Newsletter of St. John the Apostle Parish
Dear Parish Family and Friends,
It was completely unheard of and unbearable that Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, would die on the cross. In fact, Peter could not accept this. He reacted violently when the Lord announced that in Jerusalem, he would have to suffer a great deal, be sentenced to death, crucified, and then rise on the third day. Taking Jesus aside, Peter tried to discourage him, but Jesus responded with a stinging rebuke: “Get thee behind me Satan!” Peter was thinking as a human being, he wasn’t thinking of the plan which God had for His Only begotten Son. Without realizing it, Peter was trying to tempt Jesus exactly as the Devil had done in the desert.
During Lent, we commit ourselves to being true disciples of Jesus, carrying the cross after him. In this way, we become his true disciple. As we approach Easter; Jesus, humble and peaceful, enters Jerusalem, festively welcomed, and acclaimed. This triumph announces what will come later, with the Resurrection. But first, there will be the very sad days of Jesus’ passion and death. The blessed palms displayed in our homes remind us that these days, the days of Holy Week are about to begin. They invite us to dispose our hearts with intense affection to relive these days together with Jesus, who giving himself to an unjust condemnation, bore the weight of our sins. Jesus’ death washed away our guilt, and with his resurrection he won for us salvation.
After Jesus died, his body was taken down from the cross, wrapped in a cloth, and laid in a tomb carved in a rock, in which no one had yet been buried. Holy Saturday is spent in the anxious and silent remembering of Jesus in the stillness of his burial and in his encounter with all the just who have faithfully awaited him. We spend time in church only to pray and mediate near the place where the eucharistic body of Jesus was placed.
There is no vigil more solemn or richer in ritual than the Easter Vigil. The new fire is blessed to be a guide “to the feast of eternal splendor.” The Paschal Candle is lit as a luminous symbol of Jesus, the “Morning Star which never sets. All of salvation history is remembered in the biblical readings about the creation, the passage through the Red Sea, and other prophetic events which Jesus risen from the dead, has fulfilled.
As the sun rises on the first day of the week, we gather to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection with the Holy Eucharist. In the early Church, Easter was the great day for baptism since it was believed that the plunging of the believer beneath the baptismal water and his rising again from it re-enacted for him the death and Resurrection of Christ. Those gathered for the Mass greet each other with the salutation, ‘Christ is risen!’. At the end of Mass, the Easter Alleluias are proclaimed, and the congregation continues the celebration by exchanging and eating Easter Eggs. This is a very old custom that has survived into the present, and in the Middle Ages the day was sometimes called Egg Sunday. Hard boiled and colored eggs were taken to church to be blessed by the clergy and were given away as gifts. A record of the thirteenth century relates that King Edward 1 ordered four hundred painted eggs to be distributed to his royal household.
As we gather the next few weeks to relive the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord, let us receive in our hearts that transforming grace which will guide us from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the institution of the Holy Eucharist which Christ gives us at the last supper, the trial before Pilate and His death on the cross to the dawn of Easter day and an empty tomb.
Have a Blessed Easter,
Father Wirth, Rector