The Power of Holy Week
Through a study of Holy Week and daily rosary with our FOCUS missionaries, I was drawn deeper into the Lord’s ultimate goodness and love through His human emotion, His power, unbelievable sacrifice, and glorious resurrection. Through Holy Week, we are able to see how deeply Jesus cares for the world and in a way witness His vow to save it.
Monday: After reading parts of the Gospel of Luke and recapping Palm Sunday, Jesus rides in on a donkey to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies, proving He is the Messiah. Jerusalem, which is said to resemble the busyness of Wall Street, the Vatican, and New York City, is waiting for a warrior to take the throne when they find Jesus entering humbly. He allows the people to go ahead of Him to invite the others to know God. But even as Jesus has mentioned it multiple times, the disciples still do not understand the suffering He will endure in the coming days.
One verse in the passages we read came from Luke 19:40, where the Pharisees tell Jesus to silence His disciples. One of the missionaries pointed out that in the next line, Jesus replies that if the disciples weren’t praising Him, the stones would. I think this shows the magnitude of the Lord’s power and the glory He deserves. That if He was not praised by His people, creation would do it for Him. He is our true King.
Tuesday: In Luke 19, Jesus is crying because He knows the suffering He will endure soon, along with the suffering His people will endure later. But He also cries for people’s sins, including the way they will contribute to nailing Him to the cross and demand He be crucified. He is willing to be betrayed by those who He has loved into creation. Later in the chapter, Jesus flips the tables set up in the temple as He begins to restore what has been overtaken by human sin and blindness. Still, the people clung to Him, enthralled with His teachings and way of life.
In Luke 19:48, it says they could not arrest Him because the people clung to His every word. We discussed how this was similar to an analogy of burning coals. When a group of burning coals catches fire, if one is taken away from the rest, it begins to cool. This is similar to how we were made for relationship by relationship. We need to support each other in daily life and in the faith, because we were not made to do it alone.
Holy Thursday: Judas and Peter’s betrayal of Jesus were full of pain and rejection. I learned our sin stems from not trusting in God. Judas dies twice because he does not trust in Jesus’ goodness and forgiveness. Being connected to Jesus through sharing meals and daily life with Him was like being a part of His family. At the last supper, Jesus invites them to not only eat with Him but of Him as He gives them His body. Jesus loves us so completely, He lets us receive His love fully in the Eucharist.
The events of this day and the meaning behind it blew my mind. One of the missionaries had mentioned earlier in the week that our all powerful God humbles Himself into the form of bread so that we can receive Him. The next day as I stared at the virtual monstrance and Jesus as a host inside, I was brought to tears in how powerful the Lord is and how beautiful His love is for each of us.
Good Friday: Jesus fulfills the Old Testament as He assumes the position of the sacrificial lamb. Pilate pronounces Him clean as the people shield themselves from the way Jesus is changing them, turning on Him instead. We also discussed the good thief and how peaceful (and excited) he must have felt when Jesus called him into the kingdom.
I remember my middle school would always put on a Stations of the Cross that was acted out. I remember crying in my leader’s arms in high school as I listened to the painful retelling of Christ’s suffering, realizing how unworthy I was of such great love. This year, I was able to see Jesus’ sacrifice as another sign of intense love. Understanding from Holy Thursday about how much He wants us to receive Him, showed me His death on the cross was for each of us. What a good good Father He is.
Holy Saturday: A day of waiting. We talked about how disciples probably felt a sense of abandonment, like the moment of panic when Jesus fell asleep during the storm on the ship in Luke 4. The Sabbath forced the disciples to sit and grieve Jesus’ death, facing the reality of his absence.
A day without the Lord. Taking times of silence to grieve on this day and truly reflect on what has happened struck me. It taught me how much our world needs Him in every way. We are all broken, hurt, aching for something more, longing for something deeper. It is a void only He can fill.
Easter Sunday: In Luke 24, the women find Jesus’ tomb empty. Although men were trusted to be a more credible source, Luke writes this because it is true! He has risen and conquered death. Peter runs to the tomb after denying Jesus to see Him. One of the missionaries said of Peter that this is how we should be going to Confession. Even when we have sinned, we can sprint toward forgiveness in Jesus. Then, it takes Jesus breaking bread for the disciples for them to recognize Jesus is with them. They realize this after He has walked them through mass, by sharing every way He has fulfilled the Old Testament and by the breaking of the bread. Even though He must open their minds to understand His resurrection, He calls them witnesses, inviting them to share who He is with the world.
By Sunday, I woke up with an immediate sense of joy. The greatest love story ever told was both concluded and would continue with our relationship in Jesus. The tomb is empty, and our sorrowful emptiness and longing over the past two days has been renewed with the love of our Father. The Sacraments and the meaning behind them are performed by Jesus in the flesh. Now that we have witnessed these things in this way, He calls us to make disciples and share His sacrificial love, goodness, power, and truth with everyone.