ANTICIPATING EASTER – A Holy Week Reflection

By Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

What are you doing this Saturday?
          Are you filling Easter Baskets?
                   …planning the Easter meal?
                             …decorating the Church?
                                      …cleaning the house?

Is there any time left for quiet reflection on the Paschal Mystery and the death of Jesus in particular?

Can you imagine yourself being with Mary Magdalene, sad, heartbroken, empty, in the garden wondering where the body of Jesus is?  Can you engage in a conversation with her about the difference Jesus has made in her life…and in yours?  Can you just be silent and grateful for Jesus’ friendship over the years?

Image result for mary magdalene at the empty tombPerhaps the tomb is too close.  Maybe you see yourself in the Upper Room with the disciples, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the others in fear of the Romans.  How does the silence speak to you there?  Whom might you choose to engage in conversation?

Or maybe you find yourself with the travelers on the Road to Emmaus, having found hope in Jesus and now in shock that Jesus has left them dejected and hopeless and lost.  Have you ever felt that way?  How does Jesus’ appearance (and vanishing) speak to you and strengthen your hope?

Related imageEach of these stories can offer us opportunities to contemplate the full spectrum of human emotion and experience, and they all have a joyful (and challenging) ending.  Each one invites us to be real (yes, Jesus did suffer and die for us), to ponder: what does this mean in my life; how do I follow someone who died and is risen and is present everywhere?

This Saturday—Holy Saturday—can you take some time to contemplate and put yourself into one of these scenes, imagining a conversation, then asking God to help you integrate the experience into your life?

  • What did you notice?
  • What do you appreciate about Jesus’ presence in your life?
  • What are you grateful for about being called to be a follower of Christ?

This Holy Week, prepare well and enjoy many Easter Blessings.

Entry Into the Paschal Mystery – A Reflection for Palm Sunday

By Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

Mk 11:1-10 (At the procession); Is 50:4-7; Ps 22:8-19, 17-20, 23-24; Mk 14:1-72; Mk 15:1-39

Palm Sunday ushers us into Holy Week.  As we receive our palm branch and listen to the opening Gospel we are transported in our imagination to the scene of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, seated on a donkey.

The crowds are still looking for a triumphant hero who will release them from the treacherous rule of the Romans.  But, as we hear the Passion narrative—this year it’s from Mark—we remember that Jesus was alone in his suffering and death. The crowds did not get what they were looking for.

It is significant that Mark’s Passion narrative begins with the story of a woman who manages to break into a dinner party where Jesus is present.  She anoints Jesus’ body with expensive oil.  We are told that the oil was worth a year’s wages.  She breaks the jar and pours the oil on Jesus’ head.  Her action was not appreciated by the dinner guests.  However, Jesus commends her.  Immediately after that, Judas goes off to look for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to the authorities.

This story can inspire us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. We might think of how we spend a year’s wages (a sharing of our gifts) to soothe the pain of those who make up the suffering Body of Christ in the world today.

As Holy Week unfolds and leads us to Easter joy, we come to a deeper realization that although there may not be many earthly rewards for us as disciples, Jesus promises to be with us now and “he prepares a place for us so that where he is, we also may be.” (Jn 14:3)

Questions for reflection:

  • Do you feel confident enough in your relationship with God to trust your life with him?
  • How does God trust you?  Who are some of the people that God entrusts to your care?
  • What graces do you need in order to live in this trust?

Our Life in Christ

By Sister Rosa Sofía Toledo, MHSH, Venezuela

Palm Sunday—the beginning of Holy Week and the celebration of the central mystery of our faith:  the Paschal mystery, the Passion, the death and Resurrection of Jesus.

Palm Sunday in the town of Manzanita, in the state of Lara, Venezuela.

On this day, let us pause to contemplate and commemorate the triumphal entrance of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem.  He rode on a donkey; the crowds spread their palm branches on the street and shouted: “Hosanna to the Son of David.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  On this day we celebrate with joyful acclamations to Jesus, our victorious king, who enters Jerusalem to fulfill the will of his Father.

Yet, what today is a joyful acclamation, tomorrow will be betrayal and death. Palm Sunday invites us to contemplate the beginning of Jesus’ Passion and death.

Have you ever experienced a sense of betrayal and rejection after having a joyful encounter with someone?  Have you ever felt a bitter disappointment that took you by surprise?

Jesus endured everything we go through as human beings—except sin.  He experienced the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, the abandonment of the disciples when he was most alone.  Jesus must have felt that his mission was a failure and that he had been forsaken by his Father during his darkest moments.  Yet, through it all, Jesus remained faithful and obedient to his Father out of love.  “There is no greater love than the one who gives one’s life for one’s friends.”

What does it mean to you to be faithful to Jesus through bad times and good times?  What is one of the greatest challenges you have faced? What speaks of God’s fidelity to you?

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells us: “Your attitude must be that of Christ” [2:5].

The saving power of God is being manifested in Christ, who humbled himself, obediently accepting death on the cross.  Because of that, God highly exalted him, and the glory of the Father was manifested in his Resurrection.

We are invited to put on the heart and mind of Christ Jesus, growing in the awareness of our false self to find our true self in him.  We are also invited to embrace the healing power of Christ to lift us up:  from sin to grace; from spiritual blindness to a new consciousness; from carelessness of our planet Earth to a new awareness that we are part of the Earth and that it is a part of us.  In this way, we can taste and see the joy of his rising from death to new life in us.

Our life in Christ invites us to experience his sufferings through  our brothers and sisters who are victims of domestic and institutional violence, addictions, illnesses, poverty, prejudice and injustice.  Ours is a world threatened by fear, insecurity, individualism, competition, consumerism and pleasures.

Having the same attitude as Christ Jesus is a response to a call to participate in his Mission:  “Touching lives, changing lives.”

What is your unique call to embrace the heart and mind of Christ Jesus?

How can you be a joyful witness to his Resurrection in a world crying out for redemption by Christ Jesus?

“See, I am doing something new!  Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

                                                                                                                       [Isaiah 44:19]