Have you ever wondered why it is that so many good folk in our parishes are suspicious (afraid?) of a priest, deacon, bishop (even a Pope!) who is sensed not...
SUNDAY 9 APRIL
Scripture: Philippians 2: 6 – 11
The holiest week in the Church’s year begins today. While it is called ‘Holy Week’ it is meant to be a holy week for us. Will it be for you?
This week reveals God’s immense and immeasurable love for us – truly the greatest love of all: Jesus lays down his life for us, his friends. So powerful is this love that it should evoke a love response within us, a love which transcends duty, obligation and ceremonial ritual. If we are to observe this as a holy week then it should come from our hearts and find its expression in heartfelt acts of reverence, devotion and deep spirituality.
When God came among us, as St. Paul reminds us today, he emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave and became as we are. He didn’t elevate himself with titles and honour. He cam among us to enter into our lives which includes our hardships, difficulties, disappointments, pain, anguish and sorrow. It was God who raised Jesus high!
This Holy Week we empty ourselves of all our earthly stuff and, in a spirit of genuine humility, we enter into the passion, suffering and death of Jesus our Lord and Saviour and, just as he did, we allow God to lift us high as we celebrate and share in his Resurrection at Easter.
Where will you be this Holy Week? As we heard in the proclamation of the Passion at Mass today, the family, friends, apostles and disciples of Jesus deserted him in his hour of need. Where were they when the crowds were shouting “Crucify him, crucify him!” Where were they when he fell under the weight of the cross on his broken and bruised shoulders; when he was blinded by the blood, sweat and tears which ran down his face; when he pleaded from the cross “I Thirst”? How hearrt-breaking for Jesus to look up from the dust where he had fallen and recognise nobody; to look down from the cross and see only his mother, John and Mary of Magdala! Where were they?
Love compels us this week – again not duty and obligation but love! After the Passion today we need to feel this love, to experience, to demonstrate it. It is God’s love and it holds nothing back. God-among-us gives us everything! What will you give? Where will you be?
Plan your Holy Week today: Mass on Monday and Tuesday morning, Penitential Service and Confessions on Tuesday evening, Chrism Mass on Wednesday morning, Parish Mass on Wednesday evening, the the Triduum: Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper followed by adoration at the Altar of Repose; Stations of the Cross on Good Friday morning and Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday afternoon; the Lord’s Resurrection at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday; Mass on Easter Sunday. In every way a Holy Week.
Lord Jesus, I want to be faithful to you this Holy Week, to make up for the failures of your followers and the many opportunities they had to help you and be there for you in the time of your Passion. You do so much for me. May I do this our of love for you. Amen. Change my Heart O Lord!
MONDAY 10 APRIL
Scripture: John 12: 1 – 11
There is just no pleasing some people! Whatever you do or don’t do, say or don’t say, they will never be happy or satisfied. The impression of Judas Iscariot in today’s scripture is that he was one of those people. Instead of being happy that Jesus is receiving some tlc from Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, he grumbles and complains. Also interesting is how suddenly such people become concerned about the poor!
Mary’s gestrure is one of love. Jesus has no problem with accepting her love. How wonderful it must have been for him to be taken care of by someone with such great love! It was before the Passover and the awareness that this was going to be his last Passover and what was going to happen after that must have weighed heavily on Jesus. This kindness and thoughtfulness of Mary was deeply appreciated by him. Perhaps with her woman’s intuition she could see how much he was in need to some love, care and attention.
Do we posess such sensitivity towards the people around us, especially those who give us so much? Caught up in our own struggles and ‘stuff’ we can become quite insensitive. The events of the week ahead provided many opportunities for people to do things for Jesus, but they were not there! It was a stranger, dragged out from among the crowd, who reluctantly helped Jesus to carry his cross; a stranger who stepped out of the crowd to wipe away the blood sweat and tears from his face, strange women who stood on the side of the road weeping! Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Mary’s gesture was not anything great, but it was greatly appreciated by Jesus. We are afraid of what others will think so we fail in the everyday opportunities for an act of kindness, thoughtfulness and compassion. Don’t worry about what others think. Like Judas they will always have something to think or say, so go ahead and let your heart guide and direct you. Do ‘little things with great love.’
Your parish priest(s) have a full week ahead as they guide you and the rest of the parish in an experience of Holy Week that will be meaningful and spiritually uplifting and fulfilling for you. Perhaps some kind gesture – even a ‘thank you Father’?
Go to the Penitential Service tomorrow at 7.00pm and experience the Joy of being forgiven! Invite someone who has not been to Confession for a long time. Offer a life to someone in your NSG who might not be able to drive at night or is afraid of going out alone. This could be your ‘kind gesture’.
Lord Jesus, you are all around me. Help me to see your face and your presence in others and to reach our to you with love, care and compassion. Amen. Change my Heart O God!
TUESDAY 11 APRIL
Scripture John 13:21-33, 36-38
“I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me.”
It was prophesied that the Christ, who come to us to prove that God was true to His Word, and that he would come to us in person and because of His love for us, he would suffer ghastly torment, humiliation, crucifixion and rejection.
The prophecy came true as Jesus was betrayed by one of His closest of friends, one who had sat with Him and shared a brotherly meal with Him. There was first the betrayl of Judas, who was the articulator of Christ’s crucifixion and then the betrayl of Simon Peter, who would deny Him three times!
God did not want this to happen. God had trusted and hoped that we, His children, would respond and reciprocate by glorifying Him and following the ways that He came to teach us. But, He saw that His efforts would be in vain, and openly repeated the prophesy, by “testifying” that He would be betrayed – by His own people.
History has a way of repeating itself and since then Jesus has been denied over and over again and will be denied many more times –even by us, his own followers. Where will you be during the events of the Lord’s Passion this Holy Week. Will you take up your cross and follow him? Are you willing to lay down your life for the cross?
We can and should follow, faithfully the WAY OF THE CROSS during this Holy Week especially on Good Friday. When you are asked: ‘Were you there when they cricified my Lord?’ what will your answer be?
Go to the Penitential Service tonight and while you wait to go to confession and/or after you have been to confession read the Passion of our Lord according to St. Luke (copies of the Passion will be in the benches). In this way you can follow the Way of the Cross!
Father, be there to help me in my time of needs, especially when, in my weakness, I deny you. Strengthen me that I may feed the hungry, care for the sick and homeless, be patient and loving and in all the many ways and opportunities you provide. Amen. Change my heart O God!
WEDNESDAY 12 APRIL
Scripture: Matthew 26:14-25
Judas looked for an opportunity to betray Him.
Today we read the account of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas. It is quite obvious that Judas was motivated by money. Jesus had put Judas in charge of the money bag and the Gospel tells us that on occasions he would help himself to some it (John 12:6). His love of money is evident when he asks the chief priests how much they would pay him to betray Jesus.
It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that Judas was able to turn against the one person who he must have known (for a fact) epitomized goodness and holiness. He witnessed firsthand the incredible miracles that Jesus had performed throughout His brief three-year ministry. He was privileged to have heard Him preach at length about the Kingdom of God and had seen evidence of His love, mercy and compassion for all those whom He encountered who were in need of healing and forgiveness.
During Holy Week we tend to focus a lot of our attention on the brutality and physical trauma which Jesus endured and yet so often the emotional hurt which we experience can be far greater than most physical pain. I’m quite certain that Jesus’ heart ached when one of his close companions came up to Him and kissed Him as a signal to the soldiers waiting with clubs and swords to arrest Him. In Matthew 26:51 Jesus addresses Judas as “my friend” even though He knew full well what treachery was about to befall Him.
The harsh reality about betrayal is that it almost always comes from someone whom we considered to be a friend; someone we believed to be trustworthy, whom we thought had your best interests at heart. Probably the most hurtful thing about being betrayed is the realization that someone you placed your trust in had let you down either by being unfaithful, having broken a promise, having deceived you, or misled or double-crossed you.
We witness the beginning of the heartbreak that Jesus would suffer as a result of being abandoned by the very people He had come to call His friends.
Would you have been counted among the many who abandoned Jesus in His desperate longing for support during His hour of need? Consult the Holy Week Timetable and make sure you set time aside to attend the Holy Week Services and walk with Jesus from the Upper Room to Calvary and finally to His triumphant Resurrection.
Mass tonight is at 6.00pm. Make a special effort
Lord Jesus so many people in our world are in pain, not from physical injuries but from hurts they carry as a result on being discriminated against, abandoned or cast aside for one reason or another. Help me not to hurt others because of prejudice or my burning ambitions to get on in this world at whatever the cost. Amen. Change my Heart O God!
HOLY THURSDAY 13 APRIL
Scripture: John 13: 1-15 He knew that the hour had come.
Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead and had, the very next day, entered Jerusalem triumphantly. The crowds who had come up for the Passover festival welcomed Him with shouts of “Hosanna” and with palms – the symbol of goodness and victory in those times.
As the Scripture informs us today, Jesus knew that His time had come. Throughout His ministry, He had seen and witnessed the power of sin over the lives of men and women and the absolute curse that death had over them. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection and the Pharisees believed it would happen when the Messiah came (and He has still not come according to them). Jesus was overwhelmingly filled with the desire to conquer death and sin. He had wept at the tomb of Lazarus because of the horror in which people viewed death – the end of life, not the entry into eternal life.
He was desperate to implement the will of His Father and the Father’s plan for the redemption and salvation of mankind. In a twist, so beyond our comprehension of how God turns evil into good, it was the devil himself (the tempter of man into sin and the one who delighted in death) who put it into the mind of Judas to betray Our Lord. How often do we fail to recognise what the devil puts into our minds!
On this Maundy Thursday Jesus, in the typical human fashion of leaving important things to the last minute when all are utterly focused, spells out His legacy for mankind. We must remember that although He had told His Apostles that He would suffer grievously, they were still under the impression that He was about to liberate Jerusalem in a manner expected of the Messiah – taking over power and sorting matters out to Israel’s benefit.
His act of servant leadership in washing their feet and rebuking any attempt to stop Him, shocked them and must also shock us into the reality of what it truly means to be a follower of His. Their next shock was learning that He was crucified. They and we can now combine these two events to make sense of what He came to do: give us eternal life – if we really want it – by living according to His precepts of loving God, neighbour and self.
Perform a Christian act between now and Easter Sunday which equates to washing another’s feet. It could be forgiving someone, helping someone, praying for someone, contacting someone long forgotten, restoring a relationship and so much more.
Spend some time at the Altar of Repose and keep watch with Jesus.
Dear Lord, wash my spiritual feet so well, that I may be strengthened to wash the feet of others. Amen. Change my Heart O God.!
GOOD FRIDAY 14 APRIL
Scipture: John 18: 1 – 19; 42 Were you there …?
So often, on Good Friday, we sing that wonderful gospel classic “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble…”
How can we stand at the foot of the Cross of Calvary and not tremble?
When we witness the agony that our Lord was suffering during that barbaric and cruel method of execution, words escape us – we are left inarticulate, and can do little else but shudder in horror, with our souls trembling.
“Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?”
When the body of Jesus was taken down from the cross and put into the arms of His mother Mary, and she looked at the terrible wounds inflicted on her Son, she too “trembled”.
The danger these days, is that thanks to the media, we are exposed to all the violence and brutality going on in every area of the world, and we become ‘immune’ – we no longer ‘tremble’ at the suffering of others. And that can carry through to being immune to the suffering of Jesus at Calvary. When I am no longer affected by the pain and misery of others, then I need to “tremble” because it means that my soul is in danger of dying!
The challenge is to retain a deep sense of compassion for all who suffer without becoming overwhelmed by the volume of pain and so paralysed that I am unable to do anything.
Let us look again at the Cross today, and ask for the grace to experience, truly, the extravagance of God’s love shown by Jesus in His sacrifice, as well as a profound horror for the sin which made that sacrifice necessary.
Go to the Veneration of the Cross service today, and ask God to give you the grace to really enter into the suffering of the Lord, and to lead you to practical ways to ease the suffering of others. Venerate the Cross and allow yourself to ‘tremble.’
Lord Jesus, I am overwhelmed by the depth of your love and sacrifice for me. Help me to understand the destructiveness of sin and violence, and fill me with Your Spirit of compassion, mercy and love. Amen. Change my Heart O God!
HOLY SATURDAY 15 APRIL
Scripture: John 19: 38 – 42
All is quiet today. It is a reflective day. There are no celebrations, just quiet contemplation and a sense of sadness after yesterday’s dramatic and painful event of our Lord’s Passion and Death. Today we allow oirselves to experience this in a deeply personal way.
So much suffering, such excruciating pain, unimaginable cruelty, intense sorrow, profound sadness. It is hard to comprehend that the God of love came among us and mankind returned hate and unspeakable cruelty.
Death, darkness and defeat seem to scream out from the hill of Calvary! The broken and beaten body of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, is gently taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb. Almost a sense of defeat.
Evil would not triumph – could not triumph! The God of life and love conquers the darkness of death, sin and unbelief! Tonight were will proclaim Alleluia! He is Risen!!
Our journey of fasting, abstinence and self-sacrifice will come to an end. Our special efforts during Lent and especially during this Holy Week will explode in a joyful proclamation and renewal of faith! We have asked throught this Lent ‘Change my Heart O God’ and tonight our hearts are renewed, changed and transformed. We are Born Again as we emerge from the darkness of the past into a new life in and with Jesus!
It’s a little foretaste of what awaits at the end of our lives – our personal Easter, our personal Resurrection! The Father who raised his Son Jesus froom the dead will raise us to a new and everlasting life. We who live with him, walk with him, suffer and die with him will RISE WITH HIM! Alleluia!
Go to the Easter Vigil tonight! Celebrate with the Catechumens their Baptism and new life in Christ! Rejoice with the Candidates that they are one with us at the Eucharistic Table, join them in being filled with the Holy Spirit of Confirmation!
Take your Baptism Candle and renew the promises of your Baptism.
Wear white to show that you have cast aside sin and have restored the dignity of your Baptism.
Celebrate your Faith which leads to Eternal Life.
Feel what it is like to be Born Again!
Prepare my heart O God to celebrate with heartfelt thanks and joyful hope the Resurrection of Jesus for in his Resurrection is my Hope and Glory. Amen. Change my heart O God!
These Daily Reflections for Lent 2017 were written by Fr. Desmond Nair, Lawrence Surgeson, Deacon Mark Wardell, Veronica Donnelly, George Cominos and Irene Helsdon. Please acknowledge the authors when copying and distributing. We wish you blessed Easter!