Monday of Holy Week 2007
The opening words from today’s first reading from Isaiah set the tone for the rest of Holy Week: “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, Upon whom I have put my Spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations.”
Holy Week, culminating as it does with the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, portrays Jesus as Servant par excellence. There is no greater love, we read in the Scriptures, than to lay down your very life for your friends. This is precisely the service of Jesus to all of us.
Jesus is our exemplar. We are to follow in his footsteps. This is what our earthly journey is all about. During this Holy Week, let us focus on our serving others as we mentioned in our homily for Palm Sunday. Let’s push our pride aside, let the air out of ourselves, get ourselves un-puffed-up, deflate ourselves in the service and love of others and thus imitate the Lord Jesus who loved us so much and served us so greatly. This is what Holy Week is all about.
Tuesday of Holy Week 2007
Yesterday we spoke of Jesus’ service to us so aptly commemorated during Holy Week and of our ministry to imitate this service with regard to our families and neighbors. In today’s first reading, Isaiah leads us on a bit further: “It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
Serve others, yes. But in serving them be a light to others as a servant of Christ. Jesus told us elsewhere in the Gospel that we are the light of the world. Light is life, the opposite of darkness, sin. As we serve others during this Holy Week, let us also bolster our own discipleship, to follow the values of Christ more closely in all aspects of our lives, as we serve.
Our world today needs Christ so badly and we are the ones who can and must supply that need. There is so much hatred, selfishness, pride, lust, resentment and rage in our world today. Jesus is urging us to show the world the way of love, compassion, caring, forgiving and gentleness, to show the world his way.
Wednesday of Holy Week 2007
We now prepare to enter the Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, culminating in the glorious feast of Easter. In today’s selection for the first reading, Isaiah tells us, “The Lord is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”
As we witness Jesus’ great love and service for us in the liturgies of the next few days, let us continue to ask him for his help to let him be our way, truth and life. Let us set our faces in flint, in firm resolve, not to give in to the useless ways of the world. Sometimes these things seem too tantalizing, but we know that they will lead us to the darkness, sin, and unhappiness.
If we strive to follow the ways of Jesus, we will never be put to shame. Shame tells me that who I am is not OK. Who I am will always be OK if I follow Jesus.
Holy Thursday 2007
We read in the Book of Exodus: “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations will celebrate.” These words give us a good description of Holy Thursday, a memorial feast of the Chrism Mass, the Priesthood, Eucharist, and Service.
Traditionally, this was the day of the Chrism Mass, the Liturgy in which the blessed oils used in the various sacraments are blessed by the Bishop. Three kinds of oil are used by the Church in various sacraments. They are each consecrated by the Bishop and set aside for a particular use in the Liturgy. The Oil of Catechumens is used in the sacrament of Baptism, the Oil of the Sick is used in the Sacrament of the Sick, and Chrism is used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders in the ordination of priests and bishops.
On this day the priests also renew their commitment to their priestly service. During this time the Bishop usually speaks warm words to his priests and blesses them in their service. During this part of the Liturgy, I always feel so proud to be a priest. Priesthood is an awesome thing, beyond my power with words to describe. I know I do not deserve this honor, that it is God’s gift to me. Please pray today (and every day for that matter) for your priests, that they continue to be able to serve as they should.
Today is also a memorial of the most precious gift of the Eucharist. In the readings for today’s Liturgy we will read of Christ instituting the Eucharist, how he took bread and wine and said: This is my body, this is my blood. Do this in memory of me. This is the greatest gift Jesus could give us. In Eucharist he gives us himself. How grateful we should be for this wonderful gift.
Today is also a memorial of the commission given to Christ’s disciples to serve others. “As I have done for you, you should also do.” As we have seen all through this Holy Week, service is the very essence of our discipleship. Service is love and we are to love our neighbor as our self. The Holy Thursday Liturgy also contains the rite of the washing of feet, a demonstration, a symbol of the service we are to give to others. Let this symbol cause us to rise to a greater level of service to those around us.
Holy Thursday is a wonderful feast day. It is about the Holy Oils we use in our rituals, the priesthood, the Eucharist, and our Service to one another. Let us give a special thanks today to God for these gifts and resolve to better follow in the footsteps of his Divine Son.
Good Friday 2007
According to the ancient tradition of the Church, the Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday. The whole Christian world pauses today to recall the death of Jesus. The Liturgy of Good Friday begins with prayers and Scripture readings with the spotlight on the Passion of Jesus according to St. John. The Liturgy of the Word ends with the General Intercessions. Then Follows the Veneration of the Cross which is followed by a brief communion service in which the faithful receive the bread which was consecrated yesterday at the Lord’s Supper.
The story of Good Friday begins all the way back in the Book of Genesis in the Garden of Eden. If you recall, God took the man he had created and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. And God gave man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees in the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die. Then God created the Woman and gave her to the man.
It happened that later on the cunning serpent tempted the woman to eat from the tree of knowledge. She told the serpent they would die if they ate from this tree. And the serpent told her: You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad. The woman then ate from the tree and also gave some of the fruit to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then their eyes were opened and they hid from the Lord.
And so sin entered the world. The inclination to moral evil became man’s lot. The finite had offended the infinite and reconciliation was out of the question. Humankind was doomed to bring forth their children in pain, to toil all the days of their life, and to return in death to the dirt from which they were made. The beautiful creation of God was now tainted by sin.
Hundreds of years later, a man named Paul wrote a letter to the Romans. And in this letter he told them: What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Miserable one that I am! Who is going to get me out of this predicament? Thanks be to God, it has been done by Christ the Lord. He has set me free!
This is why Good Friday is called Good. On the first Good Friday, Jesus built a bridge. We said above that the finite cannot go to the infinite. That which is lesser cannot do that which is greater. But the infinite can come to the finite. That which is greater can do that which is lesser.
And so God willed that his divine Son, the Infinite Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the one to be called Christ, became man and came to reconcile us to the Father by dying on the cross on that first Good Friday. We became his children and he led us back to the Father. A most profound story. A most simple story. A story that demands our giving thanks to God for his Goodness and kindness to us. Good Friday is the revelation of God’s love and service for us in the sufferings and death of Jesus.
Crucified Lord, we thank you on this Good Friday with all our hearts.
Holy Saturday 2007
All day Saturday until the darkness announces the end of another day, we wait. We wait all this day, keeping watch at the tomb of the Lord where Jesus lies in death. The altars in our churches are bare, the tabernacle door is open showing that it is empty. Mass is not celebrated during the day on this Saturday. We wait in silence.
We wait for the Easter Vigil to begin in the evening when the light of the new fire will proclaim Jesus as the Light of the world, when we rejoice with all the heavenly powers at the singing of the Easter Proclamation in anticipation of the resurrection of Christ. The church lights are lit full force as we begin the Easter Vigil listening to the readings for the vigil, waiting at last to hear the bells ring and the Gloria to begin. We wait for life again to burst forth in our risen Savior for us all.
Indeed, let us rejoice and be glad for the day the Lord has made is about to come.