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.” We will not be having penance services this year, so Father Hokamp and I will be offering extra confession times beginning this week. The full schedule of confessions is elsewhere in the bulletin.
This Thursday, March 25, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the original feast of the Incarnation of God the Son as Man. Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary that day. There are two Masses on Thursday morning: at St. Charles at 8:30, and at St. Peter with St. Peter’s School students. (There will be no Stations that day.) Only nine months more until Christmas!
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. 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 at St. Peter along with the Mother of Perpetual Help Novena on Monday evening at 6:30, and Stations with Benediction at 5:30 PM Friday at St. Charles. 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.