JESUS RISES FORM THE DEAD
After a time of upset in my life, after I have reassessed matters and made things right, there is often a greater feeling of closeness and togetherness than there was before. When I overcome a weakness within myself my life seems better than before. That is what dying to self and rising to new life in Christ is like. Greater happiness comes only from Christ's suffering.
The women discovered the empty tomb, they heard the angels, they rushed back to tell the disciples, hardly able to comprehend the news.
Christ is Risen!
Jesus overcame sin and death.
We rise with him to a new and more glorious life.
God our Father,
Thank you and praise you for that new life which I can have in Jesus.
May I grow ever closer to you as your Spirit leads me to follow
In the way of Christ.
JESUS' BODY IS LAID IN THE TOMB
When someone we love dies, what do we feel? A desperate Sense of loneliness, abandonment and loss. We feel sorrow that they are no longer with us. But, as Christians, we believe that they do live on, and that we will one day meet again in the presence of God, where all who respond to God's call live for ever.
There was little time left before the start of the Sabbath, so the body of Jesus was quickly wrapped and stored in a nearby tomb. The enormous stone was rolled over the entrance. No-one expected him to live again - after all, dead is dead. Yet by his death Jesus has overcome death and has finished the work God had given him to do. People are reconciled to God the Father by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The disciples had heard Jesus say that he would rise from the dead, but they found it too difficult to believe. Help me to understand that death is simply a time of parting, and that, in Jesus, we will again meet those whom we love.
Comfort all those who mourn, and help us to understand this truth.
JESUS' BODY IS TAKEN DOWN FROM THE CROSS
Imagine the feelings:
Of Jesus' mother, Mary.
Of his friends. This Jesus was going to be their king! Now he Is dead. The Roman soldier's spear had pierced his heart, blood and water flowed out; he was dead.
His body was taken down and was placed in his mother’s arms.
His followers must have thought it was all over.
Have I ever felt completely discouraged, as if my entire world has fallen apart, everything has gone wrong and no one seems to need me or to love me anymore? All I want to do is to lie down and die.
How and where can I get the courage to carry on?
give me the same faith that Mary and John had:
That, even when everything seems to be going wrong.
I can know that I can be confident
If I follow in your way.
JESUS DIES ON THE CROSS
Jesus said that the greatest proof of love is when you give up your life and die for a friend.
He gave up his life for me.
He died to show his love and to save me from my sins. Sin died with him and in me.
The world around me is a mixture of that which is good and that which is evil.
If I choose to do good then I choose for God and sin is decreased. My sin dies because of Christ’s death!
How can I ever begin to thank you for that greatest gift which you could ever give:
Your life for me.
Help me to give my life to you in return by following in your way.
JESUS SPEAKS TO HIS MOTHER
Jesus is dying. His heart is labouring, pushing his diminished blood around his battered body. The thirst is mind-numbing. And then he sees his mother! Does he remember learning to walk, falling and being picked up, comforted? Does he know that she will soon cradle his dead body, prepare it for its burial? He makes his final provision for her, commits her to John’s care, ensures her well-being, even from the depths of his suffering, the extremity of his circumstance.
How do I feel when a child is hurt? How can I protect my aging parent? What special bond lies between a mother and her son? A father and his daughter? No wonder Simeon had foretold that the sword of sorrow would pierce Mary’s heart. Even in this, Jesus’ darkest time – when even his Father seems to have abandoned him – his mother stands by him.
God, loving Father,
It is not right that a parent should bury a child. Thank you that you are making all things new. Thank you that you continually renew our hopes and prayers for those near to us. Help us to live as those who believe in the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sin, and the resurrection to eternal life, and strengthen this faith and hope in us all the days of our life.
JESUS IS NAILED TO THE CROSS
Cruel, selfish people had brought Jesus to his crucifixion. Jesus’ hands were bound to the beams and then nailed to the wood. His feet were also pinned and then the cross was lifted and dropped into the stand. Helpless, caught between heaven and earth, Jesus hung there. Cruel and selfish people hurled abuse at him and mocked him. Cruel words were spoken, “He saved others, but himself he cannot save,” “If he is God's Son, let him come down from the cross, then we will believe.” Jesus suffered in silence for those cruel and selfish ones who put him on the cross. We, who are cruel and selfish, put him on the cross.
What is my reaction to the faith of others? Do I laugh at their prayers? Do I mock when others are helpless, or when they stand up for what they believe in? Do I fear to get involved, even though I secretly admire their courage? It is so easy to admire the powerful and proud and look down on the weak and helpless, even when those with power might be bullies, while the powerless might be right.
Help me, Father,
When I am helpless in my own strength,
To do what I know to be right.
Help me, too, never to mock others
For doing what they KNOW to be right.
JESUS IS STRIPPED OF HIS GARMENTS
Jesus is Stripped of his Garments
Jesus had been almost completely deserted. All of his followers, except John, were too scared to be associated with him. His own people, the Jews, had turned against him and rejected him. Even the little he had left is now taken from him. Naked, even his dignity was stripped from him. Christ had no possessions left.
What is most important in my life?
What would I find most difficult to do without?
Is it my material possessions, or does it lie in my relationships with those around me, or with God?
Help me to recognise those things which are truly important:
My friends and family;
My health and education;
And the dignity of others.
Help me never to trade these for MERE possessions.
JESUS FALLS FOR THE THIRD TIME
Jesus was near to the top of the hill of his crucifixion when he fell for the last time. Although some had tried to comfort him and care for him, many more simply treated him with contempt. This was too much, and he fell to the ground.
When I have tried something and failed, how often am I prepared to begin all over again? How easily do I give up? We are not called to attempt something only once. We have to keep on trying, even when we are not the one who is at fault.
Dear God and Father,
Please forgive me
When I have given up too easily.
Enable me to know that whatever I do
I do for the sake of Jesus Christ.
JESUS CONFRONTS THE WOMAN OF JERUSALEM
Jesus knew that he was about to die.
Being human, he didn't want to suffer and was afraid of the pain.
Yet still he had time to think of others.
As he passed this group of women weeping for him, he comforted them in spite of his own pain.
When I am sad or depressed do find time for others?
Can I put my concerns and trials away in order to deal with another's pain?
This world is full of sad and lonely people.
Help me never to become so caught up in my own life,
That I neglect to look beyond my problems at the problems which others have.
JESUS FALLS FOR THE SECOND TIME
Jesus was exhausted, and he fell a second time. Despite Simon's assistance with the cross, and Veronica's kindness in wiping the blood from his eyes, he still struggled to find sufficient strength to stagger forward to his death, and our salvation.
What are my weaknesses?
Am I prepared to try to change my weaknesses into strengths?
When I do try and then fail, I, too, fall with Christ.
Your Son’s weakness proves his humanity.
In his falling on his journey
You show me that my weaknesses
Also testify to my humanity.
Enable me to overcome my weaknesses
And to become like Jesus who died to save me.
ST VERONICA WIOES THE FACE OF JESUS
Simon was forced to help carry Jesus cross. Veronica came forward of her own choice to wipe the dirt, sweat and blood away from Christ's face. Tradition tells us that she was rewarded by his face leaving a permanent imprint on her cloth.
How often do I show kindness to those around me?
Do I make an effort to befriend the lonely and the unlovely?
Am I prepared to move against popular opinion in order to do what God wants of me?
Do I invite my enemy to partake in the fun which my friends and I enjoy?
You rewarded Veronica for her kindness.
Help me to know that helping others
And being kind to them
Carries with it its own reward.
Teach me to value my friends
SIMON OF CYRENE HELPS JESUS CARRY THE CROSS
Simon had no intention of helping Jesus until he was forced to by the soldiers in charge of the crucifixion, Jesus was too weak to continue under his burden, and the soldiers had to get him to the top of Golgotha. Simon was a convenient face in the crowd, and Jesus must have looked a mess. Was Simon embarrassed to be seen helping a condemned criminal?
How do I treat strangers? Do I offer my help, or must I be forced to assist them? Would I react differently if my friends were watching, or if they weren’t? Would I be ashamed if I suddenly saw Jesus watching me as I passed by the person in need?
You have said that
Whenever I help someone in need
I am helping you.
Show yourself to me in other people,
Especially the old, the poor, the lonely, and the sick.
JESUS MEETS HIS MOTHER
Imagine how Jesus and Mary must have felt meeting on this journey. There was nothing that Mary could do to help the son for whom she had cared, except to let him know that her love for him continued. There was nothing that Jesus could do to bring comfort to his mother.
Do I treat my parents with the love and respect which they deserve, or do I repay their love by grumbling and complaining? Do I treat my children with the love and care which they deserve, or am I too busy with other matters? Do I show true love and appreciation to my partner? Do I allow others to share my life?
You look after me like a loving Father,
Yet you have given me my parents to love me and care for me,
And my children, as a blessing and inheritance.
Help me to be obedient to your command to honour my parents,
Assist me in providing for my children, for in pleasing them, I please you.
JESUS FALLS FOR THE FIRST TIME
Jesus was already weak, having been beaten by the soldiers before he began on this journey to his death.
His weakness and the burden of the cross made him fall to the ground in pain.
I may accept my burden, but sometimes I am weak and fall. No matter how hard I try to be patient and gentle toward others, especially someone telling me about their problems, or someone who needs my help, so often my patience wears thin and I grow tired of listening.
Thank you for giving me the example of Jesus.
I know that he fell because his burden was too heavy to bear.
Yet he got up and carried it again.
Give me the courage that Jesus had.
JESUS TAKES UP HIS CROSS
The cross which was put on Jesus’ shoulders weighed about two hundred kilograms and was awkward to carry. The journey was difficult and the road was steep.
Yet He bore it all in silence, without complaint, as he set out on that pain-filled walk.
How do I accept my crosses, the problems in my life?
Do I complain when people ask me to go out of my way to help them?
How do I react when I am not feeling well?
Do I bear my cross in patient humility, or do I make a fuss and demand attention?
Dear Lord, sometimes I know that you ask me to carry a cross, such as sickness, problems at school, at work or at home, or unhappiness.
Help me to carry my cross bravely and willingly, and to follow in the way of Jesus.
JESUS IS CONDEMNED BY PILATE
Jesus had been betrayed by his friend Judas. The leaders arrested him and handed him over to Pontius Pilate to be judged. They refused to believe that Jesus had come from God, but saw him as a trouble-maker. Even though Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, he was afraid to stand up for what was true and right. He condemned Jesus in order to please the people and to keep the peace.
How often do I condemn or judge others unjustly in order to keep the peace?
How do behave when I am unfairly treated by others, my family, my friends, my teachers, my fellow workers?
Do I have to have the last word in every situation?
How often am I not strong enough to stand up for what I believe?
Do I argue or fight back?
Or do I simply accept that life isn't always fair?
forgive me for the times when I, like Pilate, have been unfair to others.
Help me, too, to learn that there are times when I have to accept unfair treatment without complaint, just as Jesus did.
There are two quotes by Julian of Norwich which have been playing on my mind in the last while.
The first is one of warning: Julian said, "(Jesus) said not 'Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased'; but he said, 'Thou shalt not be overcome“! This is both a care-filled warning issued by one who chose extreme self-isolation over her liberty, and a joy-filled promise of one who learned to be content with who she was, in the place that she was.
She, far more restricted than we, for we have been confined only to our homes and to the mercies of our families and companions, while she walled herself into the structure of the building and proved that she could transcend her restrictions and perfect herself because of them! Her promise to us is that, in Christ, in the end, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” ...
As we enter into lockdown, be busy, be creative, be diligent, and be obedient.
Transcend, transform, and be translated as you rediscover your relationship with yourself, your nearest neighbours, and with God. We'll be together in our isolation , and come together physically in Easter joy, on the other side of this necessary discipline. Much love and blessing to you all.