Sunday, March 15, 2009

3rd Sunday of Lent - reflection

The following reflection (3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B) from is by Basilian Father Thomas Rosica…a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

…One intriguing aspect of today's Gospel story is the portrait of an angry Jesus in the temple-cleansing scene that gives way to two extremes in our own image of the Lord. Some people wish to transform an otherwise passive Christ into a whip-cracking revolutionary.

Others would like to excise any human qualities of Jesus and paint a very meek, bland character, who smiled, kept silent and never rocked the boat. The errors of the old extreme, however, do not justify a new extremism.

Jesus was not exclusively, not even primarily, concerned with social reform. Rather, he was filled with a deep devotion and burning love for his Father and the things of his Father. He wanted to form new people, created in God's image, who are sustained by his love, and bring that love to others. Jesus' disciples and apostles recognized him as a passionate figure -- one who was committed to life and to losing it for the sake of truth and fidelity.

Have we given in to these extremes in our own understanding of and relationship with Jesus?
Are we passionate about anything in our lives today? Are we filled with a deep and burning love for the things of God and for his Son, Jesus?

Message of the cross

In writing to the people of Corinth, Paul was addressing numerous disorders and scandals that were present. True communion and unity were threatened by groups and internal divisions that seriously compromised the unity of the Body of Christ. Rather than appealing to complex theological or philosophical words of wisdom to resolve the difficulties, Paul announces Christ to this community: Christ crucified. Paul's strength is not found in persuasive language, but rather, paradoxically, in the weakness of one who trusts only in the "power of God" (I Corinthians 2:1-4).

In St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (1:18, 22-25), we hear about "the message of the cross that is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." For St. Paul, the cross represents the center of his theology: To say cross means to say salvation as grace given to every creature.

Paul's simple message of the cross is scandal and foolishness. He states this strongly with the words: "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. It was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles."

The "scandal" and the "foolishness" of the cross are precisely in the fact that where there seems to be only failure, sorrow and defeat, precisely there, is all the power of the boundless love of God. The cross is the expression of love and love is the true power that is revealed precisely in this seeming weakness.

St. Paul has experienced this even in his own flesh, and he gives us testimony of this in various passages of his spiritual journey, which have become important points of departure for every disciple of Jesus: "He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Corinthians 12:9); and even "God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something" (1 Corinthians 1:28).

The Apostle to the Gentiles identifies himself to such a degree with Christ that he also, even in the midst of so many trials, lives in the faith of the Son of God who loved him and gave himself up for his sins and those of everyone (cf. Galatians 1:4; 2:20).

Today, as we contemplate Jesus' burning love for the things of his Father, and the saving mystery of his cross, let us pray these words:

O God, whose foolishness is wise and whose weakness is strong,by the working of your grace in the disciplines of Lentcleanse the temple of your Church and purify the sanctuary of our hearts.
May we be filled with a burning love for your house,and may obedience to your commandmentsabsorb and surround us along this Lenten journey.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, the man of the cross,your power and your wisdom,the Lord who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,God for ever and ever. Amen.

[The readings for this Sunday are Exodus 20:1-17 or 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 and John 2:13-25. For use with RCIA, Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8 and John 4:5-42 or 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42]


At 11:37 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

The DC ‘Hood game was tonight. There was a great turn out, and that’s cool- but there is something else (personal) that I think was greater. My son was the “ball boy.” Initially, he was so excited to be on the court and sit on the same benches where the Wizards play & sit. However, after the game, his view was completely different. Upon leaving the Verizon Center, he saw (I think it was) Fr. Swink who made it a point to give him a high five. After we dropped off the last of his friends, my son was a chatter box about how cool the experience was. “I met the bishop and he knows my name. He was a really good basketball player when he was younger! And there was this guy named Pablo and a cool guy named Tim (I think seminarians). And there was this one guy named, Dave (Dave Wells) who is going to be a priest, and he was awesome!” He said, “After he becomes a priest, I want to talk to him!” I don’t known why- but, okay. He had some funny “manly” things to say about Fr. Greg that cracked me up too.

I’ve always thought the games were a great venue for introducing people to the idea of what vocations is about. Tonight, the point really hit home. It’s not about paving a way for anyone and everyone to religious vocations but giving a perspective about openness to answering God’s call, whatever that may be. For my son, in particular, I’m grateful that he experienced the masculinity of the priesthood firsthand. He thinks those priests (and seminarians) are some “real me,” thus his openness to what they have to say is now big.

Also, I thought the video was awesome- direct, powerful and enlightening about why these men do what they do. I especially liked the comment from Fr. Swink (again- I think that’s who it was), that the priesthood “isn’t natural, it’s supernatural.”

My son walked away from this evening believing he was among special men. I think that’s so cool. Thanks, Fr. Greg for organizing all this. It was a good day.

At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And.... the DC'Hood team won!!

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

eah- they won, and they were outnumered on the bench something like 3 to one. Mr. Nagle had a good showing too! He and r. Greg had a pretty good collision but both got up simling. It made those of us at SAA proud!

At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thing about the video shown-

my mom went to a family party for a close family member's 70th bday. There were commemorative gifts given with an old photo of my great grandparent's family. It's always funny to look at something like that- I wasn't there, but those are my roots. I know the traditions that stemmed from those very people. The movie at the game was like that too, in a way. There were clips showing ancient practices and traditions that are as important and relevant today as they were so many years ago. They are our collective common roots. Values carried through generations are ones that are based in beliefs that are solid. They are based in truth. If they weren't, they'd fall away. I thought it was a strong point to make too.

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Holy Father has announced the year of the priest starting June 19, 2009 - June 19-2010.

At 2:11 PM, Blogger fran said...

Maybe it is easy to romanticize it, but when I hear or read the bible passages which tell us about Jesus walking the shores of the Sea of Galilee, saying to Simon, Andrew, James and John, to come and follow him, I think wow! - what a powerful, amazing, incredible thing! One minute fishing, the next being called by Jesus Christ himself, flesh and blood! What a gift, an opportunity, a treasure! One might also see it as an honor and a priviledge, but ultimately a profoundly humbling experience to have such an invitation extended to them.

I pray that all of our young men who have had the opportunity to be in the midst of so many of the wonderful priests of the Washington Archdiocese, whether it be at a DC 'Hood game, a vocations dinner, or in a personal conversation, realize the incredible gift that these men, in the person of Christ, offer, and the treasure that they all are.

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

There is something I often think about along those same lines- but about the women who followed. In thinking about the woman at the well, in particular, she likely travelled some distance on one particular mission, to gather water. She had an encounter with Jesus and it changed everything. Her original mission was abandoned. She left her water container behind and went to tell others about Jesus. In the same way, she “cast aside a net” and went on to proclaim His message, but Jesus never gave her any verbal directive. I have to think He just knew she would do it. JPII talked about the “genius of women” in how we know what to do b/c know what others need. Women intuit so much. Maybe that’s how a large lot of us will be also called into discipleship. In thinking like that, it is, indeed, a romantic notion, one of unspoken words but of great love. Today, in particular, it was good for me to be reminded of that.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

This evening my 2nd-grader "c" was at a Brownie meeting. Near the end of the meeting:

Leader: You girls can grow up to be ANYTHING you want...

c: except a..

Leader: (ignoring the interruption)A doctor, or a lawyer, or a..

c: but NOT...

Leader: ...or a plumber, or a(goes on to list several more occupations)

c: (waving hand)

Leader: Yes, sweetie?

c: Girls CAN'T be ANYTHING they want.

Leader: Oh?

c: Well, they CAN'T be priests. Only men.

Leader: well...that's true - but girls can be anything else.

c: (satisfied at having made her point) Can we sing the wishing song now?


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