I am posting Everyday Stewardship reflections for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday today so people can use them in advance of the Triduum, rather than check back each day. From LPI, my family, and myself, many wishes for a Blessed Triduum and a great start to the Easter Season. Remember, Easter is not just a day, it is a season. May the Risen Christ be present to you now and always. And may you always keep Him as THE MAIN THING.
Holy Thursday – 2016
My mother always had me wash my hands before dinner. Even if we hadn’t been outside of the house, she still made me march to the sink to wash my hands. She was a bit of a germaphobe, but it was a good practice nevertheless. I had to take responsibility for myself and make sure I was acting in a healthy manner. No one was going to wash my hands for me, she often reminded me in commanding me to the faucet.
In our lives faith, however, we cannot wash ourselves clean. No commands from mom or repeated attempts at washing can make us clean and subsequently ready for the banquet God has prepared for us. Jesus not only knelt down to the ground to wash the feet of his apostles because he was leading by example, he washed their feet because they could not do so for themselves. They had prepared themselves for meals many times in the past, but this was no ordinary meal. Preparation for this meal would take more than the power of bestowed to humans. It would take a Divine power.
After he was done, he said to his apostles, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” We cannot live this faith in isolation. We must prepare one another. We must wash the feet of one another. My mom said no one was going to wash my hands for me, but I pray someone will be willing to wash my feet.
Good Friday – 2016
I had been offering a seminar for a group of pastoral leaders from several churches and we were talking about parish branding. Parishes more and more these days have created a brand or logo that represents who they are as a community. Sometimes the image depicts something from their grounds or inside their church. Other times the image includes a slogan or a statement of a milestone the parish community has reached. We were talking about what might make a good logo for their individual communities when an older gentleman spoke up and expressed what he thought should be on every Catholic Church logo: a crucifix. He said that image speaks to who we are as Catholics. He lamented that too many Catholic parishes that he has visited use a basic cross in their branding imagery and to him that was ignoring who we are as Catholics. Even though we did not all agree that a crucifix could or should be on every parish logo, everyone did pause for a moment and think about his point.
Most Protestant communities have removed the corpus from the crosses they use in worship spaces and in other church spaces. I have heard many times over the years from non-Catholic friends that Jesus is now risen from the dead and there is no need to depict him dead on a cross. Also, some will refer to their understanding of a Biblical prohibition of graven images. Many just do not get why it means so much to us.
Does it mean so much to us? Does it mean that much to you? For many good stewards the crucifix serves as an example of the ultimate sacrifice of love for another; a sacrifice for you. Catholics do not diminish Easter by emphasizing the Crucifixion. And the Jesus we follow, even though risen from the grave, bears those wounds of love to this day. So tell me: what does that crucifix mean to you?
Easter – 2016
When I was younger and growing up in Alexandria, VA, I remember one year it actually snowing on Easter. It was crazy that so late in the year we got up and dressed in our best Spring clothes so we could venture into the snow on our way to Easter Mass. I remember thinking that the day did not feel much like Easter. It was hard to really get into the mood of God making all things new on a day so cold and full of flurries. If I am honest, I think we rushed home after Mass just so we could get on warm pajamas and just watch TV for the rest of the day, snuggled up on the couch with blankets. It might as well been a Sunday in January.
This year the odds are against it snowing on Easter here where I live in North Carolina. However, for far too many it might as well snow. To them, Easter has nothing to do with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, new life, or anything of the sort. It is just another Sunday. Some of them don’t care and never think of Jesus or God on any Sunday of the year. But for others, it will not feel like Easter because they have been forgotten. They will sit on this day at home, just like they sit every single day of their lives. They might be poor, elderly, disabled, or simply alone. On this day, there is no resurrection celebration because they have no real experience of the joy of life.
This is where good Everyday Stewards can make a difference. In the midst of buying candy and decorating eggs for baskets, and buying new clothes to wear to Easter Mass, find someone who needs to experience the power of Easter. Don’t tell them Jesus rose from them, but show them. Instead of the cold of isolation, bring to them the warmth of new life.