Thứ Ba, 11 tháng 4, 2017

APRIL 12, 2017 : WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK

Wednesday of Holy Week
Lectionary: 259

Reading 1IS 50:4-9A
The Lord GOD has given me 
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me,
let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

R. (14c) Lord, in your great love, answer me.
For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother's sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving:
"See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not."
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Verse Before The Gospel
Hail to your, our King;
you alone are compassionate with our errors.

OR
Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father;
you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, 
went to the chief priests and said,
"What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?"
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
"Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?"
He said,
"Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
'The teacher says, My appointed time draws near; 
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.'"
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said, 
"Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
"Surely it is not I, Lord?"
He said in reply,
"He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born."
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
"Surely it is not I, Rabbi?"
He answered, "You have said so."


Meditation: The tragedy of the betrayal
Why did Judas betray his Master? Was his treachery motivated by greed, bitter disappointment with Jesus, or hatred because of disillusionment? It may be that Judas never intended for his Master to die. Maybe he thought Jesus was proceeding too slowly and not acting aggressively enough in setting up his messianic kingdom. Perhaps Judas wanted to force Jesus' hand by compelling him to act. Nonetheless, his tragedy was his refusal to accept Jesus as he was.
The power of greed can only be overcome with the power of Christ's love poured out for us
Origen (185-254 AD), a bible scholar and early church father, comments on Judas' betrayal:
"Let us consider what Judas said to the Jewish priests: What will you give me if I hand him over to you? He was willing to take money in exchange for handing over the Word of God. They do the same thing who accept sensual or worldly goods in exchange for handing over and casting out from their souls the Savior and Word of truth who came to dwell with them. Indeed, it would be fitting to apply Judas's example to all who show contempt for the Word of God and betray him, as it were, by committing sin for the sake of money or for any selfish motive. People who behave in this way appear openly to be calling out to the powers of the enemy who offer worldly gain in return for the sin of betraying God's Word, saying, What will you give me if I hand him over to you? And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.
The number of coins they gave Judas was equivalent to the number of years the Savior had sojourned in this world. For at the age of thirty, he was baptized and began to preach the gospel, like Joseph was thirty years old when he began to gather grain for his brothers (Genesis 41:46). Just as at that time the grain was prepared by God for the sons of Israel but given also to the Egyptians, so also the gospel was prepared for the saints but preached also to the unfaithful and wicked." (Commentary on Matthew 78.)
The Lord will test our hearts to show us where we need his love and strength to do his will
Jesus knew beforehand what would befall him. As Jesus ate his last supper meal with his twelve apostles he put them under trial and suspicion (one of you will betray me) to teach them to examine themselves rightly, lest they be high-minded and think themselves more strong than they were. We, also must examine ourselves in the light of God's truth and grace and ask him to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love that we may not fail him or forsake him when we are tempted. Do you pray with confidence in the words Jesus gave us to pray: Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13)?
"God our Father, we are exceedingly frail and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking. Strengthen our weakness, we beseech you, that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice, and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts; for Jesus Christ's sake."  (Prayer of Thomas a Kempis)
A Daily Quote for LentGod's help for a complete conversion, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"When we transform our old life and give our spirit a new image, we find it hard and tiring to turn back from the darkness of earthly passions to the serene calm of the divine light. We thus ask God to help us that a complete conversion may be brought about in us." (excerpt from Confessions 10,4) 

WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, MATTHEW 26:14-25

(Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 69)

KEY VERSE: "Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me" (v 21).
TO KNOW: The prophet Zechariah prefigured Christ in that his service was rejected even though he was a good shepherd to his flock. Like Zechariah, Jesus attempted to lead his people with a prophetic and pastoral ministry, but he ended up suffering at the hands of his enemies. Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve Apostles, plotted with the chief priests to betray Jesus for "thirty pieces of silver," the price of an injured slave (Ex 21:32; Zec 11:12). Matthew suggested that Judas' motive was greed. But perhaps it was that Judas never truly understand who Jesus was. The other disciples called Jesus "Lord" while Judas addressed him as "rabbi" or "teacher." Although God used Judas' treacherous act to fulfill the divine plan, the disciple was not absolved from personal responsibility for his grievous sin.
TO LOVE: Have I participated in the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the ways I have denied the Lord through my words or deeds?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to be faithful to you as I take up my cross and follow you.

Wednesday 12 April 2017

‘My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples.’ Matthew 26:18
My house? Imagine: today my Lord is coming to my house with his disciples to celebrate Passover. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the powers of darkness will not be far away, along with spies, traitors, and guards. The most important word in this flurry of action is ‘TODAY’. Today is kairos, the time of God’s activity. I need to pay attention. The hour has come. Every minute is precious. My beloved has perhaps only a few hours to live – at most a few days. And Jesus will confront the powers of darkness with a shared meal, remembering how God rescued the powerless from slavery and brought them to a promised land. Lord I am powerless in the face of a tragic, cruel dying. With Jesus I hope in your promise. With Jesus I share in your promise. What are you asking of me now? My house? Come in, Lord Jesus.

LECTIO DIVINA: MATTHEW 26,14-25
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Lent Time


1) Opening prayer
God our Father,
when the hour of your Son Jesus had come
to accept suffering and death
out of love of you
and his saving love for us, he did not refuse that suffering and deep pain.
In the hour of trial
that we may have to pass through,
do not let us become rebellious
but keep us trusting in you,
for you save us
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 26, 14-25
One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, 'What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?' They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from then onwards he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say, 'Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?' He said, 'Go to a certain man in the city and say to him, "The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples." ' The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.
When evening came he was at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating he said, 'In truth I tell you, one of you is about to betray me.' They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn, 'Not me, Lord, surely?' He answered, 'Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me will betray me. The Son of man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!' Judas, who was to betray him, asked in his turn, 'Not me, Rabbi, surely?' Jesus answered, 'It is you who say it.'

3) Reflection
• Yesterday the Gospel spoke of the betrayal of Judas and of the denial of Peter. Today, it speaks once again of the betrayal of Judas. In the description of the Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, the failure of the disciples is strongly stressed. In spite of having lived three years together with Jesus, not one of them defends Jesus. Judas betrays him, Peter denies him, and the others flee. Matthew narrates everything, not to criticize or to condemn, neither to discourage the readers, but in order to underline that acceptance and the love of Jesus exceed the defeat and the failure of the disciples! This way of describing the attitude of Jesus was a help for the Communities at the time of Matthew. Because of the frequent persecutions, many were discouraged and had abandoned the community and asked themselves: “Will it be possible to return? Will God accept and forgive us?” Matthew responds by suggesting that we can break the relationship with Jesus, but Jesus never breaks it with us. His love is greater than our infidelity. This is a very important message which we get from the Gospel during Holy Week.
• Matthew 26, 14-16: The Decision of Judas to betray Jesus. Judas took the decision after Jesus did not accept the criticism of the disciples concerning the woman who wastes a very expensive perfume only to anoint Jesus (Mt 26, 6-13). He went to the chief priest and asked: “What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?” They agreed on the sum of thirty silver pieces. Matthew recalls the words of the Prophet Zechariah to describe the price agreed upon (Zc 11, 12). At the same time, the betrayal of Jesus for thirty silver coins recalls the sale of Joseph by his brothers, decided by the buyers for twenty coins (Gn 37, 28). It also reminds the price of thirty coins to be paid for the wounding of a slave (Ex 21, 32).
• Matthew 26, 17-19: The preparation for the Passover. Jesus was coming from Galilee. He did not have a house in Jerusalem. He spent the night in the Garden of Olives (cf. Jn 8, 1). In the days of the feast of the Passover the people of Jerusalem increased three times in number because of the enormous number of pilgrims who went there from all parts. For Jesus it was not easy to find a big room where to celebrate the Passover together with the pilgrims coming from Galilee, as himself. He ordered his disciples to find a person in whose house he had decided to celebrate the Passover. The Gospel does not offer any other information and allows the imagination to complete what is missing in the information. Was this a person known by Jesus? A relative? A disciple? Throughout the centuries the imagination of the Apocrypha has known how to complete this information, but with little credibility.
• Matthew 26, 20-25: The announcement of the betrayal of Judas. Jesus knew that he will be betrayed. In spite of the fact that Judas did things secretly. Jesus knew. But in spite of that, he wants to act fraternally with the group of friends to which Judas belongs. When all were together for the last time, Jesus announces who is the traitor “Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me will betray me”. This way of announcing the betrayal renders even clearer the contrast. For the Jews, the communion around the table, to dip the hand together in the same dish, was the maximum expression of intimacy and trust. In this way, Matthew suggests that in spite of the betrayal made by someone who was a friend, the love of Jesus is greater than the betrayal!
• What strikes in the way in which Matthew describes these facts? Between the denial and the betrayal there is the institution of the Eucharist (Mt 26, 26-29): the betrayal of Judas first (Mt 26, 20-25); the denial of Peter and the flight of the disciples, afterwards (Mt 25, 30-35). Thus, he stressed for us the incredible gratuitousness of the love of Jesus, which exceeds the betrayal, the denial and the flight of the friends. His love does not depend on what others do for him.

4) Personal questions
• Am I capable of being like Judas and to deny and betray God, Jesus, the friends?
• In Holy Week it is important to reserve some moments to become aware of the unbelievable gratuity of God’s love for me.

5) Concluding Prayer
Sing to God, play music to his name,
build a road for the Rider of the Clouds,
rejoice in Yahweh, dance before him.
Father of orphans, defender of widows,
such is God in his holy dwelling. (Ps 68,4-5)