Holy Spirit bringing Peace

Dear Folks,

This is Pentecost! Along with Easter and Christmas, it is one of the three biggest days of the year, but is often neglected. It is the great feast of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the Catholic

Church. If Pentecost was in A.D. 33, as many scholars believe it is, then this is the 1990th birthday of the Church (we should be planning for a really big monster of a party in ten years, when it turns 2000. I’ve suggested to some of our school kids that an interesting math problem would be: how much cake do you need to hold all those candles?).

We start with Genesis 11:1-11, the story of the Tower of Babel. It is a story of sin dividing people with confused language as they try to attain heaven on their terms rather than receiving the gifts that God wants to give them. Acts 2:1-11 is the story of Pentecost, which is God undoing the effects of Babel, enabling people of different languages to understand each other.

The Holy Spirit communicates the fruit of the Pascal Mystery that undoes the power of sin. He also formed the disciples into the Church. Without losing our individuality, we become parts of

one another, as parts of a body (1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12) and become more fully alive, as we have no trouble seeing ourselves as a higher form of life than amebae (and see John


In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks of living water (John 4:4-16 and 7:37-39), and it is explained that this refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit, who would only be sent after Jesus was glorified.

This image is brought to fullness in Revelation 21:1-2, in which we see the Trinity together: God (the Father) and the Lamb (Jesus) are on the throne, and from the throne flows life-giving water

(the Holy Spirit).

The Holy Spirit saves us from “the works of the flesh.” “In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-

23a, but it’s worthwhile reading vv. 16-26). Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them (Matt 7:16).” I don’t know about farming, but I figure the measure of success for a farmer is less

about how much he sweats, and more about what crops are produced. If we want some sense if we are growing as disciples, are we growing in these qualities? What signs are there in our

behavior that we are showing fruit? Many judge a worship service by how the “experience” made them “feel.” Better questions might be, “Did it help me focus on God rather than myself?” and “Afterwards, did I exhibit more fruit of the Holy Spirit in my

behavior?” Obviously, this is not just the work of the worship leaders, but also how the individuals give themselves to participate, both internally and externally. A useful thing to do would be to review the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and ask ourselves, “what behaviors are we growing in that show the Spirit bearing fruit?” Another good thing to do is pray for the Holy Spirit:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, who have taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that in the same Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is Pentecost! Let us Celebrate!


Healthier Brain, More Peaceful World

Dear Folks,

In discussions about making this a less violent world, the subject of mental health comes up. Then it usually vanishes, and people move on. Partly, I think people get uncomfortable dealing with this subject, as if it is somehow shameful. We need to get over this. The brain is an organ and gets sick like any other organ. I would also think it is a big issue without a simple solution, and we like quick and simple solutions. How can we keep the conversation going?

How can we have some fruitful discussion about our mental health system, and how does our system need restructuring? What resources would be needed for some good outcomes? People who know more than I do need to be pushing these questions.

Of course, just as we know that heart health is not just a matter of thoracic surgeons, cardiologists and statins, but also fruits, vegetables, and exercise, so we recognize that mental health is not just about the mental health professionals, but healthy practices. As we think about how people are taught to brush and floss their teeth, and how we are taught nutrition principles, should we not be trying to develop some more common mental hygiene practices?

My training in psychology is pretty rudimentary, but there are some places to start.

One place is in relationships. So many are lonely now. So many describe the pain of toxic relationships. Can we talk about what makes a healthy relationship, and how to form them?

Another place is how we react to events in our lives and how we weave them into a narrative.

What meaning we can find in our good experiences and bad experiences? Viktor Flankl, in his wonderful book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” talks about the human response to suffering. As a Psychiatrist and a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, he has a special authority to talk. He said that people who are more resilient in horrible situations are people who find meaning in them.

Many today do not have a strong enough vision of life to help them find meaning in bad situations. Many would agree with Macbeth: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5).” Or, as Monty Python said so eloquently, “Is life just a game where we make up the rules as we’re looking for something to say? Or are we just really spiraling coils of self-replicating D.N.A.?” Not a strong vision to give you hope when life gets really hard, and our hearts get broken.

This is a good time to talk about Christianity. A relationship with Jesus and discipleship in the Gospel is the most powerful approach I’ve found, not only to find meaning in suffering, but even power in suffering. We see our lives woven into a larger story of salvation, and that casts a different light on everything, the bad and the good. Many who go to church, and many who have wandered away from church, have not found that to be the case. I would suggest that many have been taught an enfeebled, mush version of Christianity that is has no power to transform lives. It is for those who take Jesus seriously to help others find what Jesus is really about. As Peter Kreeft said in “Jesus Shock”: “If you think Jesus is boring you have the wrong Jesus.” The better we know Jesus, the better we can share Jesus. If you want a better world, the best first step is always to fall more deeply in love with Jesus.


Fr. Jim

Build a Better World

Dear Folks,

Talking about developing a less violent world, I think we need to look at the power of personal agency. So often, it can feel like what we do doesn’t make much difference in the larger world. It is a terrible feeling to think that the world and other people can make marks on us quite easily, but there is nothing we can do to make our mark on the world. This is a feeling I lived with for a lot of years, and it can lead to desperation. If we can help people learn better to channel that energy, that can lead to lead to more productive activity and less desperation.

This can involve developing a vision. If things are not good as they are now, what improvement do we want? It is good to be specific. Then we need a path between here and there.

We need to learn skills: learn to make a case for what we think should happen and making it effectively, both for the goal and the way to get there. Just because it seems painfully obvious to us doesn’t mean it will be obvious to others, in fact, we can count on someone thinking it is completely wrong, and that can be frustrating. Seeing things from others’ point of view is a good first step. We need to recognize that if people do change the way they think, it can be a slow process, and we need patience. I find however much patience I think I’ve learned God seems to think I need more. If we get attention, it needs to be in a way that helps people see things from our point of view.

We can cultivate more realistic expectations. This can keep people from giving up when things take a long time and get difficult. I don’t know much about farming, but I think people take for granted that when they plant seeds, it will take months for the crop to be ready. On the other hand, if I put coffee in the microwave and it takes months for the coffee to get hot, I’m throwing that microwave away. Making profound, meaningful changes in society is long, slow work, often spanning generations. Getting people to change the way they think takes time, especially when ideas are deeply rooted and intertwined with their basic world view. I suggest lower expectations short term, higher expectations long term. Before we try to justify quick and dirty tactics, remember the other side might use them too, and they tend not to win people over.

Boundaries are essential! Just because we have good intentions does not mean our behavior is justified. We as a society need to reject excusing people’s bad behavior because we think it is for a good cause (remember, everyone thinks they have a good cause). If protesters behave badly, it hurts the credibility of their cause. Jesus said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be as clever as serpents and innocent as doves (Matt 10:16).”

We must support those who help make it a less violent world. This starts with law enforcement. We need to recognize the great risks and sacrifices that they make, and how much we depend on them. We need to remember many of the decisions, especially shoot/don’t shoot situations, must be made in a fraction of a second, and if they get it wrong, they often die. They want to go home at the end of their shift like everyone else. Yes, we need to get rid of bad actors, but when there is an incident, we need to give the officer the same benefit of the doubt that we would want for ourselves. When people commit a crime, there should be quick and consistent consequences as much as possible. Lax or selective enforcement encourages more crime.

Let’s not disparage thoughts and prayers. Yes, they are not a substitute for action, but action can follow from focusing our hearts. We can always invite people to action, and this is an opportunity to make our case.

Blessings, Fr. Jim

Families Building Civilization

Dear Folks,

If we are serious about building a less violent world, we need to take a look at fatherless families. According to everything I’ve read (see fatherhood.org for some data), children who grow up without their fathers are significantly more likely to live in poverty, have

behavioral problems, become drug addicts, commit crimes, and many other things. I’ve been told that boys learn from their fathers how to be men and how to treat women, while daughters learn from their fathers what to expect from men.

There are many single parent families that are doing great things, and there are some fathers that are not doing a good job, but it can still be true that encouraging families with both the father and mother present and engaged can build a better world.

Someone told me that her observation was that some parents see their children more as accessories than as their central life vocation. Such parents drop off their kids at school, and maybe at church, and act as the primary teachers of their children. However, many parents are taking their responsibility very seriously and see themselves as the first mentors, protectors, and advocates for their children. How can we help and encourage them?

I’ve heard some voices that suggested that parents shouldn’t have a say in (or even know) what their children are getting taught because they weren’t trained like teachers are. However, I’ve heard some teachers saying please, please, please would parents be

more involved in their children’s education. How can we help and encourage them?

For many years it was clique that in movies and TV shows the father of the family was either a doofus or a jerk, and everyone knew better than him. How might that have helped form the notion that fathers were not that important to have around. I’ve been told by a

number of sources that the way the welfare system is structured, it is actually encouraging the mother to raise children without the presence of the father. If that is true, how can that be changed? How can it be structured to encourage active presence and participation of both parents? I have been told it will never be changed because keeping people poor and dependent is big business. I figure systematic change can only happen when enough people rise up and decide not to stand for it. I don’t know where to start, but I refuse to believe it is impossible.

It has been said that “Love is love.” It is a true statement, but not all love relationships are the same. The relationship between husband and wife is different from father and son, from mother and daughter, between cousins, between brothers, between brother and sister, between two good friends, and so on. Each has a different nature, makes a different contribution to society, and is expressed differently. I would suggest that the relationship

between a man and a woman, committed to a permanent exclusive relationship of love that is ordered toward the generation and nurturing of children makes a unique contribution. If

that is true, how can society privilege this relationship, encourage it, strengthen it, and value it? Our future, and our hope for a better world, may depend on it.


Fr. Jim

Want a Better World? Start with “what does ‘better’ mean?

Dear Folks,

This is the second of a series of articles on building a less violent world. If we want a better world, we need to have an idea of what “better” means. You may think this is obvious, but I challenge you to think again. What seems obviously true to me might seem obviously false to someone else.

The book “Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong” by William Kilpatrick tells of values clarification in some school programs, where they teach children to form their own value system. He mentioned how shocked teachers were by the value systems they came up with.

“The Abolition of Man” by C. S. Lewis describes how, back in the 1940’s, people were already working to deconstruct our value system without considering the results (“They laugh at honor

and are shocked to find traitors in their midst”). Since then things have gotten stranger.

Imagine a society where most people have a fuzzy, undefined, inconsistent view of right and wrong, and when something happens that feels wrong to them, they scream, and if they can get

enough people to scream with them, they can dominate the conversation. Now stop imagining, because I think we have arrived. Why are we surprised that such a society has so much violence? If people excuse violence when they are sympathetic to the cause, why should they be surprised that people will use violence on the other side? If we believe in standards of behavior, it needs to be consistent with our allies and our opponents. It is easy to call out our opponents; it is more important to call out our allies and remind them they are hurting the cause.

When we disagree and are angry, we need to reject violence. We need to reject name calling. If we need to avoid reading people’s hearts, and saying because they disagree with us, they don’t

care about goodness. If we are frustrated that they reject our position, we need to make a better case for our position. We may think we’ve made a good enough case to convince any

reasonable person, but they clearly don’t think so. We can insult the other people, or we can make a better case. We need to do things that will move the conversation forward.

So often we see people talking past each other. When I see someone saying, “I long for a country where people love their children more than their guns.” I know that moves us away

from anything constructive. The very people they most want to convince are going to read that and say, “they have not even tried to understand our point of view. We need guns to protect our

children.” On the other hand, simply posting, “What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ don’t you understand?” is not going to help. It reinforces their opponents’ belief that they don’t care about

stopping violence. Wouldn’t it be so much more helpful to make a better case, that our proposed solution would actually make things better. Once again, it may seem obvious to us, but the opposite might be obvious to other intelligent people of good will. Our reasoning seems to us to be more reasonable, but we all have an unconscious thumb on the scale pushing us in that

direction. It will take much patient, persistent work to develop common messages about behaviors that build a better society.

Imagine a society where parents, teachers, entertainers, political leaders, and church leaders all reinforced a common message to reject violence and destruction to make our points, to build

constructive and respectful dialog, to value growing in virtue over gratifying desire, to value problem solving over complaining, and to respect the law and law enforcement? Would that be

a less violent society?


Fr. Jim

From Cain and Abel to a More Peaceful World

Dear Folks,

As we celebrate the Easter season, we remember it is a time of new hope and new possibilities. As we read Acts of the Apostles, we see things happening that the early Christians would not have thought possible at first.

There is so much violence in our world. I sure would like for there to be less. When there is a particularly horrific incident it will often dominate the news for a while. Then different people will repeat their usual talking points. Various groups will talk past each other, and then nothing changes. I think we could do better. Short term, we can harden targets and make them less vulnerable. The deeper solution is not being so good at creating savages.

We have to have a less violent culture, a more peaceful culture, or no law can save us, and civilization itself is in the balance. I think there are some concrete things we can do. We have to decide what kind of people we want to be. It would involve looking at our own behavior (let none of us assume we are guiltless). It will involve what kind of messages that we send, and what kind of messages we encourage (calling out people on our side would likely be more effective than calling out our opponents; the other side is easy to dismiss). It will require considerable thought on how we as a society encourage good behaviors and discourage bad behaviors.

Particular issues would include:

• Support law enforcement, and value law and order.

• Build a strong sense of right and wrong.

• Combat fatherlessness.

• Stop talking past each other.

• Don’t condemn or demean our opponents; make a better case for our position.

• Keep our feelings and thoughts in perspective: just because I’m angry about something important doesn’t give me license to be destructive. Just because my cause is right doesn’t mean I have license to be destructive. We can work toward a better world, but we can’t expect to fix everything in our time. Building a better world is an intergenerational project.

• Build empathy, especially with people who see things differently, and reject objectifying groups or individuals. Avoid ridiculing people we disagree with.

• Reject using others’ behavior as an excuse to misbehave ourselves.

• Have the same standard of behavior for those we agree with and those we don’t; not condemn destruction when we disagree with their cause, and condone or dismiss it when we agree with the cause.

• Value growing in virtue over gratifying desire.

• Have some serious humility about how much we understand and how much we don’t: maybe even people we disagree with have some things to teach us.

In the weeks to come I’ll try to expand on these issues. I hope it may stimulate some thought and some discussion. Civilizations do rise and fall, but when they fall, it causes much suffering. It would be worth a lot to keep ours going.


Fr. Jim

Abandon all Hopelessness

This is Easter!

“Christ’s resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was the case with the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter: Jairus’ daughter, the young man of Naim, and Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus’ power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ’s resurrection is essentially different. In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus’ resurrection his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is “the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:35-50). (Catechism of the Catholic Church #646).”

We humans tend to think that the best we can hope for is more of the same, but a little nicer. Many eastern religions envision an eternal cycle of reincarnation, and the best that you could hope for is being reincarnated in a higher caste, and there was always a chance that you could be reincarnated as a dung beetle. On rare occasions, television and movies would give some vision of heaven, not intending it be serious, of course, but what you’d see is pretty pathetic. In fairness, one could never do justice to heaven in a movie, not only our technology but our minds are far too feeble for such a task.

Part of having faith in God is trusting Him to keep His promises, including the promises we don’t completely understand and that He will not disappoint those who hope in Him.

In my office I have a sign that says, “Abandon all hopelessness, ye who enter here.” The greater our faith, the more we can endure the world disappointing us, because the One in whom we trust will come through. The less we trust the world to make us happy, the more we trust in God, the more we can endure the world failing us, whether in the form of other people, including people in the Church, our government, our society, our families, our health, our money, even our own wills (I continue to be a sinner, and much as the devil would like me to give up, God invites me to keep trying to be faithful). We still have to grieve loss; our faith does not make it easy but does prevent us from giving up. Jesus received the full force of the evil in the world and emerged triumphant. He can conquer the evils that threaten and attack us. During Easter we are called to celebrate. As we fasted and did penance during Lent, so we feast during Easter. Our goal, of course, is not just partying for partying’s sake (though it is a good thing) but witnessing to the world our joy in God’s great victory over evil. We also seek to deepen our confidence in the Jesus’ victory, so we can live as victorious people. We will read a lot of Acts of the Apostles during the Easter season. We think of Acts as the sequel to the Gospel of Luke and the history of the early Church. It is also about how people act when they believe in the power of the resurrection. They were a tiny group, had few resources, and were surrounded by a very hostile culture. No one could stop




Fr. Jim

The Holiest Week

Dear Folks,

Today we begin Holy Week. Holy Week is the super bowl of the Catholic faith, and we get to the center of the Christian story. It begins with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the last

supper, the crucifixion, the time in the tomb, and the resurrection. Everything before this is leading up to this, and everything after this is because of this. During this week we try, as much as we possibly can, to avoid other meetings and other projects so that we can focus on this, our central mystery.

It begins with Palm Sunday. Jesus comes into His city as a triumphant king amid hosannas, but humbly, on a donkey instead of a mighty horse. We bless palms to be used throughout the year,

a sign of praise to Jesus, and for next Ash Wednesday we will burn them, a reminder of the fragility of our devotion (how quickly humans can go from “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him”). We

read the passion narrative from the Gospel for the year (this year, of course, is Matthew).

On Tuesday at the Cathedral, we will celebrate the Chrism Mass. Traditionally this was done on Holy Thursday morning, but it is celebrated on Tuesday evening so that more people can

participate. Even so, we can only have a cathedral full of people attending (as a priest, I get an automatic seat; it’s one of the perks of being a priest). We will bless the holy oils we use throughout the year. We have three holy oils (Don’t let anyone tell you they are WD40, 10W30, and Oil of Olay: that is not true). The oil of the sick is a sign of God’s healing, and is used for anointing the sick, and I keep a small container of it in my car just in case. The oil of

catechumens is a sign of God’s strength to fight evil and is used for people preparing for baptism. The Sacred Chrism is the holiest of the oils and is a mixture of olive oil and balsam perfume. It is a sign of the Holy Spirit, and is used at baptism, confirmation and the ordination of priests. During the Chrism Mass, the priests renew their priestly commitment, and the bishop reminds the people that priests need lots of prayers (he is not wrong).

On Holy Thursday we begin the Triduum, and that is one celebration that takes place over three days. It begins with Mass of the Lord’s Supper, celebrating the institution of the Eucharist, as

well as the institution of the priesthood. The Gospel is the washing of feet, and often the celebrant washes people’s feet at Mass. After the prayer after communion, we usually have a procession with the Blessed Sacrament, place it in a reserve chapel, adore Him, and leave in silence (don’t forget the silence). We don’t have a closing blessing because the liturgy does not end; it simply pauses until the next day.

Good Friday is the one day of the year we don’t have Mass. We begin in silence. We read the passion narrative from the Gospel of John. We have solemn intercessions. We show special respect and affection for the cross upon which Jesus won our salvation. We have a communion service with hosts that were consecrated on the previous day. We depart in silence. Then on Saturday we have the Easter vigil. By Church law it begins after sundown. I shall not

describe it; one should witness it, if at all possible. It’s the greatest night of the year.

I encourage as strongly as possible, for everyone to attend to Holy Week as best as their situation allows. What we celebrate is the center of everything.


Fr. Jim

Watching the “Jesus Revolution”

Dear Folks,

I recently saw the movie “Jesus Revolution.” It’s a fictionalized documentary of a real event, a Christian revival in the 1960s. It involved a Baptist Church that has grown stagnant, and then some hippies showed up. The pastor embraced their presence and sought to connect with them and involve them. This upset some of the long-standing members of the Church who liked things the way they had been. The pastor chose to keep connecting with the newcomers and working with a hip young preacher (played by Jonathan Roumie, the guy who plays Jesus on “The Chosen”), and some of the long-standing parishioners left. They chose their comfort zone over evangelization. The Church gradually grew

enormously, though not without difficulty (of course).

The movie makes the point that the young people had been lied to. They were told that casual sex would bring them love and that LSD would connect them to transcendence (LSD, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, was a powerful and dangerous hallucinogenic, and we were all amazed that one drop would be a dose. We had no idea that fentanyl would be coming). When some found that it didn’t work, they were open to another message. Many were brought to embrace Jesus.

Now comes the question, what should we do today. We know that young people have been lied to, being told that casual sex and drugs will make them happy, that feelings are the highest measure of reality, and the meaning of life is something they make up for

themselves. Many are depressed, many are lost, and there are an alarming number of suicides. It sure would be nice to bring more of them to Jesus.

An important thing to note is that modern young people are not hippies. They are children and grandchildren of hippies, and they have very different perspectives. It would be a terrible mistake to assume that we can attract them by doing what we think we would have wanted when we were their age.

A lot of young families are drawn to more traditional, more reverent liturgies. If you go to where the Old Latin Mass in celebrated, you will find lots of young people. I don’t suggest

that the solution is that we all go back to the Missal of 1962 (I don’t know how to do it, and I never studied Latin in the seminary), but I suggest that what we were taught in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s could stand to be questioned, and that being willing to move out of our

comfort zone for the sake of the mission of the Church.

I’m not arrogant enough to say I’ve figured out exactly what will bring in droves of young people (and why should you believe me anyway?). I am bold enough, however, to suggest some principles:

• We accept that being a parishioner does not mean being a customer, but a coworker in mission.

• Therefore, it is not about our preferences, at least not primarily.

• Programs and gimmicks have not succeeded in making deep change. We need to examine our own behavior, and how we act as ambassadors of Jesus.

• As I’ve said before, we can all work on doing a better job of telling the Gospel story (learning in practice what is effective in connecting to people), working together as community (welcoming, inviting, and reconciling), worshipping God (yes, we can get better), and helping people in need.

• We can start small. We can learn something new about our faith and share it. We can tell someone something good about our faith community. We can introduce ourselves to someone in church that we don’t know. We can create a holy moment (show someone a bit of the love of God).

• Laughing at the pastor’s jokes is encouraged but not required.

If we do what we can, God will use us.


Fr. Jim

Jesus Is More Than They Thought

Dear Folks,

Today we our Gospel talks about the Transfiguration.

The Bible looks at mountains as a place to encounter God and especially receive instruction. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and, while you are there, I will give you the stone tablets on which I have written the commandments for their

instruction”, Exodus (24:12). We remember he also goes back up the mountain for backup copies after Moses smashes the originals in response to the Golden Calf business (Exodus 34). Elijah gets marching orders on Mount Horeb (Mount Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai) in 1 Kings (19:8). Isaiah prophesied that “the mountain of the Lord’s house” will be a place of instruction (see Isaiah 2:2-3). Jesus goes up the mountain to give the Sermon on

the Mount (Matthew 5:1).

We see that Jesus only takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain. It appears that not all disciples are equal, and certain gifts are given to some and not others. Galatians 2:9 tells us

that Peter (“Cephas” is Aramaic for “rock”), James, and John were considered the “pillars” of the early Church. We see that they get special moments with Jesus, but we also see particular stories of their failures. Only Peter, James, and John were brought to witness the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37). Peter gets out of the boat when Jesus is walking on water (score one for him), but his faith wavers and he fails (Mat 14:28- 31). Jesus rebukes James and John for wanting to call down fire on an inhospitable Samaritan town (Luke 9:54-55). Right after the third prediction of the passion (!) James and John want the best seats next to Jesus in the Kingdom (Mat 20-28). They still didn’t get it.

We all remember Peter’s denial of Jesus three times on Good Friday (Mat 26:69-75). Peter, James, and John are the three that Jesus takes with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46), and they fall asleep. Once again, they fail. We learn that some gifts and some spiritual experiences are given to some but not others. If

we see others getting things we didn’t get, we have no cause to be jealous: they don’t necessarily have an easier road. We have no cause to be ashamed either: it doesn’t mean we have failed. If we get some great mystical experience or some great gift, we have no cause to be proud: we didn’t earn it. We just follow Jesus however we can (see John 21:18-23).

What is this great instruction that is given on this great occasion? First of all, it is the appearance of Jesus Himself, shining like the sun and clothes unnaturally white (Mat 17:2). A voice from the cloud says, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him (Matthew 17:5).” That’s it. The great revelation is Jesus Himself. He is the new Torah, the new Law, the great revelation of God, the way to live in covenant with God.

How does this fit into our Lenten journey? During Lent, we want to focus especially on Jesus. We can spend extra time reflecting on the Gospels. We can spend extra time before the Blessed Sacrament. We can spend extra time reflecting on Jesus’ presence in the midst

of our activities through the week, as we try to make what we do acceptable gifts to offer through Him. However important we thought Jesus was, He’s more important than that.


Fr. Jim