We have just listened to three verbal portraits of Christ's Passion. The Prophet Isaiah foresees a man of suffering who would give his life as "an offering for our sin." He would bear our diseases; he would pay the price for our thoughtless behavior; he would win pardon for our crimes. In the Letter to the Hebrews we heard about a high priest who is able to sympathize with our human weakness. Although he was tested in every way, he did not fall. He is like a mighty tree that has survived a hurricane while all the others fell. Only that tree experienced the full violence of the storm because it alone stood firm. Such is our high priest. That is the way St. John paints him in his account of the Passion. Jesus is clearly in control. He tells Pilate, "You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above." Pilate, in fact, would soon fall as quickly as he had risen. (Josephus reports that the emperor recalled Pilate after an unwarranted massacre of Samaritans.) Jesus knew that ones persecuting him would quickly pass from the scene, but that he would endure eternally. This does not mean that he did not suffer. No, even though Jesus is God, he possessed - and continues to possess - the same human flesh as you and I.
St. John's portrait of Jesus reminded very much of the man I have asked to accompany us these days: Blessed Luis Magana Servin. Last night I told you a little bit about his life, especially his preoccupation with social justice for the poor, his devotion to Jesus in Blessed Sacrament and his marriage to Elvira Camarena. I would like to now tell you about his death. Only twenty-five years old, he had a successful business which sometimes took him away from home. One day soldiers came for him, suspecting him of being involved in the armed rebellion against the government. Not finding Luis, they arrested his younger brother, Delfino. When he returned home, Luis heard the news. Maintaining his calm, he took a bath, shaved and put on his best suit. He gathered his family and told them he was going to the police station to ask for Delfino's release. He knelt down and his parents gave him a blessing. He picked up his little son, Gilberto, and embraced him. Elvira, who was pregnant with their second child, he enveloped in his arms and gave a final kiss. Then he walked to the main square of Arandas and asked the general to allow him to take the place of his brother. The general accused him of being an armed rebel. It was not true. Even though he supported the rebellion, he was himself a pacifist. The general did not believe him and ordered him to be summarily executed. They led him to a spot before the parish Church. Crowds, of course, gathered. They heard Luis say:
"I have never been a Cristero rebel, but if you accuse me of being a Christian, then yes, that I am. You Soldiers who are going to shoot me, I want to tell you that from this moment I pardon you, and I promise that on arriving in the presence of God you are the first ones for whom I will intercede.Long live Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe!".
With those word he died. A few months later, Elvira gave birth to a baby girl who she named Luisa. On November 20, 2005, under the authority of Pope Benedict XVI, Luis was beatified during a Mass held before a huge throng in the Stadium of Guadalajara. In his homily, Cardinal Martins mentioned the moment of Blessed Luis' death: February 9, 1928, at three in the afternoon - the hour of the Divine Mercy. Blessed Luis Magana, pray for us.
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Divine Mercy Novena (print ready in English & Spanish)
Bulletin (Welcome to Holy Week!)
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus on the latest alleged debunkings of historically recognizable Christianity
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
My bulletin column
Parish Picture Album
Reasons Young People Leave Their Faith - Presentation for Monroe Christian Pastors. (For pdf format click here)
Background for presentation on "Reasons Young People Leave Their Faith": High School Course – World Civilization - Section on origins of Christianity. (For pdf format click here)
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