Bread in the Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

All Saints Catholic Church

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Holy Week

For Christians around the world this is the holiest week of the year. The week started out with the wonderful celebration of Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday. The celebration begins with the procession of Jesus into the holy city riding on a colt and hearing loud cries of “hosanna.” For just a short time we are in a joyful mood as we receive Jesus the King. But, very soon our mood changes as we enter into the reading of the Gospel of Jesus’ passion from Mark. It anticipates the murder on Good Friday.

The church gathers again on Holy Thursday evening to gather around the Welcome Table and celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist. We do celebrate Jesus coming to us in the form of bread and wine to be shared, but we also celebrate the meaning behind this great Sacrament: service to others. We do that by selecting 12 members of the church and then having the pastor wash and kiss their feet, as Jesus did to the twelve. This simple ritual contains so much of what Jesus came to teach us. We are here for others, period.

Good Friday is somber. We read the passion story from St. John. The pain and suffering and ultimate death of Jesus becomes the grounding for all of us. Look at how He died; forgiving the very people who caused His death: Jesus, the forgiving victim. What we must learn from this is a lifetime work.

On Holy Saturday night, after the sun goes down, the people of God gather outside the church and light the New Fire. From this new fire we light the tall Easter Candle, a symbol of Christ. We then share the light of Christ with all gathered. As we light our candles and hold them high we listen to the ancient hymn called The Exultet. “This is the night in which it is written: The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.”

From the experience of the Easter Vigil, Holy Saturday night, we continue to celebrate the Resurrection on Easter Sunday morning. We say; Christ is Risen, He has risen indeed!

For this Holy Week to have meaning, each of us must become more excited about Jesus and His work to make this a more just and peaceful world.

I wish you all a blessed and peace-filled Easter. Christ has risen indeed.