Working with the Word

Holy Thursday 

Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: loved his own in the world, Unless I wash you ... no inheritance with me, model to follow, you should also do

To the point: Peter desires to maintain the Master-disciple relationship: “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Because Jesus “loved his own in the world,” he knew the more desirable relationship to preserve is that of serving others in such a way that they grow into the fullness of life. The model Jesus gives us is more even than serving others—it is choosing life. It is seeking the inheritance only Jesus can give.

Good Friday of the Lord's Passion

Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: I AM, I have not lost any, my kingdom is not here, blood and water flowed out

To the point: No one had power over Jesus: not the Jewish leaders, not even Pilate. He was the Son of God whose “kingdom is not here.” He is the divine I AM, one with God who gives life from the very beginning of creation. Humans could take away Jesus’ human life (“he was ... dead”), but could not take away what he came to accomplish: “I have not lost any of those you gave me.” Nor could they take away the gift of life and inheritance he assured to those who faithfully follow him. The blood and water that flowed from his pierced side is the new covenant that calls us to choose his life.

Vigil on the Holy Night of Easter

Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: did not find the body, he has been raised, rise on the third day, burial cloths alone, went home amazed

To the point: The disciples “did not believe” the women’s announcement about what they had found. Peter, not relying on the women’s testimony, went to the tomb to see for himself and was amazed. What amazed Peter? The empty tomb? The burial cloths lying there without a body? Or, perhaps, the hope against hope that Jesus’ promise that he would “rise on the third day” was realized. Peter’s amazement points to a soon-to-be-fulfilled expectation that he would encounter an alive Jesus. Our own Easter amazement must also bring us to an expectation of new Life through an en- counter with the risen Lord. The women “went to the tomb” to seek the dead but found the Living. So must we.

Easter Sunday

Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: came to the tomb, early in the morning, stone removed from the tomb, taken the Lord from the tomb, came to the tomb, arrived at the tomb, went into the tomb, arrived at the tomb, had to rise from the dead

To the point: Mary arose “early in the morning” to go to Jesus’ tomb. This image of a new day speaks to us of a new beginning, new opportunities, new encounters. Early morning speaks to us of the freshness of new life. By contrast, this gospel uses the word “tomb” seven times, speaking to us about the seeming finality of Jesus’ death. By even greater contrast, the gospel ends with the Scripture certitude that Jesus “had to rise from the dead” (emphasis added). Death is overcome. Death has no victory. God is the Lord of life. Easter celebrates a new beginning, our certitude of new life. May we choose that Life.


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson