The Gospel of Luke – The Passover Meal

Introduction to The Lucan Passion Narrative: The passion narratives provide the climax for each of the four gospels, catching up themes that weave their way through the evangelists’ entire portrayal of Jesus life and bringing them to a dramatic completion. In deft strokes the evangelists tell us of the final hours of Jesus’ life – his last meal with his disciples; his arrest in Gethsemane; his interrogation by the religious leaders; the trial before Pilate; and finally the heart clutching scenes of Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial. Continue reading

A short guide to Holy Week

Every year Christians commemorate the week before Easter Sunday with special traditions and devotions that help them enter into the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a special time of the year, culminating in the biggest feast of the Church’s calendar – Easter. Here are the basics of what Catholics look forward to during the week that precedes Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday. This day inaugurates Holy Week with the triumphal entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem. In the Gospels Jesus comes to the city riding upon a donkey with the people placing palm branches in front of him. At Mass on this day the congregation relives this event with a procession in the church and a solemn blessing of palm branches. The Passion narrative is also read on this day. Continue reading

Letting things rummage around

holyweekBack in the day, before becoming a Franciscan, back when the rhythm of my day was set by clients, projects, and things of the workplace, I let a different pattern take hold for Holy Week. I always took vacation. I took time off to relax, visit people, take long bike rides and decompress so I would be ready to celebrate Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday.

But you know what? I have to admit, I did not pay a lot of attention to Palm Sunday. I wonder if I went to Mass and then to the office to clear up last minute things to make sure the week was free. Yet today is the gateway to Holy Week. Continue reading

Entering Jerusalem: the king

Entry_Into_Jerusalem136 As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 37 and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen.

As Stoffregen notes, Luke’s account is one that challenges our memory with his own telling of the events. “It is quite ironic to read this as the processional gospel on ‘Palm’ Sunday. There are no ‘branches of palms’ mentioned in Luke’s account as in John (12:13). There are no ‘leaves from the field’ as in Mark (11:8). There are no ‘branches from the trees’ as in Matthew (21:8). There are no leaves or branches of any type mentioned in Luke. (Note that only John talks about ‘palms’!)” Continue reading

Entering Jerusalem: arriving

Entry_Into_Jerusalem1Luke portrays Jesus’ entry into the holy city in four scenes (vv. 28–48), the first two concerned with the acquisition of a colt for the short trip from the Mount of Olives to the city and the entry itself (vv. 28–40). These two serve a common theme—namely, Jesus’ royal personage. As will become evident, the whole process from obtaining a colt to the crowds’ proclaiming Jesus king is wrapped in the eschatological expectation and scriptural allusion (esp. Psalm 118 and Zech 9:9). As mentioned in the introduction (Context), this is a royal person entering a city – not to claim kingship, but as the follow-on to an already achieved victory. This is important because it suggests that Jesus is not about to assert his royal status. This accords well with his acclamation as king even before his birth (1:32–35), and with an interpretation of the preceding chapters of the Lukan narrative as developing the nature of Jesus’ kingship and, therefore, of his kingdom. What Luke is about to narrate, then, assumes the portrait of Jesus already established, with its salvific emphasis on good news to those living on the margins of society (4:18–19). Continue reading

Entering Jerusalem: context

Entry_Into_Jerusalem128 After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem. 29 As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. 30 He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.’” 32 So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” 34 They answered, “The Master has need of it.” 35 So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. 36 As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 37 and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. 38 They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”  Continue reading

Holy Week

When I was a child, I used to walk five miles to school in the snow, just to let them know that I was too sick to come to school that day.” So my father used to tell me. Hmmm…? Really – but hey, dad was really old, right? He probably grew up in the ice age and maybe the weather was very different back then. Such are the stories of our youth as parents try to teach us the lessons of life, sometimes wrapped in yarns, tall-tales, and memories of a different time and place. I still wonder how the to-and-from the store was uphill both ways. Continue reading

Judas

I find that Luke’s treatment of Judas offers an important message. There are some major differences between Luke’s account of Judas and what the other Gospels say about him — and in our day and age, it might be good to hear about Judas — at least Luke’s presentation of Judas.

First of all, there is some significant agreement about Judas in all the Gospels. All indicate that he was one of the select 12 of Jesus’ followers. All indicate that Judas betrayed Jesus. That’s about where the similarities end. Three gospels say that he received money for betraying Jesus. John says nothing about money. But John says that Judas was the disciples’ treasurer and a thief. None of the other gospels describe him in this way. Continue reading

A letter to my older brother

A week or so ago, at our Men’s Prayer Group meeting, at the very end of the meeting, I offered a spiritual exercise in the light of that weekend’s Sunday gospel – the Prodigal Son. The exercise was to write a letter to one of the characters in the parable. Here is one of the letters that was sent to me. It is an interesting Lenten reflection for all of us. My homily of that weekend was essentially my letter and reflection.There was a previous letter one of the men in the group wrote that I posted.  And here is another. If other’s share their thoughts, I will post them. Continue reading