Thursday, April 27, 2017

Softly and Tenderly

Recently I re-discovered and old Gospel hymn called Softly and Tenderly by Will L. Thompson (1880).  It fits in well with the general theme of my blog and I’m thinking about it today because last week I came to possess an Alan Jackson cd in which it was included.  I am pleased to share the lyrics here today.  Here is a link to Alan Jackson's version:  Enjoy!!

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me.
See, on the portals, He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary come home;
Earnestly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling, “O sinner, come home!”

O for the wonderful love he has promised,
Promised for you and for me.
Though we have sinned He has mercy and pardon;
Pardon for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary come home;
Earnestly and tenderly, Jesus is calling;
Calling, “O sinner, come home!"

Why should we linger when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me.
Why should we wait then and heed not his mercies,
Mercies for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary come home;
Earnestly and tenderly, Jesus is calling; 
Calling, “O sinner, come home!”

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Resurrection and Glorification

I posted at the beginning of Lent how excited I was to be in the season of Lent to be reading and listening to all the rich Gospel messages of the season.  And now that Lent is over, I’m singing alleluia’s because of Resurrection stories! 

I’m sure you’ve noticed that Jesus’ disciples don’t recognize him when they look at him, or even when they hear him speak.  Outside the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene, for example, doesn’t recognize Jesus.  She thinks he is a gardener.  She is looking at him and he speaks to her.  It’s not until he says her name, “Mary,” that her eyes and ears are opened.  (Jn 20:11-18).  There is also the story of Jesus meeting up with two unnamed disciples on the road between Jerusalem and Emmaus on the day of the Resurrection.  They don’t recognize him as a walks and talks with them, even after he explains all that has happened based on Old Testament Scripture.  It is not until they break bread with him that evening that their eyes are opened.  (Lk 24:13-25).  Even the eleven apostles don’t recognize him until he shows them the scars on his hands and side.  (Jn 20:19-23).  And there is a fourth example.  The apostles were fishing in the lake one day (after the Resurrection) and caught no fish when Jesus stood on the beach and told them to simply cast the net off the right side of the boat.  They did not recognize him until they pulled in a net so full of fish that the net was tearing.  St. John’s eyes were then opened and he said to St. Peter “It is the Lord!”  (Jn 21:1-14).   Why did they not recognize him?  The teaching is that after the Resurrection, Jesus’ body was glorified and he was not recognizable.   

This, in fact, is also the teaching for our own bodies.  Once we rise from the dead on Judgement Day and enter into heavenly glory, our bodies will be transformed.   (See 1 Cor 15:36-58).  Gregory Koukl in his book The Story of Reality describes it quite eloquently:  “And one day we will lay hold of it in its fullness.  The war will be over.  The anguish will end – all brokenness mended, all evil vanquished, all beauty restored.  For those who receive mercy, the home we have been seeking all our lives will be ours.  It is the Father’s house, and there is a place for us in it.  And he will say, ‘Come, Enter.  Enjoy.  Be with Me.’  And when he does, we will realize that our hunger for home was always our hunger for him.  And we shall have him.”

Beautiful words.  I pray today that all my readers will recognize the need for full repentance and true faith if a glorified body and an eternity full of hosannas is your goal.  Amen!  Alleluia!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Institution of the Eucharist

Today is Holy Thursday, the day we celebrate the Last Supper.  The Last Supper was a Passover meal that took place in that upper room in Jerusalem near the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives on the night Jesus Christ was arrested two thousand years ago.  More importantly, it was the night on which he instituted the Holy Eucharist, that sacrament that today is partaken by billions of people on a daily basis worldwide.

Jesus was in the room with his twelve apostles.  You can imagine what it might have been like.  Tension in the air due to the danger they were in, being in Jerusalem at a time when the Jewish elders were looking for a time and a way to kill him for his “crimes” of blasphemous preaching, provocations, and Sabbath violations, not to mention his claims of being the Messiah and the insults He hurled at the Pharisees.  But perhaps there was also tension in the air due to his statements, such as this:  “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have life in you.”  (John 6:53).  They continued to be his followers despite the gruesome thought of eating his flesh and drinking His blood.  They might have been asking themselves what was going to happen in this upper room. 

One of them, St. Peter, had replied to Him:  “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  (John 6:68).  That must have been the general feeling of all twelve, since they were not like the many other disciples who had “returned to their former way of life” upon hearing this.  But, in addition, St. Peter, St. James, and St. John had all witnessed the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor a few days earlier when Jesus had fully displayed His divinity to them.  To whom shall they go, Indeed! 

But then, it happened.  Jesus took bread, broke it, and giving it to them said “Take and eat; this is my body.”  And he took a cup of wine, gave it to them and said “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood …”  (Mt 26:26-29).  And now they understood.  Jesus was giving them his flesh to eat and his blood to drink, but under the appearance (sight and taste) of bread and wine!  Wow!  He also said this:  “… do this in memory of me.”  And with that, the Eucharist was instituted for all people for all time!

In the early days, after Jesus’ Resurrection, doing this in his memory became known as the “breaking of the bread.”  St. Paul, who was Jesus’ mortal enemy, had this to say after his conversion:  “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement upon himself.”  (1 Cor 11:29).  Today, this act is the focus of the Catholic Mass.  And each time I partake of this sacrament at Mass, I utter these words of Christ over and over to myself as I kneel in prayer:  “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  (Jn 6:54).  Thank you, Lord, for this marvelous gift, a gift that mere words can never even begin to adequately express.  Amen!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Veronica's Veil

You may know that I like to write short stories that expand on the Gospels in order to fill in the blanks surrounding the various events in the life of Christ.  For example, who was Simon of Cyrene, why was he in Jerusalem on the day of the crucifixion, and why did the soldiers choose him to help Jesus carry his cross?  My stories are completely fictional, but I try to make them interesting and credible.  A non-Catholic friend of mine suggested to me once that I shouldn’t do this because it may mislead people away from the truth.  My stories are not going to be best-sellers by any means, and if someone is familiar with Scripture, they will know that they are fictional.

Today, I’m thinking of the Stations of the Cross.  In my research, I found that five of the fourteen stations have no basis in Scripture.  Yet, the stations have become popular in both Catholic and non-Catholic churches.  The five stations are Jesus falling the first, second, and third times, Veronica wiping the face of Jesus, and Jesus meeting his mother. 

While there is no Scriptural mention of Jesus ever falling on the way to Golgotha, it is not hard to imagine that He did fall.  The beating that he took and the loss of blood during the scourging likely made him very weak.  Also, considering the probable fact that the cross was very heavy and that the soldiers’ constant pushing and shoving, trying to hurry Him along, would have made falling a distinct possibility.  As far as meeting his mother, it is very likely that Mary was alongside for every step of the way and, perhaps after a fall, would run to him to give him support and to show her love and encouragement. 

But the one that is the most difficult to believe is Veronica wiping His face with her veil or a towel.  Veronica in not mentioned by name anywhere in Scripture.  Was this show of love totally made up, or was it part of Sacred Tradition in the Catholic Church, meaning that it was something passed down orally through the centuries?  It is not a stretch to think that, in a burst of courage while surrounded by the Roman soldiers, a devoted fan of Jesus would have such compassion for Him that she would break ranks and run up to Him to help comfort Him in this way.  But the tradition says that an imprint of Christ’s face was left on the cloth!  So we are in the miraculous realm with this station. 

If the story is true, one might ask what happened to Veronica’s veil in the span of time beginning back in the time of Christ and continuing throughout the centuries.  It does not seem to get as much attention nowadays as the Shroud of Turin.  The reason, I think, is that the “facts” have been clouded throughout history because of copies that were made and various claims brought forward.  There are various interesting stories given in Wikipedia ( and relating to St. Veronica and the veil which include references to statements in the Catholic Encyclopedia.  See also

Some credence is given to St. Veronica’s existence by the Catholic Church despite references to her story as a “legend” or “tradition.”  She is a saint of the Catholic Church.  There is a shrine complete with a statue as well as a likeness of the veil dating to the middle ages in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  There is also a chapel constructed in her honor in Jerusalem.  St. Veronica, pray for us!  Amen.