Given that we are now in the holiest week of the Church year, we enter into a deeper expression of our lenten observance which is known as passion-tide. The Church’s liturgy invites us to join ourselves more closely to the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In many senses our lenten observance and practices should intensify during these solemn days.
We see how quickly the tide of popularity can change. At the beginning of the Palm Sunday liturgy, Jesus is hailed as the conquering hero–the messiah who is come to save Israel. By the end of the reading of the passion account, Jesus is ridiculed and eventually dies an ignoble death. The liturgy of Palm Sunday is a stark reminder that we should never become too self-righteous or self-assured when things are going well for us–it may be a prelude to our fall from grace and popularity. Yet, there is hope. We know the rest of the story–Jesus rises from the dead. Therefore, when we are having a very difficult time, we should not despair because resurrection is coming.
I invite you to use this week as an opportunity for getting closer to Christ by spending more time in prayer, less time in social activities; more time in meditation, less time in front of the computer; and more time in partaking of the Lord and less time eating, drinking, and celebrating. The three holiest days of the Church calendar are Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The Triduum is a time when we should recommit ourselves to building up our relationship with our Lord. If you are able to partake of the Triduum liturgies, I encourage you to attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Liturgy of Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. If you’ve never been to these liturgies (or if it has been a while since you experienced them), I believe that you will have an experience that won’t be forgotten. If you are unable to attend, you can still participate in the Passion of the Lord by spending a significant amount of time reading the ending chapters of the Gospels, especially that of St. John. Allow the Lord to speak to you through the words of the evangelists. Put yourself as a participant in the way of the cross. How do you feel watching the Lord endure suffering and death so that you would be able to live?
May this week truly be holy for us. May the readings, celebrations, and meditations help us to deepen our commitment as a son or daughter of God. May the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord be an opportunity for us to grow in God’s grace, strengthen our resolve to be better Christians, and help us to become the person God is calling us to be.