As we begin the final two weeks of Lent, Jesus announces in today’s Gospel, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” This glory will be celebrated two weeks from today, on Easter Sunday. Before his glory is revealed in the resurrection, there is a long, dark journey of suffering and death. Jesus was well aware of what lay ahead. Nevertheless, despite his “troubled soul,” Jesus proclaimed with confidence: “Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
Jesus’ obedience to the Father’s plan that he offer himself as the sacrificial Victim for our redemption reveals to us the “perfection” of his human nature: “And when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Second Reading) This is significant because the sin which “gained for us so great a Redeemer” (from the Easter Exsultet)—the “original sin” of our first parents—was one of disobedience. (Cf. Genesis 3:1-15) Of course all sin is disobedience.
So today’s First Reading contains the promise of a “new covenant”: a new relationship between God and his people, written on our hearts rather than stone tablets. By the grace of God we shall instinctively know what he wants of us and obey him. Do we not really know right from wrong? Of course we do. The goal of our Lenten observance is to conform our actions to what we really know in our hearts to be God’s will. Let us again heed the call of Jesus: “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
The sacrament of penance is the most powerful means of persevering in this resolve, because its grace is the result of Christ’s obedient sacrifice for the redemption of the world. The Lenten discipline of prayer and penance finds its completion in a good confession and act of contrition. The prayer of absolution frees us from the sinful entanglements into which we have fallen. It renews in us the cleansing and life-giving waters of baptism we call “sanctifying grace.” Take advantage of the opportunities for confession and the conversion it affords. Remember also to participate in Operation Rice Bowl or in some other charitable cause this Lent.
This Monday, March 19, is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary and Patron of the Universal Church, the latter title closely related to the first. In his Apostolic Exhortation Redemptoris Custos (“Guardian of the Redeemer”) Pope St. John Paul II stated: “Inspired by the Gospel, the Fathers of the Church from the earliest centuries stressed that just as St. Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, that is, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model.” Therefore we will celebrate this solemnity with due honor at the 5:30 Mass this Monday evening at St. Charles.
Holy Week begins next weekend with the celebration of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. Palms will be blessed and distributed at all Masses next weekend. Weather permitting, the 9:00 Mass will begin outside behind St. Peter’s School and the 10:30 Mass will begin outside behind St. Charles Church with the blessing of palms and procession to the church. Plan also to participate in the solemn liturgies of the Easter Triduum, which commemorate the events from the Last Supper through the resurrection.
Please remember and try to attend the Stations of the Cross and Benediction at 6:00 PM Wednesdays at St. Charles during Lent. The Stations are celebrated at St. Peter’s along with the Mother of Perpetual Help Novena on Monday evenings at 7:00. (No Stations at St. Peter’s this Thursday because there is no school.) Try to participate with the members of your household at any of these times. These devotions are great for families and remind us all of the redemptive sacrifice of our Lord, which is the source of all sacramental grace and serves as a fitting preparation for the liturgies of Holy Week.
Pray the Rosary this week for all who are preparing to receive the sacraments of initiation this Easter, and for the young people of our parish preparing for their First Holy Communion or Confirmation. Pray for Christians who are suffering persecution around the world and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.