Thursday, April 1, 2010

Morning Offering: O Jesus, through the most pure heart of Mary, I offer you all the prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your divine heart, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass. I offer them especially for the Holy Father's intentions:

Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for April is: "That every tendency to fundamentalism and extremism may be countered by constant respect, by tolerance and by dialogue among all believers".

His mission intention for April is: "That Christians persecuted for the sake of the Gospel may persevere, sustained by the Holy Spirit, in faithfully witnessing to the love of God for the entire human race".

Prayers today: We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection; through him we are saved and made free. (See Gal 6:14)

God our Father, we are gathered here to share in the supper which your only Son left to his Church to reveal his love. He gave it to us when he was about to die and commanded us to celebrate it as the new and eternal sacrifice. We pray that in this eucharist we may find the fullness of love and life. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.

St. Hugh of Grenoble (1052-1132)

Today’s saint could be a patron for those of us who feel so overwhelmed by all the problems in the world that we don’t know where to begin. Hugh, who served as a bishop in France for 52 years, had his work cut out for him from the start. Corruption seemed to loom in every direction: the buying and selling of Church offices, violations of clerical celibacy, lay control of Church property, religious indifference and/or ignorance. After serving as bishop for two years, he’d had his fill. He tried disappearing to a monastery, but the pope called him back to continue the work of reform. Ironically, Hugh was reasonably effective in the role of reformer—surely because of his devotion to the Church but also because of his strong character. In conflicts between Church and state he was an unflinching defender of the Church. He fearlessly supported the papacy. He was eloquent as a preacher. He restored his own cathedral, made civic improvements in the town and weathered a brief exile. Hugh may be best known as patron and benefactor of St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusian Order. Hugh died in 1132. He was canonized only two years later.

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John (13.1~15)

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel round his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, Lord, are you going to wash my feet? Jesus replied, You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand. No, said Peter, you shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered, Unless I wash you, you have no part with me. Then, Lord, Simon Peter replied, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well! Jesus answered, A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you. For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. Do you understand what I have done for you? he asked them. You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord', and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

The Divine Servant
(Homily by Fr. E. J. Tyler)

In ancient civilizations where sandals were the footwear and dust and dirt a feature of roads, a host commonly offered to provide water for a guest to wash his feet. An example of this is given us when Abraham received the three men by the terebinth of Mamre (Genesis 18: 4). Alternatively, a servant might wash the feet of the guest, and we read in 1 Samuel 25: 41 how Abigail, referring to herself as David’s “handmaid,” says she “would become a slave to wash the feet of my Lord’s servants.” On one occasion our Lord accepted the invitation of a Pharisee to dine with him. The Pharisee omitted the courtesy of offering our Lord water to wash his feet, but during the meal a woman entered the house — a woman with a poor reputation in the town — and proceeded to wash his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair. She then anointed his feet with her perfumed oil. She was showing him signal love and honour. Our Lord accepted her courtesy and sent her away with her sins forgiven. We remember how after our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, a dinner was held in his honour in the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. When all were reclining at table, Mary came in with a pint of pure nard to the value of nearly a year’s wages, and poured it over the feet of Jesus. She was, as a host, washing the feet of Jesus not just with water but with a most valuable substance. The aroma filled the entire house, as she wiped the feet of Jesus not just with a towel, but with her hair. By her hair, she was, as it were, taking the place of the towel that wiped his feet. She was humbly bestowing the highest honour on our Lord that was within her power. The gesture of washing the feet was a mark of genuine humility by the host and of high honour to the guest. In our Gospel today, our Lord, whom the disciples addressed as Master and Lord — and “rightly so, for that is what I am” — knelt before each of his disciples and proceeded to wash their feet. It symbolized Christ being a servant, a slave. It was too much for Simon Peter. “Lord, you shall never wash my feet,” he said.

Ponder the scene (John 13: 1-15), and contemplate what it tells us of the one and only God. It is extraordinary enough, wondrous beyond words, that God is in the midst of this group as a Man. This Man whom they addressed as Master and Lord, with whom Peter felt he could expostulate, was the living God, the God of all things visible and invisible. Through him all things were made, and in him was life, the source of life for all living things. There he stood, there he sat, there he conversed, in his humanity. The great God, so high a God as to transcend all things in every respect, had taken to himself a human nature and thus made himself our brother. But lo! He rises from the table and “wrapped a towel round his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him.” The gesture was unmistakable in its significance. God was acting as a humble servant would act towards an honoured guest. That is the attitude of God towards the living work of his hands. The highest and most exalted Reality of all, is humble and loving. This, Reality at its most exalted, is humble and serving. Our Lord was revealing to his disciples what it is to be like God. Simon Peter refused, for it was, he thought, demeaning to the one whom he so loved and venerated. He could not accept that his very feet be washed by his Master and his Lord. But he had to accept it, if Jesus was to be his Master and Lord at all, for Jesus the Master was the predicted Suffering Servant who would take away the sins of mankind. “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me. Then, Lord, Simon Peter replied, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well! Jesus answered, A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.” Our Lord had come to wash the feet of mankind, making himself the Servant of all men, making them clean all over. That was his grand mission, to make humanity clean of sin and endowed with a share in his own life. His disciples, with Simon Peter at their head, would have the mission of bringing Jesus Christ to the world so that in him the world would be made new.

Let us understand well what it means to be like God. It means to be like Jesus Christ who put aside the divine glory that had been his to become as men are, and humbler still, even to death on a cross. He became the Servant of all, and his final gesture at the Last Supper, washing the feet of his disciples — and just imagine our Lord’s emotion as he washed the feet of Judas Iscariot — showed forth who he really was and what he had come to do. He was the God of all love, and he had come to make mankind clean. Let us take our stand with him and strive to do as he did.

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