this holy week

Apr 13, 2014

These Holy Week days provide us with the opportunity to remember the events of the life of Jesus through which he brings us life.

This weekend’s palm branches and reading of the Passion of Jesus begins our move into Holy Week.

You might find it helpful to think of these days before Easter as a week of retreat. While we continue our family, school and work routines our focus is guided beyond. In these days let us look together to Jesus.

We remember the last days of Jesus’ life: suffering unjustly and death as a criminal. We recall the events that gave us new life.

When we think of something that happened a long time ago, especially when it happened before we were born, it is easy to slip into an academic recall, or a romantic nostalgia about the past.

In this mode we recall what has happened, knowing that it has already happened. It is past. It is over.

While this mode of memory can help us to learn from the mistakes and methods of the past, this is not the kind of memory that the church invites us to live in Holy Week.

Perhaps it is helpful to consider an example. From history many of us have learned of the Battle of Waterloo. We know that this event happened. We have no doubt since our knowledge has come to us from many independent and reliable sources.

For the families of the (almost) fifty thousand soldiers that died, this event was unforgettable. For the descendants of these families, to have an uncle who died in the fighting has become a badge of family honour.

But the death of Jesus is not just an ‘historical’ memory for the disciple.

The difference is that whereas Napoleon and his soldiers are now dead, Jesus is alive. The blood on the battlefields of Belgium is no longer visible. But the suffering of Jesus continues. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are not simply moments of history. These events are the present reality of the life of the twenty-first century disciple.

Napoleon is dead and gone. Jesus is alive and present. The community of Jesus is  thriving today, not because of our successful pastoral plans or inclusive attitudes, but because Jesus is alive.

I invite you to immerse yourself fully in the events of Holy Week. You have begun by being at this Palm Sunday commemoration of the Passion of Jesus today, or by reading this reflection. You might continue the week by taking the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

If you are apprehensive about this sacrament, or have not been for many years, do not be afraid – just come!  Tell the priest that you are not sure what to say and he will guide you. A number of people have found the video clip at this link helpful.

As we walk this journey together we do so not as passive spectators or students of history, but as struggling Christians who participate (in our own lives) in the suffering and death of Jesus.

We know the promise too: that those who walk this path, confident in the presence of God, journey through the road of suffering and anxiety to share in the glory of the resurrection.



  1. I’m forwarding this to my adult kids, one of whom has 16 year-old twins refusing to go to Reconciliation, mainly for the video clip re same. Thanks Father John.

  2. Jesus, a thousand times I have washed your feet with my tears and dried them with my hair,
    and a thousand times you have said my name as a blessing.
    I come to you expecting to be healed, expecting to be made new, and it always happens.
    How can something so profound be so simple?


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