Can you believe how flimsy the grounds were on which the authorities decided to do away with Jesus? Not much different though to some of the reasons we hear given for divorce or xenophobic attacks or refusal to pay tax.
Most often it is the element of selfishness and self-interest which dominates in the choices we make. When did you last take a decision on the merit of a case where your self-interests did not dictate the decision? How did you go about making that decision?
Others suffer and are disadvantaged when self-interest is the dominant consideration.
For example, it is the good of the children which is neglected in the ill-considered divorce. The innocent suffer where xenophobic violence breaks out. And how much greater the suffering and disadvantage caused by collective decisions made for selfish reasons – like those of the ballot box or board meetings?
Jesus was the victim of such un-principled reasoning. His was no reaction to being dismissed with the unjust verdict against him. On the contrary, he acted with resolution and courage. “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.” (Hebrews 5:7)
Observe yourself today: how you re-act in those situations where you are misjudged and misunderstood. Learn something about Jesus when you consider how he would have acted in similar situations.
Jesus, you are the WAY. Let me hear in a new way your invitation: “Learn from me, force I am gentle and lowly in heart …” (Matthew 25:30)
+Bishop Edward Risi OMI
Diocese of Keimoes-Upington
The Servant of God, Benedict Daswa, will be beatified on the 13th September 2015 at Thohoyandou Stadium, Venda (Limpopo). The representative of Pope Francis at the celebration will be His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Amato SDB,the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. All are invited.
For further information, please contact: Sr Claudette Hiosan, PO Box 261, Tzaneen, 0861. Tel:015 307 5244 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For donations, the details of the special bank account is as follows:
Bank: Standard Bank of South Africa
Name of Account: Diocese of Tzaneen: Benedict Daswa Cause
Account Number: 330911538
Swift Code: SBZAZAJJ
A prophet in deep emotional turmoil! Jeremiah having the right message realizes that he has gotten the wrong friends. His downfall is their agenda. And successful they are. In all his confidence in God’s protection they make him vengeful longing for a doomsday of retaliation.
He is a far cry from Jesus’ “love your enemy” and “bless those who persecute you” (Ro 12:14, cf. 1 Cor 4:12) … and most likely far from satisfaction: I recall that Timothy McVeigh was put to death in the US for having killed 168 people and injured many more in a gruesome manner by bombing a federal building.
Quite some deeply hurt relatives did not feel satisfied. The retribution by death penalty looked too easy and even cheap; it brought no healing.
Would we as believers have something to offer that prevents from being drawn into a downward spiral of hurt and retaliation? I asked these days parishioners in a remote rural village to look at the cross and tell me what they saw. “The cross”, of course. And “Jesus”. “Something else?” I wanted to know.
After a short and eye-opening while they said: We see love. We see mercy. They saw the one who suffered injustice and extreme physical pain and did not turn to vengeance: Instead he faithfully carried on pleading forgiveness.
It appears that the company, the society of Jesus turns out to be a bunch of sinners or criminals when it comes to the test. Yet they got the desired place at his right and left, his outstretched arms embracing them with mercy. It was not one of his known followers to whom Jesus expressly promised instant access to paradise, but a nameless criminal turned “last-minute-disciple”.
Some may say this was possible for him because he is the Son of God. Jesus points at our share in the divine potential when he quotes Psalm 82 in today’s Gospel “I said you are Gods”. Perhaps you have experienced forgiveness and became able to show great love (cf. Lk 8:47-50). Then hear Jesus: “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” And only you can tell your sequel to this story.
Some Practical Suggestions:
“May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who, coming back from death’s domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity.”
+Bishop Michael Wüstenburg
Diocese of Aliwal North
As Holy Week approaches the Gospel proclamation focuses on the conflict between the Lord Jesus and the religious leaders of the Jewish people. In today’s Gospel according to John, the conflict culminates with the response of the Lord Jesus to the continual questions of the religious leaders concerning who Jesus claims to be. The Lord Jesus says: “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” With these words the Lord Jesus clearly refers to his Divine Identity – the eternal “I am.”
This conflict has remained with us to the present day. Today many religious leaders and secular thinkers continue to deny and negate the divinity of the Lord Jesus. They either see him only as a man or at best a prophet but nothing more. But the Catholic Church for the past nearly 2000 years continues to proclaim Jesus as the Lord and Saviour of humanity. And Christians are still being killed in various parts of the world today because of this faith we have in the Lord Jesus.
It is important for us to identify with the Lord Jesus as we approach Holy Week. It is important for us to identify with the Christian martyrs of today. We need to understand and come to terms with this very profound conflict of faith with “the unChristian world.” We cannot sit on the fence because with the Lord Jesus there can be no neutrality. “Repent and believe” is the call during Lent and this call intensifies as Holy Week approaches.
Lord Jesus, you came to this world because of your divine compassion for the lost, the sinful, the selfish, the ignorant,the superstitious, the possessed by demonic forces, the sick in body and the sick in mind. You revealed to us how we can be healed and set free from spiritual bondage by believing in you as our Lord and Saviour and thus be at peace with all people. Help me Lord Jesus to renew my faith in you and grant me the courage never to tire in communicating your divine compassion especially with those in greatest spiritual need. Amen.
+Bishop Joaõ Rodriques
Diocese of Tzaneen
Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.
I am sure that many times during this Lenten Season these sentiments have been on our minds and in our hearts: “here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” And not only during Lent but at many other moments in our life.
Indeed one of our deepest longings is to do the will of God. Sadly, we often fall short. Our fears, our weaknesses, our lack of faith and trust, our own inner sense of unworthiness all seem to derail our efforts – and yet we still try. And for that, God loves us.
I would like to think that Mary faced similar challenges. Her dialogue with the angel Gabriel attests to this. The breakthrough came with the promise of the Holy Spirit – it was through this overshadowing that a somewhat fearful and bewildered Mary was able to surrender her life to the will of God. It was the power and the spirit of God that enabled her to fulfill her deepest longing – all that was asked of her was that she say YES to the will of God.
Today God is asking each of us to say Yes to his will – despite all our challenges and fears – the same Holy Spirit that overshadowed Mary is offered to all who say yes to God’s will.
Pray about the Yes that God is asking of you today – and remember: “for God nothing is impossible”
Here I am Lord, I come to do your will!