Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

Holy Week is a great time to spend time in prayer with the crucified Jesus.  On Palm Sunday this year we hear the passion from the gospel of Mark, and then on Good Friday we hear the passion according to John.  These seven last words of Christ come from a combination of all four gospels.  Each word will have a reflection, questions for prayer/discussion and an activity or extension idea.

I hope these resources help you celebrate a truly holy week with your students.

 FIRST WORD

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23: 34

Reflection:  Forgiveness is hard.  To be honest, sometimes it can seem like the hardest part of being a Christian.  Throughout the gospels, Jesus highlighted the importance of forgiveness both in his beautiful stories, but more importantly, in his actions. 

The Father in the story of the Lost Son gives us some idea of the hugeness of God’s capacity for the love and mercy.  Can you imagine forgiving someone who took your money, spent it on drugs and partying and then came back when they had no options left?  But that’s what love does- it forgives no matter what.

Jesus’s stories can seem like just nice words if you separate them from his actions.  But Jesus was a truly authentic person.  He didn’t say things he didn’t mean or wasn’t willing to do himself.  And at his crucifixion we can see that love in its fullness.  While he words here seem to be about the soldiers and the crowds who are actively involved in the public spectacle of his crucifixion, they can fit a much broader group.  Take a moment to think about it from Jesus’s perspective.

Father, forgive them- the people who begged me for signs and miracles, who surrounded me with their needs and wants.  The people who even now say they’ll believe if I just prove myself.

Father, forgive them- the people who hated me all along, who belittled me with their unkind words and rolling eyes.  The people who waited and watched for a chance to take me down.

Father, forgive them- the people who said they loved me, who followed me and listened to my words and pledged to be true to me.  The people who fell asleep then fled when I needed them most.

They do not know what they do.

Questions for prayer and reflection:

Have I ever thought of forgiveness the way Jesus does in this last word: that those who hurt me may not have known what they were doing?  Or do I think the worst of people?

Who is God calling me to forgive this Holy Week?  Spend a few minutes writing a prayer asking God to give you the grace to forgive others.

Who have you hurt with your words or actions?  Have you asked for forgiveness?

Possible activities:

Go to confession before Easter- it’s not too late!

Write a letter to a person who you would like to forgive you.  Apologize for what you did that hurt them.  If you are brave enough- give it to them!  If not, pray for them.

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