Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Speak to the Weary

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
  Isaiah 50:4-5

“He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”’” The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.  Matthew 26:18-19

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Tertullian
The Blood of the Revolutionary Martyrs Fertilizing the Earth by Diego Rivera
How would this story have ever been possible without the people who surrounded Jesus?  Some people are named.  Others are not. 

We shall never know who the host of this final Passover was. The Roman centurion is described by his role and his faith, not his name. Who were the bride and groom of Cana unknowingly offering Jesus their wedding reception as holy ground for the first miracle?  Or the historically anonymous Jews who had to be run out of the temple for money laundering?  Or the equally anonymous Samaritan woman at the well?   

Without Mary, there is no way for the Lord to be borne into the world.

Without Joseph, there is no way for the Lord to have a profession or a way of life until he begins his public ministry. If he were the Rabbi’s son, maybe he would not have been rejected outright from his first sermon.

Without Peter, how would the power of mission and redemption for the frail, earthy, humans be taught so colorfully? 

It was not just some Pharisee who came to Jesus in the middle of the night for a Sunday school lesson.  It was Nicodemus.

Without Mary and Martha, how would we come to know both the role of active hospitality and the role of active contemplation?  Without their brother Lazarus, the final plot against Christ would not be laid.    

Without Judas, without Judas, without Judas?  The shocking treason.  The buy-out.  The enormity of the deed.  “It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”  It would be better to never have even asked the question that will be answered in a few hours with the kiss of death.

Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”  Matthew 26:25

In the First Reading, Isaiah writes one of his beautiful series of poems about the Lord’s servant, who suffers innocently for justice. The Gospel writers recognized Jesus in those poems. Innocent suffering may repel us, but it also emboldens our hearts.

It has been famously said that “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” This is a famous line that appears in the Apologeticus by Tertullian.  In this work Tertullian defends Christianity, demanding legal toleration and that Christians be treated as all other sects of the Roman Empire.

Martyrs may have been the backbone of the early church but martyrdom has not ceased to have an enduring presence in the world. 

This week, we heard the news that Pope Francis wants to visit El Salvador to
Blessed Oscar Romero
by Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS
beatify Blessed Oscar Romero, who was martyred on the altar for being a voice of the poor in the country’s civil war. 

Also, in September, Mother Theresa of Calcutta will also be formally elevated to sainthood.  She inspired people around the world to perform works of mercy and dedicate their lives to service.  Among those were four young Missionaries of Charity murdered March 4 in Yemen.  The four Missionaries of Charity and 12 other people were killed by uniformed gunmen, who entered the home the sisters operate for the elderly and disabled in Aden.

“They are the martyrs of today," Pope Francis said. "They gave their blood for the church."

Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil was the chaplain of the Sisters of Mother Teresa killed in Aden. He was kidnapped and is now assumed to be in Jihadi hands. So far, nothing is known about his fate. The Rector Major of his order addressed the Salesian Family asking for prayers for the victims of sectarian violence.

We continue to follow with pain and with great concern, what is happening to our brother Tom, a Salesian of Don Bosco, who disappeared and about whom we have no news.

I also wish to express our closeness and our solidarity to his family while we implore from the Lord a deep peace that he may endure this moment trusting in the Lord Jesus.

Therefore, I invite everyone to spend a very intense moment of prayer on the evening of Holy Thursday, when we join with Jesus in the pain and loneliness of Gethsemane.

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