Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

155 posts categorized "Lent Series"

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:35-37

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

The rulers, meanwhile, sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” (Luke 23:35-37)

Mockery again, from three different quarters.

The rulers “sneer” – a Greek word that has the connotation of turning up (or down) one’s nose.

The soldiers “jeer” at him, then offer him wine in jest and say, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.”

But the mockery of a common criminal suffering the same fate is the cruelest cut of all.

How bad can it get? Being ridiculed in front of others is one of the worst things that can ever happen to anyone. It’s “vandalism” to the human person – like drawing graffiti on a beautiful painting, or taking a hammer to Michelangelo’s Pieta.

Have I ever been ridiculed for trying to do what I thought was right? The Lord knows the feeling.

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:34

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched. (Luke 23:34)

The normal Roman practice was to crucify victims naked. Sometimes, they were stripped before they even began their death march. Whether the Romans made a concession to the Jewish abhorrence of public nakedness is not known.

Psalm 22, speaking of the sufferings of the Messiah (the same Psalm that begins “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”), says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.” Back then, garments were much more valuable than today, and were commonly awarded to the executioners.

It is a great insult to hang on a cross dying while others play a game of chance for your clothes. Crucifixion, on every score, was an ugly, humiliating way to die.

The people watching a crucifixion would normally be passers-by. The site chosen for a crucifixion was usually on a main route, so that passers-by would be forced to see it – just like unsuspecting commuters coming upon an accident on an expressway.

In Luke’s account, “the people” are respectful, awestruck, silent. He says they “stood by and watched.” When Jesus dies they will go home “beating their breasts.” Once again, “if you came to know him, you would love him.”

Maybe I need to get to know him better. Like Mary Magdalene did. Or the Beloved Disciple.

 

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:34

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Many hold this to be the most touching scene in all of Scripture.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes forgiveness. What is surprising is that he talks about God forgiving before repentance is even expressed.

• When the sinful woman at the banquet bathed his feet in her tears, Jesus tells the astonished guests that she loves much because she knows her sins have been forgiven (before she even came in).

• In the parable of the prodigal son, the father runs to his son to embrace and kiss him before the son has said a word.

• Now, on the cross, Jesus forgives everyone involved in his crucifixion before they show even a hint of remorse.

Some have wondered how, after all their planning and plotting, Jesus could say they didn’t know what they were doing. One has to understand Luke’s portrait of Jesus: If you knew him, you would love him. Despite all their evil plans, these people couldn’t have known what they were doing . . . or else they wouldn’t have done it. It’s as simple as that.

My first thought might be how I fail to show the same forgiveness to others.

Better that my first thought be how Jesus has the same compassion toward me before I even turn to him. I need to believe that – really believe it – before I can do the same to others.

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:33

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Jesus and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. (Luke 23:33)

Jesus finally meets his fate – crucifixion. Josephus, a first-century historian, called it “the most pitiable of deaths.”

It is told in three words – “they crucified him.” Jesus shares the spotlight with two criminals. They get more ink than he does.

The sentence of Pilate has been carried out: “They crucified him.” It’s all over but the dying.

The physical torture Jesus experienced in the crucifixion would have been the worst of his entire life. None of the four Gospels describes his pain. Words can only do so much. “They crucified him” is enough.

The cross. It will become the mark of a Christian . . . the logo of Christianity . . . the symbol that leads every procession . . . the sign I make upon myself . . . the sign parents trace on the face of a sleeping child . . . the very first ritual action at Baptism . . . the first spoken words at every Mass . . . the last words spoken at the grave.

Let there be no Christian home without a cross.

Let not a day pass that I do not look at the cross.

I’m nine days away from Good Friday. Now, or sometime today, find a cross. Look at it. Touch it.

               

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:27-32

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed. (Luke 23:27-32)

Unlike the crowd in the previous scenes, there is no suggestion here of hostility. Among them are some women – public mourners who wailed in lamentation over criminals on their way to execution.

Jesus turns their grief away from him and laments the death of their beloved city and its inhabitants in years to come – the terrible Roman siege of Jerusalem (66-70 A.D.).

Luke also notes that two criminals were part of the procession, an echo of what Jesus said at the Last Supper: “For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, ‘He was counted among the wicked.’”

This whole scene is a sad one. Women lamenting. A death march of criminals – “dead men walking.”

There is a time for sad thoughts and sad songs. No easy answers. Hardly any words.

Just the Lord and I together for a while.

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:26

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

As they led Jesus away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)

When Mark and Matthew describe this scene, they simply say that Simon was pressed into service to “carry the cross.” But Luke adds that he carried it “behind Jesus.” Luke wants Simon to express in action what Jesus had said earlier.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Simon was blindsided. He was on his way in “from the country” minding his own business, when all of a sudden the soldiers seized him and made him carry the cross. He didn’t volunteer for the job, and this wasn’t part of his plans when he got up that morning.

Some of the toughest crosses are the ones I don’t expect or volunteer for. Why this? Why now? Why me?

There’s no answer this side of the grave. I just do what Simon did: Put my shoulder to the cross as best I can, and walk behind Jesus one step at a time, just trying to get through a day.

Had any crosses like that?

               

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:24-25

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord. 

The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted. So he released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished. (Luke 23:24-25)

Pilate does everything he can to win Jesus’ release, short of releasing him. Three times he says publicly that Jesus is innocent. I see him turning, twisting, squirming as he tries to avoid standing up for what he knows to be true. His final verdict: “He handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.” Pilate leaves the scene, a pathetic figure.

The last phrase in the above passage would be more accurately translated, “he handed Jesus over to their will.” Jesus had wrestled with his will, and the Father’s will (“not my will but yours be done”). Now he faces “their will.”

It doesn’t seem fair.

It’s tough enough to face physical suffering. But to be victimized by malicious people who “get their way” at my expense . . . that’s too much.

A billion years from now such trivialities won’t matter. All that will matter is that I did my best to do what is right, tried to treat others with kindness, and put the rest in the hands of God.

There are a few things I can’t change that I should probably put in the hands of God right now.

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:20-23

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

Again Pilate addressed the crowd, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate addressed them a third time, “What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.” With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed. (Luke 23:20-23)

The shouted response of this crowd-become-a-mob is chilling. The word “crucify” comes like a thunderbolt.

This is the first time in Luke’s Gospel that this horrible word appears in any form – and not once, but twice: “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

It was already clear that the crowd wanted to kill him. But does it have to be this way – a tortured, crude, cruel death by crucifixion?

The cross comes into my life in many forms. But the cross, different for each person, is when I say: “Anything but that.” I cry from the depth of my soul, “O Lord, anything but that . . . anything!”

Sometimes I get the same answer Jesus got.

And so I take the Lord’s hand and take what I have to face . . . sometimes with none but the Lord who understands how hard it is. And I just hold on to him.

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:13-18

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord. 

Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and said to them, “You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”

But all together they shouted out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us.” (Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder.) (Luke 23:13-18)

Pilate says (again) that Jesus is innocent and that Herod agrees. He offers to have Jesus flogged (despite his innocence) and released. “Flogging” was a disciplinary beating. “Scourging” was part of killing a victim slated for crucifixion. That will come later, when Jesus has been condemned to die. The proposed flogging is part of Pilate’s plea bargaining.

Suddenly Barabbas is brought into the act – a prisoner who had been imprisoned for murder. All four Gospels have the crowd choose him to be freed rather than Jesus.

Why is there such a turnaround on this kindly person named Jesus? It happens. Public opinion can be affected by polls, knee-jerk reactions, a certain mob psychology.

There’s a little bit of that “crowd” in all of us.

Lent Devotions: Luke 23:11-12

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

Herod and his soldiers treated Jesus contemptuously and mocked him. And after clothing him in resplendent garb, he sent him back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though they had been enemies formerly. (Luke 23:11-12)

Herod, frustrated by Jesus’ silence, lowers himself to join the troops in mocking this phony king.

But . . . he also had to deal with Pilate who had already said he thought Jesus was innocent. Pilate had made a friendly gesture by asking his opinion on the matter. Herod knew what the chief priests and scribes wanted . . . but what Pilate wanted was more important.

So he dresses Jesus, not in the garb of a condemned prisoner, but as a respectable person, and through this gesture concurs in Pilate’s judgment.

“Herod and Pilate became friends that very day.” Now that’s interesting. Once again Luke teaches me about Jesus the healer. He healed the ear of the servant at the arrest . . . he healed Peter’s soul when Peter denied him . . . and now, of all things, he heals the relationship between Herod and Pilate. His suffering and death are already producing results.

Here is the hard part: To believe that my suffering can have good effects. Surprising ones. Talk to One who knows.

Stay Connected

Bread for the World