Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22:8-9,17-20,23-24; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1–15:47)
Opening Ourselves to God as We Contemplate Jesus’ Passion
Crucify him! (Mark 15:13)
St. Francis de Sales once wrote: “I especially commend earnest mental prayer . . . upon the life and Passion of our Lord. If you contemplate him frequently in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with him, you will grow in his likeness, and your actions will be molded on his.” Francis knew that if we want to see real transformation in our lives, we need to dwell deeply on the cross.
One of the best ways to do this is to imagine yourself in the upper room, in Gethsemane, or on the mount of crucifixion. Picture yourself sitting next to Jesus as he consecrates the bread and wine. What does his voice sound like? What is the expression on his face? Gaze into his eyes as he stands before Pilate and receives his death sentence. Why is he silent? What is going through his mind as he hears the crowd crying out for his crucifixion?
So often we think that what we do is what matters most. It does matter, but what God wants to do in us matters even more. This is why it is so important to contemplate the Passion, opening ourselves to God’s grace as we do.
Fr. Karl Rahner, one of the great theologians of Vatican II, once wrote: “We cannot deny that here below man can have experiences of grace that give him a feeling of liberation, open totally new horizons to him, make a deep impression on him, transform him, shaping, even over a long period of time, his deepest Christian attitude.” This is what really matters! This is how we can become more like Christ.
God wants to fill us with grace as we ponder the Passion this week. He wants to make a deep impression in our souls and cut us to the heart with his love. So look up to heaven every day this week, and thank him for giving himself to you so fully.
“Jesus, I am amazed at your love. Your mercy leaves me at a loss for words. All I can say is Thank You!”
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, when we are all called to relive and to celebrate the events, which went before and surrounded Christ’s death and resurrection, the inexhaustible source of our salvation. We begin by recalling Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He is a sign of contradiction, acclaimed by some and reviled by others. In what ways can Jesus be a sign of contradiction in your own lives: acclaimed at times, ignored at other times, and even hated during times of suffering?
- In the first reading and the responsorial Psalm we begin to get a vivid glimpse of what Jesus suffered for us. Don’t let the words slip by because they are so familiar to you. Let your imagination visualize what it must have been like for the Son of God to have been beaten, scoffed at, mocked, and pierced for YOU. How well are you able to use your imagination to allow yourself to enter more deeply into the Holy Week events? In what other ways can you “keep watch” with Jesus through this Holy Week of suffering and death on the cross?
- In the second reading we learn that Christ “emptied” himself and humbled himself when he became man. St. Augustine called humility the “royal road”. It is the road Christ took when he became man and it is the only way we can get back to God. How important to you is your sense of self and pride in your own worth and talents? Does it ever interfere in your relations with others? How do you react when you have been humbled or criticized or even rejected?
- It is said that St. Mark wrote his Gospel for the Gentile’s whom he desired to bring to believe in Jesus’ divinity. The gentile Roman centurion at the cross professes: “Truly this man was the Son of God.” In what ways do you see Jesus’ divinity in his passion, death, and resurrection?
- In the meditation we read these words, “God wants to fill us with grace as we ponder the Passion this week.” What areas of your life need more of the Lord’s grace? “The meditation goes on to say these words: “He wants to make a deep impression in our souls and cut us to the heart with his love.” What are the obstacles in your life that can keep you experiencing more deeply God’s great love for you? How can you overcome them?
- Take some time now to pray and thank the Lord for his passion, death, and resurrection and for the love, mercy, and graces that flowed from them. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.