Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14–27:66)
Spending Time with Jesus during Holy Week
Keep watch with me (Matthew 26:38).
Today marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most significant week of the year. Everything that Jesus said and did while on earth was leading up to this week, to the moment of the cross, the climax of God’s great plan for humanity. So what better way to spend this week than to walk with Jesus through his Passion and death?
In the garden, Jesus told his closest friends: “Remain here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). He wanted them to spend those last precious hours with him. And now, he is asking you to do the same. He is inviting you, another close friend, to stay with him so that you can observe and receive all the grace that is flowing this week.
Try to imagine yourself in Jerusalem two thousand years ago. Watch and celebrate as Jesus enters Jerusalem under showers of praise. Watch as he is anointed at Bethany and shares a final meal with his friends. Watch as the Son of Man, your Savior, is betrayed . . . seized . . . and brought to trial. See him be falsely accused . . . beaten . . . crowned with thorns . . . and led up a hill to be crucified. Keep watch as the veil in the Temple tears . . . the rocks split . . . the graves open . . . and the dead rise. Take it all in, and let it change your heart.
As this week unfolds, take time to thank and praise Jesus for the cross. Offer your life to him in deep gratitude. Take time every day to solidify your faith in what Jesus has done for you. He has overcome the devil, sin, and even death itself. He has completely forgiven you. All week long, try to respond to the stirring of the Holy Spirit by repeating with Jesus: “Not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
“Lord Jesus, thank you for enduring the cross. Help me to remain by your side this week, watching you and learning from you.”
Questions for Reflection
- Psalm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem amidst the cheers of the crowds shouting, “Hosanna.” Yet, we know within a few days, the same crowds were saying, “Crucify him.” Why do you believe such a turn around occurred? In what way can this parallel our own treatment of Jesus as well, especially, in light of the truth that it is our sins that nailed Him to the Cross?
- The first reading from Isaiah is a powerful prophecy on Jesus’ faithfulness, obedience, and his passion. In what way is it also a testimony to his total trust in the Father’s love and call for his life? When you are in the midst of difficult circumstances, or suffering, do you believe that, “The Lord God is my help, therefore, I am not disgraced?” Are you able to say, “I have set my face like flint, knowing that I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 54:7)? Share a time when this was true and when it was a struggle for you.
- The responsorial psalm is also a powerful prophetic word on Jesus’ suffering, his death on the Cross, and his resurrection. It also contains Jesus’ words from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why do you think Jesus cried out these words from the Cross? Was there ever a time when you felt this way as well? Why?
- The second reading provides a wonderful witness to Jesus’ humility in that he “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” and “humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death.” If humility is lifting others above yourself, and pride is lifting yourself above others, how do you rate yourself on these characteristics? What steps can you take to reflect more and more the humility of Jesus?
- It is so easy to take for granted, or passively listen to the familiar words of the passion narrative in the Gospel reading. At Palm Sunday Mass, what steps can you take to prevent this from happening?
- The meditation ends with these words: “As this week unfolds, take time to thank and praise Jesus for the cross. Offer your life to him in deep gratitude. Take time every day to solidify your faith in what Jesus has done for you. He has overcome the devil, sin, and even death itself. He has completely forgiven you. All week long, try to respond to the stirring of the Holy Spirit by repeating with Jesus: ‘Not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39). During Holy week, what steps can you take to spend additional time with Jesus, “watching,” praying with him, and meditating on his journey to the cross?
- Take some time now and pray for the grace to be faithful to the steps you will be taking during Holy Week to stay close to Jesus. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.
(The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a Ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. Maurice can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.)