HOLY THURSDAY – Humility
In the time of Jesus when people walked on the way to the house to which they had been invited, they would be met at the door not by the owner of the house but by a slave. The role of the slave was to wash the feet of the visitor. It was a humiliating task and only a slave could do it. The slave would wash feet which were quite often caked with several layers of mud. After this was completed the Lord and Master would come in and perfume the hair of the guest, a lovely gesture.
This background explains Peter’s initial reaction to having his feet washed. He knew Jesus well enough to know that he was not play acting but rather that he was deadly serious. Peter felt ashamed for Jesus. How could a Lord and Master take on such a humbling task? Jesus responds to Peter’s initial resistance by telling him that if he insists on refusing then he can have no part of him. Jesus says this to Peter to point out that unless he changes his mind then he will never understand who Jesus is, why he came and will never understand his own destiny. Upon hearing this Peter changed his mind.
The basic lesson that Jesus was trying to teach his disciples at that time and what he is trying to teach us today is you either love or you do not love and if you truly love then you will consider no task to be too humbling.
GOOD FRIDAY – A New Genesis
The Book of Genesis tells us the story of humanity’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden through the choice to disobey God. Today’s Passion Reading presents Jesus as the New Adam who freely enters another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane, to face betrayal and suffering and judgment and death. Through his Passion and Death resulting from obeying his Father’s will, Jesus gives us a New Genesis.
The cross is such a powerful sign of the Christian faith as it reminds us that we have the chance to begin again. The instrument of torture used by the Roman Empire to frighten off its enemies became the instrument where resurrection and new life become possible.
EASTER SUNDAY –From Death to New Life
Today connects with the story we heard on Good Friday. Jesus had to go through death to rise to new life. What is it that I need to put to death to rise to new life? In what areas of my life am I selfish? In what ways do I hurt others? Where do I tend to make harsh judgements on others?
We hear in today’s Gospel story that Jesus is no longer in the tomb. He has gone on from death. What is it that I need to leave behind? The disciples went to the tomb with the expectation that Jesus would still be in there. Even though they had heard him preach about his resurrection they still did not believe. They had supplanted the God of Jesus Christ with the God of fear. This scene invites us to reflect on the question, why are our hearts so slow to believe? Have we too supplanted the God of Jesus Christ with other Gods in our lives? The God of success? The God of money? The God of alcohol and drugs? The list goes on. Whatever it is for us none of those Gods can give us eternal life. Only the God of Jesus Christ can. What are the ‘metaphorical stones’ that we need to move away so that we can put Christ at the centre of our lives?
Today we renew our baptismal promises which for most of us were originally made by parents and godparents on our behalf. Today represents an opportunity for us to appropriate these baptismal promises for ourselves. Let us use these promises as a sign of our commitment to leave behind those things that prevent us from rising to new life. Let us not allow the resurrection of Jesus to have to fight for room in our lives.