Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Sunday, 24 March 2024
Cardinal Sako: The last week of Lent is the time we need

Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako :

The Time we Need


At the time when principles have been violated; personal benefit dominated morals; forbidden things justified; and corruption legalized, we desperately need Jesus to lead us toward truth, love, good will, dignity and grace. He would teach us how we should be “to be” rather than “to have”. Therefore, we need this last week of lent to clear out our minds, hearts so as to regain the authenticity of our faith and be able to passionately “shovel” this kind of spirit, from “Jesus”, the only living source in our lives, to whom we are so grateful.


First of all, we should pay attention to the fact that Jesus was aware of what awaited him when he decided to go to Jerusalem, knowing that He started His “mission” in Galilee and will finish it in Jerusalem, to launch the good news from there to the whole world. Hence, He began to intensify His teaching and prepare His apostles for the beginning of a new phase, especially when He sensed the mobilization of Jews to physically liquidate Him.


Furthermore, meditating on the stations of Jesus’ life during the last week of lent should not be looked at as traditional celebration only, but passionately, which means to be aware that the Kingdom of God requires from us acceptance (belief), total self-surrender with courage, honesty, and confidence. However, each one of us must strive to enter Jesus’ Kingdom, through repentance that may transform into real “reform” through conversion, change, and integration to keep Jesus alive and influential within us.


Chaldean Church “with a Distinguished Heritage”


On this holy week and in the midst of these difficult circumstances, the Chaldean Church is going through its “Way of Cross”. So, I call upon our priests, monks, nuns, daughters, and sons to discover the meaning of main stations in Jesus life to live them as He did, with honesty; courage; and trust and as it has been lived also by their fathers, grandfathers, and martyrs. I also urge them all to adhere to their identity and Church (their charity house) so as to be a bridge for fraternity, unity and peace and never allow others to separate them.   


Palm Sunday “Jesus is the New Temple”


Generally, Temple is the main center of Jewish worship and by expelling “merchants” from it, Jesus, who sacrificed His life for us, Has changed the meaning to the “NEW” eschatological temple, which is Jesus himself. The chosen people were not chosen for whom they are, but to bear witness of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness to the world. Thus, the Church today is for all people.


The Last Supper “Do This in Memory of me”


Celebrating the Passover Supper is the most important religious and national occasion in the Jewish calendar. The annual Passover supper is a reminder of the Hebrews’ exodus from Pharaoh’s slavery. Thus, by celebrating Passover, Jesus indicates clearly the birth of a new Israel, as a new community founded by His twelve apostles, His new family (the Church), which is opened to the whole world.


Jesus explains the meaning of breaking bread: “This is my body” which is sacrificed for the whole world. He calls on faithful (the Church) to be transformed into His body, “do this in memory of me.” (Luke 22: 19) Thus, the cup: “This is my blood, which will be shed for many.” (Mark 14: 24) It is the blood of the new covenant. We as faithful should not get used to these words or forget them! Through the blood of Jesus (His death) God renewed His covenant with humanity. The Gospel of John does not mention the presence of the traditional lamb (sheep) in the Last Supper, because Jesus is the true Easter Lamb!


Jesus points out strongly to the “hope”, in this great gift of Eucharistic Supper. This table, around which Jesus gathers His disciples, will become the final center of the new community (the Church) and its beating heart to continue His mission. Receiving the Holy Eucharist means to us that we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us? “when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,” (1 John 3: 2) Hence, the celebration of Easter is a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.


Let us meditate on the Eucharist (Mass) that we celebrate every Sunday, and perhaps every day, especially at this Year of the Eucharist (from December 3, 2023 to December 3, 2024), announced by Pope Francis.


Good Friday “The Greatest Love”


Crucifixion of Jesus is a result of His New Gospel. since His teaching represents a revolution that has been rejected by Jews: “Although he had performed so many signs in their presence they did not believe in him.” (John 12: 37) In other words: rejection of the Kingdom of God (THE GIFT) by Jewish people, made Him offering it to others, as clarified in the parable of the vineyard workers: “The Lord of the vineyard will come and put those tenant farmers to death and turn over the vineyard to others.” (Luke 20: 16) Currently, we are facing a new situation and a new challenge.


The good news of Jesus reached its climax with His death, when God established His covenant with those who accepted the Good News. Even so, the “thread” with the Old Testament was not cut out, as the first “nucleus” of the Church was His disciples and apostles (His Jewish followers), who accepted God’s gift and decided to live with Him.


Forgiveness is an Act of Love. It is the sacrifice that Jesus offers us to release ourselves, and to forgive others, as stated in Lord’s prayer: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6: 12). This explains Jesus’ death for our sins. So, committing a sin is not an individual matter, but has terrible consequences on the community: exactly like, killing, stealing, etc.


Resurrection Sunday “the Joy of Having Christ Among us”


Our life is Jesus Christ, who is risen from the dead, for “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15: 14)


All we have to learn is how to discover Jesus “alive” after His resurrection, since none of His disciples “recognized” Him normally after His resurrection and the Gospel presents only the testimony of some of those who revealed that He is alive in various forms.


We need to focus on the risen Lord’s appearances, its’ frames and messages:


Mary Magdalene


We need the love, gratitude, and courage of Mary Magdalene to discover Christ alive. She was the one who “her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.” (Luke 7: 47) From first glance, she thought that He was the gardener, so she asked Him: “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” (John 20: 15) I wonder how she would have been able to take Him! The surprise – astonishment was, when Jesus called her by name, “Mary”. She recognized Him immediately and replied: “Rabboni, my beloved Teacher!” Mary do not “touch” me because I am on another level of existence, I am in the glory of the Father! Then, she ran with joy to tell the disciples. Do we also tell others about our faith?


Disciples of Emmaus


Due to what happened to Jesus, two broken-hearted disciples return in the evening from Jerusalem to their village “Emmaus”. The Gospel of Luke mentions Clopas as the name of the first one and leaves out the name of his companion. I think it was Mary, Clopas’ wife, who was standing by the cross, as stated in the Gospel of John “Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas” (19: 25).

On their way, a man joined them in a conversation about Jesus. They listened to him eagerly: “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24: 26) When they approached the village, the man (Jesus) left them to choose freely, but they urged Him to stay at their home for dinner, (isn’t this an indication that they were a husband and wife?). Once He broke the bread, their eyes were opened, and they knew that he was the risen Lord. (Luke 24: 33-34) They returned to Jerusalem, with no fear, to tell the disciples. Do we also tell others about our faith?


Disciples Fishing


Peter and some of the disciples returned to fishing, their previous job. When Jesus told them “Cast the net” (John 21: 1-9), they knew that He was the risen Lord, Here the Gospel refers to their vocation: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1: 17) That means Jesus is alive in every new faithful! Throughout history, Christ revealed Himself to thousands of women and men.


When we have faith and sensitivity, we will be able to recognize the “Living Christ” in different ways: in our prayers, acts of charity: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me,” (Matthew25: 40) and in celebrating the holy mysteries, especially in celebrating the Mass (isn’t He present in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?).


In conclusion, Jesus is always with us, even in the challenges and difficulties that hurt us. Let us remember His promise: “behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20)