Homilies for March 2024

For the Third Sunday, Fourth Sunday, and Fifth Sunday of Lent (Scrutiny, Year A)

For the Third Sunday, Fourth Sunday, and Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year B)

For the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil), and Easter Sunday

Scrutiny Year A Readings

By Rev. John P. Cush

Go to the Year B Homilies

Third Sunday of Lent – March 3, 2024

Readings: Ex 17:3–7 • Ps 95:1–2, 6–7, 8–9 • Rom 5:1–2, 5–8 • Jn 4:5–42    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/030324-YearA.cfm

Our Lord Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, who is simply looking for some water, is a supreme example of what Pope Francis calls “accompaniment.” The Pope in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (169) describes accompaniment as an art, a skill. He states: “The Church will have to initiate everyone — priests, religious and laity — into this ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5).”

Jesus, in the Gospel, meets the woman where she is at; and, where she is at is, literally, the well. She is there simply looking to fetch a pail of water. And the Lord Jesus — he who is all truth — meets her there and leads her gently, patiently, to truth. Notice that it is the Lord himself who initiates conversation with her. He, a devout Jew, deigns to speak to a Samaritan — one who is unclean by birth, a member of a sect of Judaism that had broken far away from the mainstream religion and married into foreigners. On top of that, Jesus is speaking to a woman. In those days, no man would speak in public to a strange woman, if both he and she were to be considered respectable.

Jesus asks her for some water. And this stops her in her tracks. He asks her to go out of herself, if only for a moment, and to enter into service. This is why true conversions of faith happen when we engage people in service projects, in helping the poor, for instance. In serving others we go from the natural level, from a natural desire to help others, to the supernatural level, of beginning to recognize Christ in the midst of the people we are serving. Think of all the vocations to priesthood and religious life that begin with service projects in the parish.

The Lord Jesus gradually engages this woman, meeting her where she is — and, through dialogue, patience, charity, and humility, he brings her to where she must be, namely, to friendship with himself. This is the art of accompaniment of which the pope speaks: “Genuine spiritual accompaniment always begins and flourishes in the context of service to the mission of evangelization” (EG, 173). The Pope explains further: “Spiritual accompaniment must lead others ever closer to God . . . to accompany them would be counterproductive if it became a sort of therapy supporting their self-absorption and ceased to be a pilgrimage with Christ to the Father.” (EG, 170)

This accompaniment is not about watering down the truth. The Lord Jesus, who knows the hearts of all, does not begin his conversation with this woman with a laundry list of her sins. He helps her understand her situation in life, her many sins. He helps her comprehend for the first time that she is truly thirsting for the water, the living water, that only the Lord Jesus, who is life and truth, can give. It’s in his dialogue with her that the Lord shows us the art of accompaniment. Pope Francis writes: “Listening, in communication, is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur” (EG, 171).

It’s the job of priests and those involved in apostolic service to know what the Church teaches and to present it clearly. We have to model the truth of the faith by living it out daily. We can’t water down the truth, especially about marriage, life issues (for nothing is more essential than the sanctity of life), the integrity of the sacraments (especially the Holy Eucharist), and issues of sexuality and gender. We have to know what the Church teaches and to be able to communicate it clearly and concisely.

Genuine encounter is born from a respectful attitude toward the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It supposes that we can make room in our heart for their point of view, their opinion and their proposals. Dialogue entails a warm reception and not a preemptive condemnation. “To dialogue, one must know how to lower the defenses, to open the doors of one’s home and to offer warmth,” as Pope Francis reminds us. True dialogue doesn’t mean just smiling and listening, nodding along, and giving tacit approval. Nor does it mean simply lecturing another person. Jesus engages in dialogue, but he is pretty direct when it comes to the reality of the presence of sin in the woman’s life. And yet, he who is mercy walks with her. What does this mean?

It means beginning on the natural level — and then moving to the supernatural level. Through the Spirit working in our midst, we go deeper and deeper to engage with another person not just on the level of emotions, and not just on the level of the intellect, but on the level of the soul. The Gospel of the woman at the well is a masterpiece of the art of accompaniment. The Lord Jesus meets her where she is and exposes her gradually to the truth without watering it down. And then, once she sees the truth and begins to embrace it, what does she do? She goes and brings others to see this man, the Lord Jesus, who knows everything about her. This art of accompaniment is a fine and necessary tool in the work of evangelization, and the encounter of Our Lord with the woman at the well is the supreme exemplification of the science of accompaniment.

Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 10, 2024

Readings: 1 Sm 16:1b, 6–7, 10–13a • Ps 23: 1–3a, 3b–4, 5, 6 • Eph 5:8–14 • Jn 9:1–41    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/031024-YearA.cfm

I recall being in fifth grade when my teacher told my parents that I was having some problems reading what was written on the blackboard. My perceptive teacher, Mrs. Joy Agresto, noticed my squinting and my struggling to write down what was on the blackboard in that venerable grammar school, which is now known as Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy. This would have been in 1982, a very long time ago.

My parents took me out to a Cohen’s Fashion Optical and I had my eyes tested. About a week later, my father took me out to the eyeglass store and I tried my glasses on the first time. I vividly recall being able to see so much better; it was like a new world of details was opened before me which I had not realized was there.

As time went on, especially as I got into my teenage years, I tried to not wear my glasses and, as one could imagine, the results were what you would expect — not really seeing what was in front of me, as I would wear my glasses at home but not at Cathedral Prep in Elmhurst, where I went for high school. By my sophomore year, at the strong suggestion of my principal, one of the kindest priests I have ever known (and if I had to put forward a saint whom I know, it would be he), Msgr. Phillip J. Reilly, I began to wear my glasses, which I needed to wear daily. Sure, I tried contact lens as a newly ordained priest, but I found myself lost without my glasses. To this date, with slightly over fifty years of life on Earth, the first thing I do in the morning when I rise to is grab my glasses. I often think back to the very first time I tried on my first pair of glasses, a little boy’s brown plastic aviator frame, I felt like I could not only see, but actually perceive.

In today’s readings from the Old Testament book of First Samuel and in the Holy Gospel according to Saint John, we read not only about seeing, but perhaps more importantly about perceiving. The great Roman Catholic apologist Bishop Robert E. Barron, in his masterpiece And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation (1998) states: “Christianity is, above all else, a way of seeing. Everything else in Christian life flows from and circles around the transformation of vision. Christians see differently, and that is why their prayer, their worship, their action, their whole way of being in in the world have a distinctive accent and flavor.” (ix)

In the first reading taken from the First Book of the Prophet Samuel, we are placed in the midst of this drama to find a new king for the people of Israel. Recall that the Lord God did not want Israel to ever have a king, because he was the King of Israel. However, Israel wanted to have a king whom they could see, like the kings of other nations. The Lord God, again and again, stated that he did not want a visible king for Israel, because he is their king. In order to remind them of this fact, the Lord God set up prophets, whose main role was to remind Israel that God and God alone is king.

Yes, the nation of Israel wanted a king whom they could see and the Lord God reminded them, time and again, that he is King and, if they choose earthly kings, things would go awry for them. Still, the nation of Israel persisted and they had a king: Saul, who has some serious emotional problems, to say the least.

Into the picture comes the great prophet Samuel, who has to anoint a new king of Israel at the Lord’s command. The only problem is that the Lord God has not told Samuel which of the sons of Jesse whom he should anoint.

As Jesse examines each son, he, as might we all in his case, sees some healthy, happy, holy young men, any of whom could easily be the next king of Israel. However, until he perceives, going beyond his mere sight, pushing beyond what is immediately presented in front of his sight, does he move beyond seeing and truly perceive who is really standing in front of him.

To the average eye, David is meek, small, and young. He is the “runt of the litter” and will win no “Mr. Universe” contests. David is a shepherd, a kid who takes care of the literal “kids,” the sheep. In the eyes of the world, he has little value, compared to his heroic and confident brothers. And yet, in the eyes of the Lord, with which the Prophet Samuel is functioning, David is seen as he is — a human being created in God’s image and likeness, one who, despite the presence of original sin, is still fundamentally good. Samuel is able to go beyond merely seeing, but actually to the level of perceiving who is really in front of him, namely the king of Israel.

In our lives, perhaps each of us needs to ask a simple question this Lent- do we see or do we perceive? Can we look at every single woman and man, every human person, whom we encounter and see them as they truly are — a beautifully created human being made in the image and likeness of God himself? Are we able to see each person whom we come across in our daily lives are fundamentally good and worthy of God’s love, God’s mercy, and God’s forgiveness? And turning to the eyes of our Christian perception inwardly, are we able to see, no, truly perceive, the image and likeness of God, our loving Father and creator in ourselves?

This week, let us ask for the grace to not only see but to perceive who it is that is really in front of us. With each soul whom we encounter, we meet someone created in the image and likeness of Christ, and someone who is fundamentally good, despite the presence of original sin (which is washed away in the Sacrament of Baptism). Let’s pray for the eyes of Samuel the Prophet, the eyes of Christ the healer, so that we can see the world as it truly is — the handiwork of God — and each woman and man as the masterpiece of God’s creation.

Fifth Sunday of Lent – March 17, 2024

Readings: Ez 37:12–14 • Ps 130:1–2, 3–4, 5–6, 7–8 • Rom 8:8–11 • Jn 11:1–45  bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/031724-YearA.cfm

When we encounter the Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel, he is at his low point, at the nadir of his popularity. He’s away from the main stage, away from Jerusalem. He received word that one of his closest friends, Lazarus, is dead. Jesus waits three days, foreshadowing the time He will spend in the tomb, before going to see Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary. The Lord loves these women. They are his friends and he delights in their company. He delays his arrival outside of Bethany so that the glory of God can be shown. He finds his dear friends, these women whom he loves and who love him, weeping, with Martha, filled with confusion, yet with faith in the one she has come to know as God, confronts Him. Then we see Jesus at His most human, (recall the shortest verse in all of Scripture: “Jesus wept”). Jesus is sad, crying with and for Martha, Mary, and His deceased friend, Lazarus. He is truly sorrowful, grieving in His human nature, but He does not despair.

We see the Lord Jesus at His most human in this Gospel, but then, suddenly we see Him at His most Divine. By His own power as divine, He raises the long dead, stinking, rotting Lazarus (remember the verse in the King James Version: “He stinketh”) from the dead. This was not just resuscitation of a dying or comatose man; this was a resurrection from death. And this is the greatest sign of who Jesus is, the most undeniable proof of His Divine Sonship until He rises from the dead at Easter. What’s the difference between the raising of Lazarus and the resurrection of Jesus? The Lord is raised to eternal life; Lazarus is raised to earthly life. Lazarus will die once more on earth, but the Lord Jesus will never die.

Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb, and we read that Lazarus comes out, bound hand and foot. The Lord says these simple words: “Untie him, and let him go free.” A simple question: if he was bound, hand and foot, as the Gospel recounts, how then did he come out of the tomb? Did he hope? According to Saint Bernard, Lazarus just floated out. Regardless of that aside, Lazarus s raised to earthly life by the Lord Jesus as a foreshadowing of what will so soon occur to the Lord Jesus Himself.

With this in mind, what is the Lord Jesus saying to us today? The same Jesus, who is fully human and fully divine is calling to us, beckoning us to let Him untie us and to let us go free.

What’s tying us up and refusing to let us go free? I’d venture to guess it is sin. Jesus wants us to be free from sin, so He offers us the beauty of the sacrament of penance, something of which we should all partake often, especially in these last days of Lent, as we venture onward towards Holy Week.

What tangling us in its web? What is ensnaring us in layers of linen that so binds us? Is it worry? Is it lack of knowledge of what will come next? Is it despair? We need a break, a day when we don’t receive a gut punch, making us as a college, a Church, a world, fall to our knees gasping for breath.

It is Jesus alone who can heal us. Look to the fact that in March of 2020, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in what many believe is his finest moment as the Supreme Pontiff, alone on a rainy, cold night in an empty piazza, one only a few weeks prior teeming with life, offered the greatest Urbi et Orbi of modern days — a blessing not from himself, as the Vicar of Christ on Earth, but from God HIMSELF, Christ, the Lord, truly present sacramentally in the Eucharist. Only Jesus can make that first incision, only he holds the scissor. Jesus is there, loving us, gently unwrapping the layers that bind us and cause us not to live in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God. But we can help, too, once that first thread is pulled. This is our task now as brothers and sisters of Christ and of one another.

For those who enjoy the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, I think that Samwise’s encouragement to Frodo in The Two Towers is what we need to hear right now:

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.

Sam: I know.
It’s all wrong
By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
But we are.
It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end,
because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t.
Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

The Church is clear in the path she lays out this Lenten season: Christ, the light, the teller and the subject of the Greatest Story Ever Told, is leading us on this journey. Our task is to keep burning bright for each other. We need not to despair, but to trust in the Lord who desires to untie us and let us go free.

Year B Lenten Readings

By Rev. Mark Hellinger

Third Sunday of Lent – March 3, 2024

Readings: Ex 20:1–17 or Ex 20:1–3, 7–8, 12–17Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11 • 1 Cor 1:22–25 • Jn 2:13–25    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/030324-YearB.cfm

Of the many powerful scenes in the epic biopic Pope John Paul II, starring Jon Voight and Cary Elwes, one continually sticks with me. Early in the movie, in a flashback to his childhood, the young Karol falls to the ground and awakes, injured, to his mother’s voice of comfort. Here we have a beautiful example of a parent handing on, in the truest sense, the Faith of the Church. His mother tells him (and I am paraphrasing), Karol, life is confusing and complicated, God is simple. Let me show you the simple way: “In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

In a way that might not be apparent at first, the simplicity of God is offered to us today through the readings. And in the midst of our Lenten pilgrimage toward Easter, this aspect of simplicity is decisive. What we see throughout all of our readings today is that sin complicates life, but God’s Word, which is his Law and Wisdom, is simple and simplifies our life.

In our first reading we see the first instance of the giving of the Law. Here it is simple: ten words of life, a Decalogue, which echo the ten creative words of Genesis. God reveals to his Chosen People the simple logic of His life. These laws reveal how a human person can flourish — how he or she can live a life which reflects God’s plan and thereby become recreated in freedom. It is in the second giving of the Law, Deuteronomy, where we will see that humanity complicates the law and needs more clarification.

The psalmist provides an example of a praying soul wrapped up in the simplicity of the Law — the realization that these Words are a gift to us, which take the guesswork out of living a morally upright and fulfilling life. Indeed, the Words of God are words of life, not death.

Further, Paul speaks to this human experience in pointing out that Christ crucified is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles; yet for those who have been called, that is, for the Church, the mystery of Christ is actually showing us God’s power and wisdom.

In the Gospel we enter the scene of Christ clearing out the Temple — clearing out the confusion of years of human interpretation of the Law, which lost the spirit of the Law and turned the Temple of God into a marketplace. Christ enters and trims down the excess to remind everyone what the Temple itself is, and adds a simple promise, a promise which his hearers misunderstand because of their complicated conceptions. John clarifies for us: he was speaking about his body when he promised to raise it in three days.

So where does all of this leave us? On one level, we can see an encouragement for us here in the midst of the season of Lent — this time is less about our feats of spiritual strength and more about reducing the distractions and complexities of our lives. Often Lent can be a good time for us all to take a good look at our lives and assess what is actually essential, what actually brings life and draws us closer to God. What have we added which draws us away from the simple and straightforward and adds complexity (that is, our own impositions) into our relationship with God?

Now of course this is not to say that all complexity is bad; rather, complexity which we add by our own ideas and desires is what I am talking about. Depth is different than complexity for its own sake. To grow in deeper relationship with God is to go deeper into the mystery. And that is what God desires for us.

So we can see that on a deeper level, the readings this Sunday invite us into deeper relationship with God, deeper relationship via a simplification of our approach to that relationship. And this dynamic is given words by our Prayer after Communion today, where we will pray for the grace to abide in the love of God and neighbor, so as to fulfill the whole of God’s commands.

The simplicity of the Gospel is its deepest challenge. To realize what it means to love God and neighbor with everything we have and are, to live in the depth and simplicity of who God has revealed himself as — these are the essential tasks of the Christian life. And we can see that simple prayer — the sign of the Cross — expresses the simplicity and depth of God’s desire for us in one statement and action of the complete mystery of our faith.

Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 10, 2024

Readings: 2 Chr 36:14–16, 19–23 • Ps 137:1–2, 3, 4–5, 6 • Eph 2:4–10 • Jn 3:14–21    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/031024-YearB.cfm

“Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.” This small morsel from the Book of Isaiah is our Entrance Antiphon for this Fourth Sunday of Lent. It is from this antiphon that this day is named Lætare Sunday, that is, “rejoice Sunday.” It can fall strangely on our ears, this talk of rejoicing in the middle of the Lenten season. Isn’t this all about penance? Self-restraint? Death and conversion? How can we rejoice?

The answer to all these questions is found in the Second Reading and Gospel for this Sunday. And these draw us back to some essential considerations for our Lenten Pilgrimage toward Easter. We began this journey on Ash Wednesday. On that day we were marked with the cross, a cross made by dust as a reminder of the twofold reality: we are destined to die; it is unavoidable; but we have also been claimed by the Cross of Christ — Christ has already defeated death. Thus, we began this journey already crowned with its end. We were sent like soldiers into a battle which was already won, needing to fight in the few places where there is still resistance, mainly, our hearts.

And this is the message of our Second Reading and Gospel: even when we were dead in our transgressions, we were raised to life by the grace of Christ; God gave his Son to the world before it was saved, so that it might be. And in this way, that cross placed on our heads at the beginning of Lent reminded us of the serpent raised in the desert, as Jesus promises to Nicodemus, which once gave healing at the mere sight of it and now is fulfilled in the cross of Christ — our only source of hope and life.

This is why we can rejoice, even in the midst of our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We have tasted the victory of Christ, we know how the story ends, and therefore can rejoice in the midst of the trial because our hope is founded on Christ.

The readings this Sunday also draw us to reflect intently on joy itself. What gives us the joy that we are invited to have on this fourth Sunday of Lent — and how is it not in conflict with the penitential season we are in?

Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and joy itself proceeds from the virtue of Charity. That is to say, joy is present in the lives of those who love. But even further, joy is especially present in the lives of those who allow themselves to be loved. The type of foundational joy that this Sunday is about is rooted in this truth. Thus, it really comes down to identity.

Sorrow, joy’s seeming opposite, is rooted in the experience of absence of love or the thing loved, either real or perceived. Just think of our responsorial psalm, the sorrow of the psalmist at the absence from Jerusalem. Thus, sorrow and joy are actually both part of the experience of love. We are properly sorrowful at the loss of someone we love, yet the knowledge of their continued existence allows us to also have a type of joy even in the midst of death.

We have unbreakable joy when we are fundamentally rooted in God’s unbreakable love for us. That experience and knowledge of God’s love for us allows us to exist in the primary identity of a beloved son or daughter of God, and this is the source of the unbreakable rejoicing to which we are called. Even when all else seems lost and we are at our lowest, the Love of God for us remains; thus, we can still rejoice in something.

A great example for us is that of Saint John the Baptist, a saint who understood his identity so well that he is really a patron of both joy and penance. He shows us what Lent really does: by engaging in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we are free to actually see clearly. Free to be rooted in the primary identity of being a beloved adopted son or daughter of God. And from that place, arrived at through penance, we can rejoice in the truth and find joy in loving and being loved in an all-consuming way.

May this Eucharist draw us into our deepest identity anew, that we may here, at this altar, experience the love God has for us and unite our penances to him that they might bring us new life at Easter.

Fifth Sunday of Lent – March 17, 2024

Readings: Jer 31:31–34 • Ps 51:3–4, 12–13, 14–15 • Heb 5:7–9 • Jn 12:20–33  bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/031724-YearB.cfm

In a wonderful scene from C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew, the reader observes various reactions to wonder in Aslan’s creative voice bringing Narnia into existence. The children in the scene, along with the cabby and, eventually, the animals, all hear the voice of the Lion as he speaks and creates the world. The one person who doesn’t hear words, and eventually only hears growling, is Uncle Andrew. When he first hears the Lion, he does hear words, but his inability to accept that a lion could be speaking hardens his heart and his mind imposes his expectations onto reality. Thus, as the scene plays out and develops, Uncle Andrew is less and less able to hear anything but growling and roars.

The scene teaches us a very important truth about our own engagement with God. We hear in the Gospel today a similar dynamic: the voice from heaven is heard in various ways, depending on the people hearing it. Some in the crowd only hear thunder, others hear an angelic voice. Christ hears the voice of his Father — the voice which spoke creation into being, the voice which searched for Adam and Eve in the Garden, the voice which shared his name with Moses in the Burning Bush, the voice which guided the people of Israel for generations through the patriarchs and prophets, the voice which spoke a single Word, Christ himself, now come in the flesh.

And the voice of the Father speaks not for Christ’s sake, but for ours, as Christ says in the Gospel. We are, therefore, drawn to reflect on two aspects of these readings for this Sunday: our hearts and obedience.

The voice of the Lord comes to Jeremiah in our first reading and promises that his law will be placed within his people, written on their hearts. Apart from a very obvious sign of this in receiving the Law of God Incarnate through the Eucharist — truly having the Law placed within us — this prophecy poses the question to us: do we receive the Law of God within us with everything we have and are? Is it written on our hearts? God’s voice is clear that to be his People means, in the fullness of his promises, to have his Law written on our hearts. In the context of Lent, I think we often find the areas where in fact the Law of God is not written on our hearts. Engaging this season well means finding out the places where we try to rule ourselves, where sin still has a hold on us. But that realization does not leave us without hope. It rather draws us into a deeper reliance on God, which is our only hope of salvation.

We see a model prayer for this type of conversion in our Responsorial Psalm today. Psalm 51 is traditionally held to be written by David after his fall into sin with the wife of Uriah; it is a prayer of heartfelt conversion and repentance. The antiphon the Church asks us to repeat today gets right to the central point: create a clean heart in me, O God. This is our prayer as we come to the end of our Lenten pilgrimage. This is all that we have really been “working” for; everything about Lent is directed at allowing God to create a new and clean (that is to say pure and righteous) heart within us — one that is not clouded by our sins and failures, but one that is capable of hearing the voice of God clearly.

And that is where obedience comes in. We hear in the Letter to the Hebrews that Christ was obedient to God the Father and that he has become the source of salvation for all who obey him. The word obedience comes from a word meaning to hear. To obey God, we must first hear what he says to us; and he speaks definitively in his Word which has taken on flesh in Jesus Christ.

Thus, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews is not telling us something groundbreaking. It is the obvious conclusion from all of the information we have from God. If we truly hear God’s voice, then we have no choice but to obey him. And we purify our hearts through this obedience which leads to true freedom, because it is the Word of God who has cast out the ruler of this world, Satan.

So as we turn now to receive the Law of God through Sacramental signs, let us pray that our Lenten observances may be strengthened here at the end — that we may hear God’s voice anew, be given clean hearts to hear it better, and have the grace to obey the voice of God which calls us to the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Solemnities and Holy Week

By Rev. John P. Cush

The Solemnity of Saint Joseph – March 19, 2024

Readings: 2 Sm 7:4–5a, 12–14a, 16 • Ps 89:2–3, 4–5, 27 and 29 • Rom 4:13, 16–18, 22 • Mt 1:16, 18–21, 24a   bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/031924.cfm

When we examine the four Gospels, it is important to remember that they are all divinely inspired works. What does this mean? It means that, ultimately, God is the author of the Bible. God uses the talents, the knowledge, the abilities of the divinely inspired authors so that they correctly conceived, accurately presented, and truthfully expressed all that God intended and only what God intended. This concept of divine inspiration is important for all Catholics to recall as we read and pray with sacred scripture. Otherwise, when we read Scripture, we might be both confused and upset.

So, for instance, we have to recall that each of the four Gospels was written by its respective Evangelist at a particular point of time and for a particular audience. Mark’s Gospel, thought by most to be the earliest to be recorded, was written for Gentile Christians; Matthew’s Gospel was written a bit later for Jewish converts to Christianity; Luke’s Gospel, much more developed than Mark’s (as it comes about 10–15 years later, give or take), was also written for Gentiles; and the Gospel of John comes much later, around 100 AD, influenced by the Hellenistic culture and philosophy of the times.

Each of the Gospels is trying to convey the same story in a different manner. We have Matthew, Mark, and Luke (called the Synoptic Gospels) which more or less have the same chronology in their presentations, and John’s Gospel, which offers a somewhat different chronology. Yet, even in the Synoptic Gospels, there are slight but nonetheless important differences which have deep theological and spiritual meanings.

Note that only the Gospels of Luke and Matthew have infancy narratives; they are the only Evangelists who tell of the story of the birth of our Lord Jesus. And yet, they are important details that differ in the two stories. Luke tells the story of the Lord’s Incarnation and Nativity through the perspective of the Blessed Virgin Mary; in fact, the Evangelist Luke even has the genealogy, the family tree of the Lord traced from Adam, the first human and is given through Mary’s line. In Matthew’s Gospel, we can see the story of Christ’s birth from another perspective: that of his foster father, the just man, Saint Joseph.

Why is this important and what spiritual lesson might be learned by examining the two stories of the birth of the Lord? First, I think it can teach us to appreciate the perspectives of others. Each of us as human beings perceives reality and our experiences differently. Yes, there is objective truth and we need to remember that as we go through our lives — there is good and there is evil; there’s a right thing to do and there’s a wrong thing to do, and, most of the time, it’s fairly easy to tell the difference. Even when we use the expression that there are shades of gray, this is admitting that there is objective truth. So, I am not advocating a relativism.

No, what I am stating is that it’s good to know, to share, and to reflect on our own experiences and the experiences of others. Our Blessed Virgin Mary has the Angel Gabriel coming to her, announcing that she will be the spotless Mother of God. She has a direct, immediate experience of the Presence of God and, in faith and trust, she is able to give her “Fiat,” her “Let it be done to me according to your Word.” Joseph, her intended, also has his moment of decision, and, humbly, gives his “fiat” to the plan of God in his life. Unlike the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joseph encounters the Angel in a dream, much like his Old Testament namesake, Joseph (of the multi-colored coat fame).

In order to truly grasp the meaning of things, we need to have both perspectives. This is the difference between merely seeing and actually perceiving, delving into a situation. We have to have both sides of the story. Mary’s yes is the cornerstone of salvation. But Joseph’s experience also matters. So too does the experiences of every single person who we encounter in our lives! We need to listen and to respect the life experiences and the interpretation of events from all people whom we encounter.

This leads me to the second spiritual lesson we can glean from this Gospel, one that should be obvious, but sometimes we can forget — Saint Joseph himself matters! He is the Patron of the Universal Church, he is the man whose example teaches the boy Jesus in his humanity how to be a man, he is the worker who teaches us that labor is not merely a punishment for our disobedience in original sin, but a participation in the coming Kingdom of God.

Joseph matters! Today, we might wish to think about the person of Saint Joseph. Often, Joseph is portrayed as a man much older than Our Lady, and, no doubt, as was the custom in those days, the husband was generally older than his wife. But he was not elderly. He was a younger man with his whole life in front of him; well, at least as long as the average life span of a man was back then. His whole concept of his relationship with his wife had to change. What he thought would have been their relationship, what he thought would have been the family that they would have raised together, that all had to change.

I think that for Joseph, the just man, he must truly have loved, really intensely loved Mary. What he does for her is not just out of duty and piety. He does what he does because he truly, deeply, chastely loves her and was totally devoted to her, going far above and beyond. Joseph loved his wife and he would do anything for her, even giving up everything he has and knows for her. He adores his wife; he trusts her. And when her son, the Son of God, is born, he loves her even more because of Jesus.

On this solemnity of Saint Joseph, pray we can be more inspired to use the example of Saint Joseph as a model in our lives. Pray that we can be enlightened and enriched by the example of Saint Joseph to listen and appreciate the shared experiences and perspectives of others.

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – March 24, 2024

Readings: Mk 11:1–10 or Jn 12:12–16 • Is 50:4–7 • Ps 22:8–9, 17–18, 19–20, 23–24 • Phil 2:6–11 • Mk 14:1—15:47          bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/032424.cfm

When I was leaving my very first priestly assignment as a young parochial vicar, I was, naturally enough, very sad. I was speaking to a brother priest who worked with me in the parish as the other parochial vicar, and, with the arrogance that can only come from inexperience said, “At least I know that, as I leave this parish, all the people really loved me.” My friend, older, with a few more years of priesthood under his belt, laughed hard and said, “No, no they didn’t! What, are you crazy? Not everyone loved you!” I was horrified! I was dismayed! In truth, I was angry! I demanded to know what he meant! My brother priest simply stated: “You’re human; you have flaws, and you’re not everyone’s cup of tea! Some people don’t like the super-catechetical homilies that you gave! Some felt you paid no attention to the senior citizens and were always at the school! Don’t worry about it! 10% of the parish loves you and will remember you fondly. 10% of the parish will be happy you’re in a new assignment. 80% will really have no opinion whatsoever! They just love the sacraments and support their priests.”

As I mentioned, I was sad. Was I a failure? Did I not make a difference in the lives of my parishioners, even after five years of service as their parish priest? And, most of all, why didn’t everyone like me? After all, I’m a really great guy, aren’t I?

It has taken me many years, but I have come to the realization that, no matter what I do, no matter what I don’t do, not every single person whom I encounter will absolutely love and adore me! Even if I try to do every single thing right, even if I try to be a really super-nice guy to all, some people will not like me! Maybe I remind them of someone else! Perhaps I bring to mind a bully or a pest from elementary school. And, maybe, just maybe, it’s actually me; perhaps I can be annoying, obnoxious, unthinking, and hurtful, both unintentionally, and, in my sinful nature, intentionally. There can a million compliments given after a homily or a class for me, but the one critique given, that’s what I will remember! It’s all part of fallen human nature. It’s a simple fact — not everyone will always like me. And, sadly, if I’m honest with myself, there’s some people whom I encounter about whom I’m not too crazy, either!

The Lord Jesus, who is truly the only perfectly just man, and who is the only one worthy of adoration, predicts his rejection and ultimately His blessed Passion in the scripture passage we read from today in the Gospel of Mark. If the Lord Jesus, He who alone is perfect, can be not be accepted and loved by all, why should we, humble creatures, created in God’s image and likeness, but still, due to the Original Sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, fallen, expect anything different?

For those of us who are ordained to service to God’s people, for those engaged in lay and religious apostolates of pastoral work, we want to be liked. Let’s face it, being liked helps bring people to Church and to the Lord Jesus. But it’s also nice to be liked; we also, even the most introverted among us, kind of liked being liked!

We should remember that, in humility, our job, our task, indeed the task of all Christians, is not about being liked and admired. It’s all about being good and just, being Christ to all whom we meet. It’s all about being, even when we are going to be considered obnoxious and going to be rejected, Christ. Our job, in spite of our flaws and failings, is to cultivate the peace of Christ to the world. Pray for that grace, in spite of our insecurities.

The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper – Holy Thursday, March 28, 2024

Readings: Ex 12:1–8, 11–14 • Ps 116:12–13, 15–16bc, 17–18 • 1 Cor 11:23–26 • Jn 13:1–15    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/032824-Supper.cfm

My friends, this is a homily addressed to priests and to deacons, which I hope that all of us who share in the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus can find helpful to their state of life as we reflect this Holy Thursday on the gift of priesthood and ministry. I remember concelebrating the Chrism Mass in my diocese a good number of years ago and our bishop asked us priests in his homily to spend at least fifteen minutes a day in private prayer before the Eucharist. I have to admit that I was surprised that this wasn’t happening already in the lives of most priests. Fifteen minutes a day in quiet prayer, to me at least, really doesn’t seem all that much! Granted, every priest’s situation is different depending on his assignment, but to use a scholastic axiom, “nemo dat quod non habet,” or in English, “you can’t give what you don’t have.” If we as priests don’t have something that is as necessary for our lives, namely prayer, how can we give that on to others in our ministries? If we as priests are not striving for holiness in our own lives, then how can we expect our people to want to strive for holiness?

When I was in high school, I had an amazing priest for Junior year Religion class, Fr. Bill Dulaney. The subject that we covered that year was morality and this young priest, who has since passed away, became a friend, a mentor, and a real role-model for me. In fact, he vested me to priesthood at my ordination, one of the biggest honors that could be given by a newly-ordained priest to an older priest. I recall speaking to this priest once about prayer in general and the prayer life of priests when I was in the College-level seminary. I told him that I was having a hard time praying the Liturgy of the Hours when I was not in community. He told me something that I will never forget: “The Liturgy of the Hours is essential for our prayer. We just don’t pray it to sanctify our own day. It’s in a way the bare minimum of our prayer life. It is what’s required of us by our ordinations and it is a joy to pray on behalf of the Church.” Then he spoke some words that have remained with me over 25 years. “If you’re too busy to pray, then you’re too busy! You have to drop something else out of the schedule that you’re doing that’s probably not essential.” And he was right!

I find in my life when I am too busy to pray, when I am too busy to take even fifteen minutes for some quiet reflection, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m not being whom I am meant to be — a man who offers prayer for the Church. What fills my time instead of prayer? Usually, it is frivolous and frenetic activity that serves no ultimately good purpose.

When I meet with the seminarians who are assigned to me for formation, I try to encourage them to be men of prayer. With them, I use the analogy of a chair to describe a good, healthy prayer life of the priest. What do I mean by this?

Well, the chair has a center, a seat, and four legs to support it. Remove the seat and you’re dangling there, about to fall; remove a leg and soon enough, you’ll topple over! The seat, the center, of course, in the prayer life of the priest is the daily celebration of the Mass. Are we obliged to celebrate Mass daily as priests? Many lay people are shocked to learn that we are not. And, in the course of a priest’s life, perhaps due to travel or illness, there might be times when he physically cannot celebrate Mass, but if he can celebrate or concelebrate Mass, why would he not want to do so? The priest is the father to the flock to which he is assigned to serve. Like any good father, he should want to feed his family. As a good father, why would he ever want to leave them hungry? The Mass is the ultimate food for the journey of life. And even if there is no congregation, the priest can still offer Holy Mass, preferably with a server.

What are the legs that hold up the chair? One is the Liturgy of the Hours, that daily prayer that sanctifies our day, prayed on behalf of the whole world. Another is the Holy Rosary (or another Marian devotion), a way of imploring the gracious intercession of the Mother of God. Another is Eucharistic Adoration, spending some time in the true and real Presence of the Lord sacramentally present in the Eucharist, even if it is for fifteen minutes a day. The final leg is spiritual reading, reflecting on the Sacred Scripture, the writings of the Fathers of the Church and the Saints, and other good material that can help us grow in the spiritual life.

There was a moment when the corpus on the crucifix came to life and spoke to Saint Thomas Aquinas and asked him what it was that he most desired in the world. No one had ever written so well of the Lord’s Eucharistic Body and Blood as did Saint Thomas and the Lord wished to grant him a special grace. Saint Thomas looked at the Lord and uttered three words: “Nihil Nisi Te,” “Nothing but you,” for he knew that if he had the Lord, he had everything. Can we as priests, deacons, religious, and laity remember this every day of our life?

Good Friday – March 29, 2024

Readings: Is 52:13—53:12 • Ps 31:2, 6, 12–13, 15–16, 17, 25 • Heb 4:14–16; 5:7–9 • Jn 18:1—19:42  bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/032924.cfm

At the risk of showing my age, I was in the seventh grade when I saw a film which, I believe, resonates with almost all people of my generation: John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club. This film, which launched the careers of the “Brat Pack,” including Molly Ringwald and Emilio Estevez, was the example par excellence of teenage angst. These five very different youngsters were all placed in detention for various infractions in their local high school. What united them was coming to the realization that everything that was wrong with them was ultimately not their fault! It was, of course, the fault of their parents and their teachers. As someone who spent eight years of my priesthood as a full-time teacher of both English and Religion in a Catholic boys high school, someone who works daily in what Pete Townsend of The Who has called “teenage wasteland,” I have heard these sentiments echoed over and over.

When I had heard these sentiments, I immediately turned to the young person with whom I was speaking and asked if he might be able to accept responsibility for anything that has happened in his life. Are all the problems caused by the oppressive authority of teachers and parents? Often, the young person was open and honest enough to respond that at least part of the blame lay with himself.

The Gospel which we proclaim on this Friday, which we call “Good,” to me exemplifies the “Breakfast Club” mentality. By this phrase, I mean the total, complete failure to accept personal responsibility for anything!

Who is to blame for the suffering and death of the Savior of the world? Judas turns Jesus over to the Jewish religious authorities. They in turn hand Him over to the Roman governmental authorities and Pontius Pilate, whose wife warned him not to get involved (in another Gospel), washes his hands literally of the whole affair and tries to let the crowd decide who will live and who will die. Each of the Apostles runs away; they’re also to blame for not defending the innocent Lamb of God. To further exemplify my point, Judas even tries to give back the thirty pieces of silver, but the chief priests want no part of it! Even they consider it to be “blood money.”

This is a vicious little game of “hot potato” and no one will admit to being the one who has placed the Lord Jesus on the Cross. Who is to blame? Who hung Him on the Cross? Is it Pilate? Is it the Pharisees and the Scribes? Is it Annas and Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin? Is it Judas? Is it Peter and the other cowardly Apostles?

The answer to all of the above questions is YES! It is all of them, and, ultimately, it is all of us!

It is for “us men and our salvation” that the Christ fell three times in the rocky and dusty streets. It is for “us men and our salvation” that Christ was battered, broken, bruised at the hands of the Jewish Temple guards and the Roman centurions. It is for “us men and our salvation” that the nails pierce His hands and feet, that the spear rips open His side. It is our sins, for “us men and our salvation,” that the Christ bears. It is our inequities which he carries. However, most importantly, it is by His wounds we have been healed.

Each and every one of us is a sinner, in little ways and in great. Each and every one of us is in need of the mercy and forgiveness of Christ. Do we recognize this fact? Do we embrace this fact? Do we seek out the healing grace offered to us by Christ the Divine Physician in the great sacrament of Penance? Do we live as women and men created in the image and likeness of Christ, sinners reconciled, justified, and sanctified?

This Good Friday offers us a remarkable opportunity for self-reflection and growth. It can offer us two great realizations for our spiritual life: first, God is God, we’re not God, and thank God for that; and second, we are all sinners in needs of the loving embrace offered to us by Christ on the Cross. Christ knows our sinfulness; He also knows our worth. May we have the courage, strength, and peace of mind to live in thanksgiving for the Passion of the Christ.

Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil) – March 30, 2024

Options for readings can be found at USCCB.org:


In the Gospel we proclaim on this most holy of nights, we read of the encounter of the Risen Lord Jesus, present in his glorified body, with those whom he had at least a passing acquaintance with, if not having been known very well, in his earthly body. And we see that there is continuity and discontinuity between the glorified body of the Lord Jesus and that of his earthly body. His disciples, his apostles, his dear friends, like the Magdalene, those whom knew him well, at first do not recognize him; they seem to recognize him through faith, and, indeed they are called to faith but, it seems, always at the initiative of the Risen Lord Jesus.

Indeed, it is the encounter with the Lord Jesus, who, through his word, and we remember that he is the Word through whom all things were made (which we see in his encounter with the Magdalene that we read about in this evening’s Gospel) and through his actions (for instance, the recounting of how the Sacred Scripture related to him and in the breaking of the bread with the disciples whom he met on the road to Emmaus, which we will hear proclaimed on Easter Wednesday), that the Lord Jesus is made known.

When the Lord Jesus encountered those who knew him best, the Apostles, the “rubber must have hit the road.” Imagine what it must have been like for the Apostles. Just imagine what it would have been like for them, hiding in that room, in the days after the passion, the death, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The reports were coming in, from Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the Apostles, that the Lord was risen, truly risen; and then he entered through the locked door and stood in their midst. Certainly the Apostles were overjoyed. But I bet that mixed in with that joy was also a certain amount of fear, a little bit of apprehension.

After all, what would Jesus say to them? Each of the Apostles, in their own ways, betrayed Jesus. It wasn’t just Judas, who sold the Lord out and then despaired. It wasn’t just Peter, who explicitly denied even knowing the Lord Jesus three times. Every single one of them failed Jesus. In his hour of need, when he asked them to watch and pray with him while he underwent his agony in the garden, they couldn’t even do that; they fell asleep. When the Lord was about to be taken away by the guards, they all scattered, like frightened children. In his passion on the Cross, only Beloved John and the women, his Blessed Mother, and the Magdalene remained. Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Jesus, the just one, Jesus just looks at them, standing there in his glorified body, and says to them four little words: “Peace be with you” — his prayer, his divine will for us.

And what happens in the 21st chapter of John’s Gospel? The Apostles try to live their daily lives, going fishing, trying to earn their money, now after the experience of the Lord’s resurrection, of having met him in his glorified body. So distracted are they by their work, neither Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, nor the Beloved John the Evangelist, nor John’s faithful brother, James the Greater, recognize the Lord. These apostles see the Lord in his glorified body on the water. Recall that this is the second time that they have encountered the Lord walking on the water in the Gospels. They should, by all accounts, recognize Jesus. They should, by all standards, know who is walking toward them. And yet they don’t.

When do these princes of the Church recognize the Lord Jesus? It is only when he initiates the contact, only when he speaks to them, only when he does something, in this case supply a multitude of fish so numerous that they cannot even haul it to shore, that they know who he is.

In our spiritual lives, in the covenant that Our Lord has made with us in our baptisms, in our religious consecrations, in our ordinations, it is the Lord that has made the first contact. We should never forget this fact. He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, as the preparatory rites for the Paschal candle reminds us. All things come from him and are only accomplished in him. This life in the Lord is never ours to begin. We can cooperate with his call, but it is his call to us. It is a gift, a totally gratuitous act of overabundant love on the part of the Lord. We must never cease to thank the Lord for this gift.

And, at the same time, we must not only look to recognize the Lord in the little signs he gives us in our daily lives. If we were to examine John’s Gospel, we would see that we have passed in chapters 1–11 in the book of signs, those indisputable ways that Jesus in his words and actions, his gestis verbisque as Vatican II calls it, that he is who he claims to be — the Holy One of God. In chapters 12–20, we are in the book of glory, which is, at its essence, an extended passion narrative.

We have seen the signs; we have experienced the glory. We need not look any further for signs, for we in our spiritual lives need to be living this conclusion. Like John, we should say with our very lives, our very souls, “It is the Lord.” We have met the risen Lord. We have seen him, touched him, whom we have received into our bodies and souls. May we pray for the grace to also go beyond merely seeing, but actually perceiving his presence in our midst.

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Our Lord – March 31, 2024

Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37–43 • Ps 118:1–2, 16–17, 22–23 • Col 3:1–4 or I Cor 5:6b–8 • Jn 20:1–9    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/033124.cfm

When we read the accounts of the Lord Jesus’ appearances in his resurrected Body, we find some curious things. First, people that know him well, those whom he taught and with whom he lived and loved, somehow don’t recognize him at first; and second, these people who encounter the Risen Lord Jesus only recognize him at the Lord’s initiative.

Let’s examine each of these aspects. First, why don’t people know who Jesus is? It’s true for Mary of Magdala at the tomb. It’s true in this Gospel passage from the Evangelist, Saint Luke. One would assume that Cleopas, a disciple of Jesus, who, along with another disciple on the Road to Emmaus, would have been able to recognize Jesus. Yet somehow he doesn’t, and neither does his walking companion. Why?

These encounters of the Risen Lord Jesus, present in his glorified body, with those whom he had at least a passing acquaintance with, if not having been known very well, in his earthly body, fail to have his friends and his disciples recognize him. Therefore, a question for us: what is the nature of the Lord Jesus’s risen and glorified Body? Let’s examine what we know about this risen and glorified Body of the Lord Jesus Christ from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the fonts of Divine Revelation.

To start with, Jesus is not a ghost. He’s really there — the same Jesus who walked with them, who taught them, who healed them, who ate with them. Note that one of the things the Lord Jesus seems to want to do all the time in these post-resurrection appearances is to eat! Note that in the Gospel of John, chapter 21, the Lord Jesus even says, “Come, have breakfast!” Note that the Lord Jesus urges his disciples to touch him and see that he is real. (Luke 24:37–40). It’s the same Jesus who was nailed to the Cross for us and for our salvation. He still bears the marks of his blessed Passion. He asks Thomas the Doubter to put his hand in his side. So, there is continuity with his earthly body.

Yet there is also discontinuity. The Lord Jesus can vanish before the eyes of these disciples in today’s Gospel (Luke 24:31) and he can walk through walls and locked doors (John 20:26). The Lord’s body is glorified. Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Doctor Communis, tells us in the Summa Theologiae’s third part, question 54, that Jesus’ body is of the same nature, but of different glory. The Lord’s body is still very real, but it is not subject any longer to decay, as it is incorruptible and it is not subject to suffering, as it is impassible.

With that being stated, we know and can state that the Lord’s body in his resurrection appearances is a real body, now glorified. There is a real continuity with his earthly body and also a discontinuity, since it is glorified. And the good news is that, if we live our lives in accordance with his teachings, when all is completed at the end of the ages, when Christ comes to judge, if we are just, these mortal bodies of ours will be raised and glorified like Christ’s. Saint Paul the Apostle assures of this fact time and again in many passages (see 2 Cor 5:4–5 and Romans 8:18–19, just to name a few).

Now, onto our second point: yes, there is continuity and discontinuity between the glorified body of the Lord Jesus and his earthly body. His disciples, his apostles, those whom knew him well, at first do not recognize him; they seem to recognize him through faith, and indeed they are called to faith, but, it seems, always at the initiative of the Risen Lord Jesus.

In this relationship we have and that we try to foster with the Lord, it is never us who begin; no, it is always Jesus. Think back to the Magdalene at the tomb on Easter Sunday (John 20). She who is the apostle to the Apostles, a close friend, someone who knew the Lord well, does not at first recognize him. She believes the Risen Lord to be the gardener! And how does she come to know him? The Lord Jesus says her name, “Mary.” The Lord Jesus and he alone calls to us and starts the relationship. Like God the Father, when God the Son utters the word, it is created. In this case, the eyes of faith are opened and Mary of Magdala sees him who has been standing right there before her: the Risen Lord Jesus in his glorified body.

Indeed, it is in the encounter with the Lord Jesus, through his word — and we remember that he is the Word through whom all things were made — and through his actions (for instance, the recounting of the Sacred Scripture related to him and the breaking of the bread with the disciples whom he met on the road to Emmaus) that the Lord Jesus is made known.

Isn’t that true for us, too? Don’t we, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, come to recognize Jesus, he who has called us by name in baptism, strengthened us in confirmation, and given us our own particular vocation, recognize the Lord Jesus in the readings at Mass? Don’t we, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, know him truly present in the breaking of the Bread that is the Lord’s sacramental presence in the Eucharist? And doesn’t the Lord Jesus vanish from our midst, like he did to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, igniting our hearts to go forward and tell our brothers and sisters the good news of the Resurrection?

Yes, this story of the Lord’s walk on the road to Emmaus poses some tough theological questions, but even more, offers us hope! As the Lord’s body is risen and glorified, he hopes to share that with us! What should fill our hearts with more Easter joy than that?

Fr. Mark Hellinger About Fr. Mark Hellinger

Fr. Mark Hellinger is a priest of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana. He was ordained a priest in 2022 and received his Licentiate in Dogmatic and Sacramental Theology from the Pontifical Atheneum of Saint Anselm in 2023. He currently serves as Parochial Vicar of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Rev. John P. Cush, STD About Rev. John P. Cush, STD

Fr. John P. Cush, the Editor-in-Chief of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, is a professor of Dogmatic Theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) in the Archdiocese of New York. He is a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Fr. Cush holds the Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD) from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy. He is the author of The How-to-Book of Catholic Theology (OSV, 2020), Theology as Prayer (IPF, 2022) and is a contributor to Intellect, Affect, and God (Marquette University Press, 2021).


  1. Need scrutiny homilies for the 3, 4, 5th sundsys of lent

  2. Please note that the Year A Homilies for the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent will be posted soon.

    In Christ,

    Rev. John P. Cush, STD

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