Lenten reflections 2018 - Holy Week

 

  

HOLY WEEK
Passion/Palm Sunday

 

(Isaiah 50: 4-7 Philippians 2: 6-11 Mark 14-15:47)
 

‘Blessings on Him who comes in the name of the Lord'

  

This day, Passion Sunday, touches all Christians in very deep ways. It is the beginning of the end, an end opening up a new beginning. We are drawn into the drama of Jesus' final hours and are asked to respond the question, 'Who is this?' Who is this man Jesus, and what is the meaning of his life for our lives? Our response is very important, not for the sake of Jesus, but because it will influence everything that makes up our lives.

 So for this week, let us walk with Jesus - these, his final days, hours on earth. Let us not look at theological, moral implications and meanings at this point, but allow ourselves to be present to Jesus wherever he is and in whatever he does. We will use our active imagination to help us become present to Jesus as he walks the streets of Jerusalem. Let us allow ourselves to really touch into the experience of Jesus and allow this experience to speak to us. Reach out to Jesus in his moments of desolation and frustration - the culmination of a life lived especially for you and me.

 You are on the road with the multitudes singing and praising the Son of David. Feel the joy of the moment, hear what the people are saying. Look through the crowd -You see some unhappy faces? You know they are plotting to kill this humble king riding on a donkey, this king is prepared to die that all may experience fullness of life. As you look round, you meet the eyes of Jesus. Can you see his compassion for you? He asks, 'Who am I for you'? What would you like to say to Jesus right now?

 

Breath Prayer:

I breathe in:    ‘Jesus, Son of David’

I breathe out:   ‘You are …’ (your answer to the question of Jesus)

  


 

 

Monday of Holy Week
(Isaiah 42: 1-7; John 12: 1-11)

 'I am sure I shall see the Lords goodness

in the land of the living'

 

The setting of today's gospel is Bethany, in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. During this last visit with his friends, Jesus receives two gifts, a banquet and an anointing, to remember who Jesus has been for them and to prepare for what is to come. You have been invited to this intimate space. You see Mary come from her room, carrying ajar of pure nard. She kneels down before Jesus in love and reverence and pours the oil over his feet. She caresses his feet and then wipes them with her hair. You look at Jesus, and you see him gazing at you. You feel the strong invitation to do the same. What are your reactions? What is the 'precious oil' with which you would like to use to anoint his feet? What is the gift you would like to give Jesus as he prepares for his death on the cross? As did Mary, kneel before Jesus and pour over his feet your gift. Be present to your love and that of Jesus as you anoint them.

You get up from your position and then hear Jesus ask you to take his seat. He takes a bowl of water and towel and kneels before you. Like Peter you may remonstrate, argue that you are not worthy, that Jesus could not belittle himself to do this for you. But with love he looks at you as he takes off your shoes/sandals. Gently he lifts your feet into the water and washes them. God kneeling before you.God the servant, God the lover. Stay present to this intimate and all-embracing love. How would you like to respond? What is his final word to you?

 

Breath Prayer:

I breathe in:    'Jesus, compassionate one'

I breathe out: 'I rest in your love'

 

 


 

Tuesday of Holy Week
(Isaiah 49: 1-6; John 13: 21-33, 36-38)

 

`You are my servant in whom I shall be glorified,
you are honoured inmy eyes'

 

You walk with Jesus as he joins his disciples for what is to be his last meal. The disciples make a space for you and you have full view of Christ and everyone present. Jesus looks sombre and you hear him say: AI tell you solemnly, one of you will betray me!' Become Judas for a moment. What are you feeling as you hear the words of Jesus? How do think Jesus is feeling? A friend is about to betray him. Now be yourself, when Judas leaves the room. You hear Jesus say: 'Now has the Son of Man been glorified'. What sense do you make of that? Let Jesus reveal that to you.

Be John, the beloved disciple reclining next to Jesus. You have just experienced the anointing/washing of your feet. How do these words, one of you will betray me' affect you as John? What is it that you would like to say to Jesus? Become Peter. You feel indignant when Jesus says: 'Where I am going you cannot follow me now; you will follow me later.' You love Jesus so much that you will lay down your life for him. Feel that love, friendship and commitment. So what is your response when Jesus says: 'A tell you most solemnly, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times'. Are those words saying something to you personally? If so, talk to Jesus about it. Jesus suffers the loneliness of knowing the big story which those closest to him just cannot comprehend. You know the story, so what comfort would you like to extend to him now?

 

Breath Prayer:

I breathe in:     ‘Jesus, I walk with you’

I breathe out:      ‘In your suffering’

 


 

 

Wednesday of Holy Week
(Isaiah 50: 4-9; Matthew 26: 14-25)

 

‘I will praise God's name with a song; I will glorify him with thanksgiving'

 

Still at the meal we see Jesus blessing the bread and the wine. You join the others in praising God for all his wonders. You glorify him for the love and life he shares so freely with others. And today, anointed and forgiven (and even though a day ahead of celebrating the Lord's last supper) you are being prepared for the feast of friends. This is the meal that our Jewish brothers and sisters share each year to commemorate what God has done in their lives. Intuitively you know it is the night of 're­membering', of putting together the body of Christ, the church, the community who gather around the word and the shared meal. It is a bittersweet night of intimacy, gifts given and love expressed.

Jesus knows this is his final night, you know but none of the others are aware of the impending fate awaiting Jesus in a few hours’ time. Jesus looks at those gathered around him, making special contact with you because he knows that you know. He keeps you in his gaze as he lifts up the bread and says: 'This is my body which is for you'. Hear the unspoken words - my body I give that you may have life, my body, manna at the service of your needs'. And taking the cup he said: 'This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood, do this as a memorial of me'. Be the bread of nourishment, the cup of outpouring love, be ready to give yourself completely for the life of another. It is a new covenant filled with mercy, forgiveness, healing and love - calling each of us to be co-redeemers as we extend the precious gifts of mercy, forgiveness and love.

 

Breath Prayer:

I breathe in:    'Jesus, you gave your all to me'

I breathe out: 'I offer you myself as a channel of your grace'

 


 

Thursday of Holy Week
(Isaiah 50: 4-9 Matthew 26: 14-25)

 

`He learnt to obey through suffering and became for all
who obey him the source of eternal salvation'

 

The night is cool, and Jesus invites his disciples and you to spend some time with him in the garden where they so often met to discuss and learn. You feel Jesus' mood. You move closer to him to offer him your support. Deeply troubled, Jesus asks his disciples to pray with him. However, they are tired and fall asleep. You, however, sit close by and listen to his anguished cry. You know what awaits him. Jesus rises from his kneeling position to see if the disciples are with him in his suffering. He finds them asleep. Utter desolation. For once he needed consolation and no one was there for him. In what ways would you like to extend comfort to this gentle man in the hour of his need?

You hear a noise at the gate. You see Judas. What is happening within you? How do you feel as Jesus is taken from you? You witness Peter getting up and in his usual bravado he cuts off the ear of one of the officials. And Jesus? True to his nature, even in the darkness of pain and death is the bridge builder, 'Those who fight with the sword will die by the sword'. He replaces the ear. How is this man affected? Do you see a change in him? You see the disciples scattering. Feel their fear. Follow Peter and listen to him as he stands at the fire. Become Peter. Feel his confusion, his sense of failure, his fear. The woman come up to you, one after the other. Every time you deny that you know Jesus and then ……the cock crows. Jesus walks by and you meet his loving and non­judgmental gaze. As then so now in your life.

 

Breath Prayer:

I breathe in:    'Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God'

I breathe out:  'Forgive the times I have denied knowing you'

 


 

 

GOOD FRIDAY

(Isaiah 52: 13-53; Hebrews 4: 14-16, 5: 7-9; John 18: 1 to 19: 42)
'Father, into.your hands I commend my spirit'

 

We call this Friday 'Good' because it is good for us to recognize that not all of our connections are pure, as much as we desire them to be. Somehow you manage to enter the court and you watch the proceedings. You see the spiritual power of Jesus, calm and humble - strengthened through his experience in the Garden, strengthened by his "yes" - 'your will be done'. You hear how Pilate interrogates him, you see his frustration, fear and anxiety to please the authorities. You follow the group designated to chastise Jesus. As they lash him with a whip, and crown him with thorns, you hear again - this is my body, my blood poured out for you - do this in memory of me. Having met Jesus over these days in such an intimate way - can you understand Jesus?

You now walk with him the road to Mt Golgotha. You see him, Son of God, weak and weary. He meets the women. You help him hold the cross as he comforts them. You notice he is always there for others. So why this cruel death? Too much for you, you take Veronica's place and wipe the bleeding, soiled face of Jesus. What is your response when you see the imprint of his face on that cloth. When Jesus meets his mother -witness what transpires as they look at each other. Enter their reality. Be Simon of Cyrene and help Jesus carry his cross. As you watch the crucifixion hear Jesus exclaiming: 'Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing'; today you will be with me in paradise; into your hands I commend my spirit'. Hear again the words of the last supper - 'Do this in memory of me'.

 

Breath Prayer:

I breathe in:     'Jesus, Son of God'

I breathe out:  'Thank you for your tremendous love'

 


 

 

Saturday of Holy Week 

 

Today is marked by a sense of ‘anti-climax’

a deathly quiet that follows

the painful drama of torture, betrayal, crucifixion and death.

Pathos carries in its wake a myriad of feelings

hearts torn by guilt, others drained by sorrow and confusion

and some staggering under the weight of a deep void and ask:’ What now?’

All our hopes and dreams, all the sacrifices made - dashed.

 

Yet, can we even begin to comprehend the deep mystery of today?

This space of silence - a gift to contemplate

the who of God and the who of me,

the what of the past few days.

God’s overwhelming love that stops at nothing

to draw all into deep communion

to blow into a raging fire

our little, wavering flames of intimacy.

This day we comprehend, that God all powerful - vulnerable

in the longing to draw us ever more deeply

into the fire of his Love.

 

Today the epitome of abandonment, understanding dawns -

God’s Word took on human flesh

that our hearts be penetrated with the insight -

We are ONE.

Not very wise of God.

Humanity imprisoned by the trappings of being ‘apart from’

reel under the demands of this truth.

Rather death than submit to change.

 

 

But love overcomes all.

God’s word leapt into the mystery of Sacred Unity.

‘I am with you always’

 

 

‘This is my body’ -

one with all -

all one in Christ in this bread,

in this little consecrated host;

This is my blood -

one with all suffering

and we one with Christ holding all suffering.

‘Do this in memory of me’

 

 

We are ONE - separation and illusion

a mindset that gives birth to violence, war and death.    

We are one with all that is

Be my Body, be my blood

poured out for humanity

poured out for all life.

 

 

Saturday silence

pregnant with fermentation

is waiting, waiting -

waiting to rise and explode into Life.

 

 

We are ONE

one in and with this transforming love

Oh, that we may see.

 

 

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