Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: Red.
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: Saint Andrew of Crete (650? - 720/740?)|
St Andrew of Crete is of great importance in the Orthodox Church because he invented – or at least introduced into the liturgy – the canon, a new form of hymnody of which there is no sign before his time. Canons are huge, elaborately structured musical and poetic compositions. Andrew’s immense “Greek Canon”, for instance, is a hymn 250 verses long interspersed with litanies and odes, takes three hours to chant, and goes chronologically through the entire Old and New Testaments, showing examples of the need for repentance and conversion.
The canon, as a genre, has never taken real root in the rest of Christendom, but in addition to his achievements as a hymnographer Andrew was a noted preacher of sermons and discourses, and it is extracts from these that form some of our Second Readings. As might be expected from such a poet they are clear and inspiring, deriving their effect more from the arrangement of images and episodes so that one reflects and illuminates another, rather than from closely-argued pieces of reasoning.
|40 Days and 40 Ways: Palm Sunday|
The veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle; and when Jesus had cried out in a loud voice, he said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” With these words he breathed his last. (Lk 23:45-46)
Gospel for the Entry Procession, Lk 19:28-40
This reading gives us the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at the end of the long journey. In Luke the cheers are concentrated not merely on the Kingdom, but on the King himself, who comes in the name of the Lord. Their cries echo but excel those of the angels at the nativity, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven!” For Luke Jerusalem is the hinge, the turning- point where the Gospel ends and the Acts of the Apostles begins, the spread of the Good news to the ends of the earth. For the last ten chapters all the concentration has been on this journey up to Jerusalem, where Jesus is to suffer and so rise again, but there has been an air of tragedy about the journey. Jesus’s death has been constantly in mind, for it has been stressed that no prophet can perish away from Jerusalem. As Jesus enters the city he weeps over its refusal to accept him, just as he did in 13:34-35, and as he will do as he leaves Jerusalem for execution.
In the Book of Isaiah occur four songs, of which this is the third, sung by a mysterious Servant of the Lord. It is not clear who this Servant is, but he is totally dedicated to the service of the Lord, a disciple who listens devotedly. Through suffering, this Servant brings to fulfilment the salvation which the Lord intends for Israel and for the world. Jesus saw himself in the terms of this Servant, and the four songs feature throughout the liturgy of Holy Week. How can I be more positive about bearing suffering for the sake of Christ?
This hymn was probably not written by Paul himself, but taken up by him into the letter, a very early Christian hymn. It celebrates the triumph of Jesus through his selflessness. The assertions at the end are staggering. The hymn claims for Jesus the titles and the worship which are due only to God. What is more, this acknowledgement of Jesus does not detract from the glory of God, but is precisely “to the glory of God the Father”. This is perhaps the fullest statement in Paul of the divine glory of Jesus, and it is won by his humiliation in death. What would it be like to meet Jesus, a human being, yet divine? How would one react?
In Luke’s version of the story of the Passion of Jesus many of the details are different from those of the other evangelists. This merely means that Luke stresses different aspects, for the narratives are as much commentaries on the significance of events as straight narratives.
1. At the Last Supper Luke gathers together sayings of Jesus on the future of the Church and how the leaders of the community should behave: they should serve their brothers and sisters, not like the arrogant leaders of secular regimes. Luke places here the promise to Peter, that he will strengthen his brothers.
2. Luke stresses that Jesus is in control of the whole sequence. At the Agony in the Garden, instead of the three distraught prayers of Jesus, there is only one, and Jesus is in perfect control, kneeling down and standing up again, rather than throwing himself upon the ground. At the end, instead of “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, Jesus himself tranquilly yields his life into the Father’s hands, obediently completing his Father’s will.
3. At the trial scene there is no sign of the high priest, nor of any verdict. It is more a disorderly rabble who hustle Jesus to Pilate and produce trumped-up charges. Pilate does not sentence Jesus, but merely hands him over to them “to deal with as they pleased”. Jesus, on the other hand, continues his mission of bringing peace by the reconciliation of Pilate with Herod.
4. The crucifixion scene itself is a scene of conversions: Jesus continues right to the end his mission of bringing reconciliation. The women of Jerusalem mourn for Jesus. Jesus forgives his executioners. He welcomes the good thief into paradise. The centurion gives praise to God, and the crowds go home expressing their repentance. By contrast, it is the holy women who fulfil the Law of repose on the Sabbath.
1. Do I obey Jesus’s instructions, “Pray that you enter not into temptation”?
2. Why does Luke stress so heavily this scene of forgiveness at the cross?
Read and meditate on the Passion Psalm, Ps 22 (21), “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
This passage is an extract from the booklet “40 Days and 40 Ways” by Henry Wansbrough, published by the Catholic Truth Society and used by permission. “40 Days and 40 Ways” has meditations for each day in Lent. To find out more about the booklet, or to buy it, please visit the CTS web site.
The Universalis Readings at Mass page shows the readings for today’s Mass.
Red is the colour of fire and of blood. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate the fire of the Holy Spirit (for instance, at Pentecost) and the blood of the martyrs.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||(2 Corinthians 4:10-11) ©|
Always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that his life may equally be manifested in our body. While we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day, for the sake of Jesus, so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus, too, may be openly shown.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Peter 4:13-14 ©|
Beloved, if you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed. It is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means that you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on you.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Peter 5:10-11 ©|
You will have to suffer only for a little while: the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will see that all is well again: he will confirm, strengthen and support you. His power lasts for ever and ever. Amen.