Thursday, April 13, 2017 Maundy Thursday Introduction
With nightfall our Lenten observance comes to an end, and we gather with Christians around the world to celebrate the Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection. At the heart of the Maundy Thursday liturgy is Jesus’ commandment to love one another. As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, we are called to follow his example as we humbly care for one another, especially the poor and the unloved. At the Lord’s table we remember Jesus’ sacrifice of his life, even as we are called to offer ourselves in love for the life of the world.
First Reading: Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14
Israel remembered its deliverance from slavery in Egypt by celebrating the festival of Passover. This festival featured the Passover lamb, whose blood was used as a sign to protect God’s people from the threat of death. The early church described the Lord’s supper using imagery from the Passover, especially in portraying Jesus as the lamb who delivers God’s people from sin and death.
Psalm: Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
I will lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. (Ps. 116:13)
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
In the bread and cup of the Lord’s supper, we experience intimate fellowship with Christ and with one another, because it involves his body given for us and the new covenant in his blood. Faithful participation in this meal is a living proclamation of Christ’s death until he comes in the future.
Gospel: John 13:1-17, 31b-35
The story of the last supper in John’s gospel recalls a remarkable event not mentioned elsewhere: Jesus performs the duty of a slave, washing the feet of his disciples and urging them to do the same for one another.
Friday, April 14, 2017 Good Friday Introduction
At the heart of the Good Friday liturgy is the passion according to John, which proclaims Jesus as a triumphant king who reigns from the cross. The ancient title for this day—the triumph of the cross—reminds us that the church gathers not to mourn this day but to celebrate Christ’s life-giving passion and to find strength and hope in the tree of life. In the ancient bidding prayer we offer petitions for all the world for whom Christ died. Today’s liturgy culminates in the Easter Vigil tomorrow evening.
First Reading: Isaiah 52:13–53:12
The fourth servant poem promises ultimate vindication for the servant, who made his life an offering for sin. The early church saw in the servant’s pouring himself out to death and being numbered with the transgressors important keys for understanding the death of Jesus.
Psalm: Psalm 22
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Ps. 22:1)
Second Reading: Hebrews 10:16-25
In the death of Jesus, forgiveness of sins is worked and access to God is established. Hence, when we gather together for worship and when we love others we experience anew the benefits of Jesus’ death.
Gospel: John 18:1–19:42
On Good Friday, the story of Jesus’ passion—from his arrest to his burial—is read in its entirety from the Gospel of John.
Sunday, April 16, 2017 Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day Introduction
On this day the Lord has acted! On the first day of the week God began creation, transforming darkness into light. On this, the “eighth day” of the week, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. We celebrate this new creation in the waters of baptism and in the feast of victory. With great joy we celebrate this day of days, even as we begin the great fifty days of Easter. Filled with hope, we go forth to share the news that Christ is risen!
First Reading: Acts 10:34-43
Peter’s sermon, delivered at the home of Cornelius, a Roman army officer, is a summary of the essential message of Christianity: Everyone who believes in Jesus, whose life, death, and resurrection fulfilled the words of the prophets, “receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Psalm: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)
Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-4
Easter means new life for us as it first meant new life for Christ. His resurrection reshapes the entire focus and motivation for our lives, since we are now hidden with the risen Christ in God.
Gospel: Matthew 28:1-10
Sorrow gives way to “fear and great joy” when two women are sent by an angel to proclaim the good news: Jesus is risen!