Why such a big deal over something we ‘repeat every year’?
by Nathaniel Haslam, LC | Source: Catholic.net
We just celebrated the feast of Palm Sunday and have begun Holy Week. Do you realize this week is a watershed opportunity?
A good place to start is to reflect on the Gospel from the Mass of Palm Sunday. We see Jesus approaching Jerusalem seated on a donkey. He is a far cry from the royal, pompous image we like to imagine (as did the Jews during this historical moment 2,000 years ago) for a great king coming to claim his throne. We see a simple man, on a beast of burden, dressed in simple robes and sandals. There is no crown of jewels, no royal carriage to bear him, and no trumpeters dressed in array as we would expect. Just think of when we see the president of a nation arriving to another country: you have the military and the officials dressed in their best and out to greet him.
In this scene, we should draw special attention to the different types of people present. Why? It is because WE ARE JUST LIKE ONE OF THEM. The first group are those in the crowd who yell in joy at Jesus’ coming, but will a few days later cry for his crucifixion. These are those who live a comfortable faith but who get upset at anything related to Jesus Christ or the Gospel the moment it rocks their boat in the way they are living life (which is according to their desires and not God’s). The second group are the indifferent. These are those who do not care that Jesus is entering Jerusalem and see it as a nuisance. Do we find our faith nothing more than a nuisance? Is it something that ‘comes out’ only for Christmas and Easter? Do we live the rest of the year as if Jesus Christ was nothing more than a fairy tale instead of the Lord of history, our savior and redeemer who we will meet at our judgment at the moment of our death? The third group are the enemies of Jesus. These people see him coming to Jerusalem and the hair on their back stands on end. They cannot bear to look at him. They will do anything to get rid of him (even if it violates the religion they profess and the ‘nice guy’ front that they like to project to those around them. Are we like this as well toward Jesus? It may not be so obvious at times, yet how often do we hold firm to some ideas, attitudes, or moral behaviors that are completely contrary to the freedom and life that Jesus offers us?
A final reflection is on the fourth group. This is the group we hope to be like this Holy Week (and for the rest of the year). They are at the Lord’s side shouting in praise and thanksgiving. They are properly called his friends. They are not concerned about themselves but are happy to be in his presence, numbered as one of God’s friends, and ready to leave house, home, family, possessions, particular attachments and behaviors, and even their dreams for their future life all for the treasure of having him. We see a perfect example of this in Mary the sister of Lazarus in Monday’s Gospel. She breaks open a costly perfume jar (worth 300 days wages) to anoint Jesus’ feet and dry them with her hair. This ‘breaking open’ of the costly perfume is an image for each of us during this Holy Week. The only thing Jesus wants is our heart – all of it. This is the costly jar that we have. Will we offer it to him? Will we break it open and give it to him? This is all he asks. He will do the rest in our life.
This Easter has the opportunity to forever transform our lives. Will we let it? The Church recommends that the best way to spend this week is to live consciously and actively the sacred liturgies (Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the way of the Cross and Veneration of the Cross Service on Friday, and the Easter Vigil/Morning Mass). Let us pray for one another that this will be an Easter to remember, an Easter that is life changing, and Easter that you can truly say was a water-shed moment in our lives.
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