Passion Sunday, Year A
3-6 year olds
(Adults, the VERY abbreviated reading is for the 3-6 year old. The full reading is for your reference only.)
(full reading: Matthew 26.14 - 27.66)
This Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. It is the most holy week of the church year. The Church takes a whole week to think in a particular way about the events of Jesus' dying and rising to new life. Some people--adults, mostly--like to look at one event at a time. They spend a long time, sometimes even a whole day, on each event. But you and I know, that it is even more special to gaze at the whole mystery, the whole treasure, all at once. We can do that in this way:
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.”’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
The Passover meal is the most holy meal for the Jewish people. Families and groups of close friends celebrate this meal in their homes each year. Jesus, too, would celebrate the Passover with his family when he was growing up in Nazareth, and then as an adult travelling with his friends.
The Jewish people have celebrated the Passover meal in exactly the same way for over three THOUSAND years! They eat the same foods, they say the same prayers, they ask the same questions, they sing the same hymns--every single year.
the last time that Jesus celebrates the Passover with his friends in Jerusalem,
he does something new.
He says words that have never been spoken before.
When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve...While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant’
These words might sound familiar to us, but Jesus says them for the very first time when he shares the Passover meal with his friends. Why do they sound familiar to us? Where have you heard them before?
Jesus takes the bread, blesses it, and gives it to his friends. He says that the bread is his body. Jesus is giving them his whole self. In the bread.
Jesus takes the wine and thanks God for it, and gives it to his friends. He says that the wine is his blood. Can you live without your blood? Of course not. So, Jesus is giving them his life. In the wine.
Jesus gives his body and his life in the bread and the wine. He says,
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
He gives his life BEFORE the soldiers come to take it away. How can they take away something he has already given? That just doesn't make sense.
No wonder death could not hold him!
No wonder he could be filled with new life--God's risen life--never to die again!
This is good news. Actually, it is the best news ever.
It is something to hold onto during this most Holy Week when adults talk about the death of Jesus and forget to say, "and he is risen to new life never to die again!"
Because we know, don't we? We know he is Risen.
Remember, we have heard these words of Jesus ourselves.
Take, eat; this is my body.
Take, drink, this is my blood of the covenant.
It has been awhile since we have heard them at Mass, and it will still be some time before we hear them there again.
But we will. The Good Shepherd wants to be with his sheep always.
And we can hear the words of this gift over and over in the Word of God.
Best. News. Ever.