Invitatory Psalm 95 (94 in the Douay-Rheims). Commentary.
Morning Prayer Themes: The Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ Ps 118 ) is a celebration of the victory of God over that which opposes him and his people. By his act Christ has opened the doors to a greater Temple, so that we may offer a new and profound worship in union with him. This praise and worship involves all of creation (Dan 3:52-57; Ps 150).
Psalm 118 (117 in the Douay Rheims). Commentary by Pope John Paul II.
(3:52) Blessed art thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers; and worthy to be praised, and glorified, and exalted above all for ever: and blessed is the holy name of thy glory: and worthy to be praised and exalted above all, in all ages.
(3:53) Blessed art thou in the holy temple of thy glory: and exceedingly to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
(3:55) Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the cherubims: and worthy to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
(3:56) Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven: and worthy of praise, and glorious for ever.
(3:57) All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. Commentary Pope John Paul II.
Psalm 150. Commentary by Pope John Paul II.
Canticle of Zechariah. Commentary by Pope John Paul II.
Reading~ Ezekiel 36:25-27
Eze 36:25 And I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, and I will cleanse you from all your idols.
Eze 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh.
Eze 36:27 And I will put my spirit in the midst of you: and I will cause you to walk in my commandments, and to keep my judgments, and do them.
Eze 36:25 Water. R. David and the Chaldean explain this of the remission of sin; and all Christians understand it of baptism in water, remitting all offences, Ephesians v. 26., and Titus iii. 5. (Worthington) — He alludes to the purification of the Jews, which prefigured baptism and penance, in which the blood of Christ is applied to our souls. This of course was only fulfilled in his church.
Eze 36:26 Flesh. The Jews at their return fell not so often into the sins of idolatry, &c., of which the prophets complained. But yet they were far from answering this character. Great irregularities prevailed under Nehemias, and in the days of the Machabees the priests publicly worshipped idols, 1 Esdras ix., and 2 Esdras v., and viii., and 2 Machabees iv., and v. Christ enables his servants to act with purity unto the end, by the influence of his all-powerful grace. (Calmet)
Eze 36:27 Do them. Hence the efficacy of grace appears, (St. Augustine; Haydock) and hereby some keep the commandments. (Worthington) — God assists our free-will. (Theodoret) (Cornelius a Lapide) (Calmet)
St Cyril of Jerusalem:
Be of good courage, O Jerusalem; the Lord will take away all thine iniquities67 ). The Lord will wash away the filth of His sons and of His daughters by the Spirit of judgment, and by the Spirit of burning68 . He will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be cleansed from all your sin69 . Angels shall dance around you, and say, Who is this that cometh up in white array, leaning upon her beloved70 ? For the soul that was formerly a slave has now adopted her Master Himself as her kinsman: and He accepting the unfeigned purpose will answer: Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair: thy teeth are like flocks of sheep new shorn, (because of the confession of a good conscience: and further) which have all of them twins71; because of the twofold grace, I mean that which is perfected of water and of the Spirit72 , or that which is announced by the Old and by the New Testament. And God grant that all of you when you have finished the course of the fast, may remember what I say, and bringing forth fruit in good works, may stand blameless beside the Spiritual Bridegroom, and obtain the remission of your sins from God; to whom with the Son and Holy Spirit be the glory for ever. Amen).
67 (So 3,14-15.
68 (Is 4,4,
69 Ez 36,25.
70 (Ct 8,4, Gr). a Jdelfidovn, “brother,” ”kinsman.”
71 Ct 4,1-2.
72 The Fathers sometimes speak as if Baptism was primarily the Sacrament of remission of sins, and upon that came the gift of the Spirit, which notwithstanding was but begun in Baptism and completed in Confirmation. Vid. Tertullian). de Bapt. 7, 8, supr. 1,5 fin. Hence, as in the text, Baptism may be said to be made up of two gifts, Water, which is Christ’s blood, and the Spirit. There is no real difference between this and the ordinary way of speaking on the subject; — Water, which converys both gifts, is considered as a type of one especially, — conveys both remission of sins through Christ’s blood and the grace of the Spirit, but is the type of one, viz. the blood of Christ, as the Oil in Confirmation is of the other. And again, remission of sins is a complete gift given at once, sanctification an increasing one. (R. W. C.) See Index, “Baptism.”
Catechism references to Ezek 36.
64. Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts.(22) The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations.(23) Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel’s salvation. The purest figure among them is Mary.(24)
22 Is 2,2-4 Jr 31,31-34 He 10,16
23 Cf. Ez 36; Is 49,5-6; 53,11.
24 Cf. Ez 2,3 Lc 1,38
368. The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one’s being, where the person decides for or against God.(Ezek 36:26)
715. The prophetic texts that directly concern the sending of the Holy Spirit are oracles by which God speaks to the heart of his people in the language of the promise, with the accents of “love and fidelity.”( Cf. Ez 11,19; 36,25-28; 37,1-14 Jr 31,31-34 Jl 3,1-5) St. Peter will proclaim their fulfillment on the morning of Pentecost.(Acts 2:17-21) According to these promises, at the “end time” the Lord’s Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace.
1288. This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.(93) On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,(94) a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.(95) Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.(96) Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.(97)
93 Cf. Ez 36,25-27 Jl 3,1-2.
94 Lc 12,12 Jn 3,5-8; 7,37-39; 16,7-15 Ac 1,8
95 Jn 20,22 Ac 2,1-14
96 Ac 2,11; 2,17-18.
97 Ac 2,38
1432. The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart.(25) Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: “Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!”(26) God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced:(27)Let us fix our eyes on Christ’s blood and understand how precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance.
25 Cf. Ez 36,26-27.
26 Lm 5,21
27 Jn 19,37 Za 12,10
Pope John Paul II:
Only God can answer the question about the good, because he is the Good. But God has already given an answer to this question: he did so by creating man and ordering him with wisdom and love to his final end, through the law which is inscribed in his heart (cf. Rom RM 2,15), the “natural law”. The latter “is nothing other than the light of understanding infused in us by God, whereby we understand what must be done and what must be avoided. God gave this light and this law to man at creation”.19 He also did so in the history of Israel, particularly in the “ten words”, the commandments of Sinai, whereby he brought into existence the people of the Covenant (cf. Ex EX 24) and called them to be his “own possession among all peoples”, “a holy nation” (EX 19,5-6), which would radiate his holiness to all peoples (cf. Wis SG 18,4 EZ 20,41). The gift of the Decalogue was a promise and sign of the New Covenant, in which the law would be written in a new and definitive way upon the human heart (cf. Jer JR 31,31-34), replacing the law of sin which had disfigured that heart (cf. Jer JR 17,1). In those days, “a new heart” would be given, for in it would dwell “a new spirit”, the Spirit of God (cf. Ez EZ 36,24-28).20 (Splendor of Truth)
Pope Benedict XVI:
In truth, Israel showed immediately by making the golden calf that it was incapable of staying faithful to this promise and thus to the divine Covenant, which indeed it subsequently violated all too often, adapting to its heart of stone the Law that should have taught it the way of life. However, the Lord did not fail to keep his promise and, through the prophets, sought to recall the inner dimension of the Covenant and announced that he would write a new law upon the hearts of his faithful (cf. Jer JR 31,33), transforming them with the gift of the Spirit (cf. Ez EZ 36,25-27). And it was during the Last Supper that he made this new Covenant with his disciples and humanity, confirming it not with animal sacrifices as had happened in the past, but indeed with his own Blood, which became the “Blood of the New Covenant”. Thus he based it on his own obedience, stronger, as I said, than all our sins. (Corpus Christi Homily, 2009)
Development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us. For this reason, even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God’s love. Development requires attention to the spiritual life, a serious consideration of the experiences of trust in God, spiritual fellowship in Christ, reliance upon God’s providence and mercy, love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace. All this is essential if “hearts of stone” are to be transformed into “hearts of flesh” (EZ 36,26), rendering life on earth “divine” and thus more worthy of humanity. All this is of man, because man is the subject of his own existence; and at the same time it is of God, because God is at the beginning and end of all that is good, all that leads to salvation: “the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1CO 3,22-23). Christians long for the entire human family to call upon God as “Our Father!” In union with the only-begotten Son, may all people learn to pray to the Father and to ask him, in the words that Jesus himself taught us, for the grace to glorify him by living according to his will, to receive the daily bread that we need, to be understanding and generous towards our debtors, not to be tempted beyond our limits, and to be delivered from evil (cf. MT 6,9-13). (Caritatis in Veritate)
By following Jesus on the way of his Passion we not only see the Passion of Jesus, but we also see all the suffering in the world, and this is the profound intention of the prayer of the Way of the Cross: to open our hearts and to help us to see with our heart.
The Fathers of the Church considered insensitivity and hardness of heart the greatest sin of the pagan world and were fond of the Prophet Ezekiel’s prophecy: “I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (cf. Ez EZ 36,26).
Being converted to Christ, becoming Christian, meant receiving a heart of flesh, a heart sensitive to the passion and suffering of others.
Our God is not a remote God, intangible in his blessedness. Our God has a heart.
Indeed, he has a heart of flesh; he was made flesh precisely to be able to suffer with us and to be with us in our suffering.
He was made man to give us a heart of flesh and to reawaken within us love for the suffering, for the destitute.
Let us pray to the Lord at this time for all the suffering people of the world.
Let us pray to the Lord that he will truly give us a heart of flesh, that he will make us messengers of his love not only with words, but with our entire life. Amen. (Way of the Cross at the Coliseum, Good Friday, 2007)