Wednesday, March 31, 2021

..Surely It is .. †


How Much Did Jesus Know?

Today we have the third Servant Song for our First Reading, which is a memorable set of striking images: "an open ear," "a well-trained tongue," that "knows how to speak to the weary." "I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard, I did not shield my face from buffets and spitting...I have set my face like flint." (Isaiah 50:4–7). If this is ascribed to Jesus, as we Christians always have, then it clearly portrays one who is totally subject to the human condition, all the way to the bottom. He is a good listener and speaker, but in the end, his is an act of trust that another will "vindicate" him with utter confidence "that he will not be put to shame." The "Suffering Servant" here portrayed is a human being just like you and me. He does not know the outcome ahead of time, or his confidence would be in himself and God to pull it off, which would then largely be a matter of the willpower of belief. Faith is so much more than strong willpower. In Matthew's Gospel text, Jesus certainly appears to know ahead of time that Judas is going to betray him, and as much as tells him so. But he also appears to be saying that it is destiny or fate and "foretold by Scripture." Is this foreknowledge the pattern of the Suffering Servant that he is referring to? We do not know for sure, although John sees it predicted in Psalm 41:10: "Even my closest and most trusted friend, who shared my table, rebels against me," which he quotes (13:18). If this is the psalm Jesus is referring to, then the fuller meaning is clear: "Yahweh take pity on me, and raise me up!" (41:11). His victory is a dramatic reliance upon God, a mammoth leap of faith, not a superman stunt by a man who knows the full outcome ahead of time. We have done the believing community a major disservice by so emphasizing his divinity that his humanity was all but overridden. "He did not really have to live faith or darkness as we do, he knew everything from his youngest years," most Christians naively assume. Yet Hebrews beautifully calls Jesus the "pioneer and perfector of our faith" (12:2). We cannot believe that his was a totally different brand of faith than the rest of humanity. Many scholars believe that it was only at the Resurrection that Jesus' human mind and divine consciousness became one. Until then, he "was like us in all ways, except sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Now I believe you are much better prepared to walk through the sacred days ahead with a Jesus who shares, suffers, and trusts God exactly as you and I must learn to do. He walked in darkness too.

—from the book Wondrous Encounters: Scriptures for Lent

by Richard Rohr, OFM


†Saint Quote
"The devotion to the Eucharist is the most noble, because it has God as its object; it is the most profitable for salvation, because it gives us the Author of Grace; it is the sweetest, because the Lord is Sweetness Itself."
— Pope St. Pius X

"I've appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life [St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her]. I've done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome, but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory. And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him, because I've made My creatures strong, and I've given them strength of will, fortified in the Blood of My Son. Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will, because it's yours, given to you by Me. By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please. It's a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil, it right away becomes a knife that he'll use to stab and kill you. On the other hand, if you don't place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—that is, if you don't consent to his temptations and harassments—you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation. Instead, you'll actually be strengthened by the temptation, as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved. My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak. He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him. So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you. I want you to conquer, not to be conquered, and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me."
— St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

"Hearken to me, you who pursue deliverance, you who seek the Lord; look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were digged."
Isaiah 51:1


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St. Benjamin (d. 424 A.D.) was a deacon martyred in Persia during a forty-year-long Christian persecution under two tyrannical Persian kings. He was imprisoned for a year due to his Christian faith and then released with the help of the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II. As a condition of his release he was ordered to no longer publicly proclaim his faith. Benjamin declared that it was his duty to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he refused to be silenced. He continued preaching Christ crucified, and, when word reached the king, he was arrested again. In response, Benjamin asked the king what opinion he would have of any of his subjects if they were to renounce their allegiance to the king and join in war against him; in the same way Benjamin could not renounce his allegiance to Christ. This comment enraged the king, and he ordered Benjamin to endure cruel tortures. Sharpened reeds were repeatedly jammed underneath his fingernails, toenails, and other tender parts of the body. He died when a knotted stake was jammed into his bowels. St. Benjamin's feast day is celebrated on March 31st.


Wednesday of Holy Week

Lectionary: 259
Reading I

Is 50:4-9a

The Lord GOD has given me

a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary

a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning

he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,

have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,

my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield

from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,

therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,

knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;

if anyone wishes to oppose me,

let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?

Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;

who will prove me wrong?

Responsorial Psalm

69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34

R. (14c) Lord, in your great love, answer me.
For your sake I bear insult,

and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,

a stranger to my mother's sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,

and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,

I looked for sympathy, but there was none;

for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,

and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
I will praise the name of God in song,

and I will glorify him with thanksgiving:
"See, you lowly ones, and be glad;

you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,

and his own who are in bonds he spurns not."
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Verse before the Gospel

Hail to you, our King;
you alone are compassionate with our errors.

Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father;
you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.


Mt 26:14-25

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."


Daily Meditation: Isaiah 50:4-9

I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50:7)

"I sure hope so." "I hope he gets the promotion." "I hope she's going to be all right." Think about what the word "hope" means in these sentences. It seems much more like vague optimism than the virtue of hope. It's as if we're saying that we really want something to happen or that, if we're lucky, things will work out okay for us.

Today's first reading shows us a different kind of hope. Even though the word is not used, there's a current of hope running through the passage. We can see that the servant in the reading has put his hope in the Lord. But it isn't just a vague optimism; in fact, it is an act of complete trust. "The Lord God is my help," he says, "therefore I am not disgraced. . . . I shall not be put to shame" (Isaiah 50:7).

Like this servant, Jesus' face was set "like flint" (Isaiah 50:7). St. Luke tells us that when the time drew near, Jesus "resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). He trusted in his Father's love, and he knew that any shame he encountered along the way would not have the final word.

Jesus had hope because he knew that his Father was utterly trustworthy. Our hope is founded on the same kind of reliance on God. We can trust that our difficulties won't have the final word because we have a Father in heaven who will never abandon us. The best way to face down the situations that threaten our hope, whether internal dispositions or outward circumstances, is to fix our eyes on God and his faithfulness and love.

So take heart! Fix your eyes on what Jesus did on the cross for you. That's where he took on every bit of your suffering, pain, and sin. He not only endured the agony of a brutal execution, but he conquered death in the process. And that gives you the ultimate hope of eternal life with him. With such confidence to support you, you can set your face like flint and know that, no matter what, you will not be put to shame.

"Lord, as I contemplate your passion, help me to trust in your love and to place all my hope in you."

Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34 | Matthew 26:14-25



True humility consists in not presuming on our own strength, but in trusting to obtain all things from the power of God.
— St. Thomas Aquinas
from the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 5


"Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear" and here we are opening ourselves, and we should pray that He opens our ears.

"And I have not rebelled, have not turned back." We are still here, we have not given up on hope or love.

"I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard." Give them what they want, your reputation, your ego, your body to be used as a punching bag. Is that right? Can you question God?
"My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting." Can we sit here and let others abuse us? To take advantage of us? What's the whole surrender thing about? At what point are you giving wrongly? Doesn't the Church teach the Just War Theory? You have to defend the innocent? Can we let others keep killing...the innocent? Do we let them do whatever they want? You see how quickly things can get distorted? Yet, be watchful, for that is how the world distorts things in the news and in your ears through people.

God is asking us for a prized virtue that few dare to fight for...humility, and humility in obedience. So yes, you can let people spit in your face vile words of hatred. But we must defend the innocent as Jesus did the adulterous woman...and give up His life in her place. YIKES! Humility to the extreme, if we only knew what this meant, the world would be so much different, and it can be, now that you have heard the invitation to extreme humility in obedience. Things you will never hear out in the worldly media, news, radio, or tv. Only who seek and find...the truth, the hidden truth of Christ our Lord..


We pray: "I will praise the name of God in song, and I will glorify him with thanksgiving"
And what glory does God desire but none other than that of His child on the cross. To the deaf and dumb, the blind and mute, this means foolishness. But to those who have ears and can see with the mind of Christ, this is the most cherishable gift from God, wrapped in a bow-tie. A gift of love and mercy to you, and if taken justly, can mean eternity with Him, a most treasured gift to be sought out as we live.
"See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive!" See, you humble ones. The humble rejoice when found in trouble...for the Lord. Did not the first disciples leave rejoicing after being beat up after the death of our Lord? Yes, they knew this meant everything for Heaven.

"For the LORD hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not." And there is a difference, even secular studies show and prove that there is a difference between believers and non believers. Their suffering is different. The believers suffer differently and often live longer. Those who truly believe live a different life of joy, of true happiness. Not temporary, like the passing of the world.


And we hear of Judas the traitor when he sought out the Jews to ask the leaders ""What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?"
What was wrong with this guy? LOL, he's not that different from many of us today. He knew very well Jesus our Lord and His plans of coming into Jerusalem. He was coming to Jerusalem anyways, into the hands of the Jews, so...why not cash in on it? In the Bull Market world of finance, this is known as "insider trading" or better known as "cashing in". To Judas, it was a win win situation. He'd get some money for the purse of the disciples which he often took from, and our Lord would not be hurt because he was going into their hands he thought.

But what if that's not how things were going to happen? The whole of our Lord's life was designed to be a sacrificial offering, but did it have to be assisted by a sinner? Think about it. It doesn't have to be you asking our Lord "Surely I won't betray you...right?". Was it destiny? Was it all a pre-programmed plan from our God? Could things be much different had Judas not turned in our Lord? The story fulfills the story of Joseph betrayed by his brothers for some money. "How much will you give me for Him?" Who would betray our Lord like that today?

Surely not I...Lord.
And in our bull market economy, people work on Sundays. I'd say a large percent don't have to, but they want to. Because they've traded our Lord for that much money. How much money does a business lose if they don't open on Sunday? Perhaps a percent. But can't you consider that an offering to our Lord? The same with an individual. If you miss out on that day, can't you offer that to our Lord? Or will you work the whole day and give 10%? Our Lord wants 100%.
Surely not I Lord...asked Judas.
But let's not focus on money. Let's say most don't work on Sunday. Why Sunday? Because it is the very day our Lord returned body and soul, to reveal His glory. Glory on the cross turned to glorious triumphant King of the world.

Surely not I....and yet we turn to sin. Surely not I, yet we point the fingers at others. Surely not I and we let ourselves get ahead of Him, not truly following Him. LOL. My little boy loves to walk in front of the pack (our large family). On Sunday after Mass after eating at a restaurant that was open LOL, he walked in front of me squeezing between cars and I was pushing the baby stroller. Suddenly he stopped for a second and I hit him with the stroller. "You see! That's why you shouldn't get ahead of your Father".

Lord, Surely it is I that will fail, but Surely it is I that will fall on my knees in repentance. Forgive us father, our failure to trust in You completely. Forgive us for getting ahead and thinking we know better...and then fall.
Help us Lord follow You more humbly. Amen.

from your brother in Christ our Lord,


Random online bible verse from a random verse generator:

Galatians 5:16–17
Keep in Step with the Spirit

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.


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