Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
Or: O that today you would listen to his voice: harden not your hearts.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: Violet.
|In other years: St John Baptist de la Salle (1651 - 1719)|
He was born in Rheims in France in 1651. He became a priest and devoted himself wholeheartedly to the education of children, founding schools for the poor. He and his colleagues formed a congregation called the Brothers of the Christian Schools, in whose cause he suffered many tribulations. He died in Rouen in 1719. See the articles in the Catholic Encyclopaedia
|Other saints: St Henry Walpole (1558-1595)|
Henry Walpole was born at Docking (Norfolk) in 1558, the eldest son of Christopher and Margery Walpole. He was educated at Norwich Grammar School, at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and at Gray’s Inn. He is said to have become a Catholic as a consequence of the martyrdom of Edmund Campion. In 1582 he went abroad to study, first to Reims and then to the English College, Rome. Shortly afterwards he joined the Society of Jesus. In spite of poor health he was ordained priest at Paris in 1588, served as chaplain to the Spanish army in the Netherlands, and then taught in the English seminaries of Seville and Valladolid. In 1593 he returned to England, landing at Bridlington on 6 December, but was arrested the very next day on suspicion of being a priest. He was interrogated at York, transferred to the Tower of London where he was frequently tortured. He was indicted on a charge of high treason because he was ordained abroad to minister in England; he was condemned to death. He was executed at York on 7 April 1595, by being hanged, drawn and quartered.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: Saint Athanasius (295 - 373)|
Athanasius was born in Alexandria. He assisted Bishop Alexander at the Council of Nicaea, and later succeeded him as bishop. He fought hard against Arianism all his life, undergoing many sufferings and spending a total of 17 years in exile. He wrote outstanding works to explain and defend orthodoxy.
The matters in dispute with the Arians were vital to the very nature of Christianity; and, as Cardinal Newman put it, the trouble was that at that time the laity tended to be champions of orthodoxy while their bishops (seduced by closeness to imperial power) tended not to be. The further trouble (adds Chadwick) is that the whole thing became tangled up with matters of power, organization and authority, and with cultural differences between East and West. Athanasius was accused of treason and murder, embezzlement and sacrilege. In the fight against him, any weapon would do.
Arianism taught that the Son was created by the Father and in no way equal to him. This was in many ways a “purer” and more “spiritual” approach to religion, since it did not force God to undergo the undignified experience of being made of meat. Islam is essentially Arian. But Arianism leaves an infinite gap between God and man, and ultimately destroys the Gospel, leaving it either as a fake or as a cruel parody. Only by being orthodox and insisting on the identity of the natures of the Father and the Son and the Spirit can we truly understand the goodness of creation and the love of God, and live according to them. For this reason many extracts from the works of St Athanasius have been adopted as Second Readings in the Office of Readings.
|40 Days and 40 Ways: Fifth Sunday of Lent|
The wild beasts will honour me,
jackals and ostriches,
because I am putting water in the wilderness
(rivers in the wild)
To give my chosen people drink.
The people I have formed for myself
will sing my praises. (Is 43:20-21)
During Lent we have been working through the story of Israel preparing – or being prepared – for the coming of Christ: Adam, Abraham, Moses, the monarchy, and now the promise of a new beginning. For that is what Easter is. This part of Isaiah was written during the Exile of the Jews in Babylon, a traumatic event which seemed to them the end of all their hopes. Permanent exile and slavery, far from their beloved Jerusalem. “There we sat and wept”, says the psalmist. But the prophet whose work is attributed to Isaiah set out to re-invigorate them with the promise that they would return to Jerusalem, and that the wonders of the Exodus from Egypt would be renewed. no need to recall the past, for there would be a road across the desert and miraculous supplies of water for the travellers. The desert would bloom afresh (for the slightest supply of water brings the withered plants to life in the spring) and the curious beasts of the desert, jackals and ostriches, would praise the Lord. There is a lesson for us, too. Our trust in God teaches us – and our own experience eventually grudgingly re-enforces this – that seemingly total disaster can become a source of strength and instruction. In what way would you wish to be transformed by the new beginning of Easter?
As we prepare for the celebration of the Passion next week, we read of Paul’s own struggle, in the letter to his special friends at Philippi. He is tired, probably already quite senior, and longs to finish his race and be with Christ in tranquillity. The games and athletic contests were the football tournaments of the ancient world. Corinth, where Paul spent so long, was the centre for the Isthmian Games, more important than the Olympics, and Paul often uses imagery of running and even boxing. He knows the thrill of the contest, but at the same time he recognises that all our power comes from the Resurrection of Christ. Christ endured and was raised by the Father. Often for us Christianity consists of enduring slights, insults or neglect and replying with a cheerful word or gesture which dissolves the hurt and seeks to renew friendship and genuine relationship. There is no need aggressively to turn the other cheek; it needs more of the courage of Christ to reply with a positive advance. If I can bring myself to ask, “What would Jesus have done?” I am already sharing in his strength. The aggression of the athlete is re-directed! Apart from his suffering and death, what do you find most inspiring about Jesus’s life story and his character as seen in the Gospels?
Why this reading from John in the middle of the Year of Luke? All the other Gospels during this Lent have been from Luke. The answer is that it is an independent, floating story which does not fit the Gospel of John. In early manuscripts of the Gospels it floats around in various positions before it becomes anchored as an example of Jesus’s saying just before, “Our Law does not allow us to pass judgement on anyone without first giving him a hearing” (Jn 7:51). It fits in this year because the tone of the story and the theme of welcome for the repentant sinner are both thoroughly Lucan, constantly stressed in Luke, for example, by the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
What did Jesus write on the ground, or was he just doodling to allow the accusers time to reflect on their self- righteousness? It is made clear throughout the Gospel of Luke that you cannot be a follower of Christ without first admitting your sinfulness. At Peter’s call in the boat Peter tells Jesus to leave, for he is a sinner. Zacchaeus promises to make multiple restitution for his embezzlements. The woman at the supper weeps for her sins at Jesus’s feet.
1. What do you think Jesus wrote on the ground?
2. Would it sometimes be better to be less judgemental?
Encourage the family to celebrate the liturgical events of Easter.
This passage is an extract from the booklet “40 Days and 40 Ways” by Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, 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)||(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.