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AC+ resources on Holy Week and Easter

Editors  |  23 March 2021

For our AC+ subscribers: Here are some resources that might be helpful in engaging students in reflection and conversation around Holy Week and Easter.



Explorations: Who is Jesus?
Christian faith in Jesus does not ask us first to sign up to a number of facts and beliefs about him, but invites us into the large story of God entering our human world and our own lives. It offers a way into the large questions about ourselves, our world and our future and a way of life built on hope.

Scripture reflections for Holy Week (2020)
During this past year, all aspects of our lives have been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. But as Pope Francis said in a homily given at St Peter’s Basilica on Palm Sunday 2020: 'When we have our back to the wall, when we find ourselves at a dead end, with no light and no way of escape, when it seems that God himself is not responding, we should remember that we are not alone.'

Scripture reflections for Holy Week (2019)
Reflections for Holy Week.

The presence of God
The stories of Easter are like the stories of Jesus’ birth with both focusing on a small place: a manger and a tomb.
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students


Palm Sunday

Slow Lent: Palm Sunday - With Jesus in Jerusalem
In the Sunday Gospels throughout Lent, we find Jesus in a number of environments. These reflections invite people to spend some contemplative time with Jesus in each of these places, not just on Sunday but for an entire week. This final week focuses on Jesus in Jerusalem. 

Blog: Palm Sunday is a holy day
For Christians who march Palm Sunday is a holy day. The Palm Sunday celebrations and marches remind us that the story of Jesus’ life, death and rising does not remain in the past but continues to be a compass bearing for our lives today.

Blog: Remembering lost causes
Palm Sunday is an appropriate day for lost causes. It recalls the ceremonial entry into Jerusalem of a man proclaimed by a handful of people as king. 

Homily Notes: Palm Sunday Year A (Matthew 26:14-27, 66)
In the biblical tradition which Matthew inherited and of which he is so conscious, the shedding of innocent blood was considered a monstrous crime. Matthew invites us to contemplate the arrest and eventual execution of Jesus from this point of view.

Homily Notes: Palm Sunday Year B (Mark 11:1-10 / John 12:12-16 / Mark 14:1 – 15:47 / Mark 15:1-39)
t is generally agreed that St Mark’s account of Jesus’ Passion provided the model for the Passion accounts of all the other Gospels. Mark, then, set the pattern whereby the account of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trials, ill-treatment and eventual execution by one of the most horrible and painful means human cruelty ever devised is told as a simple, sparse narrative, totally devoid of sentimentality or religious emotionalism.

Homily Notes: Palm Sunday Year C (Luke 22:14 - 23:56)
St Luke’s account of the Passion does not dwell on the details of Jesus’ suffering to the extent that the starker accounts of Mark and Matthew do. A principal concern of Luke is to establish and proclaim Jesus’ innocence. 

Young writer: Thousands of voices call for justice
When Nieve Walton joined her first Palm Sunday Walk for Justice in Melbourne she had a chance to reflect on her beliefs about refugees and justice.
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students

A Palm Sunday call to action for refugees
A 2014 homily at a prayer service at the refugee march on Palm Sunday from Bishop Vincent Long. 

Gaming the Gospels: Pin the Palm on the Donkey
The next time your RE class, parish youth group, altar server team or sacramental prep group has a celebration, we’ve got you covered.


Holy Thursday

Homily Notes: Holy Thursday
The choice of readings for this evening’s liturgy of the Lord’s Supper is guided by the fact that Jesus instituted the Eucharist in the context of celebrating with his disciples a final Passover meal.

Home truths: Holy Thursday with the Neatmans
Jesus calls us to wash each other's feet. For me, that means changing that nappy, wiping that nose, folding that fitted sheet. And it means bringing my children to Mass, and enduring any glares and raised eyebrows I might encounter.

In service of all soles
The Washing of the Feet has long been one of our Easter rituals in the Catholic Church. But what’s special about the way it’s been used in recent years by Pope Francis.

Unguarded moments: Sharing Christ's table
There is one ingredient that makes any meal a special celebration.

Wining and dining with Jesus
It is amazing how often food – its supply, its distribution and occasions of eating it – features in the Gospels. What better way to make his earthly life real to us than associating himself with what was, in the Jewish expression of the Passover, a family meal?
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students

Washing of the feet: Liturgy for Holy Week
The Ceremony of the Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday is very ancient and is common to both East and West. Through washing one another’s feet, we also commit ourselves to lives of service, in the spirit of Christ, who took on human form, humbling himself in cross-bearing service to others. 

Blog: God's humanity
I am struck by the physicality and humanity of Jesus. How did he feel at the Last Supper when he knew that one of his friends would betray him? How did he feel with the knowledge that Peter, his rock, would deny he ever knew him, not once but three times? The betrayal must have been heart wrenching and yet he forgave them.

Gaming the Gospels: The spirit is willing
This game is based around the story of Jesus and his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26: 36 – 46).

Seven Biblical lessons on resolving conflict
The act by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane shows tremendous compassion. Remember, Jesus has just been betrayed by Judas, but he doesn’t get sucked into that drama. Jesus responds to the injustice of his arrest with compassion and calls for an end to resolving conflict with violence.
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students

Changing someone else's world
On Holy Thursday last year Francis washed the feet of young detainees. This action was quietly radical – and he went even further by including a young woman and a Muslim youth in this ceremony. Such actions, particularly to those whose lives are scarred, reinvests them with the dignity that is their sacred birth right. 


Good Friday

Homily Notes: Good Friday
Today’s liturgy of course commemorates a most terrible event: the execution of a person by one of the most terrible means contrived by human cruelty. The choice of Scripture readings takes us to texts that stood at the centre of early Christian attempts to find and express the deeper, indeed saving and victorious meaning they believed lay beneath the outward horror.

The Sneaky Stations of the Cross Playlist
Where most people hear trashy pop songs, we hear songs that, with a little imagination, could be used to connect people with God. This ‘sneaky’ playlist makes a journey through the Stations of the Cross, using music you’d normally only find on the radio.
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students

Mercy, maths and the crucifixion
In the teaching of the Catholic Church, God’s forgiveness of our sins is only possible because of Christ’s death on the cross. But what does this really mean? 
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students

Spending time at the foot of the Cross
When I was young, during Lent, every Friday, I went to church and took part in the Stations of the Cross with the congregation, feeling deep sorrow for Jesus. As I grew older, I became afraid of the Cross.

Mary, mother of the Disappeared
'We can only pray with Mary at times like this because she knows what it’s like to bring a child into the world and claim his dead body in her arms.'

The terrible brilliance
The terrible brilliance of our faith is that there isn't one Christ, there are billions.

Behind the prayer: The Sign of the Cross
Australian Catholicstakes a look behind another popular prayer in the Catholic tradition – the Sign of the Cross. 


Holy Saturday

Homily Notes: Easter Vigil (Year A)
Just as a family will gather round on important occasions and tell and retell the family stories, so there is a sense in which the Church keeps its “best stories” for this most significant celebration.

A disciple in the waiting
One of our young writers imagines what it might have been like for the followers of Jesus on Holy Saturday.
PLUS reflection questions and activities for students

A sacred vigil
CONTENT WARNING: This article explores experiences of abuse. When we experience trauma in our lives we desire to be healed. We want the resurrection. But what of Holy Saturday? I have come to know the vigil at Christ’s tomb before the resurrection as a sacred space of healing, safety, and intimacy with God. That time of waiting and seeking makes the resurrection triumphant.

Unguarded moments: Crossing the threshold
In our Christian understanding, this is the strange time warp between the death of Jesus on the cross and the Resurrection. The apostles may have felt abandoned, unmoored, afraid of what might come next. But with the Resurrection they knew their fears to be unfounded. They now knew their mission in the world.


Easter Sunday

Staying the distance at Easter
Jesus’ disciples had listened to his teaching and had been attracted by his authoritative personality. They heard him speak of sin, of exile, of a God who was greater than death, and of time becoming short, and had responded to his promise of life and of transformation. It was only at Easter that the words about sin, forgiveness and the joy of God’s love for them became really personal. 

Homily Notes: Easter Sunday
The scripture readings set out for the Easter Sunday Mass remain unvaried across the three-year cycle.

The Stations of the Resurrection
The Stations of the Cross is a long-held Easter devotion in Catholic communities, a way of journeying with Christ through his suffering and crucifixion. As we walk around the stations, reading or watching performances of the Passion, we are reminded of how God journeys with us through the most difficult moments in our own lives. In recent years, a new devotion has started among Catholic communities, one that marks other moments in our journey - the moments of joy.

The Way of the Cross: Leading in Jesus' footsteps
There are so many lessons to be learned from Jesus as a leader but this Easter season I am praying that I may take the time to truly encounter others by accompanying them wherever they are at; serve those I lead with a practical and transformative love; be confident in my God given mission; instill others with hope, despite my own disposition; and love with patience and humility.

Prayer rite: Easter - Seeking life in his name
John’s Gospel account of the resurrection seeks to encourage belief in the risen Jesus, ‘and that through believing you may have life in his name’ (John 20:31). 

Buried, survives three days...
How does the truth of the resurrection hold today? With four differing accounts in the gospels, some may find the claim of the disciples to be dubious at best and completely fictional at worst, but Christianity without Easter is nothing. 

Sent out in peace
Reflection and prayer on John 20:19-23. Mary Magdalene has returned from the empty tomb after her surprise encounter with Jesus. She has told the disciples about meeting the risen Lord. But they do not let her joyful news sink in.

A parent's view of Easter

When the group of women who went to the tomb return to the disciples with the joyful news of Jesus’s resurrection it is easy to imagine Mary quietly smiling that the greatness of her Son has finally been revealed to all. Mary’s life reflects a silent, inward knowing.

Easter reflection: Look for beating angel wings
This Easter, we should look for the beating of Angels’ wings bringing good news in the moments of thankfulness when our lives, our world and our relationships are brought to life. Those moments echo the joy that Jesus’ rising from the dead brought to his followers.
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students

People of the morning
We, Christians, are people of the morning. It might seem that times are dark, but we believe that the light we shine - the light of Christ - is chasing that darkness away, inexorably, year by year, century by century. 




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