Today we journey again with the Lord Jesus as we recall his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his celebration of Passover, his agony in the garden, his betrayal by Judas, his arrest and torture by the centurions and his bloody way to Calvary and to his execution. We remember the horrors of that momentous week. We deliberately recall and renew the memories of his tremendous pain and suffering. We meditate on his bloody wounds. We contemplate Jesus’ physical, mental and spiritual anguish. We do so to remind ourselves of the depth of his love for each and every one of us. We do so because our sinfulness is the cause for Jesus’ suffering and death.
Chocolate bunny rabbits and marshmallow eggs notwithstanding, we cannot sugarcoat the harsh reality of Holy Week: the shallowness, duplicity, treason, pettiness, timidity, fear, cowardliness, betrayal, hatred, perjury, arrogance, disloyalty, cruelty, despair, torture, agony, death. These are not only the actions of the people who had no knowledge of God, but also of those who personally knew Jesus, his chosen followers and friends. It was Peter as well as Judas. The brutality of this sinful world is made manifest in the events of Jesus’ passion. On that long and dreadful Friday two thousand years ago, it appeared as though the world and the powers of this world had won. It looked to so many then and to many, even now, that Jesus and the power of his message were defeated. It looked then and now to many that sin has won, even in the Church. The apostles seemed resigned to the defeat of their master. Hope seemed lost. But the defeat they saw was not of the devil or the evil in the world opposed to God. Rather, the defeat they sensed came from themselves. They defeated themselves by their falling asleep when Jesus asked for their company and perseverance in prayer. They defeated themselves as they allowed themselves to be overcome by fear of the crowds. They defeated themselves as like Peter, they denied Jesus, forgetting who brought them to this moment. They defeated themselves as they failed to remember his words of promise to them. They defeated themselves as they prepared to go back to their former lives as though Jesus no longer existed or was ever a part of their lives. They defeated themselves as they believed that the Messiah who promised to conquer sin and death had instead been conquered. They defeated themselves as they believed that the power of sin and death were invincible. They defeated themselves as they allowed their hope and their faith to evaporate in the face of pain and struggle. They defeated themselves when they forgot what mercy was. Sadly, like the apostles, we too give into defeat, lose hope, abandon faith and long for the good life instead of Eternal Life. We do this every time we sin. We defeat ourselves every time we forget that Good Friday is not the end of the story.
This week reminds us that victory is ours in Christ alone! Holy Week proclaims to us that while the power of sin and death are real, God’s love is even more real and powerful. We are reminded that while the joy of Easter Sunday follows the pain of Good Friday, there is also a Holy Saturday of faithful waiting with patience and hope. More than anything else, this week reminds us, in no uncertain terms, “That God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (Jn 3:16-17)
We adore you O Christ and we praise you
because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world!
Have a blessed Holy Week.
In pace Christi,