This has been a Lent overshadowed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the nightly reports of new and more terrible atrocities and suffering.
On the first Holy Week, Jesus experienced all the horrors of life, culminating in his crucifixion and death. The waving palm branches, the joy and the Hosannas of Palm Sunday became the pain, the torture and the crucifixion of Good Friday.
The celebration of Holy Week, the most sacred time in the Church’s year, begins on Palm Sunday with the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. We remember that the people involved in the first Holy Week were people like us. The suffering of Jesus is mirrored across the world today when people are degraded, persecuted or deprived of their freedom. Nearer home when we hurt or disappoint others, when we fail to live up to our responsibilities, in our small way, we contribute to the suffering of the world.
Holy Week is an opportunity for us to change our lives as we celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. We, along with our fellow human beings, are guilty of failure, shortcomings and what was called ‘sin’ in the old terminology. As a race we are destroying the planet that sustains us and worldly affairs are conducted without any reference to God.
On the Cross Jesus took the sins of the world upon himself. He absorbed all the suffering of the world and transformed it into the wonder and beauty of the Resurrection. In this way he showed how perfect his love was. His death on the cross gives us new life. We pray to experience that life and to imitate Christ’s love and his trust in God our Father. The saving mysteries that took place during Holy Week two thousand years ago, for us and for our salvation, convince us of Jesus’ love for us. We respond to that love by continuing to persevere in faith and hope.