Headline: The Holiest Week of ChristianityPosted on: 2014-04-11
Palm Sunday, Passion Sunday
Palm Sunday is celebrated as the beginning of Holy Week all over the world with pomp and pageantry. As the name indicates, Christians carry palms and process through roads and allies singing the praise of Jesus who according to Scripture makes a triumphant entry into Jerusalem. “Hosana to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” If that is where the celebration of many Christians climax, it is not the same for Jesus Christ. This Sunday in fact is the beginning of his “suffering week”. Not for nothing the Catholic Church also calls this Passion Sunday, for by the time this week ends Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, would have gone through terrible suffering, punishment, violence and death at the hands of his enemies and sin.
The vision behind the mission
Those who understand the essence and mood of Holy Week know that it is the most revered week of Christendom loaded with the empowering rituals of authentic worship. From Monday to Thursday morning, Catholics relive the mission of Jesus. They contemplate his sacrifice, his desire to be with his disciples forever, not only in his word, but also through his flesh and blood as spiritual food. Their fast, prayer, alms-giving, penance and reconciliation switch to top gear as the entire Church celebrates what is called the Mass of Holy Chrism where the Holy oils which empower the sacramental life of the Church are blessed. The oil of Catechumens is used to anoint those preparing for various steps of election into the Church’s life, the oil of Chrism is for anointing at Baptism and ordination into Holy Orders while the oil of the Sick is used for the infirm to seek God’s healing and comfort for them. At this Mass also all the priests gather around the Bishop to publicly renew their priestly commitment in the presence of all the faithful. It is a spirit-filled ceremony which previews the way we shall all be in the kingdom of God, a priestly people, a kingly people and a holy people. (1Pet.2:9).
Eat my flesh and drink my blood
On Thursday evening of Holy Week, the faithful gather in every parish and church to celebrate the institution of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus Christ as food for the souls of the faithful. They also spend time in adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. At this moving ceremony the Church all over the world gathers together to reenact Jesus’ personal testament. (Lk. 22: 14-20). The celebration also commemorates Jesus love and service, taking off his mantle to wash the feet of his disciples. This is where the rubber hits the road. How many in positions of leadership today do serve? Jesus said: “You call me Master and Lord and you are right, or so I am. If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you also must wash one another’s feet” (Jn. 13:13-14). Sadly today, many interpretations of Jesus’ sacrifice abound. The Catholic Church takes the Master at his word. “This is my body….this is my blood…Do this in memory of me” (Lk 19:14-20). He did not say, “This is like my body, this represents my blood”. Many claim today to take the Bible seriously but do not seem to take so seriously the words of the one because of whom the entire Bible was written.
The grime of Good Friday
Humanly speaking, the only thing good about Good Friday is the name of the day. On this day the suffering, the disgrace and the gruesome murder of Jesus Christ is commemorated. Jesus laid down his life for love of us. He personified all the “good Fridays” which all his followers would have to endure after him. Are you suffering rejection, persecution violence betrayal or the like? Well, the Son of God has traveled that toad before and even now he does it with you. On Good Friday Jesus asked the same questions that often assail us. Why? Why me? What? Why does God permit sin to nail truth, justice, kindness to a tree? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that all who believe in him might be saved. That love came at a great cost. In divine terms, good Friday is a demonstration of the depth of God’s love, such that he abandoned his very own Son. It is the demonstration of God’s hatred for sin and evidence of the devastation which sin provokes. The wages of sin is truly, death (Rom. 6:23). Jesus towards the very end, cried out: “My God my God why have you forsaken me” (Ps. 122). Had it all ended with that cry there would never have been victory for us over the conspiracy of wickedness in this world.
Light that conquers all darkness
Thankfully there came Easter vigil and Easter day! Notwithstanding the sorrowful worship of Good Friday, the irrepressible light of the resurrection shattered the darkness covering the world. On Easter night the heavens are joined to the earth, Easter answers all the questions raised on Good Friday. This essentially is the journey of Holy week. After the temporary Hosanna of our Passion Sundays and the gory trials and tribulations of our Good Fridays, God will still speak the final word of victory. His light will overcome. The Lord Jesus will resurrect in victory over sin and death along with those who truly believe in him. To him be glory and praise, forever and ever. Amen, Alleluia.
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