My brothers and sisters in Christ,
This weekend, with our celebration of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, we enter into the most solemn time of the Church’s year – the days we call Holy Week. Beginning with Christ’s triumphant entry into the holy city, Jerusalem, and the reading from the Gospel of Mark of the Lord’s Passion and Death, we recall all that Christ did for us to achieve, to win for us the gift of salvation. This is a week for journeying with the Lord, for reflecting on the significance of all that Christ freely took upon himself for us.
In the Old Testament readings for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, we hear in the prophet Isaiah about the figure who has be-come known simply as the suffering servant. Scholars are not quite sure who this individual actually was. Was this person the prophet himself? Was it someone other than the prophet? Was it not a person at all but rather the nation of Israel? As believers in the Lord Jesus as Savior and Redeemer, we understand and see this idea of the suffering servant as fulfilled in the person of Jesus. And so the readings on these days, leading up to the beginning of the Easter Triduum on the evening of Holy Thursday, prepare us for what we will hear and recall during the days of the Triduum, these days that are rooted in the words – sacrifice & service.
On Holy Thursday, we remember the institution of the Eucharist, the establishment of the ordained priesthood and the call by the Lord to be servants to one another. As Christ bent down and took upon himself the role of a servant, a slave, and washed the feet of the disciples, so we recall that act of service. Using different phrases but reflecting the same idea, Christ would say that night: 1) of the Eucharist – Do this in memory of me, and 2) of the washing of the feet – If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, so you ought to wash one another’s feet. Both of these commands of the Lord reflect the same sentiment – I have given myself for you. Now you must give yourselves to others.
There is some question as to the origin of the name Good Friday. Some believe that it was originally God Friday and became Good Friday. Others believe that it simply means pious. Whatever the origin, we clearly see this day as something good as well as solemn. For the sake of the salvation of the human race, it certainly is good. Through the death of the Lord, we are now offered the gift of eternal life through the redemption won by Christ when he took upon himself the suffering of the cross. Our salvation is assured when we live the life of the Lord and follow in his footsteps, doing what he did so that we too might achieve our salvation. We can take nothing for granted. We cannot simply say that we are automatically saved because Christ died for us. We have to “plug into,” as it were, the teachings of the Lord and live the message of the Gospel.
Our Holy Week draws to a close with Holy Saturday, a day of Sab-bath rest. It is true that this day often becomes one when we prepare our homes since so many of us will celebrate Easter Sunday with family or friends. Hopefully, it will also be a day when we can set aside some time for “spiritual rest,” reflecting on what we are preparing to celebrate on Easter Sunday. Although not as hectic as Christmas, preparations for Easter can, at times, draw us away from reflecting on the significance of what the day of the Resurrection means, not as a single day, but as a reality that touches our lives every day.
Walk with the Lord this week. Walk with your brothers and sisters in faith in our parish. Come and pray with us Thursday evening, Good Friday afternoon, Holy Saturday evening or Easter Sunday morning. Let our remembrances during this week change your lives
Love and Peace,