Daily Bread

Vigil Readings

We know that our old self was crucified with him...
“Are you aware?” Paul repeatedly draws our attention to something of which we should be keenly conscious — our sinful nature inherited at our birth was crucified with Christ. We've been included in Christ’s death in order to live in him. Paul insists on our mindfulness of this understanding before moving forward: We cannot live as our old selves. We’re not the same. We can no longer live like we did yesterday; it's a new start. Christ’s victory is our victory. We’re no longer mired in sin. It has no power over us. In sharing Christ’s suffering and death, we share in his resurrection and glorify.
Merciful Savior, lead me as I go forth to live in newness of life!

Is 52:13—53:12; Ps 31; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Jn 18:1—19:42

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,and Mary of Magdala.
At the foot of the cross, we're invited to be eyewitnesses to the personal relationship of Jesus with Mary, his closest companions, and, in essence, the whole church. Jesus did not endure his agony alone. In steadfast fidelity, his mother accompanied by other holy women and John the Apostle, remain at his side, where he entrusts his mother and beloved disciple into each other’s care. We, too, stand at the foot of the cross to draw near to each other to offer and receive support and consolation. At the foot of the cross, we're called to embrace one another as we enter more fully into the mystery of his suffering and death.
Crucified Christ, draw us near to you as one people of courage and hope.

Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; Ps 116; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15

“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Jesus doesn’t ask us to be Christians. He models Christian living. Imitating Christ requires humility and charity. The washing of another’s feet usually was a slave's role. Though the host saw the gesture as a reflection of his own hospitality, the task was given to a subordinate. Jesus doesn't see himself as superior to anyone. He chooses to assign himself the task of washing his disciples’ feet. His lowly service is a clear sign of his limitless love, humility, and sacrifice. We're to internalize his word and follow his example by willingly submitting and sacrificing in the simplest actions of our everyday lives.
Humble Teacher, guide my actions of service and charity to reflect your unwavering sacrifice and love.

Is 50:4-9a; Ps 69; Mt 26:14-25

"Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" He answered, "You have said so."
Having already received the 30 pieces of silver and now just looking for the opportune time to hand Jesus over, Judas smugly pretends to have no knowledge of the traitorous plot. His guilt is obvious. Yet he keeps pretending. Many of us have a similarly sketchy relationship with the truth. Like Judas, we even refuse to admit when we’ve clearly been found out. We dig deeper and deeper to bury our offenses, rather than owning our wrongdoing and facing the consequences. No matter how hard we try to mask our deception, however, we can’t hide our dishonesty from Jesus. He sees through our lies and knows our hearts. He doesn’t accuse. He simply waits for us to acknowledge the truth.
Understanding and all knowing Lord, give me the grace to admit my faults, lies, and betrayal.

Is 49:1-6; Ps 71; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, "Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
When we fully comprehend the underhanded nature of the actions of betrayal from one we love, it’s like we’ve been punched in the stomach. Fully human, Jesus is profoundly disturbed knowing that one so close to him willfully attempts to destroy him. Everyone present questions if Jesus accuses him. No one is without blame or guilt; they, and we, all know that we’re complicit in his betrayal. Today's the perfect time to think of all the times Jesus looks at us deeply troubled by our actions. Let's take the time to examine the ways we've denied the Lord, ignored his friendship, and walked away with every intent to hand him over.
Faithful and compassionate friend, Jesus, I come to you with a contrite heart. Please forgive me.

Is 42:1-7; Ps 27; Jn 12:1-11

They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Jesus gathers with friends in Bethany six days before Passover. A typical holiday scene unfolds. There are those bustling with preparations for hospitality, those enjoying downtime with their guest, and those complaining about everyone else’s actions. Though Judas has ulterior motives for his complaints, Jesus’ response is appropriate for all of us during this Holy Week. This is a time to be in his presence. This is a time to lavish him with our time, attention and gratitude. The world and all its demands simply can wait. We're invited to focus solely on our beloved friend who comes to us, to our homes, hoping for an enthusiastic welcome.
Loving Savior, help me to be truly present to you and remain constantly with you throughout this Holy Week.

Ez 37:21-28; Jer 31; Jn 11:45-56

You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people.
It happened once and for all, including Caiaphas’ accidental prophecy, never to be repeated. And yet we cannot deny our memory. “Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem.” That’s what starts tomorrow, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, the Triduum, the paschal mystery, all of it. We will replay every detail, and more than once. One last glimpse of Jesus, before he takes the stage, is heartbreaking: “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?” So, Jesus waits.
You will turn our mourning into joy, O God, and you will console and gladden us after our sorrow!

Jer 20:10-13; Ps 18; Jn 10:31-42

Even if you do not believe me, believe the works.
Okay, so maybe things aren’t so rosy, after all. With Holy Week just days away, Lent has bogged down. Jesus, finally exhausted by the constant threats and quarrels, finds refuge at the Jordan River, where John first baptized him. Why is the resistance to Jesus — "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" — so stubborn? Jesus says it’s hereditary; they get it from their father — Satan! But, really, do I have to ask why someone would dismiss Jesus? I’ve done it myself my whole life! Lent or no Lent, it’s just hard sometimes to take Jesus seriously, especially in the convoluted conversations in John’s Gospel. So, believe the works? Let me see….
In my distress I called upon you, O Lord, and cried out to you, my God!

Gn 17:3-9; Ps 105; Jn 8:51-59

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus usually takes the long view, as opposed to the shortsightedness of his opponents. Thus, he goes back to the prophets, he goes back to Moses, he goes back to Abraham, he goes back to the Creation — for all of which he claims he was an eyewitness! That long view is what we need for Lent. To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., the arc of history is long, but it bends toward our salvation. The pot of gold — Holy Week — is just within reach. So, it’s to be expected that Jesus would bend grammar, too, to his purposes: “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” That’s the way Lent rolls!
Remember your covenant, O Lord, which you made binding for a thousand generations!

Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Dn 3; Jn 8:31-42

But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.
Jesus’ richly quilted quarrels and discourses in John’s Gospel make memorable patterns. And somehow the Jews in today's scripture never win; Jesus bests them every time, until they resort to brute force, of course, exactly as he predicted. Thus, we have today the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego singing un-burned in the fiery furnace, as they literally bring King Nebuchadnezzar to his knees. “I see four men walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a Son of God.” Years later, some would call him Jesus! Inspired by the transformation in the fiery furnace, let’s burn this Lent down!
Blessed is your holy and glorious Name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages!