Passion Sunday is here, and with it the holiest week of the year has begun. We initiate this day in triumph, though tinged with foreboding sorrow. As the week progresses, the mystery of salvation becomes palpable. We are called to get out of our easy-chairs and to refrain from being mere spectators of the Passion of Christ. Rather, we are called to become active participants in salvific suffering of Our Savior, and in so doing, to take up our cross and follow Him.
This morning’s reading from the Divine Office states:
“Rejoice heartily O daughter Zion,
Shout for joy O daughter Jerusalem!
See your King shall come to you;
A just Savior is He,
Meek, and riding on an ass,
On a colt,
The foal of an ass (Zechariah 9:9).”
Yes, today we rejoice with the Lord as He triumphantly enters Jerusalem to shouts of:
“Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!”
“Hosanna in the Highest (Mark 11:9-10)!”
We are called to be there holding palm branches as He is honored and glorified and the dignity of His Divine mission recognized by mere humanity. Yet, this is only the beginning. Will we also turn away, and betray Him, as did the crowd who greeted Him on Palm Sunday, only to reject Him on Good Friday? No, we are called to go further; to experience His Passion, to live in His Love, and walk beside Him every step of the way.
We will be there as the repentant sinner breaks the alabaster jar or perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard, anointing His body as if in preparation for burial (Mark 14:3). Like her, we are call to repent of our sins, to find a tangible way of expressing our contrition, and live anew.
We will be there at the Last Supper, hearing Our Lord say: “Take and eat, this is My Body (Mark 14:22).” Our Lord’s institution of the sacrament of Holy Eucharist began the night before He died, yet by the miracle of His Grace, we may continue to receive His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, as often as we are prepared. This week, we are invited to realize the significance of this enormous grace.
We are called to participate in His Passion. This week we will witness His betrayal, and in so doing consider those times we have not been faithful to the dignity of our own Baptismal promises. Like Peter, we will regret denying Him with our words and actions. And like Peter, if we turn to Him in sorrow, we will find His unfathomable Mercy.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with those who mock our Lord and cry “Crucify Him,” our hearts will be torn, and our souls ache. We will contemplate the tear-stained face of Our Beloved Mother, Mary, as she beholds her Divine Child. Our hearts will beat in unison with Hers as we share her immeasurable pain.
We will see Him fall, and like Mary, we will be unable to offer physical assistance the strength of our humble prayers will be the only comfort we can provide. As the nails are pounded into His flesh, the blows will resonate within our own.
Standing beneath the cross, we will hear His last words, feel the earth quake, and sense the darkness of the sky. He will give Mary to us as our Mother, just as He gave her to John. With her, we will hear Him take His last breath and surrender His soul to God, His Almighty Father.
With grief we will contemplate the Virgin tenderly caress the lifeless body of her Divine Son, Jesus. Our tears will mingle with hers, as we help to prepare His corpse for burial. As He is laid in the stone, cold tomb, we will lay aside our former selves as well: knowing that if we have died with Him, we shall also rise with Him. Holding fast to that promise, with Mary, we will silently wait for the joy of the Resurrection.
Have a Blessed and Spiritually Fruitful Holy Week,
Ad Jesum per Mariam