Dear Believers in the Crucified,
Today, we proclaim the Lord’s Passion in Luke: 22-14-23:56, as we prepare for the liturgical services of Holy Week. We take to heart the very love of Jesus Christ as he suffered on earth amid his disciples and died amid the cruelty of rejection on the cross. Today, we watch Jesus enter Jerusalem, as we bless palms in remembrance of the people who welcomed him centuries ago.
As we begin this week, I must ask one question: Are you ready for Holy Week?
I don’t mean have you colored your Easter eggs or purchased pastel bunting for your home. I mean, are you spiritually ready to enter the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Are you ready to pray through these mysteries? Can you find yourself in what we celebrate? Are you ready to find God? This is the most important week in our liturgical calendar. Often, people do not want to come to church because it is too crowded or because it is too emotional or because they do not want to put in the time and prayer. If you believe in Jesus Christ, then show up to this week with a simple, open heart. It is not too late to believe in something greater than yourself and to pass it down to your children.
Today, on Palm Sunday we bless palms. We wave them in remembrance of Jesus Christ. We listen to the Passion Narrative from Luke. This gospel outlines the details of his last days, his last minutes, and his last relationships before death. Jesus was obedient to God’s will for him. As we ponder such a mystery, we will find our own hearts in the story.
We reflect upon our place in the story of Jesus. We will acknowledge how we betrayed him in the past year, as well as how we have defended him in our love and service to our families, neighbors, and strangers. The victory of new life is real within us who will confront sin, death, and betrayal this week. The story of Holy Week is not just Jesus’ story, but our own as we renew our baptismal promises at Easter.
On Holy Thursday, we bend down with Jesus to wash the feet of our people. We lift the Eucharist as a reminder of the Real Presence of Christ. We begin the ancient Triduum recalling The Last Supper and inviting Jesus to challenge our call to worship and service. Holy Thursday is a profound reminder of love within the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. Dirty feet are just as much a part of Holy Thursday as the Eucharist itself.
On Good Friday, we bring the pain, suffering, and death of the world to this moment of prayer. We bring everything to the cross. We do not leave anything out. We bring failures, corruption, war across the globe, suffering of our neighbors, and the ill-health of our loved ones. We pray even for our enemies and unbelievers. We will process to the cross in the church ever mindful that only Christ redeems loss, only Christ heals the past and offers forgiveness to a world and church in need of new life. On Good Friday, we will kiss the wood of the cross, knowing that the wood brings us salvation because we know that Good Friday is not the last word. There is more than death here. Salvation has been revealed in his empty tomb.
At the Easter Vigil, we will bless water, fire, oil, and welcome people to the font of baptism. We will welcome to the altar table for the first time those who have been preparing for such a gift. Our Elect will join us for the first time to receive communion. We will renew our own lives of faith as we welcome those who are new to our community.
Holy Week is well worth the time and prayer. Our redemption depends on us showing up, with fragile hearts, open minds, and loving spirits, to God’s mercy and love. In this week, we shall renew our faith and find our home in his love. Such a gift. So, are you ready for Holy Week?
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor