Our Minds and Hearts Fixed on Jesus
An essay about the significance of Holy Week. Happy Easter Weekend!
Catholicism celebrates a host of events in the church’s history such as: Advent, during Christmas; Lenten Season, beginning every Ash Wednesday; and Passover, or the death of the firstborn. All of which are times of fasting, reflection and prayer for how the Historical Jesus touched the lives of many individuals in human form. Holy Week, a sacred holiday in Christianity, is no exception.
Throughout this week, members of the faith recognize the Paschal Mystery: the Life, Death, Resurrection, and Glorious Ascension of Jesus Christ. More importantly, however, “…the greatest focus of the week is the Passion (suffering) and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the events that led up to it” (catholiceducation.org).
“…Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem” (catholiceducation.org) marks Passover: the first of these festivities, in which palm leaves represent how Jesus defied the public’s expectations. They wanted Christ to overthrow the Roman government, when in actuality the Lord performed incarnation to hang on the cross and save mankind from sin; hence, it was a precursor to his looming crucifixion. For this reason, palm leaves are employed in church services as a sign of victory, and they are blessed before the celebration of Mass as they were back in Biblical times. Three readers are then chosen to read the Passion of the Christ in the Gospel to remind individuals of the following:“…our minds and hearts should be fixed on Jesus and what He did for us” (catholiceducation.org).
Following Palm Sunday is Holy Thursday, in which the Catholic Church reenacts the Last Supper. It was on this day officials arrested and betrayed Jesus Christ. That night, He and His disciples shared in a feast of bread and wine: the former symbolizing His body, with the latter symbolizing His blood. Because of this, “…Jesus not only instituted the Mass (Eucharist) but also the ministerial priesthood” (catholiceducation.org). He also washed His disciples’ feet to teach the importance of humility and translating our words into concrete acts of service, however, no day in the Easter Triduum is more paramount to Christianity than Good Friday. Mass is always held at three o’clock in the afternoon, denoting the hour Jesus was thought to have passed away.
What’s more, the priest takes the time to review the Stations of the Cross: visual representations of the Passion of the Christ and the Crucifixion They are as follows: “(1) Jesus is condemned to death, (2) Jesus accepts the cross, (3) Jesus falls the first time, (4) Jesus meets His Mother, (5) Simon of Cyrene carries the cross, (6) Veronica wipes the face of Jesus, (7) Jesus falls the second time, (8) Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, (9) Jesus falls the third time, (10) Jesus is stripped of His garments, (11) Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross, (12) Jesus dies on the cross, (13) Jesus’ body is removed from the cross and (14) Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense” (www.huffingtonpost.com).
The last words of Jesus Christ, prior to his crucifixion, are also of tremendous significance to Good Friday: “…a time to dwell on what Jesus suffered…in all its pain straight ahead to the Good News of Easter, Resurrection, and new life” (christianity.com). They also bring His Work of Redemption full-circle using seven statements. Firstly, the saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what to do” confirms how Jesus always put himself second and others first. That includes Pontius Pilate and the other men responsible for the Passion of Christ: “It was because of man’s sin that He was on the cross suffering” (blueletterbible.org) illustrates that when God assumed human form, he bore the anger, guilt, and sorrow of humanity. Jesus, through His public ministry and performing miracles, needed to absolve everybody of their sins — which He did until the very end of His life.
The second statement, “Today you will be with me in paradise,” applies to a thief crucified next to Jesus: “when the thieves were put on the cross, both of them cursed [Him]…but one of the thieves had a change of heart” (blueletterbible.org). Again, Jesus did not pick and choose who He wanted to throw a lifeline to spiritually. He forgave them if they genuinely repented of their sins, distinguishing those who would be saved for believing in Him from those who were nonbelievers.
Thirdly, “Woman, behold your Son” symbolizes how Jesus passed the mediator torch to Apostle John. That is to say, in compliance with Jewish law, “…the firstborn Son…[needed] to take care of his parents” (blueletterbible.org). The Son, throughout his life, pleased both God andMother Mary: the former in how He preached the Word to win souls to the Lord, and the latter by replicating Her altruism and sinless grace. It is also fair to say that the third prefigures how John and the rest of the Apostles would eventually have to spread the Gospel further.
“The sinless Son of God…is now spiritually separated from Him…” (blueletterbible.org) encapsulates the fourth statement Jesus expressed on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken?” When an individual commits sin against God, we are no longer one with Christ but rather separated and in spiritual pain. Jesus, ascending to heaven, experienced the same feelings as those on earth; notwithstanding, God punished Him to show how His power helps restore the world to its former glory: “…everything in the universe that had been affected by sin could again be made right with God” (blueletterbible.org).
In conjunction, “I thirst” sheds light on the physical suffering Jesus underwent, as was evident in His passion. His head adorned with a crown of thorns and forced to carry His own cross, Jesus bled heavily for our wrongdoings: “…Jesus suffered the full physical effect of crucifixion. There was no easing up, for the weight of our sins was placed upon Him” (blueletterbible.org).
Next, Jesus Christ informed us that “it is finished,” meaning that He fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah will redeem mankind. “the authority of Satan had been vanquished…” (blueletterbible.org) justifies another mission of Jesus: to defeat the works of the devil once and for all. That was just what He did, avoiding every temptation in the desert thrown at Him.
Last but most definitely not least, the final statement uttered before Jesus’ death was “Father, into your hands I commend your spirit!” These words, cementing how we must have faith in God, showed that Jesus sacrificed his earthly well-being to cleanse us of our wrongdoings. Despite this, his spirit was never taken away from him: “…His death, besides being a fact of history…was the supreme sacrifice that secured our salvation” (blueletterbible.org).
Thank you for reading,
Originally written for my sophomore year Church History class.