Holy Week and Easter Sunday (A)

BILINGUAL REFLECTIONS FOR SUNDAY

HOLY WEEK AND EASTER SUNDAY April, 2017

HOLY THURSDAY: THE LORD´S SUPPER. April 13, 2017

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, This is my body that is for you. In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Have you ever imagined our faith and our worship without the Eucharist? And this would mean a faith and reunion without even Sunday Mass. For us the Eucharist is not only the distinctive of our Christian Catholic celebration but the center of our worship. There is no need to compare ourselves with other Christian denominations or faiths, but the words of the Gospel and of the first Letter of Paul to the Corinthians would never had the same sense when they tell us, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, This is my body that is for you. In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Tonight is the prologue to the betrayal in the garden with the kiss of Judas, and the pain of the cross, but also the empty tomb. Tonight the symbols of Jesus´ love go beyond words: the Eucharist, the priesthood, and the commandment of love.

 

The Israelites celebrate their freedom from Egypt, and the renewal of the alliance. Paul teaches us that Christ´s Passover is our new covenant in his blood. At the end of the last supper Jesus assures us of his Eucharistic presence, and for this he institutes the Christian priesthood; in this way there is no Eucharist without priesthood, and there is no priesthood without Eucharist. The priest partakes in Christ´s eternal priesthood, responding to his call of service of the only high priest and his people.

The Gospel brings to mind Jesus´ washing of his apostles´ feet, job at that time done only by a servant. This gesture gives meaning to the entire Church´s vocation of humble service.

GOOD FRIDAY: THE PASSION OF THE LORD April 14, 2017

The ancient name given to this day, recalls me the question once asked for a young girl at the end of service, “After so much suffering and cruelty endured by Jesus, why instead of calling this day, Bad Friday, we still say, Good Friday?” Well, what makes this day good and holy is not the action of the evildoers, but the love of Jesus.

The scriptural readings focus on the sufferings of Jesus. The forth song of the servant an image of Christ, describes the servant´s manner, ruthlessly treated, and he remains silent. But his torment suffered on behalf of his people, is redemptive for their sins. The Letter to the Hebrews also adds, “He learned obedience through what he suffered, and (…) became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

In the Passion account written by John, we learn that in the midst of his sufferings, Jesus freely offers his life in obedience to the Father; he assertively asks twice his enemies, “Whom are you looking for?” and when they responds, “Jesus of Nazareth,” he says to them, “I AM.” At the last supper he had told Judas his traitor to carry out his plot quickly. Jesus answers their questions to the high priest, and to Pilate. To the soldier who strikes him, he answers, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” At the very end of his life, he assigns the beloved disciple to his Mother Mary, the figure of Church. Being in charge of his life to the last moment, and declaring that all have being accomplished, he declares, “It is finished,” and he puts his life in the hands of his Heavenly Father.

HOLY SATURDAY April 15, 2017

In a very ancient homily in the Liturgy of the Hours, for Holy Saturday, we find a phrase that can give the meaning of this holy day: “There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness.” It does not mean that today is a day of emptiness in a sense of prayer and spiritual reading. There is certainly no celebration of the Eucharist, but we could keep it as possible as a day of quiet, a day of silence, reading, and rest, since everything moves toward the celebration of the great Easter Vigil, with the Liturgy of the Light, the Liturgy of the Word, the Baptismal Liturgy, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Holy Saturday is a quiet time of reflection, a break in our ordinary busy life. It is a time of expectation for tonight Easter glory and triumph of the Resurrection of the Lord. “Do not be afraid! I know you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.”

 

EASTER SUNDAY (A) John 20: 1-9. April 16, 2017

“They put him to death by hanging him on a three. This man God raised on the third day (…) Everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Once, the catechesis teacher in eighth grade, asked his students to tell the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ to the little first graders on the Easter Sunday liturgy. This representation would help him to preach his sermon about the Passover. In view of the fact that the Passover of Jesus is not an easy story to cover, since children need not abstract concepts to explain or prove the resurrection of Jesus, but images, like something they can see and hear, feel and touch, they decided to go through all the scripture readings proclaimed on the Mass of Easter Sunday, and with the help of videos, song, and living act out they delightfully told the story.

The Gospel account tells us that the resurrection begins with an empty tomb, where Mary Magdalene weeps not just for the death of his beloved Master. She runs to tell Peter and John, because she imagines that someone has taken the body from the tomb, and she does not know where they have put him. Then we see Peter and John running to the sepulcher in an unequal competition, being young John getting first to the grave. He bends down, sees the burial cloths, but does not go in; he waits for the boss to go first. Peter, as well John, sees the cloth that had covered the head is rolled up in a separate place. When John also goes in, he sees and believes. All these actions are played very fast and with evident surprise.

The eighth grade youngsters then represented Peter at the house of a non-Jewish man, Cornelius. With simplicity but full of wisdom, Peter, in one minute summarizes the whole ministry of Jesus: what had happen in Judea, beginning in Galilee, Jesus anointed with Holy Spirit and power, taught and healed many. He was put to death on a cross by his enemies. On the third day God raised him, and he was seen by many people, but not by all. In his name we have forgiveness of sins. We did not tell the first graders that this short and first message is technically called kerygma”, a Greek word for Kernel.

The older students playing Peter and the other apostles did not try to prove the resurrection or explain it; only that God transformed the shameful death of Jesus on the cross to a glorious resurrection, in which we his disciples are invited to share, given that the resurrection is about Christ and about us.

When the turn came to show Paul´s letter, the apostle uses the metaphorical figure of the aged yeast to explain that this old yeast can spoil the total lot of bread. In this way Paul warns the Corinthians not to follow the bad example, but to repent from their sinful ways. Later on the kids are advised to ask God´s forgiveness for their wrongdoings.

The representation of the resurrection ends with Mary Magdalene staying crying at the empty tomb; there she is the first person to see Jesus alive. Mary is also the first believer to go in haste and joy to preach, “I have seen the Lord.”

The greatest of all miracles, the resurrection, is not something only to be told, but also to be celebrated. And like we did with the school children, now, after hearing this good news, we celebrate his death and resurrection at the Lord´s altar. The resurrection of Christ is not simply a magnificent episode in Christian history, but it is about something that even though seemed impossible, continuous transforming our lives by way of the power of Christ and his Holy Spirit.

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