ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. Psalm 118. Reflect, today, upon the above line from the Responsorial Psalm for today’s Mass. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in.” The “day” we rejoice in is the new life God wants to bestow upon your soul here and now. It is a new day, a glorious one, a transformed one, a resurrected one. New life must begin now and must become continually new and glorious as we journey deeper and deeper into the glory of the Resurrection. Ponder this “new day” and allow our Lord to bestow it upon you through the power of His glorious Resurrection from the dead.
My resurrected Lord, my hope is in You! Alleluia, You are alive and You have conquered all sin, all death, all evil. You bring forth new life to all who turn to You in their need. My Jesus, I do turn to You and abandon myself to You in Your death so that I may rise with You in Your Resurrection to new life. Breathe into me this gift of new life and allow me to begin anew. Jesus, I trust in You.
The Silence of the Tomb
Today, there is a great silence. The Savior has died. He rests in the tomb. Many hearts were filled with uncontrollable grief and confusion. Was He really gone? Had all their hopes been shattered? These and many other thoughts of despair filled the minds and hearts of so many who loved and followed Jesus.
It is on this day that we honor the fact that Jesus was still preaching. He descended to the land of the dead, to all the holy souls who had gone before Him, so as to bring them His gift of salvation. He brought His gift of mercy and redemption to Moses, Abraham, the prophets and so many others. This was a day of great joy for them. But a day of great sorrow and confusion for those who watched their Messiah die on the Cross.
It’s helpful to ponder this apparent contradiction. Jesus was accomplishing His act of redemption, the greatest act of love ever known, and so many were in complete confusion and despair. It shows that God’s ways are so far above our own ways. What appeared to be a great loss actually turned into the most glorious triumph ever known.
So it is with our lives. Holy Saturday should be a reminder to us that even those things which seem to be the worst of tragedies are not always what they seem. God the Son was obviously doing great things as He laid in the tomb. He was accomplishing His mission of redemption. He was changing lives and pouring forth grace and mercy.
The message of Holy Saturday is clear. It’s a message of hope. Not hope in a worldly sense, rather, it’s the message of divine hope. Hope and trust in God’s perfect plan. Hope in the fact that God always has a greater purpose. Hope in the fact that God uses suffering and, in this case, death as a powerful instrument of salvation.
Spend time in silence today. Try to enter into the reality of Holy Saturday. Let divine hope grow within you knowing that Easter is soon to come.
Lord, I thank You for the gift of Your suffering and death. Thank You for this Day of Silence as we await Your Resurrection. May I also await Your triumph in my life. When I struggle with despair, dear Lord, help me to be reminded of this day. The day when all appeared as loss. Help me to see my struggles through the lens of Holy Saturday, remembering that You are faithful in all things and that the Resurrection is always assured to those who put their trust in You. Jesus, I do trust in You.
God Suffers Human Death
Ponder today, this dark day, the final words of Jesus. Scripture records seven last statements, or the “Seven Last Words.” Take each phrase and spend time with it. Seek the deeper spiritual meaning for your life.
1) “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus’ forgiveness of others was radical and to a degree never seen before. While hanging on the Cross and enduring the cruelty of others, Jesus spoke words of forgiveness. He forgave them in the midst of His persecution. What is more is that He even acknowledged that those crucifying Him were not fully responsible. They clearly did not know what they were doing. This humble acknowledgment of Jesus shows the depth of His tender mercy. It reveals He died not in anger or resentment, but in willing sacrifice. Can you say these words? Can you call to mind the person who has hurt you and pray that the Father forgives them? Leave judgment to God and offer mercy and forgiveness.
2) “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” What a consolation it must have been for the good thief to hear these words. He must have been experiencing a certain despair in life at that moment as he, along side of Jesus, was dying on a cross. What a gift it was to be there next to the Savior of the World, sharing in the sufferings of Christ in such a real way. And this man was privileged to be among the first to receive this gift of salvation won by Jesus on the Cross. Jesus offers us the same assurance. He offers salvation to us beginning today. And He offers it to us in the midst of our own suffering and sin. Can you hear Him offer you this gift of mercy? Can you hear Him invite you to share His gift of everlasting life? Let Him speak this invitation to you and let the eternal life of paradise begin to take hold more deeply today in your soul.
3) “Woman, behold your son.” What a gift! Here, dying on the Cross, Jesus entrusted His own mother to John. And in so doing, He entrusted her to each one of us. Our unity with Jesus makes us a member of His family and, thus, sons and daughters of His own mother. Our Blessed Mother accepts this responsibility with great joy. She embraces us and holds us close. Do you accept Jesus’ mother as your own spiritual mother? Have you fully consecrated yourself to her? Doing so will place you under her mantle of protection and love.
4) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus was not abandoned but He allowed Himself to feel and experience this complete loss of the Father in His human nature. He felt the deep experience of despair. He allowed Himself to know and experience the effects of sin. Therefore, He knows what we go through when we despair. He knows what it feels like. And He is there with us in those temptations enabling us to press on through any despair toward total faith and trust in the Father.
5) “I thirst.” What a meaningful statement. He thirsted physically at that moment for water to quench His dehydration. But more than that, He thirsted spiritually for the salvation of all of our souls. Jesus’ spirit still longs for this gift of salvation. He longs to call us His children. He thirsts for our love. Ponder Jesus saying these words to you. “I thirst for you!” He says. It is a deep and burning thirst for your love. You satiate Jesus’ thirst by returning that love. Satiate His thirst this Good Friday by giving Him your love.
6) “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” These are the words we need to pray more than any. These are the words of complete surrender to God. Prayer is ultimately about one thing. It’s about surrender. It’s about trust. Say these words over and over today and let this perfect surrender of Jesus also be your surrender. Surrender means God is in control. It means that we let go of our own will and choose only God’s. And it means that God pledges to accept our surrender and guide us into the perfect plan He has in mind for us.
7) “It is finished.” It is significant that He said “It is finished” as His last words. What does this mean? What is finished? This spiritual statement from Jesus is one that affirms that His mission of the redemption of the whole world is accomplished. “It” refers to His perfect sacrifice of love offered for all of us. His death, which we commemorate today, is the perfect sacrifice which takes away the sins of all. What a gift! And what a sacrifice Jesus endured for us!
We are used to seeing this sacrifice on the Cross. We ponder this sacrifice every time we look at the crucifix. But it is important to note that our over-familiarity with the Cross can tempt us to lose sight of the sacrifice. It’s easy for us to miss what Jesus actually did for us. He accomplished the act that saves us and He is now offering it to us. Let this completed act of Divine Mercy penetrate your soul. He desires to say that His sacrifice has “finished” its work in your soul.
So today, on this Good Friday, it would be good if we spent the day pondering the reality of Jesus’ sacrifice. Try to understand what it was like for God Himself to suffer and die. Contemplate what it was like for God Himself, the Creator of all things, to be put to death by those whom He created, to suffer at the hands of those whom He loved with a perfect love.
Understanding Jesus’ sacrificial love will enable us to love as He did. It will enable us to love those who have hurt us and those who persecute us. His love is total. It is generous beyond description.
Lord, I know You thirst for my soul. You finished what You started by dying on the Cross for my salvation and the salvation of the world. Help me to understand Your love and to accept it into my life. Help me to forgive. Help me to invite you into my own darkness and sin. Help me to abandon all to You. I thank You, dear suffering Lord, for the gift of Your Precious Blood, poured out for the salvation of the world. Jesus, I trust in You.
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” John 13:8
It was a beautiful image of the deepest humility ever witnessed. Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, was exercising the duty of a servant. One by one, Jesus went around and cleansed the feet of His disciples. It was the celebration of the Passover. A holy feast, a remembrance of God’s saving action to their ancestors the night they were set free from slavery in Egypt. However, this Passover “remembrance” was certainly one to be remembered and embraced.
Peter was overwhelmed by Jesus’ humility and at first refused to have his Lord wash his feet. But Jesus says something that rings true for all eternity: “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” This was no ordinary washing, it was not in reference only to the washing of Peter’s dirty feet, it was an eternal washing of his immortal soul, and the “water” would soon flow forth from the pierced and Sacred Heart of Jesus Himself.
Every time we renew our Baptism, receive His Spirit more deeply into our lives and consume His sacred Body and Blood, we participate in this cleansing action of Christ to Peter and the other disciples. Jesus looks at each one of us, with a gaze of love, and says, “Unless I wash you…” What is your response to our Lord?
It takes humility to accept the humblest act of mercy ever known. We must humbly acknowledge that we need our Lord to cleanse us, to wipe the dirt from our souls, to redeem us and to offer us the inheritance of everlasting life.
Reflect, this night, upon those sacred words of our Lord and hear them spoken to you: “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Say “Yes” to this offer of perfect humility and mercy from our Lord and let the saving Sacrifice of the Son of God enter more deeply into your life than ever before.
My merciful Lord, Your humility is awe-inspiring and overwhelming. Please wash me clean with the blood and water flowing forth from Your pierced Heart. Help me to receive this gift in the way it was given: with humility. I thank You, I say “Yes” to Your gift, I receive You and I invite You to cleanse me. I am a sinner, dear Lord. I need Your cleansing action in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.
“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Cor. 11:24
We begin, today, the Triduum – the three great celebrations of our Catholic Faith. Yes, there are numerous celebrations that take place throughout the year. But these three celebrations are the heart of our faith and are the culmination of all of our worship. We begin today with the celebration of the Lord’s gift of the Most Holy Eucharist given through the priesthood He instituted. Tomorrow we enter into the mystery of His Crucifixion. Saturday after sundown we enter into the glory of His Resurrection. It is at that Last Supper, the beginning of the first Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, that our Lord gazes through Peter to each one of us and offers to cleanse us of all sin. What is your response? How humble are you in your reception of this gift? How deeply do you believe in the saving Sacrifice of our divine Lord?