The high holy days of the Christian faith are almost here. This past Sunday, Palm Sunday, we read the passion narrative from the Gospel of Matthew. During Holy Week, the liturgy focuses on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Here is an overview and an invitation to join in the three days of the Passover feast.
Every year during the weeklong celebration of Passover, our Hebrew ancestors in faith celebrate their liberation from slavery. We Christians recall the Lord’s Last Supper with his disciples during the days of our Passover celebration. The Eucharist on Holy Thursday is our ritual, our memorial of redemption through the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
On Good Friday, we read the narrative of the passion and death of Jesus from the Gospel of John. We pray for people all over the world and their needs. We venerate the crucifix as a reminder that it was through Jesus’ passion and death that he opened our path to salvation. In that Good Friday liturgy, all the congregation is invited to approach and kiss the crucifix in an act of devotion and reverence.
The next evening, at the Easter vigil, we recall key points in the history of salvation by lighting the new fire, blessing the Paschal candle, which is the great symbol of our faith. It is also the time when we read some of the great biblical texts (from Genesis and Exodus, from the prophets and the New Testament). The readings recall the high points of salvation history. Just before reading the narrative of Christ’s resurrection, we join together to joyfully sing the Alleluia. During the vigil, some people are baptized, while others are received into full communion with the Church.
This three-day celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord during Holy Week is at the heart of our faith in Jesus, the Christ. We are called to live this mystery every day by living our lives in the same pattern as Christ.