Thank you for praying with us this Psalm and Passion Sunday. It begins with a joyful procession welcoming our Lord and ends with the closed tomb. Next Sunday when we celebrate Easter that joy will return multiplied.
The Passion of our Lord just proclaimed which is from the Gospel of Luke this year should be our focus all this Holy Week as we walk with Jesus to the cross and beyond. One way to do so is to ponder the actions of Jesus and the others who played pivotal roles and reflect on which of them we relate to with our own lives.
There are so many interesting people who can prick our consciences. There are the people who sang, blessed is the king who comes, and only days later cried out crucify him though scholars including Pope Emeritus Benedict tell us that they may not be the same people. There is Judas who betrayed for money, consummated with a kiss normally a sign of respect, bought off by worldly values. There is Peter and his unrealistic expectations. ‘Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die for you.’ Yet before the cock crowed he denied Jesus three times, despite good intentions, shrinking under pressure from peers, the culture or the evil one. There are the disciples who were asked to wait and to watch in the garden, but who fell asleep on the job. The spirit is willing but the flesh, our nature is weak. There are the political and religious leaders manufacturing charges, condemning an innocent man to accomplish their end at any price. There are those who spit upon, hit, whipped, stripped, ridiculed and rejected Jesus because he called them to account, to truth, to moral right. There is the one who lashed a servants’ ear with a sword, using violence in response to provocation.
There is the very human Jesus in the garden praying as he prepared for the tough mission before him, asking the Father to ‘take this cup away from me’, this hard and painful mission yet also declaring ‘still, not my will but yours be done’, obedient to the Father’s will and way to the end. There is the repentant thief who declared to the other thief, ‘have you no fear of God, we have been condemned justly’, owning up to his sins and asking for God’s mercy. There is Peter again, recognizing his sin, and weeping bitterly as if saying an act of contrition and seeking God’s forgiveness. There is Jesus, hanging from the cross asking ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do’.
St. Paul in the 2nd reading sums it all up: ‘he emptied himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. . . .at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’
This Holy Week let us reflect on the powerful, moving and unsettling walk of Jesus to the cross and beyond, noting what he did and why. Let us ponder those he met along the way, asking ourselves which of them am I more like, and which of them would I more like to be. If we do, when we celebrate the joy of Easter next week, we can honestly, humbly and with conviction proclaim that Jesus Christ is our Risen Lord. Joy returns next Sunday.