IV. Week of Lent
Monday 29th February
Evangelium: Lk 4:24-30
Thought of the day: Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Lk 4, 24.
Task for the Day: Write a good comment to an annoying person on Facebook.
Tuesday 1st March
Evangelium: Mt 18:21-35
Thought of the day: Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? Mt 18,21.
Task for the Day: Write a forgiveness letter to someone.
Wednesday 2nd March
Evangelium: Mt 5:17-19
Thought of the day: But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Mt 5, 19
Task for the Day: Do not use your phone when you meet friends, pay attention to the others.
Thursday 3rd March
Evangelium: Lk 11:14-23
Thought of the day: Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. Lk 11, 17.
Task for the Day: Visit your relatives.
Friday 4th March – IV. Week of Lent
The King on trial (Mk. 14:53-65; see Mt. 26:57-68; Lk. 22:63-71).
54 Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the high priest’s palace, and was sitting with the attendants warming himself at the fire.
56 Several, indeed, brought false witness against him, but their evidence was conflicting.
57 Some stood up and submitted this false evidence against him,
58 ‘We heard him say, “I am going to destroy this Temple made by human hands, and in three days build another, not made by human hands.” ‘
59 But even on this point their evidence was conflicting.
60 The high priest then rose before the whole assembly and put this question to Jesus, ‘Have you no answer to that? What is this evidence these men are bringing against you?’
61 But he was silent and made no answer at all. The high priest put a second question to him saying, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’
63 The high priest tore his robes and said, ‘What need of witnesses have we now?
64 You heard the blasphemy. What is your finding?’ Their verdict was unanimous: he deserved to die.
65 Some of them started spitting at his face, hitting him and saying, ‘Play the prophet!’ And the attendants struck him too.
These verses, describing Jesus before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish supreme court), led up to his acceptance of the title of Messiah or Christ (62). This meant that he claimed to be the expected king, descendant of David. This claim would not in itself have been thought of as blasphemy, but when it was joined to the claim to be the Son of God, and the heavenly Son of Man in the book of Daniel, it certainly would have been blasphemy if untrue. The trouble was that Jesus’ accusers never asked themselves if perhaps it was indeed true, before they rejected it and him.
V 54 prepares us for the story of Peter’s denial, but then the focus moves to the search for any and every evidence, false or true, sufficient to condemn Jesus to death. False witnesses are still easy to buy today, in many parts of the world. In some places they wait outside the courts, along with the ‘petition–writers’, who help, for a fee, those who cannot read and write themselves. The officials had already decided on the verdict in advance (an abuse of justice not unknown today), but lies are harder to prove than the truth (56), as even the Sanhedrin saw. This meeting was acting as a preliminary ‘court of enquiry’. According to the Jewish laws drawn up over a century later, and perhaps already in force, the full Sanhedrin was not legally allowed to meet till daybreak (15:1), nor could it meet in the high priest’s house, nor could it try and condemn within the same day. If the trial before Pilate was unjust, the trial before the Sanhedrin was irregular. This would have heartened persecuted Christians of Roman times, who knew that their trial and condemnation were equally unjust. If Christ endured, so could they.
Even after all of this, the priests could only find Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple and his saying (not recorded in Mark) that he would rebuild it in three days (see Jn. 2:19) to use against him. Jesus’ words about the temple were a reference to his coming resurrection and the new spiritual temple (his body, the Christian church) that he was about to build. Understood literally, however, they constituted a verbal threat to God’s temple, which was a very serious offence indeed.
To all of this, Jesus made no reply, until the high priest asked him directly who he was (61). At once he accepted the titles of Son of God and Messiah, adding that of heavenly Son of Man. It is as though he was saying, ‘Why did you not ask me directly at once instead of bothering with these foolish charges?’ To the high priest, this was an amazing stroke of luck. He could not have believed that Jesus would admit in court what he had hidden all through his ministry. God’s time had now come, and there was no need for concealment.
Ceremonially, the high priest tore his robes, which was the sign of hearing blasphemy. Death was the unavoidable sentence (as it is in some fundamentalist religious countries today), though the sentence could not be pronounced till the morning by the full court. Cruel and cowardly mockery followed (65). We know that this still goes on in countries where condemned people, or even prisoners, have no rights; the world has not changed. The court’s mockery, though bitter, was different from that of Pilate’s soldiers later. The Roman mockery was political; this was worse, because it was from religious motives. So Israel rejected her king.
Thought of the Day: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Mk 12, 29
Task for the Day: Do not Gossiping.
Saturday 5th March
Thought of the day: “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ Lk 18, 13
Task for the Day: Make a confession.
Sunday 6th March
Evangelium: Lk 15:1-3.11-32
Thought of the day: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad. PS 34, 2-3
Task for the Day: Thank to God in your prayer today for what you are and what you have.