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  • St. Peter the Fisherman

April 8, 2020 Wednesday of Holy Week

Matthew 26:14-25

Then 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.”

Opening Prayer: Jesus, I am filled with sadness when I remember how Judas betrayed you. I’m sorry for all the times when my own sins have caused you pain. Help me to trust in your Divine Mercy when I fall and come to you with a contrite heart.

Encountering Christ:

1. The Wages of Sin: Judas was called to be an apostle, one of Christ’s chosen Twelve. What a tragedy that a man who was so close to Christ became his betrayer. Judas looked to gain something from his relationship with Christ: “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” (Matthew 26:15). Sin causes us to trade our most priceless gift–everlasting life–for fleeting pleasures. In the end, Judas got thirty pieces of silver, such a pittance for the Son of Man. As St. Paul asks, “...what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:21, 23). What do we want to gain from our relationship with Christ? Are the things we do meant to build up his kingdom in thanksgiving for the gift of everlasting life, or are they for our own glory?

2. Denial and Despair: Judas answered Jesus’s question about who would betray him with a deceitful question: “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” (Matthew 26:25). Judas is clearly lying here, but could he also be in denial about his betrayal? Later Judas despaired for his sin and he committed suicide (Matthew 27:5). Denial and despair can be common reactions when we realize the gravity of our sin. The greatest tragedy of Judas was that he forgot God’s merciful love. St. John Paul II wrote, "mercy is the greatest of the attributes and perfections of God…” (Dives in Misericordia, 13). When we have sinned, may we always look to God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

3. The Hour of Divine Mercy: Jesus announced “My appointed time draws near” (Matthew 26:18). The hour of his Divine Mercy was approaching. It was the hour of his Passion and Death on the Cross when he fulfilled his mission of salvation for all who believe in him (Romans 10:9-11). The holiest days of the year, the Easter Triduum, draw near. Let us prepare our hearts to enter into the mystery of our King and Savior’s hour. May we honor his most merciful gift to us: his life that he gave “as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Conversing with Christ: Oh my Jesus, I marvel at your mercy. You, for whom all things were made, gave us everything because of your immense love for us. I am struck with wonder and gratitude. Please help me to trust in your Divine Mercy.

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will plan to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week if I have not already done so during Lent.

  • St. Peter the Fisherman

April 7, 2020 Tuesday of Holy Week

John 13:21-33, 36-38

When he had said this, 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’s side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’s 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 he 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 he took the morsel and left at onc e. 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’t I 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.”

Opening Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, open my heart to hear what you want me to hear. Help me to draw close to Christ always.

Encountering Christ:

1. Worth The Cost?: Judas’s betrayal was spiteful and greedy. He had been looking for an opportunity to hand Jesus over so he could collect his meager thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16). When we reflect on Judas’s betrayal, we can ask ourselves when we have betrayed Our Lord through our sins. What do we have to gain when we sin? Is it momentary pleasure, a fleeting grasp at money or power, or simply foolish pride? No matter what momentary gain we think we receive, it is never worth the cost of the pain it causes Jesus, others, and ourselves.

2. The Law of the Gift: As soon as Judas left, Jesus announced, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him” (John 13:31). Christ was glorified when his Passion had begun, the hour when he offered his blood to save us from our sins. God the Father was also glorified in Christ’s Passion because the Son obediently did his will. God the Father sent Jesus to die for our sins; this was Christ’s mission. Jesus spoke earlier of glorifying God the Father through his death: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). This is the Law of the Gift. Christ gave his life for us in the ultimate act of self-giving love. We too live by the Law of the Gift, for we are most fulfilled when we lovingly give ourselves to others. St. Paul VI wrote: “man...cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (G audium et Spes, #24).

3. Draw Close to Christ: Peter’s denial later in the Passion narrative was driven by fear (Matthew 26:69-75). He desired to follow Jesus even unto death: “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37), but Peter’s fear caused him to distance himself from Jesus. Peter felt threatened, so he disguised his Christian identity by denying Christ; he even cursed and swore to prove it. Notice how St. John drew so close to Christ that “he leaned back against Jesus’s chest” (John 13:25) at the Last Supper. He was also the only apostle that stayed with Jesus through his entire Passion. Who do we choose to imitate this Holy Week? Peter, who was ashamed of being “too Christian,” or John who always remained close to his Savior?

Conversing with Christ: Jesus, may I never betray or deny you, but instead always draw ever closer to you. I know that, with you near me, guiding me day by day, I can learn to give myself to others through acts of selfless love. Help me die to myself so that it is no longer I who lives, but you who lives in me (cf. Galatians 2:20).

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will offer an act of selfless love for someone.

  • St. Peter the Fisherman

April 6, 2020 Monday of Holy Week

John 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” [The] large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see L azarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.

Opening Prayer: St. Mary Magdalene, you poured out your costly oil for Jesus. Pray for me that I may hold nothing back from Our Lord.

Encountering Christ:

1. Mary Who?: Just who is St. Mary Magdalene? Is she Martha and Lazarus’s sister from our readings today? Is she the sinful but repentant woman whom Jesus forgives (Luke 7:36-50)? Is she a wealthy woman from Magdala whom Jesus freed from seven demons and who then followed him even to his Cross (Luke 8:2, Jn 19:25)? Western Church tradition holds that St. Mary Magdalene is actually the woman portrayed in each of these scriptural accounts. We learn from these stories how the Magdalene’s conversion, repentance, and healing lead to her generous, love-filled discipleship. An example of the generosity of her spirit is shown in our reading today when she used the costly nard to anoint Jesus.

2. A Fragrant Sacrifice: St. Mary Magdalene generously poured out the fragrant, expensive oil to anoint Christ’s feet. Nothing we do for the love of Christ, no time we spend, no act of charity is ever wasted. Everything belongs to him, so whatever we return to him as a holy sacrifice is just. On the Cross, Jesus became a fragrant sacrifice for us: “[Christ] handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2). Our own sacrifices also become a delightful fragrance that is pleasing to God (Philippians 4:18). During this Holy Week, what can we offer God as a pleasing sacrifice? Like the aroma of the perfumed oil filling the room, how can our loving actions fill our homes with the fragrance of our offerings? As St. John Henry Newman and St. Teresa of Calcutta prayed, “Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere that I go.”

3. Let Her Keep This: In this scene at Bethany, Jesus knew that his hour was approaching. He also knew that St. Mary Magdalene would be there with him at the foot of the Cross. Why else would he say, “Let her keep this for the day of my burial” (John 12:7)? He knew that only a precious few would stay with him during his Passion and that she would be one of them. St. Mary Magdalene was there with the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John as Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. She was the first witness to the Resurrection as well. Let us pray for the courage and “the endurance of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) that we will need to follow Jesus to Calvary this week.

Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me realize that every act of love that I offer you out of the purity of my heart is a fragrant offering. Help me find ways to lavish my love on you and on my neighbor.

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will offer a generous act of charity out of my love for you.