April 13, 2014
Holy Week has begun. Of all the weeks of the year, the Church declares this one to be “holy.” The liturgies throughout this seven-day period invite us to reflect on and enter into the Paschal Mystery.
Yes, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are put before us in ways not seen during the remainder of our liturgical year.
We begin on Palm Sunday with the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. We stand by the roadside and join in proclaiming: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest!” Quickly we move to the upper room and find ourselves celebrating the Last Supper. We are troubled by Jesus’ words: “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” We rush to deny any disloyalty and to recommit ourselves as followers of Jesus; and yet, we soon find ourselves standing with Peter denying Jesus three times. The Lord’s Passion brings us to the gibbet of the cross and our hearts are crushed as we hear Jesus cry out: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” How can we move forward? How can we believe? The Church then gives us a short respite. We close our Palm Sunday liturgy by once again being nurtured by the Holy Eucharist.
We then are given three days to conclude our Lenten preparation. We fine-tune our forty-day discipline of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
And finally, the hard work of Lent concludes with the beginning of the Triduum (i.e., the period from the start of the Holy Thursday Mass through the Easter Sunday celebration).
Holy Thursday brings us back to the Last Supper. We are asked to re-commit ourselves to serving the Lord, the Church and our fellow brothers and sisters. We celebrate receiving and being the Body of Christ. We depart nurtured, yet wondering what this service entails.
Good Friday plunges us back into the mystery of the passion and death of Jesus. How do we embrace the cross? What does the crucifix mean to us? Can we walk the walk of Jesus?
Finally, thankfully, Holy Saturday arrives. We begin in darkness. Suddenly the light of Christ shines through our despair to provide us hope. Our Scripture readings traverse our salvation history. We invite others to join us in our faith journey — Baptism, Reconciliation, Confirmation and First Eucharist are celebrated — and new members are welcomed into our community (i.e., neophytes). For the first time in 40+ days we are allowed to proclaim the “A” word. Let us rejoice and be glad!
Easter Sunday brings our journey through the Paschal Mystery to its final stage as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. We kick off our fifty-day Easter party. What does this gift mean to us? What is the church? As Christians, what are we called to do with this gift?
Yes, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we have entered the most sacred of all weeks. May God bless us as we once again embrace the central mysteries of our Christian/Catholic faith.
Holy Week blessings, Fr. Brian