Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my
own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies
behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I
press on toward the goal for the prize of the
heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
From the 2nd Lesson of Morning Prayer for Holy Week, Year 1
Paul likely wrote the letter to the Philippians sometime around 58-60 CE while imprisoned. He was writing to a church that he had founded and deeply loved. He knew that the fledgling church in Philippi was being harassed by the local Roman citizens, and urges them to be united in faith, with the central figure as Jesus. Just as Jesus poured himself out for us, so such sacrificial living on our part is vital for any Christian.
We are in our second year of a Holy Week in pandemic, when we are not able to gather within the church for the traditional Holy Week liturgies. This year, we are a bit wiser, a bit more adaptable, a bit more experienced regarding broadcasting worship and meetings. We’re also a bit more tired. We’re a bit more harassed, not so much by people perhaps, but by the grind and burden of isolation, distance, masks and lockdowns.
Today’s reading from Morning Prayer is a spark of hope and promise and optimism. Paul urges his beloved followers to break with the past and press toward the goal – the goal of the heavenly call of God in Christ. He will go on later in Chapter 4 to exhort the Church by saying: Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
From a faithful follower of Jesus who had to first be blinded in order that he might see; someone who had suffered countless floggings, beatings, imprisonments, sanctions, and exile for the sake of sharing the Gospel comes optimistic words that remind us to be steadfast in faith, to strain with perseverance and optimism forward to the promise that lies ahead.
This Holy Week, let us journey with Jesus to his own suffering, and ultimate resurrection.
Let us journey with Jesus whose own outpouring of self and love destroyed the power of sin
opened the way of new life.
There is resurrection after death. There will be resurrection from the pandemic.
The Rev’d Canon Catherine Ascah
Monday in Holy Week ~ March 29, 2021
St. John the Evangelist, Smiths Falls