It has been such a roller-coaster week for me that I have been late in posting due to the lack of time and energy to start writing. First and foremost, looking back on the week, I saw that my journey through holy week was fraught with positives and negatives. Each experience was meaningful, even the negative ones.
Palm Sunday: I went to church on my own as I had to cover both the Earth Hour (previous day) and Lee Kuan Yew Remembrance event. It was the start of a tiring week and I did not take a palm as it was troublesome to carry the palm along and my family had already taken some on Saturday. With palms raised high in the air, people were welcoming Jesus and then I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and a man kindly offered me a palm. I was grateful for his kind gesture and proceeded to take part in the mass.
The palm that I had was old with tips yellowing and it was long. I guess judging from the homily that it was an indication that I still have a long way to go in walking along the path to eternal salvation. It was also a reflection of my state of mind, tired and weathered. The palm also symbolizes hope that in my greatest despair I am reminded of the palm’s hardiness and toughness.
Maundy Thursday: Though it marked the end of the week before Good Friday, I had to rush through the day with submission and new projects being brought forth which means new deadlines. I had so much on my plate that I began to despair as I had no one to turn to but Jesus himself. So I prayed that his will be done unto me.
I realised that I yearned for space away from everything; like Jesus, he went to the garden to pray and be alone. Sometimes, the outside noise gets so overwhelming and pressurizing that I am forced into a corner. Being alone is never easy and that I am glad that Jesus reassured me. He knew that I like animals and as I was thinking about the day, I saw my neighbor’s dog that was sniffing the ground. Normally,the dog would bark at me, but it came up to me and I patted it a few times. Small things like this meant that his providence was with me which gave me strength to push through long days like this one.
Good Friday: I saw the passion that Jesus went through and was reminded again about death. Strangely, after seeing so many people pass on, I am reminded again of my own mortality. I begin to think “What would happen if I go?” and would I be ready to face Jesus? The answer is that I am ready to die but I am not ready yet to die to my sins. This equates that I am not ready to meet Jesus yet. The death of Jesus brings to light that my life on this earth is temporary as the salvation that I want is in heaven.
We know how Jesus died but how about his apostles? They were mortal and this sharing reminded me to take things easy; some things are not worth fretting over:
Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia. Killed by a sword wound.
Died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death.
John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison Island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross.
According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
The leader of the church in Jerusalem was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle* of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller’s club (*This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation).
- James the Son of Zebedee,
was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
Also known as Nathaniel. Was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.
Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: ‘I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.’ He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the Sub-continent.
Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
The apostle, chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.
Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational Doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
For the sake of faith, the apostles had sacrificed much but in death they were saved. It got me pondering about my own mortality and the good I can still do so that I do not regret at the last moment of my life. I will continue to press on for as long as I can.
Easter Vigil/Sunday: Jesus is resurrected! After dying on the cross and rising from the dead, I got the chance to witness something beautiful after a long week which is baptism and the welcoming of the neophytes. It was an experience that I will never forget as I felt joy, although fleeting, was real. It was good to see people of all ages witnessing to God in their lives and becoming Catholics. To be filled with Joy is to be grateful in all we do and have.
This Holy week may not be perfect but it was meaningful as I experienced the suffering of Jesus in my own small way. The persecution and loneliness of people and the freedom in reconciliation helped me get through the week. Also, I have passed the torch to another person in the community as I believe in sacrifices and that if it helps people, why not? It was tough but necessary and although I am still struggling, I know that I am not alone in this fight in finding myself. Praise God that He is risen!
Happy Easter! God Bless! and please pray for each other in this time of renewal.
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong