This week we begin by focussing on three short quotes - one from each of the readings - and ‘place’ these on a foundation from the Psalm. This Sunday’s scriptures...
Our Journey to Renewal
PALM SUNDAY 13 APRIL
Scripture: Matthew 21: 1 – 11
In recent times our television screens have been filled with scenes of crowds protesting. So often these demonstrations and protests turn violent. People become passionate – and brave, even to the point of putting themselves in the firing line.
Have you ever wondered about how many of those who lines the streets of Jerusalem on this Palm Sunday shouting ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ were also there outside the praetorium of Pontius Pilate shouting ‘crucify him, crucify him’ ?
It is easy to get caught up in the fervour of the crowd – and to go with the flow. We will see a lot of this in the month ahead as our country prepares for the elections. Are you a ‘go with the flow’ person or are you willing to stand up for what you believe in? It is easy to shout ‘hosanna’ and then to switch to ‘crucify him’ when everybody else is doing the same. That’s what happened in Jerusalem. Hardly anybody was willing to stand up for Jesus. Even his apostles deserted him.
Where will you be this week? What will you be doing? Aptly named, this is the holiest week in the year for any Christian. Many, however, choose to follow the crowds to the beach (Good Friday is after all a public holiday), off to a holiday resort for the long weekend, to Splashy Fenn in the mountains – and a whole lot of other places.
Receiving, holding and waving our palm leaves today should be more than just a Palm Sunday ritual. It must be a sign of our willingness to enter into Jerusalem with Jesus and to follow him faithfully through the events of this week. There are many Catholics who have never experienced the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday Veneration of the Cross and Holy Saturday’s Easter Vigil Mass). Have you?
Let this be a special time for you. Let the popular crowd go on its way. Be faithful to Jesus, and in return, experience the love of God made real for YOU in the events of this week.
Clear your diary. Make time to go to Mass every day this week. Listen to the Word of God and receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Make this a genuinely Holy Week for yourself. Participate in the Triduum.
Lord Jesus, I want, more than anything else, to be faithful to you this week. Strengthen my resolve today and guide me as I journed with you this week to the Joy of Easter. Amen.
MONDAY 14 APRIL
Wow – for me?
Scripture: Isaiah 42: 1 – 7
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations.”
Reading these ancient words of Isaiah makes me realise again what the Father did in sending Jesus to be our Redeemer. Jesus is just so loved by the father, the delight of his soul and he allowed/sent him to us with love, wanting us to learn to love the father as Jesus did. Wow – he did this for me?
Holy Week is a very special week for us to experience just how loved we are by God. Yes we ignore him, our ancestors showed us just how wicked we can be. Jesus was condemned by people just like ourselves – people going with the flow, wanting something special for ourselves, scared to speak the truth, making excuses not to get involved, giving power to corrupt leaders by keeping quiet, not doing something to put the wrongs right.
Now is our time to repent of our past weaknesses and rely on the power of the Resurrection of Jesus not to crucify him again in our lifetime. We are now called to be the other sons and daughters of the Father to be willing to do as Jesus did even if it means dying.
During this week make a very special effort to attend all the deeply meaningful liturgies, quietly listen and let the spirit of Holy Week touch and transform you.
Almighty God your Son showed me the way I am to live my life – help me live it as you will and not as I will. Amen
Our Penitential Service takes place tomorrow evening at 7.00pm. This is your last opportunity for Confession before Easter. Please take full advantage and restore the dignity of your Baptism so that you may make a full renewal of your Baptism at Easter. Nine priests will be available to hear individual confessions.
TUESDAY 15 APRIL
“One of you will betray me”
Scripture: John 13: 21 – 33; 36 – 38
“Betrayal” – such an ugly word, but it fits the ugly deed it describes – breaking the bonds of deep trust and friendship built between two people over a lengthy period of time.
Trust is a fragile thing at best, but if a relationship is going to be life-giving then it needs to be built on that foundation.
From the very beginning God trusted His people – He “advances trust” as it were – gives us the opportunity over and over again to BE the people He wants us to be, bearing fruit for Him that will last. Regardless of the number of times His chosen People failed to live up to that trust, God did not give up on them – He kept on giving them the opportunity to start afresh.
Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, John the Baptist, Mary… All these and many many more “put their trust in the Lord”, and He in them, and when that relationship of trust was lived out to the fullest extent, wonderful things happened!
Today’s Gospel finds Jesus, with immense sadness I’m sure, speaking of two betrayals that will come from two of those closest to Him – Judas and Peter. At the most difficult time of His life, when the support of the twelve would have meant the world, Judas is about to “sell him down the river”, and Peter will deny that he has ever known Jesus!
Yet the Lord does not give up on them. He has no opportunity to re-build the bridge between Himself and Judas because Judas, in despair at what he has done, takes his own life. With Peter, Jesus will give him the opportunity to start again, to cancel out the denials, and He will entrust the Church to Peter.
What about you and I? Each time we do or say something “unloving”, we are, in effect, “betraying” Jesus. Yet He continues to trust us – to give us new opportunities to witness to the friendship that exists between us and Him.
How much does that mean to you or me? Let us try to live up to that trust on this final leg of Jesus’ journey to Calvary. He needs us to be there for Him!
Reflect on that word “betrayal”. Have you been betrayed in life? How did you feel? Have you betrayed someone else? Have you asked for forgiveness? If not, perhaps this is the time to do so. Then reflect on your friendship with Jesus – is His trust in you well-placed, or have you denied Him on occasion? Spend time in prayer about this, and resolve to try to do better.
Lord Jesus, help me to be a faithful friend to You, one who will be there for You, and not deny You. Fill me with Your Spirit of Courage and Perseverance so that I may not fail You. Amen.
WEDNESDAY 16 APRIL
Scripture: Matthew 26: 14 – 25
Betrayal. The very word drips with disloyalty and treachery. To be betrayed by one of his very own makes this almost incomprehensible. Judas had walked with Jesus, eaten with him, witnessed his miracles, listened to his teaching – he had had a personal encounter with Jesus. How could he possibly betray him! Was his own personal agenda more important (whatever that may have been), did he do it for the money? Whatever his reasons were Judas actually betrayed himself.
When push comes to shove may of us will do the same. When our faith is being mocked do we stand up in defense? When the Church is being run down are we willing to counter these attacks? When our friends freely blaspheme and use the Lord’s name in a derogatory way, do we protest? Frequently ours is a silent betrayal – but a betrayal never-the-less.
Now is the time to demonstrate our loyalty, to make up for our betrayals, to refuse to go with the flow, to say no to those who tempt us away from our faith. This is our time to step out from the crowd and, unlike the reluctant Simon of Cyrene, to willing offer to carry the cross of Jesus; this is our time to reach out with the compassion of Veronica; to stand faithfully at the foot of the cross with Mary, the apostle John and Mary Magdalene. The days of his life-giving sacrifice are here. Where will you be?
If you haven’t already, its time to make some decisions about the next 3 days. How will you observe these holy days?
Father, strengthen me as you strengthened your Son Jesus, so that I may loyally and faithfully follow him through his passion and death so as to come to the glory of his resurrection. Amen.
The Mass of the Lord Supper on Holy Thursday Night celebrates the institution of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. Eucharist = Service which is why we enact the washing of the feet of the apostles.
The Oil for the Annointing of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of Chrism which were blessed and consecrated at the Mass of the Oils at the Cathedral yesterday are brought in solemn procession into the Church.
HOLY THURSDAY 17 APRIL
God’s love stays with us
Scripture: John 13: 1 – 15
Today’s Gospel contains some of the most powerful and lovely lines from all of Scripture: “So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power… he rose… and… he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet…” Here, St. John presents us with a penetrating insight into Jesus’ love for us. In some of the final hours of his life, this is the message that the Son of God wants to give.
If we had one night left to live and had everything in our power, would we be washing feet? More likely, we would be living it up or crying and moaning about how unfair life was. But, perhaps we would be like Jesus and would really just use our power to summon all of our loved ones so we could be together one last time.
This is, of course, what Jesus did. Jesus did not use power, though. It was the way he showed the enormity of God’s love for us. Jesus answered the question “What would I do if I knew that I had one night to live?” with “I want you to know how much I love you.” This is why he gives us the Eucharist and why John ties it in with feet washing: that we may live our lives in imitation of the love that takes itself to Calvary.
Randy Pausch, a former computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, delivered his “Last Lecture”, giving life advice through sharing the most important lessons that he had learned throughout his life. He did this, hoping that his daughters could know him after his fight with pancreatic cancer was over. As the model of that kind of longing-to-stay-with-you love, Jesus says to us at the supper table on Holy Thursday: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
After the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Washing the Feet, there is time made available in the church for vigil at the Altar of Repose. Try to spend half an hour in prayer and reflection with our Lord on this holy night.
Loving God and Father, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to be with us. The Eucharist which he left us shows us how much you love us. May we hunger for the Bread of Life always and have the strength and courage to serve our brothers and sisters as Jesus did. Amen.
GOOD FRIDAY 18 APRIL
Scripture: John 18: 1 – 19: 42
The theme of Good Friday’s liturgy is liberation. We are free because of Christ’s love for us. If we do not deeply understand that his sacrifice brings us the great gift of freedom, we miss the greatest joys of Christian life, and we cannot possibly appreciate our own worth.
We are free now to make our lives worthwhile, eternally glorious because of Christ’s surrender to the cross. We are free now because our love and our good works have a lifelong meaning and an eternal day of fulfilment. We are no longer slaves to human limitations and to death as the gloomy end of all. We are eternally free, and that eternal goal has deeply affected time itself; it has changed our whole life and its every detail.
The atmosphere of sorrow is grief over our failure to yield ourselves to this new freedom; we continue to block the way to our new freedom by sin. Jesus won the prize, but we make it ineffective in ourselves by closing the door to him. Nevertheless, he has freed us . From the prophet Hosea we hear the jubilant song of liberation, “He will heal us…He will bound our wounds…on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence.” (Hosea 6 : 1 – 2)
Our Lord Jesus died for love of God and humanity; and the fact that all through his passion he suffered alone brings the depth of his love, for loneliness in suffering is the clearest indication of a person’s capacity to love. Let us walk with Jesus to Calvary showing our love for him and God.
Good Friday is the penultimate day of Holy Week; culminating in Christ’s glorious Resurrection at the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening. Today, with your family, attend: Stations of the Cross and the Veneration of the Cross.
Lord, only you can save us from the blindness of sin and despair. May your light dispel the darkness of our lives and give us joy and hope. Fill our hearts with mercy and compassion that we may bring hope to those who have no hope and show them the light of Jesus. Amen.
HOLY SATURDAY 19 APRIL
Scripture: Matthew 28: 1 – 10 Jesus Lives!!!
“He is not here; for he has risen.” Matthew 28:6. These words first announced by the angel, then preached by the apostles and their successors throughout the ages teach us that Jesus is alive. He is our risen Lord and Saviour.
Unlike others, such as Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter, who were raised from the dead and later died, Jesus was raised to everlasting life – never to die again. He is El Olam – the Everlasting, Eternal One.
What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection for us? Because of our sins he was given over to die, and he was raised to life in order to put us right with God. (Justification) Romans 4:25. The power (the Holy Spirit) which raised Jesus from the dead is available to us today and helps us to become more and more like him. (Sanctification) 2 Corinthians 3:18 and Colossians 1:29.
The resurrection also gives us the blessed assurance that death is not the end – we will live with Jesus in glory. (Hope) John 14: 3 and John 14:19. Jesus’ resurrection is also the guarantee that we will be like him. (Glorification) 1 John 3:2.
We worship and serve a living God who loves us, is always present to us, who is at work in our lives and who intercedes with the Father for us.
Let the world see that Jesus lives in you, by living as he did.
Lord Jesus, thank you for making your home within me. Help me by your grace to love you as you deserve and to be obedient to your Holy Word. Amen. (Based on John 14:23)
These Lenten Reflections were written by Fr. Desmond Nair, Fr. Stephen Tully, Deacon Peter Venter, Irene Helsdon, Fr. Brett Williams and Deacon Henry Blair and edited for use in the Parish of Our Lady of Fatima, Durban North. Written for the glory of God and for the good of his Church, these reflections may be freely copied and distributed. Please acknowledge the authors when copying and distributing. We wish you a blessed and fruitful Holy Week as together we Journey to Renewal at Easter.