March 25, 2018 – Palm Sunday

 March 25, Palm Sunday – Beginning of Holy Week

Scxriptures for today’s Liturgy:

Mark 11:1-10 or John 12:12-16 – Isaiah 50:4-7 – Psalm 22 – Philppians 2:6-111 – Mark 14:1-15:47

This link gives you more imformation about Palm Sunday than you will ever need.

I pray that all my faithful readers of Scratchpad Reflections will be greatly blessed in this coming week of the Church Year. There is so much to be gained if we but open our hearts and minds to follow Jesus more clearly all the days of our lives. Try to put yourself into the vivid images that are given to us all through this coming week while you ask the Lord to be with you and guide you to a better understanding of what Church is all about.

 Throughout these High Holy Days I will try to give you various ways in which you might try to get a fresh insight into what this week is all about. God Bless you all and may the Lord lead into deeper awareness of His love for you. God Bless You Holy Week!

 Brother Daniel – Scratchpad Reflections

March 24, 2018 – the 5th Week of Lent

Saint for the day: Blessed Oscar A. Romero (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Ezekiel 37:21-28 – Jeremiah 31:10 – 12 – John 11:45-56

I pray, that they may be one as you, Father are one in me and I in you.” (John 17:31)These words of Jesus from what is known as “The Priestly Prayer” are still the prayer that we pray two thousand plus years down the road. It’s no secret that all creation has groaned for this “oneness” that was first lost in Eden and continues fragmenting society all across our world and throughout the ages.

Our Old Testament readings that we’ve been hearing in these last days of Lent remind us that God still hopes for the best even as we stumble and fall along the way. What is it that keeps us as a broken, fragmented people? We can’t just say, “it’s their fault” pointing to someone or something outside of ourselves. If there is to be the unity that Jesus (and God, too) might get it a little more together than before!

The words of a familiar song come to mind: “Let there be peace (eg unity, oneness, harmony, etc) on earth and let it begin with me” We can’t be like the S & Ps always pointing to the problem being out there. We have to begin right here and now to take the steps necessary to begin that healing process.

In one sense we can be encouraged that this has been the desire of God through the prophets and the people for all time. On the other side, however, we can see that our world and its people have fallen way short of that goal for all time and in all places.

So, what can I do right here and now to bring about this desire of God/Jesus? The familiar parable of the “talents” comes to mind. It’s not that we have to go out and ‘double our money’ but, like the man who got just one “talent,” we have to at least make some effort – even passive – to bring change – first in ourselves – and then on the rebound to those around us and the world.

This is the prayer of Jesus which has to become our prayer, too. “… that they may be one!” Amen!

Friday, March 23, 2018 – the 5th Week of Lent

Saint for the day: Turibius of Mogrovejo (November 16, 1538 – March 23, 1606)

 Scriptury readings for today’s Liturgy:

Jeremiah 20:10-13 – Ps. 18 – John 10:31-42

 Here I am – almost at the tail end of yet another Lent. I’ve been consciously going through various incarnations of this liturgical season for about 60 years. What have I learned about life, God, Jesus, suffering, death and resurrection? In the end I think that we haven’t really come very close to fully understanding the vast reality of God’s inter-action with the universe that He created and then said, “It is good!”

St. Thomas says, “grace builds on nature” and yet we don’t begin to understand what nature is all about. How can we talk about the intricacies of God when we know so little about nature. Scripture tells us “we are created a little less than angels yet I see through BBC Programs that there are fantastic worms at the bottom of the ocean who have devised ways to survive in a very hostile environment and we still can’t figure out how to provide adequate conditions for vast numbers of people living on earth. “What a piece of work is man…” John 3:16 means that we must come to understand what death means since Jesus says, “if we believe in Him we shall not taste death.” God created an incredible world that we can’t even begin to understand. How much more do we not understand about death?

Sorry. Big questions that I only begin to articulate and I don’t really know the answers yet. I’ll continue – I hope – to go through these seasons of Lent, Easter, Ordinary – and extraordinary times on my way to the kingdom that even my incredible imagination can only begin to scratch at the reality of.

 

March 20, 2018 – Tuesday in the 5th Week of Lent

March 20, 2018 – Tuesday in the 5th Week of Lent

Saint for the day: Salvatgor of Horta (1520 – Mach 18, 1567)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

Numbers 21:4-9 – Psalm 102 – John 8:21-30

“When I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself.”

 In these last days of Lent the Church gives us enough scripture “tie-ins” to chew on. Today’s scriptures connect the Old and New Testaments with Jesus presenting Himself as the “New Adam.” The story of the Israelites getting bitten by snakes, along with Moses’ remedy is easy for us to see. But underneath this is a wealth of symbolism about our fall from grace and our redemption.

This takes us all the way back to “The Fall.” None of us have any trouble with the imagery of that story but it’s good to flesh it out. The evil one, disguised as a snake slithers down from the tree of life to tempt Adam and Eve with the promise “you will be like Gods.” In the end, the serpent is consigned to a role of slithering along on the ground. Much of the symbolism of that story is easily missed: the serpent, at first, was hiding in the “tree of life.” So much of our failures or sins are first seen as “good” and hidden amongst apparently good things.

The serpent, in punishment for leading Adam and Eve into sin, is consigned to a life of slithering on the ground. But we’re not finished with the serpent, yet. Even in his punishment, he still masquerades as being innocently “humble” (a clear reference to the meaning of the word, “grounded in the earth”) and continues to trick us into thinking that we can still “become like Gods.”

Jesus breaks that cycle by Himself being “lifted up on the Cross” just like Moses who took the serpent (a symbol of sin) and lifted it up on a pole (cross) so that the people were freed of the sin they had committed. But we can’t leave out the final thought in this symbolic story: Even though Jesus was lifted up on the Cross for our salvation sin is still lurking there – most often hidden to make us think that “it’s OK.” We can’t just look at Jesus on the cross. We have to embrace Him in His life-giving act of love. Then, and only then, do we “become like God’s and see Him as He really is.” Amen!

March 19, 2018 – Monday in the 5th Week of Lent

Saint for the day: Joseph, Husband of Mary (? – ?)

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/031918.cfm

2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a,16 –Psalm 89 – Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22 or Matthew 1:16, 18-21

We have all seen paintings and sculptures of St. Joseph that, at least to me, look too bland and sweet to represent the real Joseph. There is nothing bland in the Joseph portrayed in the first of the”. And then comes the dream. And he trusts the dream.

Mary’s tension is different. She knew well what had taken place in her, but she did not feel at liberty to explain either to Joseph or to her parents, who must also have been going through their own anguish. To know and not to be free to tell is very difficult. Confidentiality can put us in difficult positions, especially when our own reputation is at stake. Yet Mary did not say anything. She trusted and waited.

We find it disconcerting that all this is the result of God’s having entered their lives. We expect closeness to God to be a “rosy” experience. We need to check our expectations and trust God’s presence in our lives, even when it causes some human discomfort. It is this kind of trust that helped Joseph and Mary to move from not understanding to not needing to understand. A lesson for all of us to understand. Amen!

March 18, 2018 – 5th Sunday of Lent

Saint for the day: Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315 – March 18, 386)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 – Ps 51 – Hebrews 5:7-9 – John 12:20-33

Today we begin the last week of Lent and will soon enter into the holiest week of our Church year. There are two things that strike me from the scriptures that we just read: the fact that some Greeks came to the disciples and asked, “sir, we would like to see Jesus!” Again, it seems that foreigners are the ones who recognize Jesus while His own people miss the point.

Then we are given an analogy by Jesus, “Unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it will yield a rich harvest.”

These two phrases are key to our entering into Holy Week. We must have that request that the Greeks have, “we want to see Jesus!” I’m sure that no one would dispute the importance of that request. What happens, though, is that the phrase about having to die and be buried in the ground is one that we have a hard time swallowing. Yet, who of us is able to avoid that basic reality?

In these days I seem to be more keenly aware of death as contemporaries on all sides seem to be dropping like flies. Friars from my US Province – many from my own era – have recently died. I just had word that a classmate of mine from my grammar school days also died. I get e-mails every day about some friend or another who has died. Since this is a reality of life, why am I so surprised when it happens “close to home?”

None of us has a problem with “wanting to see Jesus,” we just don’t want to see Him on the Cross. We would rather skip ahead and see Him in resurrection glory rather than having to die with Him in this world.

Why is this “death factor” such dilemma for us? Who of us can add even a single day to our lives? So we enter into this Holy Week and celebrate the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus and remember His words, “anyone who would save his life in this world will lose it.” So when we ask “to see Jesus” we need to see Him – not only as miracle worker – but as our Savior who was lifted up on the Cross in death that we might really know life.

As I move closer to my own 77th birthday I can’t but help think how much I need to take seriously this reality of wanting to “see Jesus” and what that really means. Amen!

 

 

March 17, 2018 – Saturday in the 4th Week of Lent

 

Saint for the day: Patrick (c.386 – 461)

Scripture readings for todays Liturgy

Jeremiah 11:18-20 – Ps.7:2-3 – 9 … 11-12 – John 7:40-53

“Were not our hearts burning within as He spoke to us along the road?”(Luke 34:32)

I once heard of a foreword stepping priests who ended the Mass with an unsettling word: “May the Peace of Christ profoundly disturb you!” As in, have you let the reality of the life of Jesus do something powerfully changing in you life?” This will go along with the brochure that I saw which proclaimed, “Come to such-and-such Community Church where nice people meet a nice God!” The first principle that we have to keep in mind is that the Gospels are put together backwards. They begin at the reality of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ and then reconstruct all the back– “Oh! Now I see what He was talking about when He said things like, “I am the bread of life. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.” So the Gospels are the lived and preached faith of the early Church from what they remember He said and did. There’s not much said about His childhood except that He got lost in the Temple and that “he grew in grace and truth.” If we want to know what’s important about Jesus just look at the early part of the Gospels up against how much is included about His passion, death and resurrection. John 3:16 seems to be the key: “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so that all who believe in Him might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)   In a week’s time we will begin Holy Week where we will walk with Jesus from His triumphant entry into Jerusalem; to the upper room for the Last Supper – which, interestingly enough doesn’t give us the “institution account of the Eucharist” but, rather the washing of the feet. Then, we move into the most solemn liturgy of the Church year: Good Friday, the one day in the entire year when Mass is not celebrated. The Good Friday Liturgy shocks us by its dramatic difference from what we are used to participating in when we come to church. The center of the liturgy is the reading of the Passion account with its high drama that draws us into the reality of what our Christian life is all about. In this liturgy we’re not going to hear a “prosperity gospel” or about blessings gained by believing in Jesus such as miracles and speaking in tongues. We’re brought very dramatically face to face with the fact that Jesus gave His life that we might live with Him in paradise. We then become like the disciples on the road to Emmaus and say, “Were not our hearts burning within as He explained the scriptures to us?” But we won’t just come for Holy Thursday and Good Friday. We have to stay around for that still, quiet day – Holy Saturday – when the entire Church awaits the solemnity of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Holy Week and the “Paschal Triduum” (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) bring it all together. Here we come to understand what our life is all about. Don’t miss any of it as it is one, weeklong liturgy that shouldn’t be sidestepped in any way. We want to get to that point where we can say, “were not our hearts were burning (with excitement) when we unknowingly met Jesus on the road.” Amen!

 

March 16, 2018 – Friday in the 4th Week of Lent

Saint for the day: Clement Mary Hofbauer (12/26/1751 – 3/15/1820)

Scripture readings for today’s Liturgy

Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22 – Psalm 34 – John 7::1-2, 10, 25-30

Both of the scripture readings for today’s liturgy give us a sense of exasperation which seems to be based on our inability to squeeze God into our way of understanding. We forget

Both of the scripture readings for today’s liturgy give us a sense of exasperation which seems to be based on our inability to squeeze God into our way of understanding. We forget

up in this matter is the fact that many people turn the equation around and try to get to resurrection without going through Calvary. “If you seek to be first you must take the last position and be the servant of all.” If our goal is to save our life we most assuredly will lose it and probably lose it dramatically.

The S & P’s are so caught up in thinking they know exactly how God will bring Messiah into the world and forget that “God writes straight with crooked lines” and it’s not so important to figure out the “how” as it is to know the “that.” Right that God doesn’t love us because we have “figured Him out” but rather because we can trust Him no matter what is happening in our life. The Psalm response, “God is close to the broken hearted” should give us courage to trust God no matter what is happening in our lives. God became incarnate in our world –“a man like us in all things but sin” to bring us into the possibility of finding the way to Heaven.

This is where the “prosperity Gospel preachers” have missed the point. God doesn’t come to make us rich or successful in this world but to be happy with Him in the next.” What gets us mixed from the start they are hanging around the Temple thinking for sure that is where Messiah will show up. After all, if God is going to break into our world He surely won’t be born in a cave in Bethlehem. So, Bethlehem and Calvary are two sides to the same coin. The Magi came to Bethlehem with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and the S & P’s come to Calvary with their fists raised with cries of “Crucify Him!”

We have to ask ourselves, “Have I tried to squeeze God into my finite mind or have I let God break into my life in a way that will surely lead me to Haven? God didn’t say that it would be easy but that He would never leave us or forget us. Amen!

 

March 15, 2018 – Thursday in the 4th Week of Lent

 Saint for the day:Louise de Marillac (August 12, 1591 – March 15, 1660

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

Exodus 32:7-14 – Ps. 106 – John 5:31-47

Both Scripture readings for today’s liturgy present us with a different picture of God. In the Exodus reading God comes across as being really ticked off with this people whom He has led out of slavery in Egypt. They seem tired of the journey and begin to look for something better than this endless wandering in the desert. Moses seems exasperated, also, and pleads with God to give them one more chance.

In the Gospel Jesus seems to be on the defensive in His dialogue with the Jews. In both readings we are given a picture of God and Jesus that’s mostly different from what we want to believe. What are we to make of these scriptures and how do we get to the deeper sense of what they are trying to tell us?

Certainly, it is clear from the Exodus reading that we need to be reminded of our own journey of faith and how and where we have wandered away from the love that God has poured into our lives over and over again. The Gospel scripture calls us to a belief in Jesus as savior and the Son of God. He is the light in the darkness and the way to the Father. Yet, like the Jews in His own time, we have difficulty understanding a God who would sacrifice His own Son for our salvation. Even for myself, I’m finding it hard to grasp the depth of these readings and maybe need to get back to basics: who is Jesus for me. And how do I envision God loving me so much that he would send His own Son to pay the price for my salvation? I’ll have to keep at this for awhile. In the meantime I’ll fall back on the Apostle, Thomas, “Lord I (want to) believe. Help my unbelief and bring me to that point where I can say, “now I see clearly..Amen.”

March 14, 2018 – Wednesday in the 4th Week of Lent

“I will never forget you, my people…”

Today the Church gives us this beautiful reading from Isaiah 49: “Could a mother forget the child within her womb. Yet, even if these forget, I will never forget you, my people.”

Then, in the Gospel Jesus speaks of Himself and the Father as one: “My father goes on working and so do I.” So we are given another insight into Jesus/God being Son, Father and Mother – the Sprit being the “creative” or “feminine “ aspect of God. And this “creative sense” of God is important for us to grasp as it is the essence of what we are all about. We are not static, stuck in one place people but people who are constantly being changed as “from glory to glory He’s changing us” into something beautiful for God. The problem with the S & Ps was that they were “stuck in the mud” of their own obstinacies and couldn’t see beyond the Law that they followed so solemnly. They couldn’t comprehend a God who could be compared with a mother loving the child within her womb. Yet this is the level at which we must understand God.

When the Holy Sprit comes upon the Apostles and Mary after the Ascension they are re-created and given the power to go on with the mission of spreading this notion that God desires a personal and intimate relationship with each of us.

This is what Lent is all about. It’s not an endurance test but a point at which we come to the fullest knowledge of who God is in our lives: a God who rescues us from our wanderings and forgives us of our infidelities and clothes us in a robe of glory while setting a banquet before us.

Our own St. Catherine reminds us, “It’s Heaven all the way to Heaven” and on the way God promises, “I will never forget you, my people.”  Amen!