We offer prayer, readings, music, and reflections to support our hearts and minds during this time of uncertainty.
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Dear Riordan Community,
To be honest, for long time, I personally tried to avoid carrying my own cross until, with the grace of God, I was finally able to understand that my cross and my life struggles are here for my own good, to purify and sanctify me and bring me closer to God. Embracing my own cross, it became clear that God is ultimately in charge in the midst of everything that is happening around me, and that I just have to trust Him.
I'm sure we all will remember this Lent and the coronavirus pandemic for a long time. We are dealing daily with different emotions: sadness, uncertainty, even anxiety but at the same time we are full of hope that this crisis will be over soon and we will be able to go back to our routine. Despite all, it would be wise to not waste this time, but to use it for our benefit, for deepening our faith and trust in God and for improving the quality of our relationships.
In all the challenges we face in the current situation let us draw strength from Christ, our Savior and Lord, who willingly accepted suffering and death, taking our sins and our weaknesses on the heavy burden of his cross. This Lent can teach us how to accept sufferings and struggles as essential parts of our life, since they do not have purpose in themselves, as we know from Christ's salvific work, but are here as valuable means for our sanctification and for our eternal salvation. This life is not our final destination but an exam of maturity for heaven, because our citizenship/homeland is in heaven. (Philipp. 3:20-21)
The word of God on the Fifth Sunday of Lent invites us to strengthen our faith in the resurrection, our trust in God and to live not according to flesh but spirit.
As we draw near to the end of Lent, today's Gospel clearly has Jesus' passion, death and resurrection in view. That's why John is talking about Lazarus' resurrection and gives us detail about Lazarus' sister, Mary--that she is the one who anointed the Lord for burial (see John 12:3, 7). When Lazarus is raised, John notices the tombstone being taken away, as well as Lazarus' burial cloths and head covering--all details he later notices with Jesus' empty tomb (John 20:1, 6, 7).
Like the blind man in last Sunday's readings, Lazarus represents all humanity. He stands for the "dead man"--for all those men and women Jesus loves and wants to liberate from the bonds of sin and death. Saint John even recalls the blind man in his account today (John 11:37). Like the man's birth in blindness, Lazarus' death is used by Jesus to reveal "the glory of God" (John 9:3). And again like last week, Jesus' words and deeds give sight to those who believe (John 11:40).
If we believe, we will see--that Jesus loves each of us as He loved Lazarus, that He calls us out of death and into new life.
By His Resurrection Jesus has fulfilled Ezekiel's promise in today's first reading. He has opened the graves so that we may rise, put His Spirit in us so that we may live. This is the Spirit that Paul writes of in today's Epistle. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will give life to those who were once dead in sin.
St. Paul explains to the Romans, that our body is dead because of sin, and all those who live according to the flesh cannot please God. And the Spirit of Christ will dwell in all those who live according to the spirit. And the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, will one day also raise our mortal bodies with Him (Rom 8:8-11).
Faith and holy life is the key for our eternal life and happiness. If we believe as Martha does in today's Gospel--that Jesus is the resurrection and the life--even if we die, we will live. "I have promised and I will do it," the Father assures us in the First Reading from the Book of Ezekiel. We must trust in His word, as we sing in today's Psalm-that with the Lord is forgiveness and salvation (Ps 130).
Fr. Goran Jovicic
Dear Riordan Community,
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, one of the important events in the history of our salvation and the Patronal Feast of the Marianist Family. We had previously planned to gather as a school community for Mass, but now we come together virtually.
You can find today's readings and musical reflections from Riordan's student Marianist Choir in the right column of this page.
The Feast commemorates the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would become incarnate and enter into this world through her womb.
In this event we see the fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah's prophecy in the Old Testament and the unfolding of God's plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah King. The new era of salvation begins with the miraculous conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. This child to be born is conceived by the gracious action of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, who finds favor with God (Luke 1:28). As Eve was the mother of all humanity doomed to sin, now Mary becomes the mother of the new Adam who will father a new humanity by his grace (Romans 5:12-21). This child to be conceived in her womb is the fulfillment of all God's promises. He will be "great" and "Son of the Most High" and "King" and his name shall be called "Jesus" (Luke 1:31-32), which means "the Lord saves." "He will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). The angel repeats to Mary, the daughter of the house of David, the promise made to King David: "The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end" (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:32-33).
In our uncertain times we can learn from the Virgin Mary, namely, how she responds to the word of God delivered by the angel Gabriel. She knows she is hearing something beyond human capability. It will surely take a miracle, which surpasses all that God has done previously. Her question, "how shall this be, since I have no husband" is not prompted by doubt or skepticism, but by wonderment! She is a true hearer of the Word and she immediately responds with faith and trust. Mary's prompt response of "yes" to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers.
We cannot understand fully the significance of modern events, natural disasters and pandemic diseases, however we can learn from the Virgin Mary and follow her example in our Christian life, because she believed God's promises even when they seemed impossible or complicated. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. The Virgin Mary responded with great faith and trust to God's plan of redemption. She was willing and eager to do God's will, even if it seemed difficult or costly. Mary is the "mother of God" (Theotokos = "God-Bearer" and Christotokos = "Christ-Bearer") because God becomes incarnate when he takes on flesh in her womb. When we pray the Nicene Creed we state our confession of faith in this great mystery: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man."
God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heartfelt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the help, strength, and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God's promises and do you yield to his grace? Do you believe that everything is in God's hands, that He is in charge in our world, our future and destiny? Sincerely yours,
Fr. Goran Jovicic