bit what he did that day of his death.

3. Today in this Square, there are many young people: for 28 years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: youth!

Dear young people, I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart, always, even at the age of seventy or eighty.! A young heart! With Christ, the heart never grows old! Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves that we have true joy and that God has conquered evil through love.

You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace. download (2)

Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you, from today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of Christ’s Cross. I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world. Young people need to tell the world: “It is good to follow Jesus, it is good to go with Jesus, the message of Jesus is good, it is good to come out of ourselves, from the edges of existence of the world and to bring Jesus to others!”

Three words: Joy, Cross and Youth.Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives.

Amen.

The Catholic Herald comments on the Holy Father’s first Palm Sunday  Mass.

 

Take a look at the ancient road that Jesus travelled on as it is today.

Three in a row…

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It’s Official!

(I found this  photo at Catholicseeking)

Dear friends, we show you the official photo of Pope Francis, with his signature. In the crucifix is the image of Jesus the “good shepherd”, carrying the sheep on his shoulders, with the flock following him.

The word ‘pastor’ ‘ comes from the Latin word for shepherd. This is one of the earliest Christian portrayals of the Good Shepherd: a statue found in the Catacombs of Domitilla, in Rome, from the third century.

A personal photo of this statue to be found at th

A personal photo of this statue at the Catacombs of Domitilla, in Rome.

Christ calls all out to all his sheep, especially those who are lost in any way, or those who feel lost. May we all be good shepherds, in helping to make all those on the outside feel, and know, that they belong inside the fold.

The real question is what CHOICE do each of us make in meeting our spiritual challenges?

I found this quote here that spoke so clearly to me immediately:

I believe the Catholic Church provides many opportunities to focus on the Gospels. Actually being in the pew is the first step. An active Catholic participates, seeks out information, and is engaged in the many activities, including charitable causes.

If a person joins an organization by signing their name, seldom attends the meetings, never volunteers, and is not in sync with the group’s basic principles, would they be considered an active member?

The real question is what CHOICE do each of us make in meeting our spiritual challenges?

Are you one of the ‘Cafe Catholics’ who has not darkened the door of the church for some time or who has little knowledge about Christ at the centre of His Church? Has your knowledge of Faith stagnated and become fuzzy, so you just add little bits into your ‘faith’ because it feels more comfortable to do so, and fits into your understanding of a relationship of Jesus? Are you unsure about the truth of the Faith? Do you cringe and turn away from those who criticise the Church and end up agreeing with others’ statements about Jesus and what He teaches just to end a conversation? Do you have serious grievances against the Church which have never been heard? Do you generally go to church at Christmas and Easter but couldn’t be bothered to go to Confession or to receive Holy Communion? Do you feel uncomfortable about secular issues but can’t put you finger on why you feel this way?  Do you openly criticise the tenets of ‘church and faith’ as a catholic?

There are so many inactive Catholics who have signed up and call themselves catholic! So many who are missing out on an exciting Spiritual Journey of Discovery:- the discovery of our Loving God and who He is, and how He can change our hearts and minds and make us notice things we’ve never recognised about Him before.  Get active in your parish!… search for our Lord. He is to be found there…in our midst. Search for the answers to your Spiritual Challenges. Be prepared for changes that will most certainly come your way.

What better way is there to do this than by getting involved with a group or setting up a new group in your parish? I have had the pleasure of  meeting many interesting people with many interesting talents with so much LOVE for our Lord. So much love to give. His Love oozes from them and in turn we are moved by His actions in them. We meet Him in them. It is in this way that we broaden our continuously growing knowledge of Love and how we understand this Love more in our giving to others . This well of Knowledge is deep and unending. The breadth and scope of what always seems to remain undiscovered spreads out in vast plains before us the more we search and thirst for our loving Father.

The youth of the parish exude a love for life asking urgent, challenging questions. The elderly preserve precious Traditions of the Church and in so doing, help us to understand those Traditions and grow more in love with our Lord. Our contemporaries support us in our Journey with a shoulder to lean on, prayers and understanding.

Parishes are built up  and made stronger by those who volunteer their talents for the sake of others. It is there that we learn to understand the meaning of humility and tolerance for others that little bit more each and every time we’re involved. It is there that we have the opportunity to share our experiences of the Lord and our love of Him with others in a way that only He can do, and in so doing you can move someone into a deeper relationship with Him. It is there that we are accepted and loved for who we are without any prerequisites or judgement. It is there that we build up the Church on earth. We are the Body  of Christ on earth.images (1)Catholic parishes are full to the brim with a cross-section of cultures and life experiences  with the Lord Jesus. Surely these experiences only work to build links and open invitations to getting to know God in yet again in another way through them? It is only there that you are exposed to the love given and received by your parish priest in ways sometimes most unexpected. You become witness to the many roles that you priest takes on a daily basis. The most important being: bringing Christ to those he is in contact with. Yes, you see Him at Mass and listen to him share the Gospels on a Sunday and hopefully, teaching about the Truth of our Faith: Jesus himself. Have you really listened to the Gospels for a message  pointed straight at you? Have you chosen to listen to the Word of God?

I have been privileged to meet some of the most inspirational priests, religious and lay people who are experts in their fields who can go a long way in answering those burning questions about Jesus that may have simmered for so long. The Journey is slow, gentle and welcoming. Just make the CHOICE to be active in your Faith. Active in your parish and in so doing in the wider the community. Make the CHOICE to get to know Jesus.

What better way to make up your mind about coming back into The Fold: Finding out about what’s new in the Church, how God is working in Her midst, finding Peace and restitution in God’s provision of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and then of course, Christ himself in the  Eucharist. Have you thought about making an appointment with your parish priest to ask questions, ask for guidance or ask your challenging Spiritual questions? I think you may be pleasantly surprised.

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Fancy the idea of making a change for the better? Come back to Church!

Palm Sunday – the day after tomorrow, and Holy week begins

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Entry to Jerusalem

Click here for a fine reflection by Bruce Epperly from Patheos on “Palm/Passion Sunday Celebration, Desolation and Healing.”

Image@http://godspace.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/palm-sunday-prayer-2013/

Image@http://godspace.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/palm-sunday-prayer-2013/

Discreetly, humbly and silently…

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