Passion Week Reflections 2009

 
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Picture of Saint Joseph’s Cathedral
 
 
As we have started the Passion Week (Jesus’ agonizing journey to the cross, hence “Passion” = “Suffering”), I realized that it is so easy to just go through the motions and forget the significance of it in the midst of our busy schedules. But the way we focus and journey through the last week of Jesus’ life will help us to approach the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus with greater awe, appreciation, and acclaim.

Passion Week is also known as the Holy Week. It is the last week of the Lenten season, where there is a concentrated focus on the last days of Jesus Christ. As we reflect on the last days of Jesus, it helps us not only to focus on Christ but also to examine our hearts.

1) Palm Sunday. This Sunday is dedicated to the observance of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem. There were crowds of people gathered for the Passover feast and they were waving Palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna in the highest!” as a welcome to the Messianic King. The irony of this whole scene is that five days later the same crowd would shout out for his execution. Isn’t the fickleness of the human heart amazing? We change all the time, while God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank God for that because we would not be able to trust in someone that might change on us.

2) Maundy Thursday. The word, “Maundy” is derived from Latin (mandatum), in which we get the word “mandate.” It means to “to give,” “to entrust,” or “to command.” Jesus on this day “gave” the disciples the “command” of loving one another. Maundy Thursday is also known as “Holy Thursday.” It focuses on the last day of Jesus before his arrest. This is where Jesus had his last Passover meal, washed the disciples’ feet, prayed at Gethsemane and was betrayed by Judas. It is a time to focus on the important commitment of servanthood and loving people. I still don’t understand how Jesus washed Judas’ feet when He knew that Judas was going to betray Him. This is probably one of the most profound things for me.

3) Good Friday. I have always wondered why they called it Good Friday on the day that Jesus was crucified. It was a sad day for all His followers. But with a bigger perspective (having the luxury of seeing things after the fact), we understand that it was “good” because through Jesus’ death on the cross, now we have our sins atoned for and access to the Father. It is a time for us to focus on Jesus’ trial, suffering, crucifixion, death and burial. It is usually a sober time for reflection. Often times the last words of Jesus (7 phrases noted in the Gospels) are read or observed. Usually Christ-followers try to fast on this day in order to remember the suffering of Christ.

4) Holy Saturday. Most churches don’t celebration this day, but in tradition, some people remember this day as the day that Jesus rested in the tomb. People who observe this Holy Saturday try to mediation on the fact the world is in darkness without the hope of Christ. It is also a reminder for people, who have lost a loved one that one day they will be reunited with them if they were believers in Christ Jesus.

5) Easter Sunday. The Easter has been taken in the secular world to mean “Spring is here!” or even the idea of a “bunny rabbit.” Therefore some people call it “Resurrection Sunday,” in order to keep the true meaning of Easter. It is a time of joy and celebration because of the resurrection of Jesus now gives us hope. This day compared to all other days in Christianity is pivotal to our faith. Without the resurrection, we would not have Christianity.

 
 
 
In light of this year’s Passion Week, I want to encourage people to do several things:

1) Spend some time in reflection. Don’t let the busyness steal the significance of this season. Maybe you can take an evening off or take your lunch break to just read the Gospels (the latter portions) so that you can “walk” through Jesus’ journey in his last 7 days of life here on earth.

2) Spend some time in fasting. As we fast, it will be a practical reminder of Jesus’ suffering for us. In the past I have fasted just on Friday and sometimes I have fasted from Thursday night until Sunday afternoon. At least do a minimal fast on Friday if you have not fasted for awhile.

3) Spend some time in prayer. This is a great season to commune with God through prayer. As we are reflecting on the Passion Week of Jesus, we will be able to pray more fervently and passionately.

4) Spend some time in preparation for Easter Celebration. Too often people come into Easter Sunday Celebration the same way they do for any other Sunday. Sometime through our worship, it seems as if we are worshiping a God that is still in the grave (gloomy). This coming Sunday should be the best time of praise and worship. It is my hope and prayer that God’s House will be rocking with people who know that their sins are forgiven and their names are written in the Book of Life. In fact, I am hoping that if there are pre-Christians this Sunday that they will be challenged, even enticed to want to have what we have. Let’s come ready to rock.