Last updated: April 9, 2017

Holy Week - The Seven Last Words

6th Sunday of Lent - From Triumph to Tragedy

To listen to the 6th Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

Could you picture Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey surrounded by crowds of people waving palm branches and shouting,” Hosanna?” Little did they know that their rejoicing would be swept away by still another cry,” Crucify Him.” It didn’t take long before triumph became tragedy; before palm branches became the wood of the cross; before hosannas became jeers calling for Jesus’ death.

Holy Week is the most sacred time of the church year. It highlights the peak moments of Christ’s love for us and the price He paid to redeem us. How could one not feel both pain and anguish as he or she reflectively journeys through the passion story, from the trial to the suffering and death of Jesus?

Lent is not the time for us to judge those who played principal roles in the drama of Calvary. It is the time for us to acknowledge that each of us has the capacity to play every single role to perfection: the betrayal of Judas; the denial of Peter; the abandonment of the disciples; the abuse of authority by Pilate; the instigation of Caiphas; the irreverence of the mob; the cruelty of the persecutors, and the instability of the weak.

Perhaps, this Lent will inspire us to play the role of Peter who repented, of Simon who helped Jesus carry His cross; of Veronica who wiped the face of Jesus; of Mary, John, and the women who faithfully stood beneath the cross; of the stranger who cried,” Truly He is the Son of God,” or of the women who anointed the body of Jesus for burial. It is life that sets the stage but it is we who choose the role to play in the everyday drama of Calvary.

The way of discipleship is the way of the cross. Jesus said, “If you wish to be My disciple, you must deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Me.” Mark 8: 34. No one can follow Jesus through the Liturgy of Holy Week without the truth dawning within his or her heart. The truth is that God loves us with a love that cost Jesus His life upon the cross.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pray with the psalmist, “O My Help, come quickly to My aid.” Ps.22: 19.

May the ashes of Lent remind us that the road to eternal life will not bypass the road to Calvary.

Sr. Geraldine Calabrese, MPF 2006

5th Sunday of Lent

To listen to the 5th Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

How do I live? This is a question we should all be asking ourselves on this 5th Sunday of Lent.

Am I living a life closely connected to the resurrectional presence of Jesus Christ…a life powered by the Spirit of God? Or am I living a self centered life, meeting only my needs, seeking my own pleasure and my own concerns? According to scripture, the latter leads to death.

The readings today speak to us of life, a full, vibrant life now and the fullness of eternal life in the hereafter.

Ezekiel looks to the time when we will be raised from the dead. God will infuse us with the Spirit. Then we will be God’s people and God will be our God.

Paul tells us we don’t have to wait that long. We can begin living this new life here and now because Jesus suffered, died and rose from the dead. If we believe in Jesus, if we believe Jesus lives today, then the Spirit of God lives in us and we are God’s people and GOD IS OUR GOD TODAY.

So let’s examine our lives. We are two weeks away from Easter, from the celebration of the Resurrection. Have our lives changed since the beginning of Lent. Are we more God centered, more loving, more forgiving, more patient? Are we gentler, compassionate, more selfless?

If the answer is “I haven’t arrived but I am trying and at times I do succeed.”, then the resurrected life is growing in us and that is all God asks of us.

If we continue on such a path the fruits of the Spirit will continue to grow in us and our light will shine in the world giving witness to the resurrection of Jesus. We will truly proclaim that Jesus is the resurrection and the life and all who believe in him will have eternal life.

Let us continue the journey to Easter Sunday. Let us live a new and vibrant life in the Spirit.

Sr. Josephine Aparo, MPF © Copyright 2008

4th Sunday of Lent

To listen to the 4th Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

How is your vision? Do you see clearly? Perhaps you’d better rethink your answer if it was yes.

In the first reading today we see Samuel, a prophet and a holy man, being rebuked by God for his faulty vision. God says to him, “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” In the gospel, the Pharisees confront Jesus for healing the blind man on the Sabbath. Jesus says to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying ‘We see’, so your sin remains.”

These readings address HOW WE SEE NOT WHAT WE SEE. Today we are challenged to look beyond the obvious, to dig deep into the very core of everything to see the truth. We are being called to see everything through God’s eyes. This is a wonderful practice during the next few weeks of Lent and beyond. How do we see the members of our families, our friends, our neighbors? How do we view the circumstances of our daily living? Do we see beyond the externals in people to the heart of what makes them who they are? Do we see God’s plan in every circumstance that presents itself in our lives?

As I was reflecting on these readings a Christmas song kept popping into my head. “Do you see what I see….a star, a star, shining in the night….” I asked myself how many people saw the star and just saw a star. The wise men saw that same star and saw greatness and a way to something wonderful. They followed and found Jesus.

Today, let us examine our vision so that we may be led to Jesus and to a new and vibrant life on Easter Sunday.

Sr. Josephine Aparo, MPF
© Copyright 2008

3rd Sunday of Lent

To listen to the 3rd Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

What do you thirst for in life? Do you thirst for the necessities of life or do you thirst for material things, pleasure, success, power, etc. Today’s readings speak of getting priorities straight. On this third Sunday of Lent examine where your life is out of balance and what you can do to get back on course.

Jesus meets the woman at the well where she is…seeking water to drink. He leads her from the water in the well to the living water welling up inside her, the water that satisfies all thirsts. She is so enthralled with Jesus’ message that she leaves her water jar at the well and runs to bring the good news, Jesus, to her hometown. Having encountered Jesus, she begins to live her life at a new and deeper level. God becomes her priority. The well will always be there for drinking water but the woman has been energized by the Spirit, the living water of Jesus. Living the good news and bringing the good news becomes her main task.

In a way, Paul continues the theme of living water. He tells us that God’s love has been poured into our hearts and we have been infused with the Spirit of God. When our lives are in balance, our needs and our wants become one. Then the Spirit becomes our energizing force. We experience peace. This does not mean there won’t be trials and suffering but our approach to both will be different. We will be able to trust in the providence of God to walk us through tough times. As God provided water for the Israelites in the desert, God will provide for our needs also.

This week we are called to look at our lives and begin the balancing act. This is one more step to rising to a new and deeper life on Easter Sunday.

Sr. Josephine Aparo, MPF
© Copyright 2008

2nd Sunday of Lent

To listen to the 2nd Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

“Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. He saved us and called us to a holy life,…” These lines from today’s second reading tell it all. This is what Lent is all about, living a holy life. To bear our hardship for the Gospel is to live the gospel message in our world today. You and I know this is not an easy task.

Jesus says love one another and the world says it’s impossible. He tells us to live in the truth, don’t lie, cheat, steal etc. The world says it’s impossible to do this all the time. Jesus calls us to be advocates for the poor and the disadvantaged, the world says it’s impossible. Jesus tells us to deal with our anger, to forgive, to be compassionate. The world thinks we’re crazy. The bottom line is that if we live the gospel message the world won’t applaud us. In fact we will sometimes be the butt of ridicule and unfairness. But God calls us to be holy, to live in harmony with God, our neighbors and all creation.

Like Abraham, we are called to leave the land we are familiar with and go to a new place. That place is deep in our hearts where we hear the gospel and then not only live the message but become the message. In that place, God will bless us and we will become a blessing for the world in which we live. Like Jesus who was transfigured in today’s gospel, God’s glory will also shine through us to others.

Holiness is wholeness and that happens when we live the gospel message. God gives the strength and the grace. Are you up TO THE CHALLENGE?


Sr. Josephine Aparo, MPF
© Copyright 2008

1st Sunday of Lent

To listen to the 1st Sunday of Lent meditation, click here.

“The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it.” And sin entered our world! Hunger, pleasure, worldly wisdom - these are the major causes of sin from Adam and Eve down to us. Each time we give in to these temptations we walk outside of our relationship with a loving God just as Adam and Eve did.

“Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” In today’s gospel we see Jesus confronted by these same temptations. After he had fasted forty days and was most vulnerable, there is Satan with the same temptations. Jesus is experiencing his humanity at its lowest point. From this point of vulnerability he chooses his relationship with the Father and one by one dissipates the wiles of the evil one. Jesus is now ready to preach the Kingdom of God to men and women like you and me because he knows what it is to be one of us. Having gotten in touch with his own inner heart he could be in touch with the inner heart of every man and woman.

The good news is that because Jesus' relationship with His Father gave Him the courage and fortitude to confront and defeat the Evil One, our relationship with God will do the same for us. This lent don’t be so concerned about what you will give up. Be concerned about how you will live and how you will stand fast in your relationship with God.

As you journey through Lent keep your eye on the new life you will experience on Easter Sunday.

Sr. Josephine Aparo, MPF © Copyright 2008

Ash Wednesday

To listen to the Ash Wednesday meditation, click here.

We hear in today’s first reading these words from the prophet Joel, “Rend your hearts and not your garments!” It was a custom in Israel to tear one’s garments when considering one’s sins. How easy that would be. But we are encouraged to rip open our hearts…to make them vulnerable to God’s all encompassing glance, to allow our God to search every corner to see what needs mending and what needs to be eliminated. Of course this is a painful process for truth is the cleansing agent used in repentance and conversion. As God’s river of grace flows through us and God’s truth washes away all that is not God in us, we will be led on an incredible journey of conversion. Then the words the priest says as he places the ashes on our foreheads will become a reality, “Turn from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

This is what Lent is all about. Make this one your best. Allow God to lead you on the journey these forty days.

Let us enter this time of grace with fervor and diligence.

Copyright © 2010
Sr. Josephine Aparo, MPF

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