Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Walking Through Holy Week by Karen May

This year I invite you to experience Holy Week differently. These events are real. They are historical. They are shocking and devastating. They are surprising and exhilarating. In Walking Through Holy Week, you will see how each day allows us to enter into the action and be a part of the story. Imagine how different Easter will be when you experience the days leading up to it as the apostles did.
The Holy week masses are carefully designed to allow us to walk with Jesus through His passion, crucifixion, and resurrection. I love it whenever I learn more about the context and scripture because it opens up the stories and helps transform it into a personal experience. But I know there's plenty more to discover.

That's why I was so interested in Walking Through Holy Week and I really love it. Each mass is broken down by section, with an introduction to each reading, brief commentary, and questions for reflection. I especially appreciate that full scriptural readings are included so you don't have to look anything up. (Because I already know I'm not going to take the extra step to go look stuff up.) And there are additional scriptural references in the back for anything else that's referred to. I also like that the questions are thoughtful. They make you dig deeper.

For example, the first reading for Palm Sunday has the phrase, "This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled."
Have you ever wondered who that prophet might be, and how the reader is supposed to know about it? This reference is a combination of two verses. Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9, and would have been easily recognized by the Jewish people.
Well, no, it never occurred to me to ask that question. I always just take the gospel's word for it. The quoted verses are included with scriptural references in an appendix so they are easily found ... and they give much food for thought, especially when paired with the next two questions:
  1. Read the passages from Isaiah and Zechariah 9. After reading these scriptures, what would you have expected Jesus to do after he entered Jerusalem?
  2. The Book of Zechariah continues with descriptions of battle and triumph, but changes suddenly from tales of success and glory to descriptions of grief and desolation. Read Zechariah 12:10-13:1. What are some of the things that point to what Jesus is about to do?
I suddenly understood why people expected a triumphal political leader ... and what the reality was that Jesus had come to achieve. It is all there, set up for us by the two ancient prophets.

Modern parallels are also included to help you relate to how regular people at the time would have thought and felt. They are particularly effective especially since they stay away from dwelling on the sentimental. For example, to give an idea of how Jesus' arrest would have struck faithful believers, we are asked to imagine that Pope Francis has been captured by ISIS and put on trial. There is a thrill of shock at the idea and it helps us remember the vivid horror of events covered in Holy week.

Since stations of the cross are traditional for Good Friday, each of them is covered with the same thoroughness.

Use it during Holy Week or use it all during Lent as a study. This book is a real treasure for anyone who wants to enter into Lent and especially Holy Week more fully. Although it is centered on the mass readings and Stations of the Cross, any denomination of Christian is going to get a deeper understanding of Christ's passion, crucifixion, and resurrection.

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