Previous Day's Reflections
(Most recent first)
Holy Saturday ~ Be still
There is no day time Mass on this day. It is a day when we commemorate the Lord being in the tomb, so after the drama of Good Friday it’s a day to simply pray, to be still, to be silent and to reflect.
The culmination of our Lenten journey is the Easter Vigil Mass which is celebrated after dusk. It is a Vigil, which means a time of prayerful watching and waiting. It should therefore be given the time and dignity that is required for its solemn celebration. It has it’s structure in four parts based on Light ~ Word ~ Water and Communion.
For the Light there is the blessing of our new Paschal Candle and the singing of a special song of praise to Christ Our Light called the Exsultet.
As regards Word ~ we listen to a series of up to 7 readings and psalms all recalling our story of salvation contained in the Sacred Scriptures. This will all lead up to the joyful singing of “Alleluia” acclamation for the first time since Shrove Tuesday, and the reading
of the Easter Gospel.
For Water ~ after the homily, water is blessed and the people are usually sprinkled with the newly blessed Easter water before renewing their faith with a series of questions.
For Communion ~ Because of Easter, the Lord is alive and so can be truly present in the Sacraments including the Eucharist.
Good Friday ~ The Feast of love
Some people ask, why is Good Friday called “Good” as there seems nothing good at all about ~ certainly not for Jesus! Well I think it is because of the good for everyone, that comes out of it. I like to call Good Friday the feast of love. In John’s Gospel, the evangelist is totally convinced who Jesus is, so Jesus is the Son of God and therefore throughout this journey to the Cross, he is in control. He knows all that is going to happen to him. So he utters the words just before he dies: “it is finished”. What is finished is his mission, his pain is over, his trust and faith in the Father has been immense and therefore in that knowledge, he can die in peace. It was terribly hard for Jesus to see it through, but that obedience really is good news for us. With Easter to follow, it is after all a story with a happy ending, because you can’t have Easter Sunday without first marking Good Friday.
On this Good Friday, we can just gaze in awe at such incredible love in the knowledge that he did all this for us, because we matter, because he wanted to change our sinfulness into love and invite us into a deep and lasting friendship with Him.
A good thing to do today would be to be silent for say 5 or 10 minutes especially at around 3pm, which is the hour at which Jesus died on the Cross. In that silence, let us just thank God, even in these extraordinary difficult times, for all the people in our lives, all the many good things in our lives and all the blessings that we are still able to receive each day.
Maundy Thursday ~ At your service
My dad John, died five years ago on an Easter Sunday, and one of the things he used to do for myself and Paul and Gerard, my two younger brothers from us being very small, up to us being in our twenties, was to clean our shoes every evening before he went to bed. Even though he was the father of the house, he knelt down on the floor in front of the fire and cleaned and polished our dirty shoes. Only later in life did I come to fully appreciate this as a very thoughtful, humble act of Christ-like, loving service to his family.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus has just finished the Last Supper and takes the role of a servant, kneels on the floor and washes the feet of his disciples. He does this to give the disciples a visual aid as to what he means by his new commandment to; “love one another”. He is Our
Lord and God and yet he does an act of humble, loving kindness for his disciples. Incredibly he does this just hours before he is going to handle the rough wood of the Cross to which his hands are then attached by being savagely pierced through with huge nails. However for me, the most important point of Maundy Thursday is loving service. We are to put ourselves at the service of others ~ not literally washing feet but willingly and quietly carrying out any other little acts of kindness that we can do for another person from washing the dishes: making a cup of tea for someone, phoning up someone who lives alone or even polishing their shoes.
Wednesday of Holy Week ~ Forgive yourself
Today used to be called “Spy Wednesday” because of the plotting going on between Judas and the Chief Priests. At the Last Supper, Jesus tells the gathered disciples that one them is going to betray him: He is referring to Judas, the identity of whom he reveals to John, known as “the Beloved Disciple”. It’s a shame that Judas could not have asked the Lord’s forgiveness when he realised later the enormity of what he had done. Most importantly it seems he could not forgive himself.
We all sin and do things that we really regret. It is important first and foremost to realise that Jesus died for our sins to be forgiven. Most importantly it is vital that we are able to forgive ourselves. God is all merciful and he will always forgive us, but we must also be prepared to forgive ourselves. Just before the Corona Virus closed the school, so many Blessed Trinity students from Year 7 to Year 11 took part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation as they also had in Lent 2019. This was a joyful way of knowing for certain that our sins are forgiven. At the moment this Sacrament is not available to us so it’s important we make peace with God, by first of all making peace with ourselves.
Tuesday of Holy Week ~ Give them a second chance
Today’s Gospel is set at the Last Supper. As well as predicting the betrayal by Judas, the Lord has to temper Peter’s stubbornness at not accepting him telling the disciples about his impending death and Resurrection. He tells Peter, whom he trusted, that he was going to deny he even knew Jesus before Dawn the next day, not just once but three times. Peter is then not around on Good Friday for Jesus at a time when he really could have done with a friend, but after the Resurrection, Jesus will ask Peter three times if he loves him ~ Peter is strengthened and forgiven by Jesus because the three times he said “Yes” to Jesus, cancelled out the three times he said” No”!
It is always hard when those you love hurt you and let you down. It must be even harder when, like Jesus, you know they are going to let you down. Jesus is compassionate and forgiving and He knows and understands all about human weaknesses and fears. He knew Peter would have his moments of weakness but he also fully trusted him and knew he would recover from this setback. Jesus says: “I have come that you may have life and that you may have it the full”. Peter never looked back from that second chance given to him and did indeed to go on to show he would lay down his life for Jesus. It is also important for us to forgive one another when they hurt us, because the Lord wants us to be free from putting energy into things that are not life-giving for us.
Gospel Reflection: Monday of Holy Week ~ valuing friends
In today’s Gospel, we see the actions of some of Jesus’ friends just a few days before His death. On the one hand, you have the honouring of Jesus with a dinner at the house by his friends, Martha and Mary. Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with a very expensive perfume ~ this is a great act of love and service and Jesus sees this action as necessary preparation for his imminent suffering and death, during which these same feet are pierced with nails onto the Cross. Judas has been a disciple of Jesus for some three years, living very close to Christ and yet he does not approve of the extravagance of Mary ~ which he sees as a waste of money. This is a sign of his true colours and his lack of love and sincerity as a supposed friend of the Lord, who he will go onto betray for 30 pieces of silver.
Our friends, I believe, come from God and are gifts to us ~ our true friends will gladly give from what they have to show their appreciation and love for us. True friends do not count the cost of friendship. May we think about our own friends and use this time to thank God for the gift of our friends. Let us reflect on how we treat our friends and whether we treat them like Mary treated Jesus. May we also reflect on our friendship with Jesus and consider how loyal we are to him. If we are not being as faithful a friend to the Lord as we could be, now is the perfect time to do something about it.
Gospel Reflection for Palm Sunday
There was a very catchy song a few years ago called “price tag” which spoke of someone wanting to be spoiled by her lover and asking that they give her everything she asked for, regardless of how much it cost. The song contained the line “forget about the price tag!” Everything has a price and therefore it is often unwise to forget what things cost. The danger of doing this is that when we forget about the price we can take things for granted.
There was a very big price tag on our salvation: it cost Jesus a great deal: He was betrayed by Judas for 30 silver pieces; He was denied by Peter 3 times when he most needed a good friend; He was rejected by the crowd, many of whom just days before had welcomed the Lord into Jerusalem by waving palm branches and they now urged Pilate to release Barrabas and instead crucify Him; He was flogged, mocked and spat upon by the Roman soldiers; although weak Jesus had to carry a heavy cross to Calvary, where he was stripped and nailed to the Cross. Our salvation came with a huge price tag!
Therefore the Palm Sunday liturgy for Mass with its contrasts between joy and sorrow, starkly remind us that it was a mighty price for Jesus to pay for our sins to be forgiven: but He thought we were well worth it; we were worth dying for, we were worth everything. The one thing, however that we must not do is to forget what the Lord did for us. So in this coming Holy Week we are to celebrate and remember the extent of the Lord’s love for us. Let us fully enter into the mystery of Holy Week and although this year, we cannot physically take part in the powerful ceremonies, they will be celebrated in private and so we can still mark the Paschal mystery albeit in a a quieter, more challenging way. Let us allow ourselves to join in the Easter Triduum as best we can spiritually, but with hearts still grateful to God. May we grow in our gratitude for Jesus who gave his all for us. The current words on our Christian lips should perhaps be “don’t forget about the price tag!”