Reflection: This is Holy Week

By Father Chris Thomas

Whenever I hear the Easter story it always strikes me that it’s not just a 2,000-year-old story. It’s a story expressed in the ordinary lives of people. Whenever we share with one another and give ourselves to another we celebrate Holy Thursday. Every death we experience in our lives is a Good Friday experience. Every resurrection within us and among us is Easter Day.

Every year the Church invites us to reflect on the story of the washing of the feet on the evening of Holy Thursday. John, in chapter 13 of the Gospel, gives us the significance of Eucharist, that we are to become what we receive. We are to become Jesus for the world.

Eucharist was never meant to be an individual soul-saving technique, collecting graces so that we can get to heaven. It was always meant to draw us deeply into relationship with Jesus and with others. Every time we break bread, we identify with everyone who is broken. Every time we drink from the cup, we identify with those who share themselves with another.

This day is followed by Good Friday, a day when we celebrate every moment that we have died within, every moment of rejection, pain, isolation and disappointment, and every hope and dream that has been crushed. We see it all in the broken, bruised body of the lamb hanging on the cross. That is how great the love of Jesus is, so great that he absorbed into Himself every moment of death that has ever existed or will ever exist and loved it into wholeness. This isn’t some sort of appeasement to an angry God but a complete giving of Godself. God is not angry. God is love.

That love raised Jesus from death and made him the icon for all humanity. The resurrection story is the eternal sign of hope. It reminds us that love is victorious. Jesus, the power of love made flesh, has burst through any darkness to unleash God’s love on the world. In John’s Gospel the story begins with the empty tomb to which Peter and John run. John arrives first to show us it's love that will understand the resurrection. He doesn’t need to go in, he knows. 

The empty tomb is not proof of resurrection. The only proof of resurrection is the personal experience of the risen Jesus. The insight of love is what reveals the resurrection. On Easter Day, we celebrate the victory of love and we pray that our hearts be open to that power. Then it will flow through us into the lives of others so that they too might know that love is victorious. All of this is why this week is holy because it transforms the mundane, even death into life and gives every moment of our lives meaning.