“Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
Lord God almighty, you sent your only Son to bring peace to the world through his death and resurrection. Draw into the fullness of your peace all those who are preparing to bind themselves to you in the new and eternal covenant of Jesus Christ through baptism and the profession of faith, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness,
who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving
have shown us a remedy for sin,
look graciously on this confession of our lowliness,
that we, who are bowed down by our conscience,
may always be lifted up by your mercy.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
In those days, God delivered all these commandments:
“I, the LORD, am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves
in the shape of anything in the sky above
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God,
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness
on the children of those who hate me,
down to the third and fourth generation;
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished
the one who takes his name in vain.
“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Six days you may labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter,
or your male or female slave, or your beast,
or by the alien who lives with you.
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
but on the seventh day he rested.
That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother,
that you may have a long life in the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,
nor anything else that belongs to him.”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 708 This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law.1 God gave the Law as a “pedagogue” to lead his people toward Christ.2 But the Law’s powerlessness to save man deprived of the divine “likeness,” along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts,3 enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.
CCC 1456 Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: “All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly.”4
When Christ’s faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, “for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know.”5
CCC 2056 The word “Decalogue” means literally “ten words.”6 God revealed these “ten words” to his people on the holy mountain. They were written “with the finger of God,”7 unlike the other commandments written by Moses.8 They are pre-eminently the words of God. They are handed on to us in the books of Exodus9 and Deuteronomy.10 Beginning with the Old Testament, the sacred books refer to the “ten words,”11 but it is in the New Covenant in Jesus Christ that their full meaning will be revealed.
CCC 2061 The Commandments take on their full meaning within the covenant. According to Scripture, man’s moral life has all its meaning in and through the covenant. The first of the “ten words” recalls that God loved his people first:
Since there was a passing from the paradise of freedom to the slavery of this world, in punishment for sin, the first phrase of the Decalogue, the first word of God’s commandments, bears on freedom “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”12
CCC 2084 God makes himself known by recalling his all-powerful loving, and liberating action in the history of the one he addresses: “I brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” The first word contains the first commandment of the Law: “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him. .. You shall not go after other gods.”13 God’s first call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him.
CCC 2142 The second commandment prescribes respect for the Lord’s name. Like the first commandment, it belongs to the virtue of religion and more particularly it governs our use of speech in sacred matters.
CCC 2168 The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the sabbath: “The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD.”14
CCC 2169 In speaking of the sabbath Scripture recalls creation: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.”15
CCC 2200 Observing the fourth commandment brings its reward: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”16 Respecting this commandment provides, along with spiritual fruits, temporal fruits of peace and prosperity. Conversely, failure to observe it brings great harm to communities and to individuals.
CCC 2214 The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood;17 this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents. The respect of children, whether minors or adults, for their father and mother18 is nourished by the natural affection born of the bond uniting them. It is required by God’s commandment.19
CCC 2258 “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”20
CCC 2331 “God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image. .. God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion.”21
“God created man in his own image. .. male and female he created them”;22 He blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply”;23 “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.”24
CCC 2401 The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of
earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world’s goods to God and to fraternal charity.
CCC 2464 The eighth commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this sense, they undermine the foundations of the covenant.
CCC 2514 St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.25 In the Catholic catechetical tradition, the ninth commandment forbids carnal concupiscence; the tenth forbids coveting another’s goods.
CCC 2534 The tenth commandment unfolds and completes the ninth, which is concerned with concupiscence of the flesh. It forbids coveting the goods of another, as the root of theft, robbery, and fraud, which the seventh commandment forbids. “Lust of the eyes” leads to the violence and injustice forbidden by the fifth commandment.26 Avarice, like fornication, originates in the idolatry prohibited by the first three prescriptions of the Law.27 The tenth commandment concerns the intentions of the heart; with the ninth, it summarizes all the precepts of the Law.
1 Cf. Ex 19-20; Deut 1-11; 29-30.
2 Gal 3:24.
3 Cf. Rom 3:20.
4 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1680 (ND 1626); cf. Ex 20:17; Mt 5:28.
5 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1680 (ND 1626); cf. St. Jerome, In Eccl. 10, 11: PL 23:1096.
6 Ex 34:28; Deut 4:13; 10:4.
7 Ex 31:18; Deut 5:22.
8 Cf. Deut 31:9. 24.
9 Cf. Ex 20:1-17.
10 Cf. Deut 5:6-22.
11 Cf. for example Hos 4:2; Jer 7:9; Ezek 18:5-9.
12 Origen, Hom. in Ex. 8,1: PG 12, 350; cf. Ex 20:2; Deut 5:6.
13 Deut 6:13-14.
14 Ex 31:15.
15 Ex 20:11.
16 Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16.
17 Cf. Eph 314.
18 Cf. Prov 1:8; Tob 4:3-4.
19 Cf. Ex 20:12.
20 CDF, instruction, Donum vitae, intro. 5.
21 FC 11.
22 Gen 1:27.
23 Gen 1:28.
24 Gen 5:1-2.
25 Cf. 1 Jn 2:16.
26 Cf. 1 Jn 2:16; Mic 2:2.
27 Cf. Wis 14:12.
The Ten Commandments of God were the basis of the religious life of the Chosen People of the Old Testament. They are still the foundation of the spiritual life of the new chosen people–the Christian Church. Unfortunately, the Israelites too often forgot all that they owed to God, and failed to show their gratitude by keeping his commandments, as the Covenant made on Sinai expected them to do. For this reason many of them lost their faith and with it the eternal reward that God was anxious to give them. There are Christians too who forget all that God has done for them and who ignore the Covenant he has made with them–“if you would enter into life (eternal) keep my commandments.” In this respect Christians are far more blameworthy than the Israelites, because they have greater proofs of God’s love for them, including the outstanding proof which he gave us in the incarnation.
The Ten Commandments can be summed up in two, as our Lord summed them up when questioned by the Pharisees. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and thy whole mind, this is the first and greatest of the commandments, and the second is like unto this: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; on these two depend the whole law and the prophets.” In other words, he who truly loves God and his neighbor fulfills the whole of God’s law and will earn heaven as his reward. The command to love God is more a privilege than an obligation for any thinking man. It was out of his infinite goodness and love that God created us and raised us to the status of his adopted sons. Could we ever show God how much we appreciate these privileges, and the goodness and love he has shown toward us? Even if we lived a thousand years on this earth, we could not of ourselves alone make any return which would remotely repay God for all that he has done for us. But once we have been made brothers of Christ by the incarnation, a new and superior value has been added to all our good acts, and these acts are therefore acceptable to God as signs and proofs of our desire to return love for love, within our human limits. As adopted sons of God, our heavenly Father is pleased with our filial love. He appreciates and rewards every proof, that we give in our daily lives, of our desire to thank him for all that he has done for us.
The second commandment, the obligation to love our neighbors as ourselves, includes all from the fourth to the tenth of the Decalog given on Mount Sinai. It is here that most of us are more liable to be found wanting. How can we love those who injure us, or those who are so thankless when we help them, or those who seem to have no interest in their own welfare, or those who deny the very existence of the true God who has imposed this obligation on us? Humanly speaking, it would indeed be impossible to love such people with the same love that we have for ourselves, but neither we nor these unattractive neighbors are any longer mere humans. We have been given a much higher status because of the incarnation. Our unlikeable neighbors are also sons and daughters of God by adoption. They have the same destiny as ourselves. Their inheritance is heaven and they too are on the way there. Therefore, the more they falter on the way, the more they refuse to recognize their duties of gratitude to God, and even deny his very existence, the more need they have of a helping hand from us who know where we are going and know how to get there.
We must overcome any natural antipathy which comes between us and the true love of all neighbors, because our own eternal salvation depends on this. All our declarations of love for God, and all the good acts we think we are doing to prove that love, are empty and false if we refuse to love our neighbor. St. John is very emphatic on this when he says: “If anyone says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn. 4: 20). Therefore. it is by the love that we show our neighbor that the true love of God is made manifest in our lives. We must show respect for what he is and what he has. We must be willing to help him in his temporal and especially his spiritual needs. There is no saint in heaven who hated or despised his neighbor. There is no one damned in hell who really fulfilled the command to love and help his neighbor during his time on earth. Ask yourself today: “Do I really love God; am I on the right road to heaven?” The answer will depend on a truthful answer to this other question: “Do I love my neighbor as myself?”
Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11
(John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
1 Cor 1:22-25
Brothers and sisters:
Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus “the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”1 It is in Christ’s Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth “the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe”.2
1 1 Cor 1:24-25.
2 Eph 1:19-22.
These few lines from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians should make us stop and think how fortunate and blessed we are to have the gift of the true faith. We know that Christ was and is for us the power and the wisdom of God. Through that power and wisdom God proved his infinite love for us. In creation he made man the masterpiece of his work and the master of all other created things on earth. He gave us the gifts of intellect and will by means of which we can see the good and the beautiful and come to love both. This in itself was a marvelous privilege but the fact that we are finite, that our span of life on earth may be all too short could spoil and mar our enjoyment of the good and the beautiful and render earthly sufferings almost unbearable. Man might well envy the beasts which have no knowledge of the good and the beautiful, and no remembrance of happy days gone by nor any desire for future happiness–if he had all these and saw no fulfillment for them. But the wisdom of God was at work when creating us. He planned to raise us above merely human status so that we could have our natural desire for everlasting enjoyment of the good and beautiful fulfilled. This he did through Christ–his divine Son who “was made man.” By joining our human nature to his divine nature he made us his brothers and heirs to the eternal life.
We must still die, as Christ himself died in his humanity, but like him, we shall be raised from the dead to begin our new eternal life in the presence of the Good and the Beautiful–God himself–who will be the source and cause of happiness to us for all eternity. This is what the power and wisdom of God has arranged for us. This is for us the true philosophy of life. It explains our sufferings as well as our joys; it answers all our hopes and explains our earthly disappointments. The coming of Christ was surely the proof of God’s power and wisdom for us and should be so for all men.
Yet, unfortunately, there are millions alive today, who have the same innate desire for lasting happiness and the same dislike for life’s trials and disappointments, but have not the light of the Christian faith to answer their basic question ” what is it all for? Why am I here? Must all my desires and ambitions and hopes end in the grave?” The answer is there. But they will not heed it. The crucified Christ, whom St. Paul preached in Corinth, is still a stumbling block and a folly to too many, Jews and Gentiles, who will not open their eyes to look beyond earthly interests or who have long since closed their ears to the pleading voice of conscience. They think they are stronger than God and can do without him. They imagine themselves wiser than God, and consider that they do not need any solution to their problem from him. But there is only one real wisdom, there is only one who is powerful. To reject him is to reject hope, and to face a very short but a very bleak future. Far better to be an animal who does not remember yesterday and has no idea of, or thought for, the morrow.
We appreciate then, the gift of the true faith which we have received, and see the folly of those who deliberately reject that gift of God. Let us, however, not forget that God wants all men in heaven, and that a big part of our duty as Christians is to help by every means in our power, to bring our fellowman to a knowledge of their loving Father. The willing apostle will find many ways of spreading the gospel message, but for all of us there is the simple but effective means of good example. The follower of Christ who lives his daily life in a truly Christian manner is a constant reminder to his family and neighbors of the true meaning of life. His example may not be copied immediately but it will eventually have its effect.
Today, let us say two short prayers. First, a prayer of sincere thanks to God for being so good as to give us the gift of the true faith. Second, a prayer of petition, let us ask God to open the eyes and ears of those of our fellowman who have shut them against God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Lord, that they may see; Lord that they may hear!
Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
“What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said,
“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.
While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
many began to believe in his name
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all,
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 473 But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God’s Son expressed the divine life of his person.1 “The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.”2 Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father.3 The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.4
CCC 575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”,5 but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”,6 than for the ordinary People of God.7 To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting;8 Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes.9 Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead,10 certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),11 the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.12
CCC 583 Like the prophets before him Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem. It was in the Temple that Joseph and Mary presented him forty days after his birth.13 At the age of twelve he decided to remain in the Temple to remind his parents that he must be about his Father’s business.14 He went there each year during his hidden life at least for Passover.15 His public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts.16
CCC 584 Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer, and he was angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce.17 He drove merchants out of it because of jealous love for his Father: “You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade. His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’”18 After his Resurrection his apostles retained their reverence for the Temple.19
CCC 586 Far from having been hostile to the Temple, where he gave the essential part of his teaching, Jesus was willing to pay the Temple-tax, associating with him Peter, whom he had just made the foundation of his future Church.20 He even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God’s definitive dwelling-place among men.21 Therefore his being put to bodily death22 presaged the destruction of the Temple, which would manifest the dawning of a new age in the history of salvation: “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”23
CCC 994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the life.”24 It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood.25 Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life,26 announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the “sign of Jonah,”27 the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.28
1 Cf. St. Gregory the Great, “Sicut aqua” ad Eulogium, Epist. Lib. 10, 39 PL 77, 1097 Aff.; DS 475.
2 St. Maximus the Confessor, Qu. et dub. 66 PG 90, 840A.
3 Cf. Mk 14:36; Mt 11:27; Jn 1:18; 8:55; etc.
4 Cf. Mk 2:8; Jn 2 25; 6:61; etc.
5 Lk 2:34.
6 Cf. Jn 1:19; 2:18; 5:10; 7:13; 9:22; 18:12; 19:38; 20:19.
7 Jn 7:48-49.
8 Cf Lk 13:31.
9 Cf. Lk 7:36; 14:1.
10 Cf. Mt 22:23-34; Lk 20:39.
11 Cf. Mt 6:18.
12 Cf. Mk 12:28-34.
13 Lk 2:22-39.
14 Cf. Lk 2 46-49.
15 Cf. Lk 2 41.
16 Cf. Jn 2 13-14; 5:1, 14; 7:1, 10, 14; 8 2; 10:22-23.
17 Cf. Mt 21:13.
18 Jn 2:16-17; cf. Ps 69:10.
19 Cf. Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:20, 21; etc.
20 Cf. Mt 8:4; 16:18; 17:24-27; Lk 17:14; Jn 4:22; 18:20.
21 Cf. Jn 2:21; Mt 12:6.
22 Cf. Jn 2:18-22.
23 Jn 4:21; cf. 4:23-24; Mt 27:5; Heb 9:11; Rev 21:22.
24 Jn 11:25.
25 Cf. Jn 5:24-25; 6:40,54.
26 Cf. Mk 5:21-42; Lk 7:11-17; Jn 11.
27 Mt 12:39.
28 Cf. Mk 10:34; Jn 2:19-22.
If we had only the Synoptic gospels (Mt., Mk., Lk.) we could easily conclude that Jesus spent almost all his public life and did all his preaching in Galilee and its neighborhood. St. John who wrote his gospel several years later corrects this false impression by mentioning visits made by our Lord to Jerusalem. He gave the “leaders of the people” in Jerusalem plenty of opportunity of hearing his message and his claims. He also worked some astounding miracles in or near the City. For instance, the man crippled for thirty-eight years (Jn. 5); the man born blind (Jn. 9), the raising of Lazarus; who had been four days buried (Jn. 11). St. John makes it very clear that the leaders (the priests and Pharisees) in Jerusalem were given every opportunity to learn who Jesus was, and every help to believe in him, but they would not. The fault was theirs, therefore, and the loss.
On this particular visit he made it clear to them that he was someone special, someone close to God whose house they were desecrating, and whom he even called his Father. In hidden language he told them that they would put him to death but that would not be the end, for he would rise again. Some of them seem to have remembered this saying of his after they had put him to death, for they asked Pilate to place a guard at his tomb lest his disciples should remove the body and pretend he had risen for: “we recall,” they said, “that this impostor said while he was still living, ‘after three days I shall rise again’ ” (Mt. 27: 63). But even the miracle of his resurrection did not affect the majority of them. They had made up their minds and “there are none so blind as those who will not see.”
The reasons for their blindness were the same as those that keep millions of the neo-pagans of today from accepting and living the Christian faith. These, like the priests and Pharisees of Jerusalem in the year 28, are so immersed in the affairs of this world that they can give no thought to their own future. Their eyes are so fixed on the earthly objectives that they have set themselves, that they can see nothing else. The priests and Pharisees wanted more than political freedom from Rome. They had hopes that their Messiah would give them a great world empire, and with it wealth and power without limit. Our contemporaries’ aims may not go so far, but, worldly aims are important enough in their eyes to make them exclude from their minds the thought of anything higher. Yet, they have more than enough reminders whichever way they turn to recall their minds to the historical facts of Christianity. This is 1999 A.D., that is 1999 years since the birth of Christ. Who was he, why was he born, why does the world divide its history into before he came, B.C., and after he came, A.D.? In every town and village of our once Christian western world there is a church or two with steeples pointing to the sky. Why? What do churches mean to men? Near every town there are cemeteries or “sleeping places,” according to the meaning of that Greek word. Are those buried there only sleeping and waiting to be called, if not already called, or are they finished forever just like the ox or the unthinking cow that may be buried in the next field.
The agnostics and freethinkers of our day should start to think about the real facts of life,–the central ones of which are that Christ, who was the Son of God, took our human nature and lived for some time on this earth, so that he would raise us up to sonship with God. He suffered crucifixion, because the world was full of sin when he came. But his death made atonement to the heavenly Father for all the sins of the world. His resurrection from the dead was the prelude and the guarantee that we shall all rise to a life of glory in heaven, if only we have followed him faithfully during our years on earth.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.
Learning to Love
We are not spared dark nights. They are clearly necessary, so that we can learn through suffering, so that we can acquire freedom and maturity and above all else a capacity for sympathy with others… A part of every human love is that it is only truly great and enriching if I am ready to deny myself for this other person, to come out of myself, to give of myself. And that is certianly true of our relationship with God, out of which, in the end, all our other relationships must grow. I must begin by no longer looking at myself, but by asking what he wants. I must begin by learning to love. That consists precisely in turning my gaze away from myself and toward him. With this attitude I no longer ask, What can I get for myself, but I simply let myself be guided by him, truly lose myself in Christ; when I abandon myself, let go of myself, then I see, yes, life is right at last, because otherwise I am far too narrow for myself. When, so to speak, I go outside, then it truly begins, then life attains its greatness. Of course it isn’t a journey you can make from one day to the next. If you’re interested in quick happiness, then faith doesn’t work. And perhaps that is one of the reasons for the crisis in faith nowadays, that we want our pleasure and our happiness at once, and not to take the risk of a lifelong venture – a venture made in the trust that this leap will not end in nothingness, but that it is by its nature that act of love for which we were created. And which alone gives me what I want: loving and being loved and thereby finding true happiness.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Lenten Prayer for Spiritual Renewal
God, heavenly Father, look upon me and hear my prayer during this holy Season of Lent. By the good works You inspire, help me to discipline my body and to be renewed in spirit.
Without You I can do nothing. By Your Spirit help me to know what is right and to be eager in doing Your will. Teach me to find new life through penance. Keep me from sin, and help me live by Your commandment of love. God of love, bring me back to You. Send Your Spirit to make me strong in faith and active in good works. May my acts of penance bring me Your forgiveness, open my heart to Your love, and prepare me for the coming feast of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Lord, during this Lenten Season, nourish me with Your Word of life and make me one with You in love and prayer.
Fill my heart with Your love and keep me faithful to the Gospel of Christ. Give me the grace to rise above my human weakness. Give me new life by Your Sacraments, especially the Mass.
Father, our source of life, I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand; let me walk more readily in Your ways. Guide me in Your gentle mercy, for left to myself I cannot do Your Will.
Father of love, source of all blessings, help me to pass from my old life of sin to the new life of grace. Prepare me for the glory of Your Kingdom. I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever.