June 24, 2019

This Holy Week…

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin c. 1842

This Holy Week can bring us much spiritual benefit though our decision to live out a shocking utterance that Jesus said during the Last Supper, only hours before His horrific death on the cross.

Here it is…

John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.

We can start by considering the last part first.

Without Christ we can do nothing. Nothing good, that is. Without him we cannot even exist. If God stops thinking about us and stops sustaining us in life we would cease to exist—instantly.

But we have a few examples of what we are capable of doing without Christ. For one, we can betray Jesus. 

We wouldn’t do it as blatantly as Judas did, but we could certainly find ways to hide our belief, our Catholic faith, our bearing witness to Him in the public forum, and so on.

Like the Twelve, we can carry on the discussion about who is the greatest among us. Routinely and instinctively, we can think, say, and do things in such a way as to make sure that we are number one, at least in our little world. 

We could be as self-confident and cocky as Simon Peter was, and still fall flat on our face, time and again. Whenever cornered, we might not hesitate to say and do anything to wiggle out of trouble, just as Simon Peter did.

We might become haughty and arrogant, and, as such, belittle and bully someone perceived as a pushover.

We might be as spineless and void of principles as Pilate was; and we might act in many other reproachable ways, and so on.

The Passion Narrative has a lot of possibilities of failure for anyone acting independently of Christ Jesus.

But now, let us look at what we can do with Christ.

Yes, we know it: we can do anything as long as we are united to Christ.

Philippians 4:13 I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.

We could be as anguished and scared as Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane to the point of perspiring blood. But we would certainly feel God’s presence directly, or through an angel, to comfort us through the most horrific trials of life.

We could be as considerate and selfless as Jesus was when he healed the man with a severed ear, and think about others before thinking of ourselves and our situation.

We could ignore our afflictions to console those who feel pity for our plight just as Jesus did with the women of Jerusalem who were empathizing with him.

We could implement Jesus’ command of forgiving those who hurt us; pray for our persecutors; and love our enemies just as he did with those who nailed him to the cross.

We could even reach the point of bringing reassurance and comfort to those who ask us for a favor even if we were already tested to the limit of our endurance as Jesus was on that cross.

This is just a brief list, but we get the idea.

By now perhaps we are already thinking of many missed opportunities to act as Jesus did, in fullness of charity and love, with the necessary assistance of his grace.

No problem; we regret those missed opportunities for loving, for serving, for caring.

But, and this is the comforting thought that should accompany us through this last leg of our spiritual journey to Easter: there will be other chances to do good if we are intimately united to our Lord and Savior.

May we promise to miss none of them. 

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin

REVEREND DINO VANIN, PIME was born in Cendon di Silea, Province of Treviso, Italy in 1946. He entered the PIME Seminary at Treviso at the tender age of eleven. He came to the U.S. in 1968, studying Theology at Darlington Major Seminary in New Jersey. He has an MA in Secondary School Administration from Seton Hall University. Ordained in 1972, he served as an administrator, teacher, rector and principal at the PIME High School Seminary in Newark, Ohio before being sent to the missions of Thailand, where he served for six years. He is currently the Treasurer of the U.S. Region of PIME in Detroit. On December 16, 2018 he was installed as Pastor of San Francesco Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI. Every week he takes some time off from his parish ministry to do some administrative work at PIME headquarters in Detroit. Due to his increased workload at the parish while continuing as Treasurer of the U. S. Region of PIME and as counselor and spiritual director, he spends any time left doing a little woodworking.

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Written by Fr Dino Vanin