Palm Sunday: Christ’s Kingship

In the first Gospel, we reenact our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when he rides in triumphantly, seated on a donkey. This was foreshadowed when David had his son Solomon mount his royal donkey and ride into Jerusalem to take possession of his kingship. So now God the Father has his Son mount a donkey so as to ride into Jerusalem to take possession of his eternal kingship. This would fulfill also the prophecy of Zechariah: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). St. Josemaría loved this scene of the Gospel, where Christ manifests his humility by riding the gentle donkey. He would imagine himself as that beast of burden, offering his King the use of his life and strength: “If Jesus’ reign in my soul, in your soul, meant that he should find it a perfect dwelling place, then indeed would we have reason to despair. But “fear not, daughter of Sion; beloved, your king is coming, sitting on an ass’ colt” (John 12:15). Don’t you see? Jesus makes do with a poor animal for a throne. I don’t know about you; but I am not humiliated to acknowledge that in the Lord’s eyes I am a beast of burden: ‘I am like a donkey in your presence, but I am continually with you. You hold my right hand’ (Psalm 72:23), you take me by the bridle” (Christ Is Passing By,181). Let’s let Christ reign over us through our work and study, in our friendships and family relationships. Christ reigns by offering him our life in service, just as did that donkey for Christ. The second Gospel-the Passion of our Lord-also is about Christ’s kingship. Christ marches into Jerusalem in order to be enthroned on the Cross. As St. Josemaría writes in the Way of the Cross:
“Sentence is about to be passed. Mockingly, Pilate says: Ecce Rex vester! Behold your King! (John 19:14). Infuriated, the chief priests reply: We have no king but Caesar (John 19:15)… Offering no resistance, Jesus gives himself up to the execution of the sentence. He is to be spared nothing, and upon his shoulders falls the weight of the ignominious cross. But, through love, the Cross becomes the throne from which he reigns… Lord, where are your friends? Your subjects, where are they? They have left you. This running away has been going on for twenty centuries… We, all of us, flee from the Cross, from your Holy Cross. Blood, anguish, loneliness and an insatiable hunger for souls… these are the courtiers around your royal throne” (From station 1, meditation 4 and station 2)
Christ freely embraces the Cross, because by the Cross he redeems us and the whole world. Holy Week is a wonderful time to accompany him, to experience his great love for you and me. Don’t be afraid and let his love conquer you. Let him rule over your heart and soul, over your body and your time. Then you will experience the joy of Christ’s kingship, the joy of the Cross! Happy Holy Week! Fr. John Waiss http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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The Blessed Pure of Heart—Marital Love and Fidelity

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), such “that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Purity of heart is essential in order to see God because the union of a man and woman in a lifelong marriage reflects the image and likeness of God as a Trinity of persons. All sinful lust distorts marriage and thus distorts God’s image and likeness; and we cannot see God through a distorted image.

The Holy Trinity is an infinite, eternal, all-loving, and merciful God. Marriage reflects this through a lifelong, unconditional, mutual, and faithful gift of self between one man and one woman that is open to new life. Take away any of those qualities and God’s image and likeness becomes distorted.

For this reason, our Lord goes on to explain in the Sermon on the Mount:

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32).
All divorce distorts how marriage reflects God’s love. Divorce says that the love between a man and woman in marriage is not forever—“until death do us part”—which should reflect God’s love as eternal. That is why God says: “For I hate divorce, says the LORD the God of Israel” (Malachi 2:16), “Because the LORD was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant” (Malachi 2:14). So, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).

God knows that marriage is not easy. To love another imperfect human being means sacrifice. For this reason St. Paul tells us that “those who marry will have worldly troubles… the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided… the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:28,33-34). So it shouldn’t surprise us that marriage is difficult. Yet with the crosses found in marriage we find Christ and the pathway to holiness.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Married persons need to keep themselves pure too. To put limits or conditions on their total, unconditional self-giving would also break and distort the image of God’s unconditional self-giving in the Holy Trinity. For a married person to say, “I give myself totally to you… except for my fertility,” or to say, “I accept you as you are unconditionally… with the condition we don’t get pregnant,” destroys spousal love by introducing a contradiction. Birth control is a form of adultery, as St. Paul goes on to say: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4).

Purity of heart is thus absolutely essential to see the true God and to have a happy marriage. Let us pray that each one of us in our particular state in life can exemplify this to others—especially to our young people—so that they can follow this example of true love and see God fully.

Fr. John R. Waiss

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove/  

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Blessed are the Pure of Heart—Having Eyes Only for God

   

Blessed are the Pure of Heart—Having Eyes Only for God

In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord links together the sixth beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:18), with the sixth and ninth commandments—Thou shalt not commit adultery nor covet thy neighbor’s wife. As Christ says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Here our Lord equates lustful looks to adultery, making both mortal sins that keep one from being able to see God in heaven or in other people here on earth.

Is this exaggerated? Is looking at pornography really a sin? Does it really hurt anybody?

To answer this, consider a young couple, boyfriend-girlfriend, walking down the street together, holding hands and enjoying each other, when an immodestly dressed woman comes walking by. The young man, being weak in this area, takes some glances at her… then, turning his head, his eyes latch on to her… as he does he runs into a telephone pole! Now how would his girlfriend react? Hurt? Angry? You bet! But why? Because he was unfaithful to her with his eyes. His actions said to his girlfriend: “Guess what, Honey, you’ve got competition and you happen to be losing that competition right now.” Such a response would kill their relationship.

What does the act of looking at pornography say to God or to our Blessed Mother? “Guess what, God, you’ve got competition and you happen to be losing that competition right now.” It can kill our relationship with him, which is why it is a mortal sin. That is why our Lord goes on to say:

“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).

So, if your smart-phone causes you to sin, replace it with a dumb-phone; it is better for you to go to heaven without a smart-phone than to be thrown into hell with a smart-phone. The same could be said of FaceBook or Internet access at home or cable television—whatever is an occasion of sin for us—it would be better to go to heaven without.

Some may think: “This approach is so negative. Do we have to go through life with blinders on?” No, of course not. Our struggle can and should be very positive.

Let’s revisit our example. We see the young couple, boyfriend-girlfriend, walking down the street together, holding hands and enjoying each other, when again an immodestly dressed woman comes walking by. This time the young man doesn’t look. He pretends that he doesn’t notice this voluptuous woman… rather he turns his head to look into his girlfriend’s eyes. Now how would his girlfriend react? Happy… proud! His actions said: “I only have eyes for you.” The action said more than “I love you dear” hundreds of times over. We say the same thing to our Lord and Our Lady when we turn away from pornographic images or thoughts—it is a positive act of love for them.

Purity of heart is absolutely necessary to be able to love, to be able to see God in heaven.

Fr. John R. Waiss

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove/

   

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