Meditation for the Day

Wednesday of Holy Week, April 17

We Must First Taste the Bitterness in Life, in Order for Us to One Day Enjoy the Sweetness of Our Own Easter Joy.

In our Holy Week pilgrimage, on this last day before the beginning of the Paschal Triduum, a three-day feast which begins basically at sundown on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Sunday, the Scriptures take us on a journey, reminding us that we ourselves must first taste the bitterness in life if we are to enjoy the sweetness which awaits each of us in the gift of eternal life.

Today’s First Reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is the third in a series of four Servant-of-the-Lord oracles. The Suffering Servant feels the bitterness of humiliation and persecution He must undergo for the sake of God’s Word. Those He loves turn against him. They spit upon Him, degrading Him.

And in this Reading today, we hear the Servant, who is the Eternal Word speaking to Isaiah, speaking to each one of us, “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.”

This passage gives us a glimpse into what the Servant will endure, and He surrenders Himself to the will of God – for God is His help. And this passage also speaks figuratively of the cross which each of us is called upon to embrace in our own lives – a cross which illumines our own faith journey on this side of Heaven.

Even our Responsorial Psalm calls us to the cross which we are to bear, which, even in today’s world, we find many faithful souls enduring ridicule and persecution for the sake of the faith we hold dear and call our own – “For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face. I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons.”

As a Christian people, we are reminded by both the psalmist and the prophet Isaiah of the indignities we may suffer because of our faith. And yet, it is the glory of the cross which encourages us to remain faithful; it is our faithfulness wherefrom we shall reap the sweet prize that flows from what is to come.

The Gospel, too, recalls for each of us the bitterness of Christ’s mission. Even as Jesus “reclined at table” to leave us the great gift of His on-going Presence in the Eucharist, Judas the betrayer, today from Matthew’s Gospel, plots the end of our Lord’s journey among us as the God-Man. Even Jesus must first taste the bitter in order to enjoy the sweet.

The bitterness of being rejected, the bitterness of being betrayed by family or friends, all for the sake of the witness we give to God’s Kingdom here on Earth, is the common thread which weaves itself throughout all our Readings today.

Jesus’ bitterness and ours points us to the fact that sin is still with us in the world. In our Lord’s case, the hatred of those in power sadly attracted one of the Twelve. With thirty pieces of silver, they buy a betrayal, starting the spiraling slide downwards which resulted in the terrible suffering and agonizing death which the Son of Man was to endure.

The sin of Judas against our Lord was his failure to love. Judas failed to love God, he failed to love his neighbor and, as his later suicide reveals, he failed to love even himself. How sour the taste of that ultimate betrayal! For Judas, there would never be a “sweet” end – only the bitterness of trying to escape from his own guilt.

But it is in the strength of our faith today and the love we carry within us – for the God who has given us the gift of life and a share in His own Divine Nature – which enables us to make the words within the Book of Isaiah our own, “The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”

And as we hear in today’s Responsorial, “…because zeal for your house consumes me…” – it is a zeal which enables all who remain faithful to look forward to the sweetness which shall one day be ours.

On this, our last day as we are about to solemnly embrace the events of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, let us journey with Jesus – sharing in the disheartening bitterness and overwhelming sadness which was His to bear – all culminating with the wondrous and indescribable joy of Easter Sunday!

For it is in this sharing that we begin to better understand our own journey of faith – a pilgrimage wherein we, too, must first taste the bitterness in life, in order for us to one day enjoy the sweetness of our own Easter joy! †

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.

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Scripture for the Day

  • “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)
  • “For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face. I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons.” (Psalm 69:8-9)
  • “Because zeal for your house consumes me, I am scorned by those who scorn you.” (Psalm 69:10)
  • “The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7)
  • “See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, take heart! For the LORD hears the poor, does not spurn those in bondage.” (Psalm 69:33-34)
  • “But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of [evildoers].” (1 Peter 3:14)
  • “Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3)
  • “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:19c-20)
  • “We must endure many trials before entering God’s kingdom.” (Acts 14:21)
  • “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12a)

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Prayer for the Day

“O Lord, we ask for a boundless confidence

and trust in Your Divine Mercy,

and the courage to accept the crosses and sufferings

which bring immense goodness

to our souls and that of Your Church.

“Help us to love You with a pure and contrite heart,

and to humble ourselves beneath Your Cross,

as we climb the mountain of holiness,

carrying our cross that leads to Heavenly glory.

“May we receive You with great faith

and love in Holy Communion, and allow You to act in us,

as You desire, for Your greater glory.

“O Jesus, Most Adorable Heart

and Eternal Fountain of Divine Love,

may our prayer find favor before the Divine Majesty

of Your Heavenly Father. Amen.”

Saint Padre Pio

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