Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” What a wonderful God–to care for dumb, desperate, and sinful creatures like you and me. What I hope you see is the divine absurdity of it all. The Lord of all the universe lay down His life for you and me. He lays aside His regal robes to take up the cross of degradation and death. He lays aside His crown of glory for a painful crown of thorns, and he did it for us. Can you get your mind around such an astounding truth?
Here is the best antidote that I know of to the fear that so easily besets us. It is to experience the presence of the Risen Christ--to see the marks of His love for us in His hands and side--to hear Him say, as He said to those early disciples, “Peace be with you.” The disciples huddled behind closed doors because they felt abandoned and because they put fear before faith. But they were not abandoned. Christ can penetrate the closed doors of our lives!
And the Good News today is that Easter Sunday always triumphs Good Friday! God always has the last word! Easter has the last word …goodness, life, and light have the last word! So today is a day of triumph for Jesus and a day of assurance and of great joy for each and every one of us. We rejoice in the Risen Lord and His promise of eternal life. Amen! Let God Easter in us! Let God bring forth new life in us!
On this day, when "Christ our Passover was sacrificed," the Church mediates on the passion of Her Lord and Spouse, adores the Cross, commemorates Her origin from the side of Christ asleep on the Cross, and intercedes for the salvation of the whole world. Listen to Fr. Cooper's Good Friday Homily and meditate on the question" Where you there when they crucified my Lord?
With this Mass, celebrated in the evening of the Thursday in Holy Week, the Church begins the sacred Easter Triduum and devotes herself to the remembrance of the Last Supper. At the super on the night He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus, loving those who were His own in the world even to the end, offered His Body and Blood to the Father under the appearance of bread and wine, gave them to the apostles to eat and drink, then enjoined the apostles and their successors in the priesthood to offer them in turn. Listen to Fr. Cooper's Holy Thursday Homily: The Eucharist and the Sacrifice of Love
Jesus was a man of great humility. When He rode into Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of a donkey, he set into motion events that He knew were irreversible. They resulted in His crucifixion and death. But here’s the Good News: He did it out of love for you and me! “Greater love has no one than this,” says John 15:13, “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We are Christ’s friends. May we all be like the little donkey and carry Jesus into the world!
Today the Church invites us to reflect on God’s love for the world and to be joyful because of it. Today the Church “Rejoices” because even in this penitential season, God still redeems us from our sinfulness. Lent is a time to open ourselves to the overwhelming mystery of God’s totally free and all-inclusive love for us and for all people of this world. Lent invites us to surrender to the mystery, to accept its mind-boggling truth and then to accept the challenge that love means sacrifice and there can be no love without true sacrifice. Today – so close to celebration of Holy Week, we can say this: God did not spare His only Son, but gave him up – to the Cross – that we might have life in Him.
Is there some evil in the world that a voice within you keeps saying, “Somebody ought to do something about that?” Maybe that’s the voice of God. Maybe it’s time you went beyond anger to getting involved in solving some of the world’s problems. If it was good enough for Jesus, surely you and I are not too good to get up in arms from time to time about evils that are still occurring in our world. Of course, we are not to get angry over petty things. But there are some things that should make us angry--when the weak are trampled upon, when children are abused, when the poor are taken advantage of and the homeless are neglected. Maybe the greater sin that you and I commit is not getting angry often enough, angry over some of the injustices that still exist in this world.
The three disciples were on the mountain with Jesus when he was transfigured. “His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.” And they saw their Master in the company of the two great leaders of the Jewish faith, Moses and Elijah. Then they heard a voice: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” St. Mark closes his report of this experience on the mountaintop with these words, “Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.” Jesus was all they had and Jesus was all they needed. When they gave him their undivided attention, their lives were filled with his power and their witness touched the entire world and is still touching it today. Are you listening? Will you be obedient?
As we mark our foreheads with ashes this evening we are asking God to cleanse us of anything that might prevent His perfect will from being done in our lives. We, too, are His people. We, too, miss the mark of holy living. We pray to be restored to the kind of relationship with Him that allows us to bear the burden of a fallen world. In a special way God is says to each of us on this Ash Wednesday: "Be my Valentine" ... which simply means "You are loved!"