Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Tomorrow we begin the journey through Holy Week that begins with Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. We read:
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”Mark 11:1-10
For me, after having spent most of my whole life observing Holy Week, it is like walking down a pathway that I have known since I was a child. Over the years, the richness of the journey has grown more and more, so that now, every step is filled with meaning, For others, who are newer to the observances and celebrations of the Church year, it is no doubt strange and perhaps perplexing. Why do we need to mark a particular day with an event? The short answer is because it makes it more real to us. In the Old Testament, the Jews were commanded to keep certain days and seasons of the year for the same reason. While we are not required to do so, there is a value to the practice. Just as celebrating secular national holidays to commemorate important events in our nation’s history helps us to remember the meaning of those events, the Church Year, based on the events of Jesus’ life, help us to remember the great realities of Jesus’ life, birth, death and resurrection. Holy Week, of course, reminds us of the events recorded in the Gospels that took place from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday, when Jesus rested in the tomb.
Jesus came to the gates of Jerusalem riding on a donkey, actually a colt that had never been ridden. When the kings of Israel came to a city to attack it, they rode a warhorse. When they came in peace, they rode a donkey. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He comes to bring peace between God and humankind and peace among all people. This can only happen through the cross, as we repent of our sins against God and our neighbor.
Just as every other facet of Jesus’ personality shows us some of the character of the Father, Jesus’ humility shows us that the Father is humble, as well. In humility God became man, laying aside His heavenly Glory, to become a man, a servant, who would die on a wooden cross, for our sins. We are called to follow in His footsteps, being willing to lay aside everything we value in order to serve our Lord and Savior, and to join Him in serving the world that He loves. Have a blessed Holy Week!
Yours in the Cross of Jesus,
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