Anamnesis and Holy Week

Photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash

Article for the local paper.

During the Mass, the priest recites the words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) For us, the word “remembrance” is most often defined as recollecting or bringing to mind. However, when Jesus spoke those words, He had something very specific in mind, and it was far more than a simple remembrance. 

The word remembrance is from the Greek word anamnésis (ἀνάμνησις). The word is somewhat nuanced, but what Jesus had in mind was for us to not only remember Him and His words, deeds, and actions but also to make Him present. “Do this in remembrance of me… Do this and make me present.” Truly present in the bread and the wine. It is this understanding of remembrance that we should apply to Holy Week—Palm Sunday through the Sunday of the Resurrection. What would this look like?

Take, for example, Palm Sunday. On this day, we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into the Holy City of Jerusalem. The Gospel of Luke tells us that as Jesus rode along on the donkey, the people laid their cloaks before Him, waved palm branches, and shouted, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38) 

To simply remember this day is to read or hear the words and to see the scene unfold before you as though you were standing above it and watching it from above. To remember—anamnésis—is to be one who is standing alongside the road, crying out the words yourself, laying down your cloak, breathing in the stirred-up dust of all those people welcoming and worshipping the King. To anamnésis is to be one who reaches out and touches the King of Kings as He passes, truly in His presence.

This Holy Week, do more than be an observer of those great events that took place over 2,000 years ago. Be a part of them. Engage with them in such a way that you are in the upper room with Jesus, on the hill outside Jerusalem when He is lifted up, there when He is placed in His tomb and overjoyed as you stand with Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, staring into the empty tomb.

Remember Jesus. Make Him present to you today.

What's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: