In the calendar year, people set aside certain weeks to celebrate specific events. For instance, in schools children participate in Science Week, Maths Week, Friendship Week, Catholic Schools Week, Active Week etc. The world sets aside international days to include World Book Day, World Wildlife Day, World Water Day, World Poetry Day and many more. There is tremendous value in celebrating such dedicated days and weeks.
The Church also celebrates such times to highlight events. For example, each year the Church celebrates Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday. In Holy Week Christians recall, remember and celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The reading proclaimed at Mass today from the prophet Isaiah (Is 49:1-6) is the second song of God’s servant. The Judean exiles at Babylon thank God for choosing them for a unique mission. To these, God will entrust the future of Israel. The words spoken by the prophet Isaiah speak of our vocation in Christ. With such words, God calls disciples to continue the mission of Jesus. Before God calls, a person listens and pays attention to God’s word, in this case spoken by the prophet Isaiah. God speaks in the silence of one’s heart. The person responds to God and here, God makes a promise. ‘I will make you the light of the nations that my salvation will reach to the ends of the earth.’ Whom is God talking about? God is talking about Jesus whom he will send. In the New Testament, the Word proclaims Jesus, the light of the world. The disciples follow the Light.
The psalmist (Ps 70:1-6. 15. 17) acknowledges God’s help. He images God as a ‘rock’ and a ‘stronghold’. The assembly respond at Mass, ‘My lips will tell of your help’ (Ps 70: 15). Disciples tell others of God’s help in their lives. We take a moment to reflect on the ways God helps us in life. God offers help through other people. Jesus teaches us to love one another.
In the Gospel (John 13:21-33, 36-38), God’s people hear of Jesus being troubled in spirit as his imminent death approaches. He is at dinner with his disciples and conscious that one of the twelve will betray him. The disciples look at one another trying to imagine who among them will betray Jesus. John asked Jesus ‘Who is it Lord?’ Jesus said ‘the one to whom I give the piece of bread.’ It was Judas Iscariot. Jesus said something to Judas and he left and went out. The others did not know where he was going. They thought Jesus sent him on a message because he was in charge of the common fund. When Judas left, Jesus spoke to the disciples and told them, he would not be much longer with them. Simon wanted to know where he was going but Jesus just told him he could not come with him at this time, but later he would follow. Peter was still curious and persistent and wanted to follow. Peter told Jesus he would lay down his life for him. Jesus responded, ‘before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’
As disciples, we also sit around the table with Jesus. The disciples in their own ways showed weakness of betrayal, denial and doubt. Their weaknesses in commitment signify ours also. That is why this time of Holy Week calls us to a deeper knowledge, love and understanding of Jesus. We take time to reflect and pray with the psalmist.
VERITAS publications provide online resources including the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé e-books for Holy Week for each class standard of the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé religious education programme available on the Grow in Love website.
- Pray ‘The Mystery of Faith’/ ‘Rúndiamhair an Creidimh’ from the Mass responses
- Pray the Act of Faith/Gníomh Creidimh
- From your Bible or from your Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book for Sixth Class read ‘Jesus Eats the Passover Meal with his Disciples’ (Mt 26:20-30) and ‘The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus’ (Lk 22:47-53)
- Check out the times of the Easter ceremonies on the webcam from the local parish Church during Holy Week. Consider which ones you will attend and invite your family to join you
Sr Anne Neylon