Wow! It is nearly Palm Sunday - already! I say already because it seems to me that Ash Wednesday was recent and, at that time, Easter seemed so far off. But here we are just one week or so prior to the MOST important Holy Day in all of Christianity. Recently, I said that to a group of people in a conversation and they were perplexed. They thought that Christmas was the big day - not Easter. Certainly that is true in our culture, isn’t it? Christmas is the big celebration with gift giving, big meals, family gatherings, etc. Easter is a day when people do gather for special meals but not with the intensity or commitment they do at Christmas. But it is necessary for us to understand that it is the Resurrection of Jesus that makes everything else about His life significant - including His birth. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, His miracles, His ministry and His life would have quickly faded away and no one would still be talking about Him today.
But I’m getting ahead of myself because we still have a week to go before that glorious celebration. Palm Sunday, and for the days following, we ponder Christ’s coming into Jerusalem to shouts of honor and great “Hosannas” and His quick demise in the eyes of the people, the religious leaders and the government officials of Jerusalem.
This entire week is called Holy Week. I recommend that you to try and live that last week of Jesus life with Him and walk in His steps as He did His best to preach and minister to the people. What happened? Why did the tide turn against Jesus so quickly?
Sunday: Jesus comes into Jerusalem and is welcomed with great joy. Let that palm in your hand remind you to travel with Him throughout this week. According to Mark’s Gospel (11:11), Jesus went that night and stayed in Bethany. Who was He with? Pray with Jesus as He considers the rough week ahead of Him.
Monday: According to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke Jesus comes to Jerusalem and cleanses the temple by driving out the merchants and money changers. He also rebukes the crowd for their lack of faith. Make plans to purify your “temple” by making it to the Sacrament of Confession this week.
Tuesday: Jesus returns to Jerusalem where He is confronted by the religious leaders. They want to know who he thinks he is and by what authority he threw the merchants out of the temple. Jesus responds with parables and prophecies about the wedding banquet, the vineyard and the destruction of Jerusalem. What parable or warning would Jesus give you as he approaches His passion and death?
Wednesday: This day is traditionally called “Spy Wednesday” because this is the day that Judas conspires with the Pharisees and Scribes to hand Jesus over to them. At the Last Supper Jesus foretells His betrayal and Judas says “Surely it is not I, Lord”. Pray for the grace and strength to be faithful to Jesus regardless of the social pressures or persecutions you might face.
Thursday: The Passover meal is prepared and Jesus and His disciples gather in the “Upper Room”. As Catholics we recognize this Last Supper as the First Mass. Jesus instates the Eucharist and the disciples share in His body and blood. They head to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prays. After Mass tonight we will head to a “garden” in our chapel where the Blessed Sacrament will be reposed. Can you pray with Jesus for just one hour? Tonight?
Friday: Jesus is held all night in a dungeon awaiting trial by Pilate and Herod. He is scourged, crowned with thorns and , at the request of His own people, is crucified and dies on the cross. Please come to the Good Friday liturgy and reverence the cross of Jesus Christ.
Saturday: Jesus’ body is in the tomb but His soul is among the dead announcing to them that the Kingdom had come! The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will Live (John 5:25). At the same time His disciples are spending the Sabbath in great sorrow and distress because they have forgotten Jesus promise to rise from the dead. You and I must NEVER forgot His promise to rise. We must live our lives immersed in the new life He came to give us through His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Participate with us this evening at the Easter Vigil. Invite others to come with you as we celebrate the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist with those who have been preparing to enter the Catholic Church. Sing “Alleluia” for the first time in 40 days!
There you have it, a quick telling of Jesus’ last week. Live it with Him! In prayer, in Mass, in Confession, in Adoration and, in profound reverence, experience Holy Week as you never have before.