Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: Violet.
|Other saints: St John of Egypt (304 - 394)|
At the age of 25, John left his home and became a monk. He lived under the tutelage of a wise hermit and when his master died, John decided to withdraw into a more remote cave on Mount Lycos. There he lived a very strict life, devoting himself to prayer and manual work. People started to visit him, since he was able to perform miracles, heal the sick and read people’s hearts. He died in 394, at the age of 90.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Basil the Great (330 - 379)|
St Basil the Great, or Basil of Caesarea, was one of the three men known as the Cappadocian Fathers. The others are his younger brother, St Gregory of Nyssa, and St Gregory Nazianzen. They were active after the Council of Nicaea, working to formulate Trinitarian doctrine precisely and, in particular, to pin down the meaning and role of the least humanly comprehensible member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Basil was the leader and organizer; Gregory of Nazianzus was the thinker, the orator, the poet, pushed into administrative and episcopal roles by circumstances and by Basil; and Gregory of Nyssa, Basil’s brother, although not a great stylist, was the most gifted of the three as a philosopher and theologian. Together, the Cappadocian Fathers hammered out the doctrine of the Trinity like blacksmiths forging a piece of metal by hammer-blows into its perfect, destined shape. They were champions – and successful champions – of orthodoxy against Arianism, a battle that had to be conducted as much on the worldly and political plane as on the philosophical and theological one.
In addition to his role in doctrinal development, Basil is also the father of Eastern monasticism. He moderated the heroic ascetic practices that were characteristic of earlier monastic life, to the point where they could be part of a life in which work, prayer and ascetic practices could be in harmonious balance. Knowledge of Basil’s work and Rule spread to the West and was an influence on the founding work of St Benedict.
The works of Basil that appear in the Second Readings are mostly from his works on the Holy Spirit, but there are also extracts from his monastic Rule.
|40 Days and 40 Ways: Tuesday of Holy Week|
“It is not enough for you to be my servant,
to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel;
I will make you the light of the nations
So that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth’.” (Is 49: 6)
In this second Song of the Servant the stress is upon the mission of the servant for the nations. Here the Servant is named “Israel” (though some think this name is an addition), and his task is not merely to bring back the survivors of Israel, but also to be the light to the nations, a phrase picked up in Simeon’s canticle. These songs find their place in the central section of Isaiah, written during the Exile at Babylon, when Israel was beginning to be aware that the vocation of Israel was to bring salvation to other nations of the world. On the other hand, the two mentions of “born from my mother’s womb”, “formed in the womb” do suggest that it is the song of an individual. Perhaps it is an individual representing Israel, just as Jesus is the focal point, in whom all the hopes of Israel find their realisation.
Jn 13:21-33, 36-38
The Gospel reading jumps a little ahead, to the Last Supper. Rather than telling us the story of the Last Supper, the Gospels give us only two incidents at the Supper, the marking of the traitor and the Institution of the Eucharist. The latter is absent from John, who reserves the sacraments till after the death of Jesus and the foundation of the Church. John identifies the traitor, but the synoptic Gospels stress not his identity, but his treachery, the one who dips his hand in the dish with Jesus and immediately betrays this gesture of fellowship. In our readings we have the betrayal on Tuesday (John) and Wednesday (Matthew), while the Eucharist is reserved for Thursday.
The Church puts before us the failure of the disciples, or rather the failure of the whole body of disciples, led by Peter. Throughout Jesus’s ministry this has been a theme, especially in Mark. Three times the disciples are rebuked for their failure to understand who Jesus is, each time on the Lake of Galilee, before – immediately after the gift of sight to the blind man of Bethsaida – Peter bursts out with his profession of faith, “You are the Christ/Messiah” (Mk 8:29). After this turning point of the Gospel, again three times they fail to grasp the teaching on suffering, that as Messiah Jesus can accomplish his mission only by suffering and death, and that his disciples must share this suffering. The theme reaches its climax with Peter’s repeated protestation at the Supper that he is ready to die with Jesus, and his panicked denial when he is accosted by the diminutive servant girl outside the high priest’s house. In John at any rate we hear the story of his repentance and response to the Risen Christ’s threefold challenge at the Lakeside. The prominence given to this theme is surely a reminder that the Twelve are role models for future disciples even in their failure – and in their repentance. Perfection is not required, only repentance.
Invite someone lonely to share your Easter celebrations.
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.
|Liturgical colour: violet|
Violet is a dark colour, ‘the gloomy cast of the mortified, denoting affliction and melancholy’. Liturgically, it is the colour of Advent and Lent, the seasons of penance and preparation.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||1 Corinthians 1:18-19 ©|
The language of the cross may be illogical to those who are not on the way to salvation, but those of us who are on the way see it as God’s power to save. As scripture says: I shall destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing all the learning of the learned.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Corinthians 1:22-24 ©|
The Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, but we are preaching a crucified Christ; to the Jews an obstacle that they cannot get over, to the pagans madness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Corinthians 1:25,27 ©|
God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. It was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning.