In spite of Covid restrictions, preparations take place for the Easter season. Easter eggs and Easter fare sell well in supermarkets and local shops. Advertisements on the media encourage people to buy all the essentials to celebrate the Easter feast. Nobody expected to be in this second season of lockdown. We hoped that Easter of 2020 would not repeat itself but it has unfortunately. This week gives time to reflect on Easter. People celebrate for different reasons. Why do you celebrate Easter? Hope and joy are alive with the new life of Resurrection.
Christians celebrate Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday with the mix of emotions proclaimed in the Palm Sunday Liturgy. On Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He would celebrate the Jewish festival of Passover with his friends later in the week. With restrictions, death and grief all around, God’s people can stand in solidarity with Jesus as he approaches his imminent death. This week the Churches will celebrate Holy Week and Easter ceremonies online, offering God’s people options to travel everywhere virtually.
The first reading proclaimed at Mass from the prophet Isaiah (Is 42:1-7) introduces God’s servant who is chosen and the one in whom God’s soul delights. Endowed with the spirit of God he will ‘bring justice to the nations.’ He will not cry out or shout aloud. He is as a lamb led to the slaughter, doing the will of God. God is preparing his servant for the mission of justice, which lies ahead. All the signs of vocation are there. God calls the servant to ‘serve the cause of right’. The call is personal and unique. God takes the servant by his hand, accompanying him and forming him. The servant ‘is the covenant of the people and the light of the nations.’ His mission is ‘to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.’ God accompanies his servant.
This is the mission of Jesus and the mission in which God’s people engage. Disciples do not go alone. God’s Spirit is with them always.
The psalmist recognises the strength of God (Psalm 26: 1-3, 13-14). God is light, help, and ‘a stronghold of my life.’ The assembly respond to the verse of the Psalm saying, ‘The Lord is my light and my help.’ There is no need to fear. The psalmist is certain he will ‘see the Lord’s goodness’ and encourages those who listen to ‘hope in the Lord, hold firm and take heart.’ The words of the song come to mind, ‘He will hold me fast.’
In Holy Week, Jesus trusted in God through the fear and anguish, he experienced.
The Gospel (Jn 12:1-11) proclaims Jesus’ encounter in Bethany where he went for a dinner in Lazarus’ house, having raised him from the dead. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were close friends of Jesus. Mary expresses her passionate love for Jesus by anointing his feet with a very expensive ointment. She dried his feet with her hair. Mary’s anointing becomes one of preparation for the burial of the body after death.
Judas challenged Mary on buying such expensive nard. He had charge of the common fund and suggested spending the money on the poor. Though Judas was one of the twelve apostles, he was not committed to Jesus. Jesus told him to ‘leave her alone.’ Jesus knew what was in Judas’ heart, that he was about to betray him. Jesus also knew that this was the last time he would visit Bethany because his hour was near. Many of the Jews were angry when they heard Jesus was in the house. They came to seek information about Jesus and to kill Lazarus. It was because of Lazarus that many of the Jews began to believe in Jesus. All is in preparation for Jesus’ final hour.
The Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé programme covers Holy Week in each class standard. Online resources including the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-books are available.
- From your Bible or from the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-books for Third and Fourth Class, read what God said to the Jewish people about observing the Sabbath (Exodus 20:1, 8-10)
- Read ‘The Ten Commandments at Sinai’ (Exodus 19:3-8) from Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé Third Class
- Read ‘The Ten Commandments’ (Exodus 20:1-11) Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé Fourth Class
- Read the First Passover (Exodus 12:21-23) Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé Fourth Class
- From your Bible or from the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-books for Third/ Fourth and Fifth classes read about the Jewish festival of Pesach when Jewish families celebrate a special Passover meal called the Seder meal. This meal recalls how their ancestors, the Israelites, escaped from Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land.
- Pray the ‘Sabbath Prayer’ with your family from Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé Third Class p. 96.
- In the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé online resources for Fifth Class find the video lyrics for the following songs, ‘The Servant Song’, ‘The Welcome Table’, ‘We Come to Your Feast’
- Write up the menu for a Seder meal. Guidelines are in the Fifth Class Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé religious education programme
Sr Anne Neylon