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Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection May 24 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, May 24

The Ascension of the Lord

Matthew 28: 16 – 20

Gospel:
The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Gospel Reflection:
Airports are vulnerable places. Since 9/11 – and who knows what will happen to airline travel since the outbreak of COVID 19 – the various sections of the airport at any given moment you might witness or be part of tearful farewells or joy-filled reunions. Even before you are required to have your baggage weighed and screened, and before you are forced to take off your shoes, remove your laptop from your carry on and now, probably have to wear a mask throughout the whole flight, travelers will continue to find themselves saying goodbye at the curbside drop off. Departing often means leaving those whom we care deeply about – parents, spouses, children, grandchildren. And for those we have not seen for such a long time, the longing for return begins almost immediately.

When it came time for his ascension, Jesus knew that parting would be difficult – for him and for those he loved. As we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord this weekend, the conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew tells us that on the mountain the disciples doubted. We can imagine that they each felt a myriad of real emotions – doubt, but also sadness, fear, even anger. Jesus knew that it wasn’t going to be easy for them, so he gave them – and all of us – something to do.

Of course, it wasn’t just something to do like a scavenger hunt. It would become known as the GREAT COMMISSION, the call to ministry for the men and women who were to lead a community and eventually build a church. And now, as we start the very slow and careful process of returning to our church sanctuaries we still may continue to sit in our kitchens or living rooms celebrating Mass on YouTube or Facebook full of fear and anxiety and doubt and, maybe, rage. Jesus is somewhat commissioning us, once again, in the best way we can to do the same…build Christ’s church.

This journey through the COVID 19 “stay” which began in the middle of the Lenten Season, proceeded through the days of Holy Week, and has lasted through this season of Easter, continues. Just as that journey of faith over 2000 years ago didn’t end in death, it didn’t end at the empty tomb or a locked room. It didn’t end with Jesus being lifted up, nor has it ended in the centuries of faith that have followed, as his disciples have continued to carry out the GREAT COMMISSION. May our own journey continue THE Great Commission, our call to ministry, our call to community, our call to love.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

Gospel Reflection May 17 – Sr. Teresa

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Sunday, May 17

Sixth Sunday of Easter

John 14: 15 – 21

Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

Gospel Reflection:
Right before Pilate turned Jesus over to be crucified, he asked, “What is truth?”
He was standing right before ETERNAL TRUTH and yet he did not recognize the truth. I wonder why we don’t recognize truth, or why we have trouble sometimes separating truth from falsehood. It reminds me of a story.

The TRUTH was going into town to give a speech. As the Truth was walking to town a Lie caught up with the Truth and asked where he was going. The Truth said he was going into town to give a speech. A Lie said, “Can I come too?” The Truth said he didn’t mind. So, the Truth and a Lie walked together on the road toward town. On the way they came to a pond and the Truth said he wanted to go for a swim. Truth invited a Lie to join him, but a Lie said he didn’t feel like swimming. He would just wait for the Truth to finish his swim.

So, the Truth took off his clothes and went for a swim. While he was in the water swimming, a Lie took off with the Truth’s clothes. He put on clothes of the Truth and headed into town. When the Truth finished with his swim, he looked around for his clothes but all he saw were the clothes of a Lie. Refusing to dress himself in the clothes of a Lie the Truth went naked into town.

As the Truth approached the town, he saw a crowd gathered. As he got even closer, he saw a Lie dressed as the Truth giving a speech. Unable to contain himself he shouted, “That’s a Lie, dressed as the Truth!” The people turned and saw the naked Truth and they turned their heads in shame and continued to listen to a Lie dressed as the Truth.

You see often people choose to see a Lie dressed as the Truth rather than face the naked Truth.

Even while we are still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic stories and rumors circulate in great abundance. We are being bombarded from all realms – political (local and global), medical, familial, emotional and spiritual. Do this to cure the virus, no do this to cure it. This country was to blame. No it started here. Listen to this expert, no listen to this one. Social distancing is crazy — no, social distancing is the best way to contain the virus. It is a man-made virus. No, it was sent directly from God; no, it is an act of nature. It goes on and on until our minds are swirling in thousands of different directions.

In the area that is most sacred to us, our faith, the facts and opinions will go on and on as well. We will hear many things about Church and our spiritual well-being. “It worked out just as well attending Mass by live stream.” “No nothing can replace Mass in Church.” “Maybe community is not the best model for our faith.” “No, this experience has shown how important parish community is for us.”

Maybe we need to look at new ways to be Church instead of trying to figure out ways to perpetuate something that will never be the same again. The complexity, for me, is heightened the more important the issue. “What is truth?” We will have to listen; we will have to muddle through together and be willing to build the bridge as we cross it. We will have to pray and search and be open to things that may be very different from what we now know or have yet to imagine. Some truth will be lies dressed up to look like truth. Some things will be the naked truth.

“You see often people choose to see a Lie dressed as the Truth rather than face the naked Truth.” Which one will you choose? Which one will our Church choose?

How will we as individuals and as a faith community begin to sort things out?

Jesus gives us the answer in today’s gospel passage. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. God sent us an Advocate – the Spirit of Truth and that Spirit lives within us. BUT – we will have to be still, listen with open mind and open heart to bring forth this Spirit of Truth. Church will be different after the “coronavirus dust” settles and together we will have to respond to God’s call to rebuild my church. We will do it by separating lies dressed up as truths and embracing the naked truth and it is going to take a long time.

-Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection May 10 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, May 10

Fifth Sunday of Easter

John 14: 1 – 12

Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”

Gospel Reflection:
This familiar gospel of John is often used at funeral Masses to give hope and share the promise that the Risen Lord will have a place for us in His Father’s House. At the same time, the gospel asks us to realize that the Father and Jesus are one, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

What is happening here is that Jesus is reassuring us of our place and His. He is one with the Father and because of that he longs to return to the Father. And as he goes for us who believe in Him, we are to do the works that He did and “will do greater ones than these,” because of our faith and the Spirit that he has given.

As we enter into ever increasing developments and as we adjust to and find creative ways to deal with COVID-19, I am reminded of those who suffer so much, with poverty, unemployment, sickness, anxiety, and no place to live, those who have no food, no funds, no hope. Perhaps it is for these that we do the “greater things”that the gospel tells us about today.

This gospel on the Fifth Sunday of Easter is for us, and know that a “dwelling place” has been prepared for us each of us as promised.

-Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection May 3 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, May 3

Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10: 1 – 10

Gospel:
Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Gospel Reflection:
I am a visual learner, so I was sorta obtuse like the Pharisees about what Our Lord was trying to say—until I saw a picture of a primitive livestock pen. If we had sheepfolds in Dublin, I’m sure the building code would require that they look a lot like the above dry-stacked stone sheepfold in contemporary rural England. But like all truly great innovations, the simplicity and effectiveness of the sheepfold structure means that this contemporary British example and the structures the disciples saw in their walks from village to village are essentially the same.

A sheepfold is a secure enclosure, a livestock pen with one way in and out. The sheep are herded into it through the gap at nightfall, and let back out through the gap in the morning. Sheepfolds can be made from gathering surrounding loose rocks, or by incorporating a rock feature like a cave or sheer outcropping. In the nomadic shepherding culture of Jesus’ day, sheepfolds were communal affairs that slowly built up into impressive structures over the course of many years. Just imagine each wandering shepherd idly adding a rock or two to the walls while they used the sheepfold, and doing that over and over as they moved between grazing areas.

The dead-simple sheepfold structure could be easily improved upon by adding a simple wood gate to close the gap. But itinerant shepherds using communal sheepfolds hit upon a simpler solution requiring no wood or fasteners. They would funnel their flock into the safety of the enclosure, and then simply campout for the night in the opening itself. Wrapped up in their bedroll, they were literally “the gate” through which any predators or thieves would have to pass by to get to their defenseless flock.

Sheep are not exactly the brightest bulbs in the animal kingdom, but one would have to think that seeing their master wedged securely into the only entry point for their pen would reassure the sheep, allowing even the most skittish among them to lay down and sleep peacefully. They knew that no matter how dark the night became, the same person that defended them from predators in the bright sunshine was also going to defend them in the inky blackness.

Our Lord is the gatekeeper who is also the gate itself, the gentle shepherd who is also the fearless defender, the suffering Servant who is also the victorious Risen Son. He will defend us from not only the economic and viral dangers we can see in the harsh light of day, but also the hidden spiritual dangers that lie out there in the impenetrable darkness of human pride and sin.

-Fr. Morris

Gospel Reflection Apr 26 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, April 26

Third Sunday of Easter

Luke 24: 13 – 35

Gospel:
That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Gospel Reflection:
In today’s Gospel, Jesus helps two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus to see that their hopes were misplaced because they did not factor in the Resurrection of Jesus properly. For them, the Messiah was supposed to live forever, but Jesus was dead. They are on their journey from Jerusalem following the crucifixion of Jesus, a place of pain, of sorrow, and loss, but Jesus comes to their rescue. He walks along with them, talking to them about the Scriptures, the promises and revelations found in God’s Word.

At nightfall, the disciples urged Jesus to stay and share a meal with them. Though their eyes had been closed to Jesus’ presence, “in the breaking of the bread,” their eyes were opened, and they were able to behold the risen Christ.

Although Jesus is physically absent, He continues to be with His followers through the Word and the Eucharist. This encounter on the road so turned the hearts of the disciples that they literally turned around and ran back into the fray, back into Jerusalem, back into the world. So must we allow our encounter with Christ be in others, in prayer, in the Word, and in the Eucharist to turn our hearts to Jesus.
The Easter season is a time for rejoicing that Our Lord has shattered the bonds of death through the Resurrection. We celebrate His victory because it is our victory as well.

Remember we are not walking alone, for the Risen Jesus is walking with us on our roads to Emmaus.

-Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Apr 19 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, April 19

Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

John 20: 19 – 31

Gospel:
On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Gospel Reflection:
What a strange and fantastic time that we are living in — during this Lent and Easter Season! On the one hand, we are experiencing an acute longing for attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist. Yet, Mass or Eucharist or not, Our Lord has Risen! While we did not experience the Triduum and Easter celebration in person this year, his rising remains a reality. We may have missed the direct firsthand experience just as Thomas missed that first day in the upper room. As with Thomas, do we really need to see his hands and place our hand into his side? We may ask ourselves as Thomas undoubtably did, “Do we really want to be saved?” Thomas responded to that question with his “all in” response, “My Lord and my God!” There was no other answer he could give. Jesus calls each of us to touch him in a direct way and feel his wounds. When he calls us, there is no room for half measures and therefore, no half responses. Jesus asks us to be, “all in!” with him.

Being denied the firsthand experience of Mass and receiving the Eucharist, we feel denied the full experience of the reality of our faith. May this time today apart from the Mass and Eucharist never be experienced again (we hope) in our lifetime. It is through this separation that we have journeyed into the desert and have emerged with a reaffirmation of our faith. The joy of Easter should never be so real as it is for us now!

Let us bring this journey to what Our Lord intended — a renewal to His ever presence and His caring for us during our time of denial and absence. Let us come out of this time with a renewed patience and respect for each other, our families, our neighbors, and our ability to meet the challenges of life with wisdom, courage and strength.

-Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Apr 12 – Deacon Frank

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Sunday, April 12

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

John 20: 1 – 9

Gospel:
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

Gospel Reflection:
Witnesses in a courtroom are always admonished to tell what they know in precise and unembroidered terms: “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Telling the truth in these terms is harder than it looks at first glance. Tell, for example, the truth about yourself, in 100 words or less. Without undue explanation, excuses, deletions, and rationalizations, that is. We discover at once that we are not very practiced at this mode of truth.

Not long after the Resurrection, as we will hear in the 1st reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter stands before a gathering of Gentiles and tells them the gospel truth as he has come to believe it. This is 40 years before the first gospel will be written, 20 years before one word of the New Testament is set down. Peter tells a story that exists only in the memory of those who lived it. He doesn’t waste time narrating how he got involved in this story or mention the towns Jesus passed through during the years of his ministry.

Peter seems so wise and collected in his encounter with Cornelius and his household. But we must keep in mind that other Peter that we will hear about this Sunday in the John’s Gospel, running in the predawn of Easter morning along with the beloved disciple. The Peter of Easter morning doesn’t know what to believe, or what to think. He has just heard terrible news, that the tomb of Jesus is empty, and the body gone – or – maybe it’s wonderful news. Terrible or wonderful . . . he doesn’t know how to interpret these unexpected facts. He hopes that seeing for himself will produce believing and clarity.

And so, there he stands at the scene of unvarnished truth. It’s an open, empty tomb, all right. Nothing but the burial cloths and a neat placement of the face covering. No body, no real clue as to what could have happened. Sometimes the truth is too simple, and too hopeful, to be believed all at once.

Easter Sunday is the celebration of the great, simple, gospel truth at the center of our faith. We can express it in one marvelously short sentence: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again! When it comes to the “mystery of faith,” perhaps long catechisms and creedal professions only conceal what is finally a very simple thing. We have nothing to fear, not even suffering and death.

Jesus is here and invites us to share his life without end.

-Deacon Frank Iannarino

OPERATION RICE BOWL: How to Donate This Year

Thank you for your participation in CRS Rice Bowl.

Our St. Brigid of Kildare community does something amazing each Lent. We come together to practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving—and by doing so we help lift families and communities out of poverty.

We must always remember that as Holy Week gives way to Easter; the fast turns into a feast. God wins the day. As we celebrate Easter joy, it is our responsibility as members of God’s one human family to share that joy with everyone, near and far.

With the closing of our buildings and cancellations of masses and programs due to COVID-19, we will not be collecting Rice Bowl donations at St. Brigid. Please give your CRS Rice Bowl donations directly to Catholic Relief Services and make a difference in the lives of people in your local community and around the world.

To give online:
Visit www.crsricebowl.org and select Donate

To give by phone:
1-877-435-7277

To give by mail:
Catholic Relief Services
CRS Rice Bowl
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Maryland 21297-0303

Gospel Reflection Apr 5 – Sr Teresa

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Sunday, April 5

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Matthew 21: 1 – 11

Gospel: (at the Procession with the Palms)
When Jesus and the disciples drew near Jerusalem
and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately you will find an ass tethered,
and a colt with her.
Untie them and bring them here to me.
And if anyone should say anything to you, reply,
‘The master has need of them.’
Then he will send them at once.”
This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Say to daughter Zion,
“Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.
They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them,
and he sat upon them.
The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
And when he entered Jerusalem
the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”
And the crowds replied,
“This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Gospel Reflection:
I chose to look at the Gospel that is used at The Procession with Palms.
In my prayer I wondered what does this Gospel have to say to us in this time of a
global pandemic, in this time when all places of worship are closed, when
“social distancing,” “sheltering at home,” and “Be safe!” are new and common phrases in our everyday vocabulary?

In times such as these we hear lots of apocalyptic language. “God is trying to tell us something”. “God is giving us a wake-up call.” “God is telling us to come back to him.” They are all true BUT the bigger truth is that God is always trying to tell us something; God is always drawing us to him in good times and in difficult times. God did not cause the crisis that is shaking the world. A loving God does not do that to his beloved children. In times such as these we cling to God’s promise, “I will never leave you,” God will walk with us and give us the wisdom and courage to work through this crisis together. When we do that we relearn wonderful faith-filled things.

If all of our places of worship are closed does this mean for Christian religions that there is no Palm Sunday? Does this mean we do not enter into this most solemn week of the year, the one we call Holy? Certainly not! The church building is closed but not the church community. WE ARE THE LIVING CHURCH. Wherever we dwell is a “house Church,” and through God’s limitless power, we are united to each other. We profess our interconnection with each other when we claim the Communion of Saints. Our prayer is not limited by space or time. The power of our prayer, through God’s power, transcends human boundaries and unites us as one community.

As I sat and prayed with the scripture reading for today, the word most associated with Palm Sunday jumped right out at me. It is “Hosanna!” Hosanna is related to an Aramaic word that means “help or save us!” That is a perfect cry for today as the Coronavirus continues to race across the world. Yet, that seemed too obvious. Is there anything else this Gospel has for us? Several things made me wonder: Why Bethphage? He spent the night in Bethany, why didn’t he get the colt there? A colt? Really?!!? He wants a colt? Jesus, our Messiah, is going to enter Jerusalem on the back of a baby donkey? How weird is that! Do you know anything about a donkey colt? What words do people often associate with a donkey? Stubborn! Dumb! Beast of Burden –are some that I heard when I asked my friends. There has to be more and it has to be significant that Jesus chose a baby donkey. I have prayed a lot about that colt and donkey. I even did a little research.

Jesus chose a colt, not a powerful stallion, like the Roman authorities would have used to show their authority. He didn’t choose a war horse to show his power and military might and being ready for the victory of battle. He chose a simple donkey, the ride of a poor man, the same animal used to carry him in his mother’s womb as she and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem. Donkeys and colts are very calm, loyal and affectionate. They can bear heavy loads that are not their own.

Donkeys show excellent memory and intelligence, and a great ability to learn. Negative and painful experiences affect the donkey’s behavior for years. When they detect something dangerous or scary they will generally move away from it, to observe what the threat is before moving toward it. Then they will move with fearlessness and great determination. They are territorial and will stand their ground always in an apparently calm manner. If you ride through horse country and pass a field, it would not be unusual to see a donkey with the horses. They use a donkey as a companion animal, especially for pregnant horses to keep them calm and safe. On my community’s farm in Kentucky we use a donkey to protect our herd.

This donkey colt in our Gospel will carry Jesus … the one who carries many burdens for us, the one who protects us, the one who offers calmness and peace will be carried by this donkey colt. At our Taizé prayer service we always sing, “Come bring your burdens to God, come bring your burdens to God. Come bring your burdens to God for Jesus will never say no.” In the midst of this world crisis we certainly cry out “Hosanna! Hosanna!” “Save us, O Lord!” In the midst of this world crisis we bring our burdens to God.

Then I began to wonder who are the people carrying heavy burdens during the Coronavirus crisis? I think immediately of health care professionals and first responders. I think of the political leaders across the country trying to work with the scientists and medical people to make plans to best protect their people and try to control the spread of the virus. I recall the leaders of different religious traditions who are trying to offer spiritual comfort to their people. There are educators on every level who are trying to reach out to students and parents. Parents are trying to protect their children from the virus and from fear. The list went on and on for me.

If you had the opportunity to pray with Pope Francis on March 23rd you heard him pray: This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.”

These are the people who have many similarities to real colts and donkeys and who carry heavy burdens for others. This Palm Sunday we remember them. Jesus chose to enter Jerusalem on the back of a baby donkey. How weird is that? Actually, it doesn’t seem weird at all. Jesus chose a donkey colt. The people may have wanted him to ride in on an animal of power. We might want him to ride in on a white stallion, wearing a medical coat and waving the cure for the Coronavirus. He is not going to do that. He is still riding a colt and he is arriving in the person of ordinary people, like you and like me, who are being called to do extraordinary things for each other and for the common good. “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! in the highest.”

-Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

Gospel Reflection March 29 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, March 29

Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 11: 1 – 45

Gospel:
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.

So the sisters sent word to him saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him,
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?”
Jesus answered,
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.”
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,

“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,

“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

Gospel Reflection:
The name Lazarus, means God has helped. We see this name once more in the scriptures, of a beggar, who sits outside a wealthy man’s house. That Lazarus also dies and goes to be with Abraham in heaven. This Lazarus is a friend of Jesus and he has two sisters, Martha and Mary. Jesus was a frequent visitor to their house, and the home is located in the village of Bethany, about two miles outside of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is where Jesus is headed shortly after his visit to the home of those three friends. It is the last time he goes there before he is killed.

Lazarus has been sick and finally he has died. The purpose of the story is to show that Jesus is the Divine Son of God, has power over sin and death, and shows this by bringing Lazarus from the sleep of death that his Resurrection is not a hope but a reality.

An early writer in the 5th century commenting on this gospel notes that Lazarus has taken a sip of the Resurrect drink, while we await the whole draft of the universal Resurrection.

Re-read this gospel passage and see all of the human emotions about sickness and death played out in the dialogue with Martha and Mary, and then place yourself with Lazarus who has been untied from death to go free.

-Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Mar 20 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, March 22

Fourth Sunday of Lent

John 9: 1-41

Gospel:
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”

He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid
of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied,
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?

Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

Gospel Reflection:
Well friends, we have certainly had our world turned upside down on us, haven’t we? For us here in Columbus, it was first the cancelation of the Arnold Classic a couple of weeks ago. Then we started to have the NBA cancel its games, followed shortly thereafter with the cancelation of March Madness. And, for you UD Flyer fans out there, the best record in 61 years and on a 20-game win streak. Then we had the cancelation of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade and then the bars and the restaurants implemented closures. The closure of our schools. Even Starbucks…oh my gosh…what are we going to do now?

This truly has been a March Madness to remember…hasn’t it? Who would have ever dreamed we would be facing the effects of such a disease as the coronavirus just a short time ago?

There is an old adage…Man Plans and God Laughs! For whom really has control of our lives and our whole world? Is it us OR is it God? Unfortunately, a good portion of our society today seems to believe we have control of everything…NOT God. Perhaps this is a wakeup call for all of us that we need to have God in our lives. To really focus on what is important to us. Are the most important things in our lives perhaps earning as much money as we can? Buying the biggest house? Driving that latest sports car? Having the latest Apple iPhone? OR, is it having a relationship with God, and I mean truly a relationship with God…not just in passing, here and there in our daily lives. Not just when we are praying to Him because we need something from Him.
After all, who has control of everything around us…Is it you and me or is it God? Today, we heard in our Gospel about a blind man whom Jesus cures that was blind since birth. This man could not see Jesus, but Jesus could look into the depths of his heart. For Jesus came into the world to give sight to those who are spiritually blind…He came to us.

The inner darkness of our fears, our attachments, and our beliefs are what keep us from seeing. They cover our eyes like the mud on the eyes of the man born blind. Friends, where is the mud of darkness in your life? For us to truly see begins in the heart, not the eyes.

During this Lenten Season, let us focus on what is most important. Let us re-establish a relationship with Jesus and the Trinity. Let us remember those who are the most vulnerable in our society…those who are homeless and poor…those who are battling an illness in their lives…those who are unemployed or under-employed…those who are lonely due to the loss of a loved one…our families and our loved ones. These are the things that are most important in our lives and our journeys to heaven. Let us give all praise and thanks to God for the many blessings He has given us in our lives.
Perhaps out of this very serious health event and the cancelation of all our Masses, we will come to better appreciate going to Mass as a community with our families. We will come to Mass because “we want to” and because we want to give thanks to God…AND, not just because it is a precept of our Catholic Faith and “we have to”!! Are you missing the Holy Eucharist? It is the true nourishment Jesus provided to heal us and to save us.

-Deacon Paul Zemanek