Palm Sunday of the Passion of Jesus ~ He emptied himself becoming utterly poor for us!

Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ ~ March 25, 2018                                    

Dear Friends,

All is ready now for the final days of our Lenten journey with Jesus.   The drama of the Paschal Mystery will  be re-enacted  once again in  parishes throughout the world.  I have loved the liturgy of Holy Week since I was a boy and in this blog I hope I can share that love with you.    We’ll go deep here.  Please take time to reflect.  Come with me now, won’t you?

Jesus entered the holy city Jerusalem on a humble beast of burden ~ himself burdened with the sins of the world.  Here’s the gospel story . . . .

When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem,
to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately on entering it,
you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
If anyone should say to you,
‘Why are you doing this?’ reply,
‘The Master has need of it
and will send it back here at once.'”
So they went off
and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street,
and they untied it.
Some of the bystanders said to them,
“What are you doing, untying the colt?”
They answered them just as Jesus had told them to,
and they permitted them to do it.
So they brought the colt to Jesus
and put their cloaks over it.
And he sat on it.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road,
and others spread leafy branches
that they had cut from the fields.
Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out:
“Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
Hosanna in the highest!” 
 (Mark 11:1-10)

As William Barclay, the great Presbyterian scripture scholar I’ve been referencing, notes, what Jesus was about to do was a deliberate, planned action on his part, this would begin the last act in the drama of his life.  The whole city of Jerusalem was awash withlambtopvisitors in preparation for the Passover.  Barclay also notes that thirty years later a Roman governor had taken a census of the number of lambs slain for Passover and noted that number to be about a quarter of a million. Now, Passover regulation stated that a party of a minimum of ten are required for each lamb which meant that there were about two and a half million people in Jerusalem at the time Jesus entered the holy city!

The crowd receives Jesus like a king.  They spread their cloaks in front of him.  They cut down and waved palm branches (and that is why we bless and distribute palms and this day is known universally as Palm Sunday.)

Barclay notes they greeted him as they would a pilgrim, “Blessed be he who enters in the name of the Lord.” 

They  shouted, “Hosanna!”  The word means, “Save now!”  as well as “praise.” and that was a cry that a people addressed to their king or their god.   (Interesting ~ I didn’t know that!)

So, we see that Jesus action here was planned and deliberate, similar to those of the prophets of old who would put their message into a dramatic act  that people could not fail  to see or understand.  Jesus action here was clearly a Messianic claim, or at least when a few days later he would be the cleanser of the Temple, an even more dramatic act in which he was to rid the Temple of the abuses that defiled it and its worship.

To conclude, then, Barclay had made three points about this story . . .

+  It shows Jesus’ courage.  He knew he was entering a hostile city.  All through his last days, in his every action is there is a “magnificent and sublime defiance”~”a flinging down the gauntlet.”   

+  It shows us his claim to be God’s Messiah, God’s Anointed One. And the cleanser of the temple.  

+  It shows us his appeal ~ not a kingship of the throne, but a kingship of the heart.

In today’s liturgy, when the procession reaches the altar inside the church, and the people settle into the pews, the mood of the liturgy radically changes . It becomes somber as the ministers at the altar and the congregation prepare for the solemn reading of the long reading of the Passion ~ this year from the Gospel of Marl, that’s usually proclaimed with several voices.  But I’d like to reflect a moment on the New Testament reading from Philippians 2:1-11 that precedes it:

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Johannes Metz wrote a little book Poverty of  Spirit, in which he says . . . 

Have we really understood the impoverishment that Christ endured?

Everything was taken from him during the passion, even the love that drove him to the cross . . .

His heart gave out and a feeling of utter helplessness came over him. Truly he emptied himself . . . He became utterly poor. [Thus] he accepted our humanity, he took on and endured our lot, he stepped down from his divinity.

He came to us where we really are ~ with all our broken dreams and lost hopes, with the meaning of existence slipping through our fingers. He came and stood with us, struggling with his whole heart to have us say ‘yes’ to our innate poverty. [God’s faithfulness] to us is what gives us the courage to be true to ourselves. And the legacy of God’s total commitment to humankind, the proof of God’s fidelity to our poverty, is the Cross.

[The Cross is the sacrament, the sign] that one human being remained true to his own humanity, that he accepted it in full obedience.”

Thus each of us has the opportunity to embrace our poverty, or as I have been saying in Arise for the past two years we have the opportunity to accept whatever brokenness shows up in our own lives and find the treasure buried within. But this goes against the grain for us in American life. We are told to keep up with the Joneses. And so we strive for power, prestige, possessions.

“Poverty of spirit is the meeting point of heaven and earth,                                                                                                     the mysterious place where God and humanity encounter each other,                                                                               the point where infinite mystery meets concrete existence.”  

And here is my prayer . . . .

 Lord Jesus, here we are at the beginning of Holy Week once again.

We raise our palms,

Lord Jesus, here we are, once again, singing our Hosannas!

We listen to the story of your sacred passion and death.

And now we learn that You really meant it!  

You weren’t just pretending to be human;

You immersed Yourself in our misery,

You got down in the muck with us

~ accepting it all, even death on a cross.  

Jesus, help us to embrace our humility,

our poverty, our brokenness, our share in Your cross.  

May this Holy Week truly be holy for us

so that we too will rise again with You to new life

and receive anew the gift of the Spirit.  

To You, Lord Jesus, be glory and honor forever! Amen.

Before you go, dear friends, here is a beautiful song performed by some very devout young people ~ “Behold the Lamb of God”. Be sure to enter full screen.  Have a fruitful Holy Week.  I will publish again throughout the week. 

Here are the today’s Mass readings.  Click here.To get back to this page, go to the top left corner of your computer screen, click on  the  < back arrow, and you’ll be right back here. I encourage you to prayerfully read the entire passion story according to Mark.  

Acknowledgements  Johannes Baptist Metz Poverty of Spirit / Translated by John Drury / Paulist Press / New York / Mahwah, NJ / 1968, 1998

William Barclay / The New Daily Study Bible / The Gospel of Matthew / The Westminster Press Philadelphia 1975

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

IMG_2148

 

The King became utterly poor for you and me!

palm_sunday-1

Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

April 9, 2017

Dear Friends,

All is ready now for the final days of our Lenten journey with Jesus.   The drama of the Paschal Mystery will  be re-enacted  once again in  parishes throughout the world.  I have loved the liturgy of Holy Week since I was a boy and in this blog I hope I can share that love with you.    We’ll go deep here.  Please take time to reflect.  Come with me now, won’t you?

Jesus entered the holy city Jerusalem on a humble beast of burden ~ himself burdened with the sins of the world, Here’s the Gospel story that precedes the blessing of palms and the procession into the church . . . .

When Jesus and the disciples drew near Jerusalem
and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, 
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, 
“Go into the village opposite you, 
and immediately you will find an ass tethered,
and a colt with her.
Untie them and bring them here to me.
And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, 
‘The master has need of them.’
Then he will send them at once.”
This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet 
might be fulfilled:
Say to daughter Zion,
“Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.
They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, 
and he sat upon them.
The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, 
while others cut branches from the trees 
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
And when he entered Jerusalem 
the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”
And the crowds replied, 
“This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

William Barclay, the great Presbyterian scripture scholar I’ve been referencing, notes, what Jesus was about to do was a deliberate, planned action on his part:  this would begin the last act in the drama of his life.

This was not a spur of the moment decision. He had told his disciples exactly where to find the ass and the colt; they were waiting for him.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem. He was to be acknowledged as king. He came humbly riding on an ass. Barclay says we must be careful to see the real meaning of this. In western lands the ass is a despised beast; but in the east the ass could be a noble animal. Often a king came riding into his city upon an ass, indicating that he came in peace. The horse was the mount of war. Jesus showed that he came not to destroy, but to love; not to condemn, but to help, not in the might of arms, but in the strength of love.

The whole city of Jerusalem was awash with visitors in preparation for the Passover at this moment.  Barclay also notes that thirty years later a Roman governor had taken a census of the number of lambs slain for Passover and found the number to be about a quarter of a million. Now, Passover regulations stated that a party with a minimum of ten people were required for each lamb which meant that there were about two and a half million people in Jerusalem at the time Jesus entered the holy city!

The crowd receives Jesus like a king.  They spread their cloaks in front of him.  They cut down and waved palm branches (and that is why we bless and distribute palms and this day is known universally as Palm Sunday.)

They greeted him as they would a pilgrim, Barclay notes: “Blessed be he who enters in the name of the Lord.” 

They shouted, “Hosanna!”  The word means, “Save now!” and that was a cry that a people addressed to their king or their god.   (Interesting ~ I didn’t know that!)

So, we see that Jesus action here was planned and deliberate, similar to those of the prophets of old who would put their message into a dramatic act that people could not fail to see or understand.  Jesus action here was clearly a Messianic claim, or at least when a few days later he would be the cleanser of the Temple, an even more dramatic act in which he was to rid the Temple of the abuses that defiled it and its worship.

To conclude, then, Barclay had made three points about this story . . .

+  It shows Jesus’ courage.  He knew he was entering a hostile city.  All through his last days, in his every action is there is a “magnificent and sublime defiance” –“a flinging down the gauntlet.”

+  It shows us his claim to be God’s Messiah, God’s Anointed One. And the cleanser of the temple.

+  It shows us his appeal–not a kingship of the throne, but a kingship of the heart.

In today’s liturgy, when the procession reaches the altar inside the church, and the people settle into the pews, the mood of the liturgy radically changes dramatically. It becomes somber as the ministers at the altar and the congregation prepare for the solemn reading of the Passion—this  year from the Gospel of Matthew, that’s usually proclaimed with several voices.  But I’d like to reflect a moment on the New Testament reading from Philippians 2:1-11 that precedes it because it captures the essence of the meaning of this day . . . .

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Johannes Metz wrote a little book Poverty of Spirit, in which he says . . .

Have we really understood the impoverishment that Christ endured?

Everything was taken from him during the passion, even the love that drove him to the cross . . .

His heart gave out and a feeling of utter helplessness came over him. Truly he emptied himself . . . He became utterly poor. [Thus] he accepted our humanity, he took on and endured our lot, he stepped down from his divinity.

He came to us where we really are ~ with all our broken dreams and lost hopes, with the meaning of existence slipping through our fingers. He came and stood with us, struggling with his whole heart to have us say ‘yes’ to our innate poverty. [God’s faithfulness] to us is what gives us the courage to be true to ourselves. And the legacy of God’s total commitment to humankind, the proof of God’s fidelity to our poverty, is the Cross.

[The Cross is the sacrament, the sign] that one human being remained true to his own humanity, that he accepted it in full obedience.”

Thus each of us has the opportunity to embrace our own poverty, or as I have been saying in Arise for the past two years we have the opportunity to accept whatever brokenness shows up in our own lives and find the treasure buried within. But this goes against the grain for us in American life. We are told to keep up with the Joneses. And so we strive for power, prestige, possessions.

“Poverty of spirit is the meeting point of heaven and earth,

the mysterious place where God and humanity encounter each other,

the point where infinite mystery meets concrete existence.”

And now, here’s my prayer . . . .

Lord Jesus, here we are at the beginning of Holy Week once again.

We raise our palms,

Lord Jesus, here we are, once again, singing our Hosannas!

We listen to the story of your sacred passion and death.

And now we learn that You really meant it!  

You weren’t just pretending to be human;

You immersed Yourself in our misery,

You got down in the muck with us

~ accepting it all, even death on a cross.  

Jesus, help us to embrace our humility,

our poverty, our brokenness, our share in Your cross.  

May this Holy Week truly be holy for us

so that we too will rise again with You to new life

and receive anew the gift of the Spirit.  

To You, Lord Jesus, be glory and honor forever! Amen.

Before you go, dear friends, here is a beautiful song, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Click here. Be sure to enter full screen. 

Have a fruitful Holy Week.  I will publish again throughout the week. 

Here are the today’s Mass readings. Click here. To get back to this page, go to the top left corner of your computer screen, click on  the  < back arrow, and you’ll be right back here. I encourage you to prayerfully read the entire passion story according to Luke.  I have also provided you a commentary on this gospel (and also the other readings), if you’d like to reflect on them further. Click here.

Acknowledgements  Johannes Baptist Metz Poverty of Spirit / Translated by John Drury / Paulist Press / New York / Mahwah, NJ / 1968, 1998

William Barclay / The New Daily Study Bible / The Gospel of Matthew- Volume 2                                                                                 The Westminster Press Philadelphia 1975 / pp. 238 – 243.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

IMG_2148

 

Palm Sunday of the Passion ~ The Last Days of Jesus

palm_sunday-1

Palm Sunday of the Passion ~ March 29, 2015

Dear Friends,

All is ready now for the final days of our Lenten journey with Jesus.   The drama of the Paschal Mystery will  be re-enacted  once again in  parishes throughout the world.  I have loved the liturgy of Holy Week since I was a boy and in this blog I hope I can share that love with you.    We’ll go deep here.  Please take time to reflect.  Come with me now, won’t you?

Jesus entered the holy city Jerusalem on a humble beast of burden ~ himself burdened with the sins of the world.  Here’s the gospel story . . . .

When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem,
to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately on entering it,
you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
If anyone should say to you,
‘Why are you doing this?’ reply,
‘The Master has need of it
and will send it back here at once.’”
So they went off
and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street,
and they untied it.
Some of the bystanders said to them,
“What are you doing, untying the colt?”
They answered them just as Jesus had told them to,
and they permitted them to do it.
So they brought the colt to Jesus
and put their cloaks over it.
And he sat on it.
Many people spread their cloaks on the road,
and others spread leafy branches
that they had cut from the fields.
Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out:
“Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
Hosanna in the highest!”  (Mark 11:1-10)

Thus, as William Barclay, the great Presbyterian scripture scholar that I quoted last week, notes, what Jesus was about to do was a deliberate, planned action on his part, this would begin the last act in the drama of his life.  The whole city of Jerusalem was awash with lambtopvisitors in preparation for the Passover.  Barclay also notes that thirty years later a Roman governor had taken a census of the number of lambs slain for Passover and noted that number to be about a quarter of a million. Now, Passover regulation stated that a party of a minimum of ten are required for each lamb which meant that there were about two and a half million people in Jerusalem at the time Jesus entered the holy city!  

The crowd receives Jesus like a king.  They spread their cloaks in front of him.  They cut down and waved palm branches (and that is why we bless and distribute palms and this day is known universally as Palm Sunday.)

They greeted him as they would a pilgrim, Barclay notes: “Blessed be he who enters in the name of the Lord.” 

They  shouted, “Hosanna!”  The word means, “Save now!”  and that was a cry that a people addressed to their king or their god.   (Interesting ~ I didn’t know that!)

So, we see that Jesus action here was planned and deliberate, similar to those of the prophets of old who would put their message into a dramatic act  that people could not fail  to see or understand.  Jesus action here was clearly a Messianic claim, or at least when a few days later he would be the cleanser of the Temple, an even more dramatic act in which he was to rid the Temple of the abuses that defiled it and its worship.  

To conclude, then, Barclay had made three points about this story . . .

+  It shows Jesus’ courage.  He knew he was entering a hostile city.  All through his last days, there is in his every action a “magnificent and sublime defiance”~”a flinging down the gauntlet .”   

+  It shows us his claim to be God’s Messiah, God’s Anointed One. And the cleanser of the temple.  

+  It shows us his appeal ~ not a kingship of the throne, but a kingship of the heart.

Lord Jesus, here we are at the beginning of Holy Week once again.

We raise our palms,

singing our Hosannas!

We listen to the story of your sacred passion and death.

And now we learn that You really meant it!  

You weren’t just pretending to be human;

You immersed Yourself in our misery,

You got down in the muck with us

~ accepting it all, even death on a cross.  

Jesus, help us to embrace our humility,

our poverty, our brokenness, our share in Your cross.  

May this Holy Week truly be holy for us

so that we too will rise again with You to new life

and receive anew the gift of the Spirit.  

To You, Lord Jesus, be glory and honor forever! Amen.

Before you go, dear friends, here is a beautiful song performed by some very devout young people ~ “Behold the Lamb of God”. Be sure to enter full screen.  Have a fruitful Holy Week.  I will publish again throughout the week. 

Here are the today’s Mass readings. Click here.  To get back to this page, go to the top left corner of your computer screen, click on  the  < back arrow, and you’ll be right back here. I encourage you to prayerfully read the entire passion story according to Mark.  I have also provided you a commentary on this gospel (and also the other readings), if you’d like to reflect on them further. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

img_04271

William Barclay: The Daily Study Bible Series / The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2 ~ Revised Edition       The Westminster Press ~ Philadelphia 1975

 

Palm Sunday ~ The Last Days of Jesus

palm_sunday-1

Palm Sunday / April 13, 2014

Dear Friends,

All is ready now for the final days of our Lenten journey with Jesus.   The drama of the Paschal Mystery will  be re-enacted  once again in  parishes throughout the world.  I have loved the liturgy of Holy Week since I was a boy and in this blog I hope I can share that love with you.    We’ll go deep here.  Please take time to reflect.  Come  with me now, won’t you?

Jesus entered the holy city Jerusalem on a humble beast of burden ~ himself burdened with the sins of the world.  Here’s the gospel story . . . .

When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of

Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite

you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her.

Untie them and bring them here to me. And if anyone should say anything to

you, reply, ‘The master has need of them.’ Then he will send them at once.”

This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be

fulfilled: “Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold, your king comes to you, meek and

riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” The disciples

went and did as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the ass and the colt

and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. The very large crowd

spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and

strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following

kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who

comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” And when he entered

Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” And the crowds

replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”   

Thus, what Jesus was about to do was a deliberate, planned action on his part, the last act in the drama of the life of Jesus, as William Barclay the great Presbyterian scripture scholar that I quoted in last week notes. The whole city of Jerusalem was awash with lambtopvisitors in preparation for the Passover.  Barclay notes that thirty years later a Roman governor had taken a census of the number of lambs slain for Passover and noted it to be about a quarter of a million. Now, Passover regulation stated that a party of a minimum of ten are required for each lamb which meant that there were about two and a half million people in Jerusalem at the time Jesus entered the holy city!  

The crowd receives Jesus like a king.  They spread their cloaks in front of him.  They cut down and waved palm branches (and that is why we bless and distribute palms and this day is known universally as Palm Sunday.)

They greeted him as they would a pilgrim, Barclay notes: “Blessed be he who enters in the name of the Lord.” 

They  shouted,  “Hosanna!”  The word means, “Save now!”  and that was a cry that a people addressed to their king or their god.   (Interesting ~ I didn’t know that!)

So, we see that Jesus action here was planned and deliberate, similar to those of the prophets of old who would put their message into a dramatic act  that people could not fail  to see or understand.  Jesus action here was clearly a Messianic claim, or at least, the cleanser of the Temple, an even more dramatic act in which he was to rid the Temple of the abuses that defiled it and its worship a few days later.  

To conclude, then, Barclay had made three points about this story . . .

+  It shows Jesus’ courage.  He knew he was entering a hostile city.  All through his last days, there is in his every action a “magnificent and sublime defiance”~”a flinging down the gauntlet .” (Barclay)  

+  It shows us his claim to be God’s Messiah, God’s Anointed One. And the cleanser of the temple.  

+  It shows us his appeal ~ not a kingship of the throne, but a kingship of the heart.

Lord Jesus, here we are at the beginning of Holy Week once again.

We raise our palms,

singing Hosannas!

we listen to the story of your sacred passion and death.

And now we learn that You really meant it!  

You weren’t just pretending to be human;

You immersed Yourself in our misery,

You got down int the muck with us

~ accepting it all, even death on a cross.  

Jesus, help us to embrace our humility,

our poverty, our brokenness, our share in Your cross.  

May this Holy Week truly be holy for us

so that we too will rise again with You to new life

and receive anew the gift of the Spirit.  

To You, Lord Jesus, be glory and honor forever! Amen.

Here are the todays’s Mass readings. Click here.  To get back to this page, go to the top left corner of your computer screen, click on  the  < back arrow, and you’ll be right back here.

Before you go, dear friends, here is a beautiful song performed by some very devout young people ~ “Behold the Lamb of God”. Be sure to enter full screen.  Have a fruitful Holy Week.  I will publish again throughout the week. 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

img_04271

William Barclay / The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 2 ~ Revised Edition                                                               \ The Westminster Press ~ Philadelphia 1975

Palm Sunday ~ The Humility of Jesus

palm_sunday-1

Palm Sunday / March 24th, 2013

Dear Friends,

All is ready now for the final days of our Lenten journey with Jesus.   the drama of the Paschal Mystery will  be re-enacted  once again in  parishes throughout the world.  I have loved the liturgy of Holy Week since I was a boy and in this blog I hope I can share that love with you.    We’ll go deep here.  Please take time to reflect.  Come  with me now, won’t you?

Jesus entered the holy city Jerusalem on a humble beast of burden–himself burdened with the sins of the world.  He was focused on his Father’s will and utter obedience to him.  St. Paul captures all of that for us in the first reading of this day’s Mass in Philippians 2:1-11 . . .

5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
   did not regard equality with God
   as something to be exploited, 
7 but emptied himself,
   taking the form of a slave,
   being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, 
8   he humbled himself
   and became obedient to the point of death—
   even death on a cross.  (NRSV)

Father Johannes Metz wrote a little book in 1968 called Poverty of Spirit that I liked a lot in which he says, “To become human means to become ‘poor’ to have nothing that one can brag about before God.  To become human means to have no support and no power, save the enthusiasm and commitment of one’s own heart.”

Become poor? No power?  We Americans would not buy that at all!   But I was fortunate to have two wonderful mentors in my life who were ~ well ~ just human.  They were not afraid to be just who they were, warts and all.  They were delightful human beings.  

The first one was the rector of my seminary, Father Eugene Walsh whom I was privileged to know personally over the years.  We called him Geno.  I told a story about him in a recent blog about how he affirmed me.   The second was my Bishop,  Bishop Norbert Dorsey whom I got to know when we lived together in the cathedral rectory in Miami for nearly a year. We used to sit up and watch Hawaii Five-0 together.  He, too, was always just who he was, without pretense. Simply ~ human. He died a few weeks ago from a long bout with cancer but I had a chance to express my love for him. 

And now,we’ve all gotten to know a fellow from Argentina who has become Pope Francis who insists on being just who he is!  Isn’t wonderful?  But he will pay the price for it.  Several journalists took note of his down to earth qualities, his humility.

Now back to  Jesus.  He didn’t exploit his equality with God as so many of us would; he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave. Why did he do that? 

Father Metz explains:  “Jesus held back nothing; he clung to nothing, and nothing served as a shield for him.

Satan wants to make Jesus strong . . . Satan fears [ . . .] an open human heart that will remain true to its native poverty, suffer the misery and abandonment that is humanity’s, and thus save humankind.

Satan always tries to stress the spiritual strength of human beings and our divine character and has done this from the beginning:  ‘You will be like God.’

Instead, Jesus subjected himself to our plight. He immersed himself in our misery and followed our road to the end.  He did not escape from the torment of our life. . .  With the full weight of his divinity he descended into the abyss of human existence, penetrating into its darkest depths.

Have we really understood the impoverishment that Christ endured?  Everything was taken from him during the passion, even the love that drove him to the cross. . . His heart gave out and a feeling of utter helplessness came over him.  Truly he emptied himself . . . . He became utterly poor.

[Thus] he accepted our humanity, he took on and endured our lot, he stepped down from his divinity.  He came to us where we really are ~ with all our broken dreams and lost hopes, with the meaning of existence slipping through our fingers.

He came and stood with us, struggling with his whole heart to have us say ‘yes’ to our innate poverty.

[God’s faithfulness] to us is what gives us the courage to be true to ourselves.

And the legacy of God’s total commitment to humankind, the proof of God’s fidelity to our poverty, is the Cross. [The Cross is the sacrament, the sign] that one human being remained true to his own humanity, that he accepted it in full obedience.”

Thus each of us have the opportunity to embrace our poverty,  to accept whatever brokenness shows up in our own lives and find the treasure buried within.

But this goes against the grain for us in American life.  We are told to keep up with the Joneses.  To strive for Power, Prestige, Possessions.

This is not the way of Jesus.

And this cannot be the way of a true follower of Christ.  We are to have the same mind as Christ. And once we have embraced our humility, our poverty, our weakness, and not denied our brokenness we will realize that we, too, will be exalted as Jesus was (is.)

(Realize that the word “Humility” comes from the word “Humus” ~ “muck.”)

Lord Jesus, here we are at the beginning of Holy Week once again.

We raise our palms,

singing Hosannas!

we listen to the story of your sacred passion and death.

And now we learn that You really meant it!  

You weren’t just pretending to be human;

You immersed Yourself in our misery,

You got down int the muck with us

~ accepting it all, even death on a cross.  

Jesus, help us to embrace our humility,

our poverty, our brokenness, our share in Your cross.  

May this Holy Week truly be holy for us

so that we too will rise again with You to new life

and receive anew the gift of the Spirit.  

To You, Lord Jesus, be glory and honor forever! Amen.

Before you go, dear friends, here is a beautiful song performed by some very devout young people ~ “Behold the Lamb of God”.  Be sure to enter full screen.  Have a fruitful Holy Week.  I will publish again later in the week.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer