Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Want to hear some interesting but probably useless information?  In my bible the Old Testament contains 1,598 pages focused on God the Father and the 4 Gospels consists of only 159 pages, all  focused on Jesus.  But in the Creed that we will say today there are 16 words about what we believe of the Father and 128 words about what we believe of Jesus.  Why the big reversal?  Because of the Gospel that was just proclaimed.  In this Gospel Jesus makes it clear that He is divine, He is God.  Whoever sees me, and what I do, sees God and what God is all about.  Whatever we say in the Creed about Jesus we are saying about God.  God wrapped himself in flesh, became one of us to show us what divinity is all about: a life of caring for others, a life of healing, forgiving.  A life of love. 

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To some extent, today’s liturgy seems confusing.  To start with, do we call it Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday?  We start outside, holding palm branches and listening to the story of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem as crowds shout “Hosanna to the Son of David” which really means “save us, our king!”  Together we process into church, waving those palms and singing.  You can’t get more joyful than that.  Then in 15 minutes it changes from Palm Sunday to Passion Sunday, we shift from all the activity to quietly listening to the Passion.  We listen to a story we have heard many times but it is just that, a story.  And it will stay just a story unless we see that we are part of the narrative.  The question is what characters are we, in what way is our life reflected in the story of Christ’s trial and death? 

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Does it seem a little confusing; what exactly is the relationship between the first reading, the call of Abraham, and the Gospel, the Transfiguration?  And if we can figure that out, what does either have to do with Lent?  Last week we heard about original sin and then the temptation of Jesus in the desert.  Made sense:  temptation, sin, isn’t that what we are trying to change during Lent,?  But then we get to today’s readings and that theme seems to have been forgotten.  Or has it?

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Even as our Lenten journey has just recently begun, it is true to say that the Church is calling us to already look ahead to the celebration of the paschal mystery, the Easter Triduum, the evening of April 13, Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday, April 16.

While sadly we have no one who is entering their final period of preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil, fact is all over the world our catechumens are being sent on the First Sunday of Lent to a special liturgy with the bishop in which they will be accepted as the Elect and experience a time of purification and enlightenment as they and their parish communities look ahead and look forward to the Easter Vigil.  We will join with the whole church in praying for them during the Lenten season.

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