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Father Muench Says...

‘Our challenge is to remain in Jesus’

April 8, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

As a child, I remember that it seemed like each day of Lent seemed just the same. One day was just like the one before. My parents convinced me I should give up something during Lent. So, each day of Lent in those days, all I did was to think about my Lenten mortification. During Lent I became very anxious to get to Holy Week and Easter.

This year, because of the social distancing caused by the pandemic, each day during Lent has been very much the same – just like the one before – as we live separately and apart. Personally, each day has been a time of prayer and writing, however, the pattern of these days continues to be very much – the same each day.

Now, as we enter Holy Week and approach Easter, I urge you to join me in making this Holy Week a very special celebration, despite this pandemic. Each of us can celebrate from our own homes the special events of Jesus’ Passion and the victory of the Resurrection of the Savior. The rituals of Holy Week will be missed, but we still should celebrate and meditate on the Lord’s Passion, death and Resurrection.

I would like to suggest to you that you make a sacred space in your home for the prayer and remembrance of Holy Week and Easter. You could decorate your sacred space with a picture or a statue, a Bible, a prayer book. This could be the place to gather the family together for prayer as you remember the Lord’s actions during that time that made us a saved people.

At the Last Supper, Jesus spoke a discourse to his apostles. Among other things, He used the image of the vine and the branches. Jesus speaks of Himself as the vine, and we are the branches. Our growth depends on how well we are connected to the vine, connected to Our Lord Jesus. Our lives as branches depends on our connection to the life of the vine. Jesus tells us that the Father is the vine grower, the farmer. To help us grow as a fruitful branch, the Father, our farmer, will prune us. Those of you who are good gardeners understand pruning better than I do. I think this means a gardener will help a plant or a branch grow better and more fruitfully by cutting it back a bit, so that we find God more alive in our lives. God challenges us so that we become strong, so that we truly grow more faithful and more alive through the Lord.

As we celebrate Holy Week and Easter, our challenge is to remain in Jesus, to remain in the Lord’s love. At the Last Supper, Jesus leads us to understand the great love the Lord has for us. He pronounces his great commandment, “Love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Holy Week and Easter help us to recognize the Lord’s great love, as He climbed the cross and died for us and then found new life in the Resurrection.

Jesus tells the apostles and us that we are his friends. He tells us, “you have not chosen me, I have chosen you.” Think of it: Our Lord Jesus wants to be our friend and for us to live as his friends, loving one another. Think of it, the Lord wants to be our friend. When we walk with Jesus on the road to Calvary, we walk with our friend. When we stand at the foot of Jesus’ cross, we stand looking up at our friend. When we recognize the empty tomb, it is our friend who is resurrected. Jesus teaches us and ask us to “Love one another.”

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