Glorious is Your Name Over All the Earth!

O LORD, our Lord,
how glorious is your name over all the earth!
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?

You have made him little less than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under his feet.

All sheep and oxen,
yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
(Psalm 8:2, 5, 6-7, 8-9)

Scripture Study

8:2. God also causes his glory to shine out on earth and in the history of man when he is acknowledged and praised by the weak (children and infants) to the confusion of those who reject him or refuse to obey his will. His designs are implemented by socially insignificant people, such as David in his early days, or through a nation which counted for little on the world scene, as was the case with Israel. Jesus applied the words of this verse to the children who cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Mt 21:15–16) when he entered Jerusalem. The praise of God in this verse is also addressed by the Christian to Christ: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.” The Church uses this psalm in the liturgy of the solemnity of the Blessed Trinity.

8:3–9. The humble people who acknowledge God include the psalmist, who expresses his sense of wonder at the fact that God, the creator of the universe, should have focused on man and taken special care of him, and given him dominion over all things by allowing him to share in his authority (vv. 5–8). The passage gives poetic expression to the fact that man is “in the image and likeness of God” (cf. Gen 1:26–27). Appreciation of the greatness of man leads on to contemplation of the infinitely greater grandeur of God; whereas people who consider themselves powerful reject God and rebel against him (cf. v. 2).

“Little less than God” (v. 5): the Hebrew literally says “little less than a god” or “than gods”, referring to beings intermediate between the supreme God and man which were worshipped in the Canaanite pantheon. The Septuagint and the Latin translations read “little less than the angels”.

The subjection of creation to man and with him to Christ is a process not yet concluded; but it began, never to be reversed, with the resurrection of Christ. He makes it happen through the Church, to the degree that Christians put Christ at the summit of all human activities. For God “has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:22–23). “Holy Scripture teaches that man was created ‘to the image of God,’ as able to know and love his creator, and was set by him over all earthly creatures (cf. Gen 1:26; Wis 2:23) that he might rule them, and make use of them, while glorifying God (cf. Sir 17:3–10) (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, 12).

Scripture Reflection

With this psalm God is given thanks for the dignity he has bestowed on man: “Lord, what is man that you should grant him such importance, that you should take such an interest in him? You go so far as to send your only-begotten Son to him; you infuse him with your Spirit; you even promise him the sight of your face. And so that none of the celestial beings may fail to play their part in your loving concern, you send the blessed spirits, the angels, to serve and help us, making them our guardians; you appoint them our guides” (St Bernard, Sermones de tempore, 3)

In the psalm, the question is not an invitation to philosophical reasoning or scientific research. The psalm’s purpose is to acknowledge the finiteness of a human being, his unimportance and limits (144:3–4; Job 7:17; 15:14). The recognition is evoked here by contemplation of the vast depth of the night sky with its moon and myriad mysterious stars, an experience to which people of many times and places have testified. The experience is not, however, that of being “lost in the cosmos”; rather, it is of awe and wonder at the marvelous majesty of God, who can make and has made a royal regent of this mere mortal. The question is asked in the psalm to serve the purpose of the hymn, praise of the LORD.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Truly Present

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 the bread.
(Luke 24:13-35)

Scripture Study

24:13 Emmaus: A Judean village of uncertain location (1 Mac 9:50).

24:18 Cleopas: Probably the same person as the one called “Clopas” in Jn 19:25. Early Christian tradition identifies him as the brother of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus (3:23), and the father of Simon/Simeon, the second bishop of Jerusalem.

24:19 mighty in deed and word: Moses is described in these terms in Acts 7:22. The implication is that Jesus is the awaited prophet-like-Moses announced in Deut 18:15 (Acts 3:22–23; 7:37). Jesus was often viewed as a prophet by his contemporaries (Lk 7:16; Mt 16:14; 21:46; Jn 6:14).

24:21 redeem Israel: The discouraged travelers had hoped that Jesus would reign as king in Jerusalem and rescue their nation from Roman oppression (19:11; Mk 11:10; Acts 1:6). Their expectations are out of step with God’s plan to free Israel from sin and death, not from political subjugation (Mt 1:21; Jn 1:29; CCC 439).

24:27 all the Scriptures: Jesus gives an overview of salvation history from the OT. His entire life was foreordained in Scripture, including his birth (Mt 1:23; 2:6), ministry (4:18–19), death (20:17; Acts 8:32–33), and Resurrection (Mt 12:40; Acts 2:24–28) (CCC 601, 652).

24:30 took … blessed … broke … gave: A sequence of actions recalling the Last Supper accounts (22:19; Mt 26:26). Here the disciples encounter Christ in a spiritual way, discerning his presence in the meal (24:35). ● The structure of the Emmaus episode reflects the structure of the Eucharistic liturgy, where Jesus gives himself to the Church in word and sacrament, in the proclamation of Scripture (24:27) and in the Eucharistic Bread of Life (24:30, 35) (CCC 1346–47).

24:35 breaking of the bread: Among Jews this was a ceremonial gesture that commenced the celebration of an ordinary meal. Among Christians it was used as a description of the Eucharistic liturgy (Acts 2:42; 20:7; CCC 1329).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus enlightens the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Have you ever tried to solve a puzzle and then were surprised when the various pieces suddenly fell into place? Well, this is what happens to these disciples as Jesus begins to speak: “How slow you are to believe all that the prophets have announced! Did not the Messiah have to undergo all this so as to enter into his glory?” The whole of Christianity is hanging here in the balance.

The disciples didn’t get it at first. They didn’t get the Secret. The Mystery. The key. The pattern. And what was that? God’s self-emptying love, yes even unto death. God’s act of taking upon himself the sins of the world in order to take them away, the Mystery of redemption through suffering.

Jesus explains this first, with reference to the prophets; but then, he makes it as vividly present to them as he can: “He took the bread, pronounced the blessing, then broke the bread and began to distribute it to them.” And that’s when the piece fell into place–that’s when the puzzle was solved. The Eucharist made present this love unto death, this love that is more powerful than sin and death. The Eucharist is the key.

-Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

More Than the World Has to Offer

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”
which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,
for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'”
Mary went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he had told her.
(John 20:11-18)

Scripture Study

20:11–18 This appearance to Mary is found only in John, but cf. Mt 28:8–10 and Mk 16:9–11.

20:16 Rabbouni: Hebrew or Aramaic for “my master.”

20:17 Stop holding on to me: see Mt 28:9 where the women take hold of his feet. I have not yet ascended: for John and many of the New Testament writers, the ascension in the theological sense of going to the Father to be glorified took place with the resurrection as one action. This scene in John dramatizes such an understanding, for by Easter night Jesus is glorified and can give the Spirit. Therefore his ascension takes place immediately after he has talked to Mary. In such a view, the ascension after forty days described in Acts 1:1–11 would be simply a termination of earthly appearances or, perhaps better, an introduction to the conferral of the Spirit upon the early church, modeled on Elisha’s being able to have a (double) share in the spirit of Elijah if he saw him being taken up (same verb as ascending) into heaven (2 Kgs 2:9–12). To my Father and your Father, to my God and your God: this echoes Ruth 1:16: “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” The Father of Jesus will now become the Father of the disciples because, once ascended, Jesus can give them the Spirit that comes from the Father and they can be reborn as God’s children (Jn 3:5). That is why he calls them my brothers.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel reveals St. John’s report of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Jesus. An interesting lesson follows from the disquieting fact of the Resurrection, namely that this world is not it. What I mean is that this world is not all that there is. We live our lives with the reasonable assumption that the natural world as we’ve come to know it is the final framework of our lives and activities. And one of the most powerful and frightening features of the common-sense world is death. Every living thing dies and stays dead.

But what if death and dissolution did not have the final say? What if, through God’s power, and according to his providence, a “new heavens and a new earth” were being born? The resurrection of Jesus from the dead shows as definitively as possible that God is up to something greater than we had imagined or thought possible.

And therefore we don’t have to live as though death were our master. In light of the Resurrection, we can begin to see this world as a place of gestation, a place of growth and maturation toward something higher, more permanent, and more splendid.

-Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

You Are My Hope

Scripture Reading

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.

I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.

You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
(Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11)

Scripture Study

16:1 The Hebrew word used here, shamar, means “to guard” or “to keep watch over” (Josh 10:18; 1 Sam 19:11).

16:2 The psalmist finds contentment and sufficiency in Yahweh. The psalmist of Psalm 73 makes a similar statement in response to the prosperity of the wicked (73:25).

16:5 The Hebrew word used here, menath, describes a person’s allotment. The psalmist is saying Yahweh is sufficient to meet any need (Ps 73:26; Lam 3:24). In Ecclesiastes, the ability to accept one’s portion is a gift of God (Eccl 5:19).

16:8 Indicating special blessing (Gen 48:17–20). I will not be shaken The Hebrew word mot means “to sway” and expresses a lack of security and safety.

16:10 In Acts, both Peter and Paul apply this passage to Jesus as a prophecy of His resurrection (Acts 2:24–36; 13:34–39). Sheol The Hebrew word she’ol is used here.

16:11 The person who takes refuge in Yahweh knows life and joy. By finding satisfaction in Yahweh and not pursuing other gods (Ps 16:4–6), the psalmist is blessed by Yahweh’s protection and instruction (vv. 7–8).

Scripture Reflection

Trust is first of all the relationship that determines all else about a person. The psalmist confesses, “You are my Lord” The reverse of that confession is, “I am your servant.” The psalmist knows himself as a person who belongs to another. As servant of the LORD, he receives the goodness that comes to him in life as coming from no other source than his lord. Because he belongs to the LORD, he is confident that his needs will be met.

Trust is monotheistic, not pluralistic. The psalmist’s commitment to the LORD is exclusive. He enacts the first commandment in his life. For him, there is no other God. The holy and mighty deities whom others in the land worship are a source of troubles, not joy, and he does not recognize them or participate in their worship. Trust takes the very relation to God itself as the greatest benefit of the LORD’s way with the servants of God.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

He Has Risen!

Scripture Reading

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.
(John 20:1-9)

Scripture Study

20:1 the first day: Sunday, the first day of the Jewish week. Mary Magdalene: A devoted disciple of Christ, who was delivered of demonic possession (Lk 8:2) and whose love for Jesus carried her all the way to the Cross (19:25; CCC 641).

20:2 out of the tomb: The empty tomb is the indisputable fact of Easter morning, as testified to even by the Roman soldiers who guarded the site (Mt 28:11–15). The disappearance of Jesus is the first indication that he has risen as he said (Mt 20:17–19). This is confirmed by several appearances throughout the next 40 days (Jn 20:19–21:1; Acts 1:3; CCC 640). we do not know: Presumes that Mary has come to the tomb with other women, as in Mt 28:1, Mk 16:1, and Lk 23:55–24:1.

20:4 the other disciple: John, the evangelist himself. Luke makes similar mention of certain disciples, including Peter, running to the tomb on Easter morning (Lk 24:12, 24). See introduction: Author. reached the tomb first: John defers to Peter by letting him enter the tomb first (20:6). This is more than a polite gesture, as it reflects his deference to the preeminent honor and authority that Jesus has bestowed on Simon (Mt 16:16–19). ● Allegorically (John Scotus Erigena, Hom. in Prol. Jn.): the tomb is the Sacred Scriptures. Peter is faith, which is the first thing we bring to its pages, and John is understanding, which afterward enters and penetrates their meaning more deeply. Morally, Peter and John represent the active and contemplative missions of the Church, so that even when contemplatives are the first to arrive at a deeper understanding of the faith, deference is given to the hierarchical leadership, who later defines and promulgates their authentic insights.

20:7 the napkin … the linen cloths: Corroborating evidence of the Resurrection. No thief would have taken the time to unwrap Jesus’ corpse and fold his burial clothes neatly in the tomb. In any case, the grave robbers of antiquity usually stole the expensive linens and left the body behind, not the other way around.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Easter Gospel contains St. John’s magnificent account of the resurrection. It was, says John, early in the morning on the first day of the week. It was still dark—just the way it was at the beginning of time before God said, “Let there be light.” But a light was about to shine, and a new creation was about to appear.

The stone had been rolled away. That stone, blocking entrance to the tomb of Jesus, stands for the finality of death. When someone that we love dies, it is as though a great stone is rolled across them, permanently blocking our access to them. And this is why we weep at death—not just in grief but in a kind of existential frustration.

But for Jesus, the stone had been rolled away. Undoubtedly, the first disciples must have thought a grave robber had been at work. But the wonderful Johannine irony is that the greatest of grave robbers had indeed been at work. The prophet Ezekiel says this, “I will open your graves and have you rise from them.”

What was dreamed about, what endured as a hope against hope, has become a reality. God has opened the grave of his Son, and the bonds of death have been shattered forever.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Holy Saturday

Scripture Reading

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
‘He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’
Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”
(Matthew 28:1-10)

Scripture Study

28:1 After the sabbath … dawning: since the sabbath ended at sunset, this could mean in the early evening, for dawning can refer to the appearance of the evening star; cf. Lk 23:54. However, it is probable that Matthew means the morning dawn of the day after the sabbath, as in the similar though slightly different text of Mark, “when the sun had risen” (Mk 16:2). Mary Magdalene and the other Mary – To see the tomb: cf. Mk 16:1–2 where the purpose of the women’s visit is to anoint Jesus’ body.

28:2–4 A great earthquake Peculiar to Matthew. Descended from heaven: this trait is peculiar to Matthew, although his interpretation of the “young man” of his Marcan source (Mk 16:5) as an angel; cf. Lk 24:23 where the “two men” of Mt 24:4 are said to be “angels.” Rolled back the stone … upon it: not to allow the risen Jesus to leave the tomb but to make evident that the tomb is empty (see Mt 24:6). Unlike the apocryphal Gospel of Peter (9:35–11:24), the New Testament does not describe the resurrection of Jesus, nor is there anyone who sees it. His appearance was like lightning … snow.

28:6–7 Cf. Mk 16:6–7. Just as he said: a Matthean addition referring to Jesus’ predictions of his resurrection, e.g., Mt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19. Tell his disciples: like the angel of the Lord of the infancy narrative, the angel interprets a fact and gives a commandment about what is to be done; cf. Mt 1:20–21. He is going … Galilee: like Mk 16:7, a reference to Jesus’ prediction at the Last Supper (Mt 26:32; Mk 14:28). Matthew changes Mark’s “as he told you” to a declaration of the angel.

28:8 Contrast Mk 16:8 where the women in their fear “said nothing to anyone.”

28:9–10 Although these verses are peculiar to Matthew, there are similarities between them and John’s account of the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene (Jn 20:17). In both there is a touching of Jesus’ body, and a command of Jesus to bear a message to his disciples, designated as his brothers. Matthew may have drawn upon a tradition that appears in a different form in John. Jesus’ words to the women are mainly a repetition of those of the angel (Mt 28:5a, 7b).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, on this Holy Saturday our Gospel we hear St. Matthew’s account of the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the be-all and end-all of the Christian faith. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, all bishops, priests, and Christian ministers should go home and get honest jobs, and all the Christian faithful should leave their churches immediately.

As Paul himself put it: “If Jesus is not raised from the dead, our preaching is in vain and we are the most pitiable of men.” It’s no good, of course, trying to explain the resurrection away or rationalize it as a myth, a symbol, or an inner subjective experience. None of that does justice to the novelty and sheer strangeness of the Biblical message.

It comes down finally to this: if Jesus was not raised from death, Christianity is a fraud and a joke. But if he did rise from death, then Christianity is the fullness of God’s revelation, and Jesus must be the absolute center of our lives. There is no third option.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

The Suffering Servant

Scripture Reading

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.
(Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12)

Scripture Study

52:14. “Beyond human semblance”: this phrase sums up the description given in 53:2–3 and shows the intense pain reflected in the servant’s face: the description is so graphic that Christian ascetical writing, with good reason, reads it as anticipating the passion of our Lord: “The prophet, who has rightly been called ‘the Fifth Evangelist’, presents in this Song an image of the sufferings of the Servant with a realism as acute as if he were seeing them with his own eyes: the eyes of the body and of the spirit. […] The Song of the Suffering Servant contains a description in which it is possible, in a certain sense, to identify the stages of Christ’s Passion in their various details: the arrest, the humiliation, the blows, the spitting, the contempt for the prisoner, the unjust sentence, and then the scourging, the crowning with thorns and the mocking, the carrying of the Cross, the crucifixion and the agony” (John Paul II, Salvifici doloris, 17; cf. idem, Dives in misericordia, 7).

53:1. St Paul cites this verse to prove the need for preaching (Rom 10:16). The verse also underlines the extraordinary degree of undeserved suffering endured by the Servant. It is sometimes interpreted as a further sign of the humility of Christ, who, being divine, took on the form of a servant: “Christ is a man of humble thought and feeling, unlike those who attack his flock. The heart of God’s majesty, the Lord Jesus Christ, did not come with loud cries of arrogance and pride; he came in humility, as the Holy Spirit said of him: Who has believed what we have heard?” (St Clement of Rome, Ad Corinthios, 16, 1–3).

53:4–5. “He has borne our griefs [or, pains]”: the servant’s sufferings are not due to his own personal sins; they are atonement for the sins of others. “The sufferings of our Savior are our cure” (Theodoret of Cyrrhus, De incarnatione Domini, 28). He suffered on account of the sins of the entire people, even though he was not guilty of them. By bearing the penalty for those sins, he expiated the guilt involved. St Matthew, after recounting some miraculous cures and the casting out of devils, sees the words of v. 4a fulfilled in Christ (Mt 8:17). He interprets Jesus Christ as being the servant foretold by the prophet, who will cure the physical suffering of people as a sign that he is curing the root cause of all types of evil, that is, sin, iniquity (v. 5). The miracles worked by Jesus for the sick are therefore a sign of Redemption: “Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross (cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13–14; 1 Pet 1:18–19), but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 517).

Scripture Reflection

This passage presents us with challenges typical of poetry.  It uses words and phrases rich in meaning but capable of more than one interpretation.  “My servant” is a case in point.  Is this servant the nation Israel—or the prophet—or the messiah?  Does the word “servant” mean one thing in one place and something else in another place?  Did God intend Israel to understand “my servant” one way in its original context and the church to understand it another way?

Very early in the life of the church, Christians identified the servant as Jesus Christ—the messiah—the one who “took our infirmities, and bore our diseases” (Matthew 8:17).  Matthew specifically identifies Jesus as the one who fulfills this Isaian prophecy (Matthew 12:17-21).  In the book of Acts, Philip, “beginning from this scripture, …preached to (the Ethiopian eunuch) Jesus” (Acts 8:35).

We should acknowledge that it is possible—even probable—that the prophet thought of the servant in one way but that God intended the church to reinterpret the prophet’s words in the light of the coming of Jesus Christ.  As noted above, the poetic quality of this passage lends itself to a variety of meanings.  It stands to reason that God would inspire the prophet to write in such a manner so that his words could be reinterpreted to reveal Jesus at the appropriate time.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

A Servant’s Heart

Scripture Reading

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
(John 13:1-15)

Scripture Study

13:1 feast of the Passover: The original meaning of this feast, celebrating the passing of the angel of death over the Israelites and their escape from Egypt (Ex 12:13), is being reshaped by the works and words of Christ, who will “pass over” to the Father through the upcoming events of his Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension. This saving work of Jesus will inaugurate a new Exodus, liberating the human family from sin, selfishness, and Satan (1:29; 8:34–36) (CCC 1340). See note on Jn 6:4. to the end: i.e., “completely” or “to the fullest extent” (CCC 609).

13:2 during supper: The Synoptic Gospels specify that it was a Passover meal (Mt 26:19; Mk 14:16; Lk 22:15).

13:4 his garments: Symbolic of Christ’s human life. John’s carefully worded narrative makes this clear: the same Greek verbs that Jesus uses for laying down his life and taking it up again in 10:17–18 are here employed to describe how Christ “laid aside” his garments (13:4) in service and has “taken” them up again (13:12).

13:5 wash the disciples’ feet: A gesture of hospitality normally performed by a household slave, not the presiding host. Jesus thus shows himself a model of humility (1 Tim 5:10) and, at the same time, gives a preview of the heroic service he will render when he accepts the humiliation of the Cross (Mk 10:45; Phil 2:5–8).

13:8 no part in me: Peter cannot be a disciple of Christ on his own terms but must submit himself to the divine plan already determined by the Lord.

13:10 He who has bathed: Seems to imply that the apostles have already been baptized, although this is not explicitly stated in the Gospels. ● Jesus’ words hint at the distinction between Baptism, which washes away every stain of sin committed (actual) and contracted (Original), and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which cleanses us of the accumulated dust of sins committed after our baptismal washing (20:23; 1 Jn 1:9; CCC 1446).

13:15 an example: Jesus says with words what was already expressed in his deeds: we must pattern our lives after Jesus, whose actions show us how to love and honor our heavenly Father (Mt 11:29; CCC 520). Included in this is the willingness to serve others even to the point of death (15:13).

 

Scripture Reflection

Walking in sandals on the filthy roads of Israel in the first century made it imperative that feet be washed before a communal meal, especially since people reclined at a low table and feet were very much in evidence. When Jesus rose from the table and began to wash the feet of the disciples, He was doing the work of the lowliest of servants. The disciples must have been stunned at this act of humility and condescension, that Christ, their Lord and master, should wash the feet of His disciples, when it was their proper work to have washed His. But when Jesus came to earth, He came not as King and Conqueror, but as the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. As He revealed in Matthew 20:28, He came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The humility expressed by His act with towel and basin foreshadowed His ultimate act of humility and love on the cross.

This truth is one that Christians can apply to their own lives. When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told them (and us), “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). As His followers, we are to emulate Him, serving one another in lowliness of heart and mind, seeking to build one another up in humility and love. When we seek the preeminence, we displease the Lord who promised that true greatness in His kingdom is attained by those with a servant’s heart. When we have that servant’s heart, the Lord promised, we will be greatly blessed.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

The Last Supper

Scripture Reading

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.'”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”
(Matthew 26:14-25)

Scripture Study

26:15 thirty pieces of silver: The price of a slave (Ex 21:32). Judas’ betrayal for “blood money” (27:6) stands in contrast to the lavish gesture of the woman (26:6–13). He places little value on Jesus and prefers instead personal gain.

26:17 first day of Unleavened Bread: Begins with the day of Passover. During this feast, the Jews ate only unleavened bread for seven days (Ex 12:14–20).

26:26–29 Matthew’s Last Supper account highlights three aspects of the Eucharist (CCC 1339–40). (1) Jesus identifies the unleavened bread and the chalice with his body and blood (26:26–28). Through his spoken words the mystery of “transubstantiation” takes place: his body and blood replace the entire substance of the bread and wine. Although his presence remains undetected by the senses, the force of the verb “is” (Gk. estin) should not be reduced to “represents” or “symbolizes”. The Church’s faith rests entirely on Jesus’ solemn words (cf. Jn 6:68; 2 Cor 5:7). (2) Jesus links the Eucharist with his forthcoming sacrifice on the Cross (27:35; Jn 19:34). The expression poured out (26:28) recalls how Old Covenant priests poured the blood of sacrificial offerings at the base of the Temple’s altar to make atonement for sin (Lev 4:16–20; cf. Deut 12:26, 27; Is 53:12). Shedding his own blood, Jesus is both the high priest and the sacrificial victim of the New Covenant; his priestly offering is present in an unbloody manner in the sacrament and secures for us the forgiveness of sins. (3) Christ’s presence in the Eucharist makes the sacrament a true communion with Jesus (1 Cor 10:16). The phrase blood of the covenant is drawn from Ex 24:8, where God entered a covenant of love and communion with Israel through sacrifice. The consumption of blood—always forbidden under the Old Covenant (Lev 17:11–12)—is now enjoined in the New, since it communicates Christ’s divine life to the believer (Jn 6:53; CCC 1329, 1374, 1381).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel recounts the preparations for Passover, which would be Jesus’ final meal before his death.

In Matthew’s Gospel, the Last Supper takes place during Passover, the day when the paschal lambs were slaughtered. Why is this important? Because Christ is himself the paschal lamb who will be slaughtered for the salvation of the world, and this sacrifice is made sacramentally present at every Mass.

Interestingly, Judas is present there at the Last Supper, the root of the Mass. This is startlingly good news. Why? It means Jesus associates with all of us sinners, in all of our dysfunction. He entered into the darkness in all of its power in order to bring the light. If even Judas was invited into the Lord’s presence, so are you.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Our Denial

Scripture Reading

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,”
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”
(John 13:21-33, 36-38)

Scripture Study

13:22 uncertain of whom: Judas successfully camouflages his malice from the other disciples.

13:23 whom Jesus loved: i.e., the Apostle John. lying close: Festal meals were eaten, not in a sitting position, but in a reclining position on cushions spread around a short table.

13:27 after the morsel, Satan: Although Judas is sharing a meal with Jesus, he is feeding on the lies of the devil (8:44). The darkness that fills him draws him out into the “night” (13:30).

13:31 God is glorified: It is precisely when Christ accepts his suffering at the hands of evil men that he shows us the dimensions of God’s love for the world (Rom 5:8; Jn 3:16).

13:34 new commandment: The Torah commanded human love for ourselves and our neighbor (Lev 19:18). Jesus commands divine love for one another that is modeled on his own acts of charity and generosity (15:13; 1 Jn 3:16–18). This supernatural love comes not from us but from the Spirit (Rom 5:5; CCC 1822–29).

13:37 lay down my life: Peter is probably sincere but certainly overconfident. Soon his bravery will be crushed under the weight of human fear (18:25–27).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus foretells the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter, both of which are fulfilled in the accounts of the Passion. The story opens with the account of Judas’ betrayal. For a few lousy coins, he turns his back on his friend, his mentor. When we are in the grip of self-absorption, we will do anything, hurt anyone to get what we want, even for just a few dollars in return.

Once it was clear that Jesus was to be arrested, his disciples—all of whom had just protested their undying love—“left him and fled.” When they are called upon to take a stand, they flee. This is spiritual cowardice, and again, fellow sinners, how well do we know it?

Then we hear of Peter in the courtyard. Obviously, his denial is on display. He betrays Jesus three times, an act of cowardice on par with Judas’. These Gospel passages force us to examine our conscience. How have we betrayed Jesus? How have we denied him?

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.