Showing posts with label Judas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Judas. Show all posts

March 30, 2020

Homily for Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020, Year A


Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing


Blood is life-giving; it is the essential element in sustaining us in life. Babies the womb receive oxygen and nutrients from their mothers’ blood. When natural disasters occur the Red Cross appeals for blood donors. During surgeries it sustains patients in life. In many cultures the bonding of people is sealed in rituals that mingle blood. In all cultures blood has a deeply religious significance.

When God brought the Hebrew people out of their slavery in Egypt, the blood of sacrificed lambs marked their homes and they were spared the punishment that fell upon their Egyptian captors. Later, on Mt. Sinai, when God bound Himself to His people, Moses offered animal sacrifices and then took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” Moses then took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:6-8)

As we enter now into Holy Week, blood and the cup of suffering are the centerpiece of God’s saving and life-giving actions. In the blood of Christ which flowed from His crucified body we are liberated from the ultimate consequences of our sins if we follow in the way of Peter and not in the way of Judas. God offers, we respond, and everything depends upon our response.

The importance for us of St. Matthew’s account of Our Blessed Lord’s passion, suffering, and death cannot be overstated. Today and this week our Church takes us to the core of God’s forgiving and self-emptying love for us. At the Last Supper as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

How will we respond to Him? Can we and will we accept God’s forgiveness? Judas did not. Peter at first could not but later he did. Pontius Pilate tried to wash his hands of it, denying responsibility. The Jewish leaders accepted responsibility. “His death is upon us and upon our children,” they declared. Many people in Jerusalem at that time simply didn’t care; they couldn’t be bothered. What about us?

When we drink of the cup, the cup of suffering, we have our own opportunity to drink of God’s life-giving force that empowers us to face this world’s unfairness and injustices. The harsh truth is that millions of innocent people suffer. The harsh truth is that Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, was innocent and unjustly suffered terrible rejection and pain. Instead of allowing himself to be imprisoned in resentment and hatred, he walked the path leading to redemption and resurrection.

What about us; do we enter into the passion and death of Christ? Or do we simply not care and not be bothered? God offers; what is your choice?

September 13, 2017

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross | 2017

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Feast Day - September 14th

The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, recalls the retrieval of the Holy Cross, which had been found and preserved by Saint Helena. It commemorates three distinct historical events: the finding of the True Cross, its return in the 7th century, and its ineffable power as the instrument of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice and our salvation. Regarding the later, our Savior's crucifixion imbues human suffering with dignity and divine purpose. Here is a reflection by Father René Butler, M.S., from his homily on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross:

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Provincial Superior, La Salette Missionaries of North America
Hartford, Connecticut


What do Judas, and the leaders of the Sanhedrin, and Pontius Pilate, all have in common with God the Father?

You might find the question confusing, even bizarre, if not downright blasphemous, but the idea came to me when reading a commentary of St. Augustine on the First Letter of John, which I also referred to in last week’s homily.

Note the following passages, all from the New Testament:

“Then 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.” (Matthew 26:15-16)

“As soon as morning came, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.” (Mark 15:1)

“So he [Pilate] released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.” (Luke 23:25)

God “did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all.” (Romans 8:32)

The common thread is the verb “hand over.” In more classical translations we read that Judas “betrayed” Jesus, the Sanhedrin “delivered” Jesus to Pilate, Pilate “delivered” Jesus to be crucified, and God “delivered him up.” The use of the identical verb easily goes unnoticed.

What we have then is this:

Judas so loved money (see also John 12:4-6) that he gave Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. The leaders of the Sanhedrin so loved their authority and so feared losing it that they gave Jesus as the price to keep it.  Pilate so loved his power that he gave Jesus to his executioners rather than risk a riot.

But God so loved the world...

In John 3:16, the verb “gave” is not quite the same as “handed over,” but it is the same reality. That’s why Jesus uses the phrase, “When the Son of Man is lifted up.”

Today’s feast is called the Exaltation, that is, the “Lifting High” of the Holy Cross. Moses “lifted up” the bronze serpent, and those who looked at it lived. Jesus was “lifted up” on the cross, humbling himself, becoming obedient to death, uniting his will to that of the Father and loving the world just as much as the Father did, “so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

And there’s more.

In the Third Eucharistic Prayer, at the Consecration of the bread, the priest says:
For on the night he was betrayed
he himself took bread,
and, giving you thanks, he said the blessing,
broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take this, all of you, and eat of it,
for this is my Body,
which will be given up for you.
Following the same idea as with the New Testament passages quoted above, this could be translated just as accurately, “For on the night he was handed over he... broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying: ... This is my Body, which will be handed over for you.”

When you see the Host “lifted up” at the Consecration, always remember: God so loved the world then, God so loves the world today.

April 2, 2017

Homily for Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017, Year A

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing


Blood is life-giving; it is the essential element in sustaining us in life. Babies the womb receive oxygen and nutrients from their mothers’ blood. When natural disasters occur the Red Cross appeals for blood donors. During surgeries it sustains patients in life. In many cultures the bonding of people is sealed in rituals that mingle blood. In all cultures blood has a deeply religious significance.

When God brought the Hebrew people out of their slavery in Egypt, the blood of sacrificed lambs marked their homes and they were spared the punishment that fell upon their Egyptian captors. Later, on Mt. Sinai, when God bound Himself to His people, Moses offered animal sacrifices and then took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” Moses then took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:6-8)

As we enter now into Holy Week, blood and the cup of suffering are the centerpiece of God’s saving and life-giving actions. In the blood of Christ which flowed from His crucified body we are liberated from the ultimate consequences of our sins if we follow in the way of Peter and not in the way of Judas. God offers, we respond, and everything depends upon our response.

The importance for us of St. Matthew’s account of Our Blessed Lord’s passion, suffering, and death cannot be overstated. Today and this week our Church takes us to the core of God’s forgiving and self-emptying love for us. At the Last Supper as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

How will we respond to Him? Can we and will we accept God’s forgiveness? Judas did not. Peter at first could not but later he did. Pontius Pilate tried to wash his hands of it, denying responsibility. The Jewish leaders accepted responsibility. “His death is upon us and upon our children,” they declared. Many people in Jerusalem at that time simply didn’t care; they couldn’t be bothered. What about us?

When we drink of the cup, the cup of suffering, we have our own opportunity to drink of God’s life-giving force that empowers us to face this world’s unfairness and injustices. The harsh truth is that millions of innocent people suffer. The harsh truth is that Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, was innocent and unjustly suffered terrible rejection and pain. Instead of allowing himself to be imprisoned in resentment and hatred, he walked the path leading to redemption and resurrection.

What about us; do we enter into the passion and death of Christ? Or do we simply not care and not be bothered? God offers; what is your choice?