April 14, 2019 Palm Sunday and the Easter Triduum
Welcome Father Cyril Today’s Readings: Is 50:4-7 | Phil 2:6-11 | Lk 22:14-23:56
Reflection on Holy Week by Pope Francis (shortened)
We begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday in which we accompany Jesus in his Passion, death and Resurrection. But what does living Holy Week mean to us? What does following Jesus on his journey to Calvary on his way to the Cross and the Resurrection mean? (…) God does not wait for us to go to him but it is he who moves towards us, without calculation, without quantification. That is what God is like. He always takes the first step, he comes towards us.
In Jesus, God has given us the certitude that he is with us, he is among us. (…) Jesus has no house, because his house is the people, it is we who are his dwelling place, his mission is to open God’s doors to all, to be the presence of God’s love.
In Holy Week we live the crowning moment of this journey, of this plan of love that runs through the entire history of the relations between God and humanity. Jesus enters Jerusalem to take his last step with which he sums up the whole of his existence. He gives himself without reserve, he keeps nothing for himself, not even life. At the Last Supper, with his friends, he breaks the bread and passes the cup round “for us”. The Son of God offers himself to us, he puts his Body and his Blood into our hands, so as to be with us always, to dwell among us. And in the Garden of Olives, and likewise in the trial before Pilate, he puts up no resistance, he gives himself; he is the suffering Servant, foretold by Isaiah, who empties himself, even unto death (cf. Is 53:12).
Jesus does not experience this love that leads to his sacrifice passively or as a fatal destiny. He does not of course conceal his deep human distress as he faces a violent death, but with absolute trust commends himself to the Father. Jesus gave himself up to death voluntarily in order to reciprocate the love of God the Father, in perfect union with his will, to demonstrate his love for us. On the Cross Jesus “loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). Each one of us can say: “he loved me and gave himself for me”. Each one can say this “for me”.
What is the meaning of all this for us? It means that this is my, your and our road too. Living Holy Week, following Jesus not only with the emotion of the heart; living Holy Week, following Jesus means learning to come out of ourselves in order to go to meet others, to go towards the outskirts of existence (…). There is such a great need to bring the living presence of Jesus, merciful and full of love!
Living Holy Week means entering ever more deeply into the logic of God, into the logic of the Cross, which is not primarily that of suffering and death, but rather that of love and of the gift of self which brings life. It means entering into the logic of the Gospel. Following and accompanying Christ, staying with him, demands “coming out of ourselves”, requires us to be outgoing; to come out of ourselves, out of a dreary way of living faith that has become a habit, out of the temptation to withdraw into our own plans which end by shutting out God’s creative action.
God came out of himself to come among us, he pitched his tent among us to bring to us his mercy that saves and gives hope. Nor must we be satisfied with staying in the pen of the 99 sheep if we want to follow him and to remain with him; we too must “go out” with him to seek the lost sheep, the one that has strayed the furthest. Be sure to remember: coming out of ourselves, just as Jesus, just as God came out of himself in Jesus and Jesus came out of himself for all of us. (…)
God always thinks with mercy: do not forget this. God always thinks mercifully. He is the merciful Father! God thinks like the father waiting for the son and goes to meet him, he spots him coming when he is still far off….
What does this mean? That he went every day to see if his son was coming home: this is our merciful Father. It indicates that he was waiting for him with longing on the terrace of his house. God thinks like the Samaritan who did not pass by the unfortunate man, (…) but helped him: God is like this. God thinks like the shepherd who lays down his life in order to defend and save his sheep.
Holy Week is a time of grace which the Lord gives us to open the doors of our heart, of our life, of our parishes of the movements, of the associations; and “to come out” in order to meet others, to make ourselves close, to bring them the light and joy of our faith. To come out always! And to do so with God’s love and tenderness, with respect and with patience, knowing that God takes our hands, our feet, our heart, and guides them and makes all our actions fruitful.
I hope that we all will live these days well, following the Lord courageously, carrying within us a ray of his love for all those we meet.
Reflection: Pope Francis, 27 March 2013 - http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130327_udienza-generale.html Source of image: free photo by stmkc on Pixabay
- 14 April - Mass on Palm Sunday starts outside, in front of the church (if the weather allows for it). Green branches will be provided, but you can bring your own as well.
- 14 April - After Mass, another opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Please note that due to a tight schedule on Holy Thursday, this might be the last opportunity for confessions in English before Easter.
- 14 April - For the egg hunt for our youngest members on Easter Sunday, the preparation team is hoping for donations of chocolate eggs or similar. Please hand them in on Palm Sunday so gift bags can be prepared in advance!
- 18 April - During the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday (18:30), following the example of our Lord, Father Cyril will do the washing of feet of a small number of community members. Volunteers willing to partake in this ritual, would you please let us know on Palm Sunday or send us a short message about it.
- 19 April - As in previous years, we do not have a Good Friday liturgy in English in St. Michael - you are invited to join the German speaking community at 15:00. However, we will have our own Stations of the Cross in English at 18:00 the same day. We are very grateful to the small preparation committee who made this possible for the first time and hope many of you will join!
- 21 April - On Easter Sunday, we are celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord at our usual Mass time. There will be a baptism during Mass as well! An additional social gathering after Mass will give us the opportunity to share the Easter joy with each other, so please stay a moment after Mass, and bring some food to share if possible. And the children in our community will certainly have fun during the Easter egg hunt!
- 22 April - Although a holy day of obligation for Catholics in Germany, we can’t offer Mass in English on “Easter Monday”. You might want to check the city church bulletin (in print or online) for Mass on that day, as well as additional services throughout the Easter Triduum.