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Friday 10 April 2020

Celebration of the Word of God

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In the current COVID-19 pandemic, many Catholics are unable to participate in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration.  This resource is provided so that families and individuals can observe and celebrate Sunday in their homes. It is adapted from, and based on, Celebrations of the Word of God that may be celebrated on Sundays in parishes when a priest is not present to lead the celebration of Mass.

Before the celebration, choose a space for prayer together in the home. You may wish to prepare a focus for prayer, with a lit candle and cross. As you would find in the church on this day, avoid any other decoration.

If several people will pray together, choose who will be the leader of the celebration.  Other people should be chosen to read the readings and the intercessions. If you are on your own, you may omit the parts that would only apply to a group setting (eg responses).

The Introductory Rites

As we do in the liturgy in churches on this afternoon, today’s celebration begins without a song or the Sign of the Cross.

Collect Prayer

Leader:

Remember your mercies, O Lord,
and with your eternal protection sanctify your servants,
for whom Christ your Son,
by the shedding of his Blood,
established the Paschal Mystery.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

All:

Amen.

The Liturgy of the Word

First Reading

Reader:

A reading from the prophet Isaiah

See, my servant will prosper,
he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights.

As the crowds were appalled on seeing him
– so disfigured did he look
that he seemed no longer human –
so will the crowds be astonished at him,
and kings stand speechless before him;
for they shall see something never told
and witness something never heard before:
‘Who could believe what we have heard,
and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?’

Like a sapling he grew up in front of us,
like a root in arid ground.
Without beauty, without majesty (we saw him),
no looks to attract our eyes;
a thing despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering,
a man to make people screen their faces;
he was despised and we took no account of him.

And yet ours were the sufferings he bore,
ours the sorrows he carried.
But we, we thought of him as someone punished,
struck by God, and brought low.
Yet he was pierced through for our faults,
crushed for our sins.
On him lies a punishment that brings us peace,
and through his wounds we are healed.

We had all gone astray like sheep,
each taking his own way,
and the Lord burdened him
with the sins of all of us.
Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly,
he never opened his mouth,
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers,
never opening its mouth.

By force and by law he was taken;
would anyone plead his cause?
Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living,
for our faults struck down in death.
They gave him a grave with the wicked,
a tomb with the rich,
though he had done no wrong
and there had been no perjury in his mouth.
The Lord has been pleased to crush him with suffering.
If he offers his life in atonement,
he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life
and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

His soul’s anguish over
he shall see the light and be content.
By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,
taking their faults on himself.
Hence I will grant whole hordes for his tribute,
he shall divide the spoil with the mighty,
for surrendering himself to death
and letting himself be taken for a sinner,
while he was bearing the faults of many
and praying all the time for sinners.

The word of the Lord.

All:

Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Someone praying on their own may read the psalm from beginning to end, without the response in between each stanza.

℟   Father, I put my life in your hands.

In you, O Lord, I take refuge.
Let me never be put to shame.
In your justice, set me free.
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
It is you who will redeem me, Lord.  ℟

In the face of all my foes
I am a reproach,
an object of scorn to my neighbours
and of fear to my friends.  ℟

Those who see me in the street
run far away from me.
I am like a dead man, forgotten in men’s hearts,
like a thing thrown away.  ℟

But as for me, I trust in you, Lord,
I say: ‘You are my God.’
My life is in your hands, deliver me
from the hands of those who hate me. ℟

Let your face shine on your servant.
Save me in your love.
Be strong, let your heart take courage,
all who hope in the Lord. ℟

Second Reading

Reader:

A reading from the letter to the Hebrews

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace, when we are in need of help.

During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was a Son, he learnt to obey through suffering, but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.

The word of the Lord.

All:

Thanks be to God.

Gospel

Depending on the number of people present, the Passion proclamation could be read by three people, by two people (one reading the words of Jesus and the other proclaiming the rest), or by one person on their own.

Reading parts: N – Narrator, ✠ – Jesus, C – Other voices

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John

N Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kedron valley. There was a garden there, and he went into it with his disciples. Judas the traitor knew the place well, since Jesus had often met his disciples there, and he brought the cohort to this place together with a detachment of guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees, all with lanterns and torches and weapons. Knowing everything that was going to happen to him, Jesus then came forward and said,

Who are you looking for?

N They answered,

C Jesus the Nazarene.

N He said,

I am he.

N Now Judas the traitor was standing among them. When Jesus said, ‘I am he’, they moved back and fell to the ground. He asked them a second time,

Who are you looking for?

N They said,

C Jesus the Nazarene.

N Jesus replied,

I have told you that I am he. If I am the one you are looking for, let these others go.

N This was to fulfil the words he had spoken: ‘Not one of those you gave me have I lost’.

Simon Peter, who carried a sword, drew it and wounded the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter,

Put your sword back in its scabbard; am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?

N The cohort and its captain and the Jewish guards seized Jesus and bound him. They took him first to Annas, because Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had suggested to the Jews, ‘It is better for one man to die for the people’.

Simon Peter, with another disciple, followed Jesus. This disciple, who was known to the high priest, went with Jesus into the high priest’s palace, but Peter stayed outside the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who was keeping the door and brought Peter in. The maid on duty at the door said to Peter,

C Aren’t you another of that man’s disciples?

N He answered,

C I am not.

N Now it was cold, and the servants and guards had lit a charcoal fire and were standing there warming themselves; so Peter stood there too, warming himself with the others.

The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered,

I have spoken openly for all the world to hear; I have always taught in the synagogue and in the Temple where all the Jews meet together: I have said nothing in secret. But why ask me? Ask my hearers what I taught: they know what I said.

N At these words, one of the guards standing by gave Jesus a slap in the face, saying,

C Is that the way to answer the high priest?

N Jesus replied,

If there is something wrong in what I said, point it out; but if there is no offense in it, why do you strike me?

N Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas, the high priest.

As Simon Peter stood there warming himself, someone said to him,

C Aren’t you another of his disciples?

N He denied it saying,

C I am not.

N One of the high priest’s servants, a relation of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said,

C Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?

N Again Peter denied it; and at once a cock crew.

They then led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was now morning. They did not go into the Praetorium themselves or they would be defiled and unable to eat the passover. So Pilate came outside to them and said,

C What charge do you bring against this man?

N They replied,

C If he were not a criminal, we should not be handing him over to you.

N Pilate said,

C Take him yourselves, and try him by your own Law.

N The Jews answered,

C We are not allowed to put a man to death.

N This was to fulfil the words Jesus had spoken indicating the way he was going to die.

So Pilate went back into the Praetorium and called Jesus to him, and asked,

C Are you the king of the Jews?

N Jesus replied,

Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others spoken to you about me?

N Pilate answered,

C Am I a Jew? It is your own people and the chief priests who have handed you over to me: what have you done?

N Jesus replied,

Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent me being surrendered to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this kind.

N Pilate said,

C So you are a king then?

N Jesus answered,

It is you who say it. Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this; to bear witness to the truth, and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.

N Pilate said,

C Truth? What is that?

N And with that he went out again to the Jews and said,

C I find no case against him. But according to a custom of yours I should release one prisoner at the Passover; would you like me, then, to release the king of the Jews?

N At this they shouted:

C Not this man, but Barabbas.

N Barabbas was a brigand.

Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged; and after this, the soldiers twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him and saying,

C Hail, king of the Jews!

N And they slapped him in the face.

Pilate came outside and said to them,

C Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case.

N Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said,

C Here is the man.

N When they saw him the chief priests and the guards shouted,

C Crucify him! Crucify him!

N Pilate said,

C Take him yourselves and crucify him: I can find no case against him.

N The Jews replied,

C We have a Law, and according to the Law he ought to die, because he has claimed to be the son of God.

N When Pilate heard them say this his fears increased. Re-entering the Praetorium, he said to Jesus,

C Where do you come from?

N But Jesus made no answer. Pilate then said to him,

C Are you refusing to speak to me? Surely you know I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?

N Jesus replied,

You would have no power over me if it had not been given you from above; that is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater guilt.

N From that moment Pilate was anxious to set him free, but the Jews shouted,

C If you set him free you are no friend of Caesar’s; anyone who makes himself king is defying Caesar.

N Hearing these words, Pilate had Jesus brought out, and seated himself on the chair of judgement at a place called the Pavement, in Hebrew Gabbatha. It was Passover Preparation Day, about the sixth hour. Pilate said to the Jews,

C Here is your king.

N They said,

C Take him away, take him away. Crucify him!

N Pilate said,

C Do you want me to crucify your king?

N The chief priests answered,

C We have no king except Caesar.

N So in the end Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

They then took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out of the city to the place of the skull, or, as it was called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side with Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote out a notice and had it fixed to the cross; it ran: ‘Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews’. This notice was read by many of the Jews, because the place where Jesus was crucified was not far from the city, and the writing was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. So the Jewish chief priests said to Pilate,

C You should not write ‘King of the Jews’, but ‘This man said: I am King of the Jews’.

N Pilate answered,

C What I have written, I have written.

N When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier. His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from neck to hem; so they said to one another,

C Instead of tearing it, let’s throw dice to decide who is to have it.

N In this way the words of scripture were fulfilled:

     They shared out my clothing among them.
     They cast lots for my clothes.

This is exactly what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother,

Woman, this is your son.

N Then to the disciple he said,

This is your mother.

N And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.

After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfil the scripture perfectly he said:

I am thirsty.

N A jar full of vinegar stood there, so putting a sponge soaked in vinegar on a hyssop stick they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar he said,

It is accomplished;

N And bowing his head he gave up the spirit.

All kneel and pause a moment.

N It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the sabbath – since the sabbath was a day of special solemnity – the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then the other. When they came to Jesus, they found that he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it – trustworthy evidence, and he knows he speaks the truth – and he gives it so that you may believe as well. Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture:

     Not one bone of his will be broken,

and again, in another place scripture says:

     They will look on the one whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, who was a disciple of Jesus though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was near at hand, they laid Jesus there.

“The Gospel of the Lord” is not said today.

Homily or Silent Reflection on the Readings

You may choose to watch the homily video, or use the question below to as a guide for your own silent reflection.

Jesus’ final words in the Gospel of John are “it is accomplished”. In the first chapter, John the Baptist had declared him to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
How do our lives celebrate Jesus’ accomplishment of drawing us completely into God’s all-embracing love?

Solemn Intercessions

As we do in the liturgy in churches on this afternoon, the intercessions take on a special form. In particular, the Vatican has this year introduced an additional special intention.

Reader:

Let us pray, dearly beloved, for the holy Church of God,
that our God and Lord be pleased to give her peace,
to guard her and to unite her throughout the whole world
and grant that, leading our life in tranquillity and quiet,
we may glorify God the Father almighty.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
who in Christ revealed your glory to all the nations,
watch over the works of your mercy,
that your Church, spread throughout all the world,
may persevere with steadfast faith in confessing your name.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Reader:

Let us pray also for our most Holy Father Pope Francis,
that our God and Lord,
who chose him for the Order of Bishops,
may keep him safe and unharmed for the Lord’s holy Church,
to govern the holy People of God.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
by whose decree all things are founded,
look with favour on our prayers
and in your kindness protect the Pope chosen for us,
that, under him, the Christian people,
governed by you their maker,
may grow in merit by reason of their faith.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Reader:

Let us pray also for our Bishop Vincent (or the name of the local bishop),
for all Bishops, Priests, and Deacons of the Church
and for the whole of the faithful people.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is sanctified and governed,
hear our humble prayer for your ministers,
that, by the gift of your grace,
all may serve you faithfully.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Reader:

Let us pray also for our catechumens,
that our God and Lord
may open wide the ears of their inmost hearts
and unlock the gates of his mercy,
that, having received forgiveness of all their sins
through the waters of rebirth,
they, too, may be one with Christ Jesus our Lord.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
who make your Church ever fruitful with new offspring,
increase the faith and understanding of our catechumens,
that, reborn in the font of Baptism,
they may be added to the number of your adopted children.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Reader:

Let us pray also for all our brothers and sisters who believe in Christ,
that our God and Lord may be pleased,
as they live the truth,
to gather them together and keep them in his one Church.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
who gather what is scattered
and keep together what you have gathered,
look kindly on the flock of your Son,
that those whom one Baptism has consecrated
may be joined together by integrity of faith
and united in the bond of charity.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Reader:

Let us pray also for the Jewish people,
to whom the Lord our God spoke first,
that he may grant them to advance in love of his name
and in faithfulness to his covenant.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
who bestowed your promises on Abraham and his descendants,
hear graciously the prayers of your Church,
that the people you first made your own
may attain the fullness of redemption.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Reader:

Let us pray also for those who do not believe in Christ,
that, enlightened by the Holy Spirit,
they, too, may enter on the way of salvation.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
grant to those who do not confess Christ
that, by walking before you with a sincere heart,
they may find the truth
and that we ourselves, being constant in mutual love
and striving to understand more fully the mystery of your life,
may be made more perfect witnesses to your love in the world.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Reader:

Let us pray also for those who do not acknowledge God,
that, following what is right in sincerity of heart,
they may find the way to God himself.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
who created all people
to seek you always by desiring you
and, by finding you, come to rest,
grant, we pray,
that, despite every harmful obstacle,
all may recognise the signs of your fatherly love
and the witness of the good works
done by those who believe in you,
and so in gladness confess you,
the one true God and Father of our human race.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Reader:

Let us pray also for those in public office,
that our God and Lord
may direct their minds and hearts according to his will
for the true peace and freedom of all.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
in whose hand lies every human heart
and the rights of peoples,
look with favour, we pray,
on those who govern with authority over us,
that throughout the whole world,
the prosperity of peoples,
the assurance of peace,
and freedom of religion
may through your gift be made secure.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Reader:

Let us pray also for all those who suffer the consequences of the current
pandemic,
that God the Father may grant health to the sick,
strength to those who care for them, comfort to families
and salvation to all the victims who have died.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
only support of our human weakness,
look with compassion upon the sorrowful condition of your children
who suffer because of this pandemic;
relieve the pain of the sick,
give strength to those who care for them,
welcome into your peace those who have died
and, throughout this time of tribulation,
grant that we may all find comfort in your merciful love.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Reader:

Let us pray, dearly beloved,
to God the Father almighty,
that he may cleanse the world of all errors,
banish disease, drive out hunger,
unlock prisons, loosen fetters,
granting to travellers safety, to pilgrims return,
health to the sick, and salvation to the dying.

Pause for silent prayer

Leader:

Almighty ever-living God,
comfort of mourners, strength of all who toil,
may the prayers of those who cry out in any tribulation
come before you,
that all may rejoice,
because in their hour of need
your mercy was at hand.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Adoration of the Holy Cross

If you have a cross or crucifix at hand, you may take some time now to pray in reverence towards the cross as you would do in the church on this afternoon. The leader may begin by inviting everyone to adoration.

Leader:

Behold the wood of the Cross,
on which hung the salvation of the world.

All:

Come, let us adore.

Then everyone takes some time in silent prayer before the cross.
The invitation and silent prayer may be repeated two more times.

Lord’s Prayer

Leader:

Let us pray the words that Jesus taught us.

All:

Our Father…

Concluding Prayer

Leader:

Be mindful, Lord, of this your family,
for whose sake our Lord Jesus Christ, when betrayed,
did not hesitate to yield himself into his enemies’ hands,
and undergo the agony of the cross:
he who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

All:

Amen.

As we do in the liturgy in churches on this afternoon, today’s celebration ends without the Sign of the Cross.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This celebration is based on the Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest, Congregation for Divine Worship, 1988; and Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest: Directives for the Dioceses of Australia, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 2004. In Pastoral Handbook for the Dioceses of Australia: Sunday Celebration of the Word, Sunday Celebration of the Hours, © National Liturgical Commission (Australia), 2004, published by The Liturgical Commission, Brisbane.

Excerpts of the English Translation of The Roman Missal, © 2010, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

Excerpts of the English Translation of The Divine Office, © 1974 the hierarchies of Australia, England and Wales, Ireland.

Readings from the Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967, 1968, Darton Longman and Todd Ltd. Respsonsorial Psalm texts from The Psalms: A New Translation © 1963, The Grail (England).

Psalm texts used in the Proclamation of Praise from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.

Other texts, homily video and graphics (except where otherwise indicated) produced by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Wentworthville for prayer at home during the period of time that Masses are suspended and/or Sunday obligation is dispensed in the Diocese of Parramatta due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This resource can be used for personal, non-profit use, and only for its intended purpose.