Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Week Reflection:

Palm Sunday @ the Mt. of Olives
Today, we commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist. It is a gift to the whole Christian Church and to experience heavenly banquet even as we still journey here on earth. The Eucharist strengthens our physical and spiritual well being. It also makes us aware of the love of God and the sacrifices that Jesus Christ made to all the humankind. Yes, we have our own Eucharistic stories and it is necessary for our spiritual growth to recall and share it with our fellow Catholics. Indeed, our encounter with the Eucharistic Lord will also be a source of inspiration to others.

One can experience the heavenly banquet here on earth when he or she shares a good meal with the family, a group of people who gathers together as one community of believers. Sharing the love of God through reading the word of God and sharing faith experiences, how mundane it may be.

In 2009,  I had a chance to visit the Upper Room in Israel, where the Eucharist was instituted by Jesus with his faithful disciples. As early as 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the pilgrims started trooping to that small place where a group of religious were busy preparing for the commemoration rites. It was a great joy indeed to have a firsthand experience of the celebrations since I joined the formation of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament not so long ago. It was a dream come true even as I am already married for almost 8 years now. The bonus was the time when we renewed our marriage vows at the chapel dedicated to the first miracle of Christ in Cana. The solemn celebration culminated with the washing of the feet and praying for our family and prayer partners.  The ceremonies, prayers and retreat were presided by no less than Msgr. Honesto Moraleda.

Church of Cana
Dome of the Rock as viewed from Mount Scopus and showing the walls of the Old City

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea

Catholic chapel at Shepherds' Fields
These and other activities, such as the Via Crucis at the present day Jerusalem are avenues to reflect on the love of God for all of us. The visit to the Holy Sepulcher Church and the place where Jesus Christ was crucified and died was another holy experience for us. We were given a few seconds to kneel and pray but it seems eternity staying in such a holy place.  Now that we are back in our own place and local celebrations of the Holy Week, I would say that what really gives meaning to our rituals is our personal relationship with the Lord and expressed concretely through our daily lives and encounters with the people around us.  A simple gesture of caring and praying for those who have no one to pray fro them would make a difference in other people's life.

Holy Week is indeed a time for family gathering and sharing each other’s experience that would lead us to a better understanding of our faith as Catholic Christians in the 21st century.