Saturday, 4 April 2020

Palm Sunday, A.D. 2020 (in time of pandemic)

In the Church’s liturgical year we approach the peak of salvation history. All that has been anticipated and promised is fulfilled through the Passion of the Christ.  

In a stark metaphor, the world today is reaching a peak in the infection models that are depicted everywhere in the media. These grim predictions come even as, collectively, we go through a valley of human dread – "the valley of the shadow of death" as the world confronts the Coronavirus (COVED-19), an evil and unseen menace which threatens millions.  

The Passion of Christ comes to pass in fulfillment of what the prophets had foretold as Jesus, himself, tells us in the Gospel according to Matthew (26:56).  

The work of our redemption is accomplished; the new covenant is written in the blood of Jesus’ whose broken body hangs upon the cross at the place called the Skull, an all too vivid image of human frailty and mortality.

During his Passion, Jesus is “counted among the wicked,” as Isaiah had foretold (Isaiah 53:12). He is revealed definitively as the Suffering Servant. The prophet announced the long-awaited Messiah whose words of obedience and faith ring out in today’s reading from Isaiah: "I was not rebellious, I turned not backward, I gave my back to those who struck me."

The taunts and torments we hear in these readings punctuate the Gospel as Jesus is beaten and mocked (Matt 27:31).  His hands and feet are pierced, even as enemies gamble for his clothes (Matthew 27:35). His enemies dare Jesus to prove his divinity by saving himself from suffering (Matthew 27:39–44).

Jesus remains faithful to the will of God. He does not turn back in his suffering for us and so today is with us in our fear and suffering. Jesus gives himself freely in submission to his torturers, confident as he expresses confidence in the words of the Prophet: “The Lord God is my help. . . . I shall not be put to shame.”

Having fallen into sin and death as children of Adam’s disobedience, we are set free for holiness and life by Christ’s perfect obedience to the will of God even as he faces the starkest of human suffering. (Romans 5:12–14, 17–19)

God greatly exalts Jesus as the conqueror of sin and death and so those baptized into his suffering and death are given the gift of salvation, resurrection and communion with God and his saints.

Following the example of Jesus in humble obedience in the trials and crosses of our lives, we know that we will never be forsaken. We know, as the centurion acclaimed: "truly [Jesus] is the Son of God." (Matthew 27:54)


Isaiah 50:4–7
Psalm 22:8–9, 17–20, 23–24
Philippians 2:6–11
Matthew 26:14–27:66

Sunday, 22 March 2020

LENT IV -- Laetare Sunday
MARCH 22, A.D. 2020

Dear Friends,

In these very worrying times I want to thank you for your prayers, especially for all those who are called to assist the sick and their families.  We rely ever more upon prayer in this battle which is being waged at so many levels worldwide. Pray for fortitude in the weeks to come.

Special thanks to those at STM Toronto who have been faithful in their presence and in serving at Sunday Mass which has been temporarily suspended.  

This morning  I will celebrate our pro populo Laetare Mass privately at the dining room table in our apartment as we are joined in spiritual communion and in asking God's grace for our small parish and the world.

My prayer will be that as the rose (symbolized in today's liturgy) emerges from the death of winter, so we all will emerge from a Lent of spiritual and physical challenges to give thanks for the enduring grace of God and for the beauty of creation which is always a sign of the resurrection and of the eternal mercy of God.

May the sufferings of our Lord Jesus be joined with those of his people as we look for the light at the end of a long Lenten trial.

Faithfully in Christ,

JH

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded 
Into the crowned knot of fire 
And the fire and the rose are one.    


 T.S. Eliot quotes Dame Julian of Norwich 
in Little Gidding, The Four Quartets


Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Due to COVID19 concerns:

Sunday Mass at STM Toronto 
is cancelled 
until further notice 
as well as 
Mass at local hospitals.

Monday, 20 January 2020

EPIPHANY II A, 2020

EPIPHANY II A, 2020                                                 
STM Toronto

Sacred Scripture tells us that Our Lord Jesus was sent to lead a new exodus — to raise up the exiled tribes of Israel, to gather and restore them to God. He came as Servant and Son.  More than that, Jesus is a light to the nations [something disputed in these days – yes, we proclaim that salvation is in the name of Christ Jesus] so that the light of God’s salvation must reach to the ends of the earth (Acts 13:46–47).  

The prophet Isaiah in today’s First Reading claims the Lord says: “You are my servant Israel in whom I will be glorified  . . . And now the Lord, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, says: “I will give you as a light to the nations.”

Before the first exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt, a lamb was offered in sacrifice and its blood painted on the Israelites’ door posts. The blood of the lamb identified the homes of those who were in slavery and the Lord “passed over” but executed judgment on their slave masters (Exodus 12:1–23, 27).

In the new exodus, Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” as St. John the Baptist beholds Him in the Gospel today (1 Corinthians 5:7). He has come, Jesus says, to offer His body to do the will of God the Father (Hebrews 10:3–13).

The sacrifices, oblations, holocausts, and sin offerings given after the first exodus had no power to take away sins (see Hebrews 10:4). They were meant not to save but to teach(Galatians 3:24). In offering these sacrifices, the people were to learn self-sacrifice—that they were made for worship, to offer themselves freely to God and to delight in His will.

Only Jesus, the sinless One, could make that perfect offering of Himself. And through His sacrifice, Jesus has opened our ears to obedience, He has made it possible for us to hear the Father’s call to holiness, as St. Paul speaks in today’s Epistle: “to those who are sanctified in Christ.”

He has made us children of God, baptized in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). And we are to join our sacrifice to His, (just as we do in the Mass) “pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable – we offer our bodies —our lives—as living sacrifices in the spiritual worship of the Mass (Romans 12:1) and in the Mass of daily living with and for others.