These Holy Days: An Easter Weekend Message
To the Superior North Catholic District School Board Community
The next few days ahead are the most sacred days of the entire year. In light of what we are experiencing on a global scale, they are perhaps more meaningful than ever. In your personal prayer and reflection this weekend, I trust that the Holy Spirit will allow you to connect the words of Scripture to the events unfolding in your own life at this time. The following are a few thoughts on the days ahead that I would like to share with you:
Holy Thursday. On this night, in the context of the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood. “This is my body, which is given for you…This cup…is poured out for you…” (Luke 22:19-20). He washed the feet of this disciples and instructed them to do the same, saying, “For I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). The message is simple yet profound: the heart of Christian leadership is solidarity and service.
Good Friday. In his farewell words to his disciples the night before, Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Today, Jesus will practice what he preached, literally laying down his life for his friends. The pain, trauma, and undeniable stress Jesus endured cannot be called good. The goodness of this day is found in how Jesus transformed suffering into sacrifice – a holy offering – by enduring it with love and for love’s sake. The cross comes to us in many forms. On its own, we cannot call the cross good. But when we endure suffering with love and for love’s sake, it takes on a new quality, a redemptive one. Every cross, trial, or inconvenience can become a holy offering, a life-giving sacrifice.
Holy Saturday. “Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep” (Bishop Melito of Sardis, died c. 180). The body of Jesus rests in the sealed tomb. Jesus “experienced death and in his soul joined others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Saviour, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #632). Silence gives us permission to “descend”, to go deep. Perhaps for this reason, it is generally avoided. In the mix of a steady stream of chatter and breaking news reports, Holy Saturday invites us to go deep. Spend time in that place where God’s voice can be heard, where creativity, healing and transformation may be found.
Easter Sunday. “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb” (John 20:1). The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the beating heart of the Christian faith. St. Paul wrote that if Christ has not been raised from the dead, our faith would be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). Consider today Jesus’ triumph over the tomb. Social distancing and other forms of isolation may have a tomb-like effect for some people. At the very least it can be hard not to feel at least a little bit “caged in.” By virtue of our Baptism, we “have been raised with Christ” (Colossians 3:1). Now, more than ever, is a chance to consider what this means. The risen Jesus empowers us to resist the tomb-mentality with invincible faith, to outshine the darkness of defeatism with supernatural hope, and to conquer barriers with creative charity.
Solidarity. Sacrifice. Silence. Triumph over the tomb. Thank you for all the ways you witness to each of these in your professional and personal lives. May the Risen Christ bless you and your loved ones abundantly this Easter.
With prayers and best wishes,
Fr. Terry Sawchuk