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Holy Week

Here is the article I wrote for the cover of today’s (Passion Sunday) Bulletin

The Most Important Time of the Year

Today is Passion Sunday, aka Palm Sunday.  These two names identify what we do today.  We begin Mass with the Blessing of the Palms.  We read the gospel story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem for his hour where he is greeted with praise by people waving “leafy branches.”  Then, our gospel of the Mass is the story of Jesus’ Passion where he celebrates the Eucharist with his disciples, is arrested, and crucified.  He gives up his life not because he has done something wrong but for the forgiveness of our sins.

Next Sunday we will celebrate Easter Sunday and the Resurrection but we do not view the Resurrection as a singular event.  Rather, it is part of one event spread over three days known as the Easter Triduum.

The Easter Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.  It is the night when Jesus celebrated the first Eucharist with his disciples and washed their feet.  He did this at the time of the Jewish Passover.  The Passover was no ordinary meal.  It was the celebration of God freeing the Israelites from the Egyptians.  There was nothing more important to the Jews than the Passover and there is nothing more important than the Eucharist for us as Catholics.

Then, on Good Friday, we again recall Jesus’ Passion.  On Passion Sunday, we read from Mark’s Gospel and on Good Friday we read from John’s Gospel.  We hear the Passion on Sunday as we begin Holy Week to bring into focus what this week is all about.  We hear the Passion again on Good Friday as the day when Jesus actually gave up his life for us.

His Crucifixion is not an isolated event.  When he celebrated the Eucharist with his disciples he declared the bread to be his Body, ‘which will be given up for you’ and the wine to be his Blood ‘which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  In this Jesus, unites the sacrifice of his Crucifixion to the Eucharist.  That is why we call the Eucharist a sacrifice.

The Crucifixion is followed by the Resurrection.  The Resurrection shows us the give of eternal life.  The Resurrection is also crucial to understanding the Crucifixion.  Through the Resurrection, we come to understand that the Crucifixion is not a defeat of Jesus but a triumph over sin and death.  So, we see the Lord’s Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection as one central event.

Because of all this Easter, not Christmas, is the most important time of the year.  Our Easter Vigil is the most important liturgy of the year.  We begin at 8 p.m. with the Blessing of the Easter Fire where we are reminded of how Jesus is the Light of the World.  Then the singing of the Exsultet and readings remind us of how God always watched over his people throughout the ages.  Easter marks a new beginning for us as Christians.

This year, at the Vigil, we will baptize two people, receive one into the church, and have to others completing their initiation in our Catholic Faith.

I encourage you to join us for as much of the Easter Triduum as you can.  Words cannot do these liturgies justice for they truly are grace-filled celebrations.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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