In our Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Jesus speaks about "the kind of death he would die (Jn. 12:33)." In less than two weeks we will celebrate Good Friday, the day of the Lord's Passion. We have been preparing for the Triduum throughout the whole of Lent, but the readings for this Sunday are clearly directed at the upcoming Good Friday, not just the spirit of Lent.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life (John 3:16)." This is probably the most famous Bible verse of all time. When one contemplates its incredible meaning, it is no wonder that it is so well-known. This single Bible verse contains the Kerygma of our faith. The Kerygma is the central Gospel message and comes from the Greek word which means preaching.
" 'Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.' " These words spoken by Jesus in our Gospel for this Third Sunday of Lent sounded impossible to the people of Jesus' time. The beautiful and immense Temple of the Lord had taken forty-six years to build; Christ's proposal to rebuild it from ruins in three days was unbelievable. The Apostles themselves did not understand these words until after Christ's Resurrection. Do we understand them?
A beautiful and rich tradition in the Catholic Church is to walk with Jesus on His way to the crucifixion every Friday during Lent. It is a difficult walk, a humbling walk, a walk that reminds us of His immeasurable love for us and the great sacrifice that He made for EACH ONE OF US. The Knights of Columbus, Council #1542 in LaPorte, have made it possible for us to participate in this walk this year. They have filmed the Stations of the Cross in both English and Spanish and you are invited to participate here. Take a moment on your Fridays this Lenten season to walk the way of the cross with Our Lord.
"'This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.'" These words spoken by God the Father in our Gospel reading for this Second Sunday of Lent have been echoed and repeated throughout Sacred Scripture, especially in the Gospels. The same words were spoken at the Baptism of our Lord. Our Blessed Mother likewise urged us to "do whatever he tells you (Jn. 2:5)."
These instructions require great faith. We are not told what God is asking of us; we are simply told to listen to Him in all circumstances. How do we do this? God is willing to give us the grace to obey Him wholeheartedly if only we ask for it.
Our Gospel reading for the First Sunday of Lent shows Jesus doing two things. First, he is tempted by Satan in the desert. Second, he begins his mission of proclaiming the Gospel message. Isn’t it consoling to know that Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, also endured temptations?
Oftentimes the devil tempts us into thinking that, because we have fallen prey to temptations, God does not love us. He tells us that we are not worthy of God's love and should just give up trying to follow the narrow road of the Cross. In response to the lies of the devil, however, Jesus reminds us that He was also tempted, He also suffered at the hands of men, He also was rejected, He also was ignored, and ultimately, He gave up His own life for us in the timeless sacrifice of the Cross. The fact that Jesus was tempted and suffered on earth encourages us to continue following him. And how do we follow him? We listen to and live out His words, "Repent, and believe in the Gospel."
"Repent and believe in the Gospel." How many times have we heard these words uttered as the priest takes his thumb and marks our foreheads with the Sign of the Cross? Although the distribution of ashes will happen in a different way this year, the meaning of these words and the significance of the ashes can never be altered by a pandemic.
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