Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday and the Importance of Good Friends

Palm or Passion Sunday is one of my favorite Sundays of the entire year. At the start of mass the palm procession around the church feels so ceremonial and regal. Then by the gospel reading, we are experiencing the passion of Jesus and all of the pain, guilt and suffering that comes with it.

I asked my friend Fr. Gary why we have to read the passion on Palm Sunday. We have all of Holy Week to journey to the cross and Good Friday to really dig deep into it. 

Why can't we just stay in the Hosanna for a little while? 

He explained the very logical reason - not everyone can make it to church on Good Friday and we can't go from the Hosanna to the Resurrection and skip over the cross. And then the other reason, that having both within the same one hour mass reminds us of our weakness. 

The same people who were welcoming Jesus into town, shouting, Hosanna in the highest! one day were shouting Crucify him! days later. Listening to Fr. Gary talk about the two sides of our humanity reminded me of how important my crowd is. 

I doubt everyone shouting Hosanna was fully in-the-know about Jesus. Maybe one guy just showed up because his buddy did or maybe another guy heard what was going on and jumped in. Then they got to catch a glimpse of the savior of the world passing by. 

Same deal with the crowd in front of Pontius Pilate. There were probably a few people who thought, Jesus is amazing. I've been around him and he doesn't deserve to die. But then, in the middle of the angry shouting, they gave in and added a voice. 

Your crowd is important. 

They can lead you to see Jesus or they can lead you to turn your back on Him. What a gift we have in this special day. What a great way to teach our children the importance of solid friendships with kids who will challenge them to grow closer to Christ. And it' a great reminder to us to really explore our church community, find a place where we can contribute, invest and receive the support we need to stay in the hosanna.

Copyright 2017 Abby Brundage

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Lazarus Was a Good Person

After many years of hearing Matthew Kelly say, "Our lives change when our habits change" I finally took one piece of his advice. I got a mass journal.

Copyright 2017 Dimitris Vetsikas via Pixabay
(Here is the gist of the mass journal.) I used my journal for the first time last Sunday. Over and over again I found myself saying, Alright, God! Lay it on me! I'm listening! only to get interrupted by a dropped crayon or a Momma can you read this to me? 

The first reading came and went. Gone went the Responsorial Psalm. Was there even a second reading? For the gospel I was being badgered by the little one to wear my bracelet. It was the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead, so I'd read it before. No biggie. 

Then came the homily. I only caught a few words of the message, but what I got was important. It was important because the deacon talked about part of that Lazarus story that I had never noticed before (God is pretty amazing at constantly showing us something new, isn't He?). 

It started with this thought: Jesus could have come sooner but He didn't. He knew there was a greater glory to be revealed through Lazarus's resurrection from the dead. But here's where the Deacon took us next (and what I wrote about in my pristine mass journal). That verse about Jesus weeping for his dear friend... He loved Lazarus. It pained him to know that he suffered and died. It's not like all this happened to some stranger and Jesus showed up, brought him out of the tomb and introduced himself. Hey, I'm Jesus of Nazareth, happy to meet you. I'm guessing you're REALLY happy to meet me. 

No, Jesus and Laz (I bet he called him Laz) were friends. They knew each other. 

When you suffer do you ever ask God Why me? I am checking all the boxes. I know you. So why is this happening? It's the age old question, 

Why do bad things happen to good, faithful people? 

Lazarus was a good person. He knew Jesus well. They had a relationship. Jesus loved him. 

It's because there is greater glory in the resurrection than in the moment and that is true whether you just met Jesus yesterday or if you two have been intimately acquainted for what seems like a lifetime. No one is immune to suffering, but the closer you are to Christ, the more He can be glorified through the difficult times. So love Him like Lazarus did. He ALWAYS shows up!

Copyright 2017 Abby Brundage