Religious Education Newsletter – Week of March 20, 2016
FROM MR. GALE
Holy Week! Holy Week is upon us already! I’m sorry I didn’t get a newsletter out last week, things have been extraordinarily busy—mostly the GOOD kind of busy. Last weekend the 2nd graders and RCIA students attended their First Eucharist retreat and we had a terrific time. Thank you so much parents for making this an important part of the week. As we march into Holy Week, please be aware of all the special offerings of the parish: Holy Thursday Mass is at 7pm (the Lord’s Supper and foot washing); Good Friday Service at 12:30 (with veneration of the cross); the Easter Vigil is Saturday March 26 beginning at 8:30pm (where the RCIA Elect and Candidates receive their initiation sacraments); Easter Sunday the Mass schedule is normal.
Our whole Christian life, and all humanity, pivots on the cross. Jesus changed everything by sacrificing himself to take away our sin. When you hear “Jesus takes away the sin of the world” be sure to put YOUR NAME there; “Jesus takes away my sin and your sin.” It is immensely personal. He knows us, loves us, and gives himself up for us; not just an anonymous “world.” But the story does not end with the cross and the removal of sin, he also raises from the dead to bring us his resurrected life, to pour out his Holy Spirit, and to allow heaven to break into THIS world. Be sure to take some time this Holy Week to receive some of the grace He gives.
UP-COMING DATES AND EVENTS
Remember: NO CLASS
NO CLASS Easter Sunday March 27 and the following week, the start of Spring break April 3!
LAST CLASS April 24!
SNACK SCHEDULE 2016
3/20 E-H 4/10 I-R 4/17 S-Z 4/24 WE provide
A LITTLE SPIRITUAL BOOST…
During Lent I wanted to spend a few weeks digging into a short section of Scripture from the Gospel of John. Let’s look at the SEVEN QUESTIONS Pontius Pilate poses to Jesus during the trial in John 19 & 20. I’ll finish with the next four questions…
# 5 Where are you from?
Anyone who met Jesus had to confront this question. He was strikingly unique. He didn’t act like other laborers from the Holy Land. Crowds would follow him to hear him speak, mobs would press in on him to be healed. Few people in Scripture meet Jesus with a shrug of indifference.
Where is Jesus from? The answer is squarely in the center of our theology. Jesus is God who became human. St. John’s famous words clearly tell us that in the beginning of time, Jesus was right alongside God the Father creating the universe. St. Paul tells us that even though Jesus is God, he chose to humble himself and took on the trappings of humanity. Jesus wants us to follow his way: be IN this world but not OF this world.
Jesus is from the place where he leads us. He wants us to follow him home. This is the goal of the Christian life: to be with Jesus and our whole Christian family forever in the absolute joy of heaven.
But even when he was walking on this physical earth, he was somehow rooted in his real home. He treated this world like a pilgrim, like a visitor, a sojourner who was just passing through. His citizenship was in another place. He wants us to treat our life on earth the same way. Not to dismiss this life entirely, but to elevate it. Jesus wants us to allow our real home to break through into this temporary one. He wants us to live in that heaven-bound absolute joy on THIS SIDE of death. He wants us to walk like he did: with dual citizenship, giving primacy to our home with the Father.
LENTEN QUESTIONS: # 6 Do you not speak to me?
Pilate held authority. As acting governor of the region, he was the representative of Caesar. He was very used to people doing what he told them to do. Before him stood a beaten Jewish man who seemed innocent and calm while an excitable and angry crowd of religious leaders stood outside with accusations.
And this Jesus remained mostly silent. No defense. No counter-claims. No pleas. Nothing. Silence.
Do we treat Jesus the same way? Are we shocked because Jesus doesn’t seem to be impressed by our human credentials? He doesn’t always answer our meaningless authority. We are used to getting what we want… and when we don’t hear from Jesus, does it trouble us?
But if we would only stop TALKING AT HIM and listen to his response to our question, we will hear his voice. Jesus DOES speak to us. He does. Quiet yourself and listen. Be prepared for what he might say. Jesus does not often tell us words that simply tickle our ears and build our egos. His words are like a sharp sword. His words are from heaven. His words are truth His words have royal authority. His words spring forth from action.
LENTEN QUESTION: # 7 Do you not know that I have the power to release you and I have the power to crucify you?
Wow. By civil authority, Pilate DID have some power. But by divine authority, which trumps all things civil, Jesus outranked Pilate. Pontius Pilate simply did not know what he was saying or to WHOM he said it. But let’s go deep into this last line and reflect.
Do WE say this to Jesus? St. Francis of Assisi said that every time we sin, we nail Jesus to the cross again. We pile up more and more suffering on the cross, two thousand years ago. We crucify him again, in that one-time, once-for-all sacrifice. Jesus died for us, to take OUR sin. If none of us ever sinned, he would have been released. But because we do sin, we crucify him.
Let this soak in and move you to holiness. Let it take you to a place of sinless living. Let your eyes be opened to believe the unbelievable sacrifice Jesus made for us. Let your heart be open to the amazing love that changed the world. Own up to the fact that we say this to Jesus every time we make a moral decision: “Do you not know that I have the power to release you and I have the power to crucify you?”
May Easter be a resurrected New Life like you have never experienced before!