• David Knight

Holy Thursday of the Lord's Passion

Holy Thursday (Thursday, Friday and Saturday really should be together with Easter Sunday, but we put them here because many people still think of them as being part of Lent).

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

The Responsorial is: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16). Psalm 116 elaborates on it.

The “Easter triduum” are three days that constitute one single celebration. Any one of them without the others is incomplete.

The Easter Vigil celebrates the resurrection of Jesus as the mystery that gives meaning to all human life and history. But without the celebration of Christ’s sacrificial death on Good Friday, Easter would be unintelligible. And without the institution of the Eucharist, celebrated on Holy Thursday, Christ’s death and resurrection would be a thing of the past — reported, remembered and relied-upon – but present only to God in the transcendent “Now” of eternity; not present to us in the time and place of the world we live in. Taken together, the three days reveal Christian life as an individual and communal presence to and participation in the ongoing act of love by which the Father, Son and Spirit redeemed the world. The Liturgy of the Word is to help us understand this mystery. We listen to the readings as disciples eager to learn.

Exodus 12: 1-8, 11-14: “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar.” Time counts, and we should count time, not just numerically by adding hours and days, but historically, seeing it as a series of events. The events are what give time meaning. By celebrating events we absorb their meaning into our lives and pass that meaning on to others.

The readings that are part of the celebration do three things: they tell the story of the events, remindus to keep them in memory, and explainto us their meaning. Where the meaning is expressed in symbols, the readings tell us what those symbols say.

Reading God’s word is always part of our celebration. It lets us understand what we celebrate. Celebration makes what is proclaimed or taught in the word real and active in our lives — especially our communal lives. Liturgy unites light to life and us to one another in the “communion of the Holy Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 is an example: the words present the mystery “handed on” to us. But we proclaim it as a community every time we “eat this bread and drink this cup.”

In John 13: 1-15 Jesus teaches us how to participate in Mass. “Do you realize what I have done?” It is not enough to see and hear; we have to think, meditate, absorb the meaning of the words, gestures and symbols. And keep doing it: “You may not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Hearing should prompt personal reflection and communal discussion.

And we have to act on what we hear: “As I have done, so you must do.” Hearing should lead to decisions. Jesus is both “Teacher” and “Lord.” His words are not just data; they are directions — to be acted on.

View Today's Readings Here

Initiative: Don’t leave Mass without making a decision based on what you heard.

#FatherDavidKnight #LentReflections #HolyWeek #EasterTriduum

Wednesday of Holy Week

Note: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Holy Saturday Vigil and Easter Sunday are all one extended celebration called the “Easter Triduum” (three days). So the Easter season actually begins on Holy Thursday.

The Responsorial (read all of Psalm 69) is the constant prayer of the servants of God: “Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Isaiah 50: 4-9 is the third Song of the Servant. The Servant neither depends on human support nor fears human opposition. His confidence is in God.

• God has equipped him: “The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue.” Think of how God has equipped us in the Church. But for our “tongue” to serve, it must be “trained” through use of “word and sacrament.”

• Training is ongoing: “Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear.” The Servant is a continuing disciple. He listens. Daily. “The Servant must first be a disciple, prayerfully receiving God’s word, before he can presume to teach others.” 1

• He accepts persecution and suffering without resentment: “I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me....” The “way of the cross” is to endure evil and love back.

• He relies on God for strength and victory: “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced.”

• This is the source of his courage and perseverance. Nothing is going to turn him aside from his mission: “I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.” “See, the Lord God is my help.”

Mathew 26: 14-25 shows us another contrast. Judas looks ahead and sees that Jesus is going to go down. So he takes care of himself. He takes his stakes out of the pot and invests in the future. He goes over to the enemy, the “chief priests,” and asks, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?”

By contrast, when the other disciples look ahead, they go to Jesus: “Where do you wish us to prepare the Passover supper for you?” They are with him and have cast in their lot with him. They trust in whatever he says.

Jesus answers as he did when they asked him how to feed the crowd following him in the wilderness. Then he told them to call on the community, ask them to share. “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” They found a boy with “five barley loaves and two fish.”

Now he says, “Go to this man in the city...” — obviously a believer — “...and tell him, ‘the Teacher says my appointed time draws near. I am to celebrate the Passover with my disciples in your house.’” Jesus knows he will share.

“When it grew dark, he reclined at table with the Twelve” — soon to be eleven. As night approached, all they had was themselves and God. It was enough.

Except for Judas. After receiving the “bread” from Jesus’ hand, he “immediately went out.” Then, John wrote, “It was night.”2

View Today's Readings Here

Initiative: In any need, pray “Lord, in your great love, answer me.

1 Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968. 2 Mark 6:38; John 6:9; 13;26-30.

#FatherDavidKnight #LentReflections #HolyWeek

  • David Knight

Tuesday of Holy Week

The Responsorial (Psalm 71) is a reflex response: “I will sing of your salvation.

Isaiah 49: 1-6 is the beginning of the second Song of the Servant. These songs

portray the ideal Servant of God, the perfect Israelite, whose consecration to the divine will, even in the midst of overwhelming suffering, ‘takes away the sins of many.’

The Servant’s identity is complex:

The Servant is “Israel, alive in all of her great leaders and intercessors.... But the collective interpretation leads to an individual Servant of supreme holiness, greater than any single Israelite of the past.... It was Jesus who clearly identified himself as the Servant.... The Servant is both a collective personality and an individual messiah.1

For practical purposes we can apply what is said about the Servant to Jesus, to Israel, to the Church, and to ourselves. Individually and collectively, we are all engaged in his mission, and we experience what he experiences in fulfilling it. Four points to keep in mind:

• The Servant knows he was chosen “from my mother’s womb.” So do we — at least from the womb of Baptism. So did Jesus. But he was tempted to doubt it, as we are. 2

• He feels he has “toiled in vain and for nothing.” So did Jesus, who on the cross felt failure and abandonment. So do we.

• He knows his “reward is with the Lord.” So did Jesus. In his human consciousness he did not know on the cross that he would rise from the dead. But like Abraham sacrificing Isaac, he believed, “hoping against hope,” that he was inexplicably saving the world and entering into his glory. We sometimes need to do the same.3

• In response to his discouragement, God extends his mission beyond Israel to include the whole earth: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” When the pot is empty, throw a party! After Good Friday comes Pentecost. “I will sing of your salvation.

John 13: 21-33, 36-38 shows us Jesus aware of betrayal and denial by two of his closest followers, and his response is to say, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him!” He knew things were out of his hands. He was to be delivered up. He had no human support. But he knew the Scriptural principle: In the absence of the human the divine is revealed, The Virgin Birth: the absence of a human father revealed the fatherhood of God. Sending his disciples without resources to show they relied on God.4 His present situation: the absence of all human support meant he was in the hands of God. If God was allowing his total abasement, God must be glorifying him. There was nothing more to do but surrender in joy: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” I will sing of your salvation.

View Today's Readings Here

Initiative: Find life in death, hope in despair, light in darkness, love in abandonment, power in weakness. In the absence of the human, rejoice in God.

1 Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968. 2 See his temptations, beginning with “If...” Matthew 4:1-11; 27:39-46. 3 Romans 4:18; John 12:23-28. 4 Matthew 10:9-10.

#FatherDavidKnight #LentReflections #HolyWeek

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