We are at the beginning of Holy Week; where we bring to mind the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, his agony in the garden, his arrest by Temple authorities and the Sanhedrin, his abandonment by his disciples, his trials by the members of the Sanhedrin; by the Romans; and his crucifixion!
We begin with the procession of the palms, where a crowd of people are following Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. We do not know exactly the real size of this procession, but it appears to be large enough to concern the Sanhedrin; that it may concern the Roman occupiers and bring about a forceful, violent response. And what follows is the events of our Lord’s Passion; His suffering, His death!
But I would like to look now, at a different definition of the word “passion;” with a small “p.” Merriam-Webster dictionary has as one of the definition of “passion;” “a strong liking or desire for devotion to some activity, object, or concept.” What is our everyday passions; sports, both as player and spectator; reading books, paper or digital; collecting, etc., etc., One can definitely say that Jesus had a deep passion to fulfill the will of the Father; to proclaim the Good News to the poor and those who have lost hope in world; to heal the sick, to break the power of sin in the world. He had a passion so great, that He was willing to suffer the most humiliating death.
The question I have for us this morning, do we have a passion for the Gospel life; do we have a passion to follow Jesus? How passionate is our commitment to reach out to the poor, the stranger? How is our passion as a follower of Jesus Christ Crucified?
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, during which we commerate our Lord Jesus Christ’s triumph entrance into Jerusalem. However, in many Christian churches, the gospel reading is the Passion of Jesus Christ, the story of his crucifixion and death. From crowds calling out “Hosanna!” at his coming; are yelling “Crucify him!” as he is dragged out of the city, to Golgotha.
On this holy, solemn day; we have heard of the two bombing attacks against Egyptian Coptic Christians; we have seen the video of the explosions, and glimpsed the wounded and the dead. They have shared intimately in the suffering of Christ; may our Lord Jesus heal the wounded; may our Risen Lord bring the dead into the peace of heaven.
But you, O Lord, be not far from me; O my help, hasten to aid me. – Psalm 22
Yesterday, March 29, 2015, Passion (Palm) Sunday, I began my third Holy Week as an ordained Deacon. I assisted at Mass at two of the three parishes that make up the Beverly Catholic Collaborative. At the beginning of each Mass, there was the blessing of the palms, followed by my proclaiming the Gospel reading according to Mark; of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into the city of Jerusalem. Crowds gathered around Him, shaking palm branches, and yelling out “Hosanna,” and proclaiming that the Kingdom of David was at hand. Yet, during that same liturgy, we would hear the Passion of Jesus Christ according to Matthew; during which the crowds are now yelling out, “Crucify Him!”
The five weeks of Lent were meant to be a time to prepare for this Holy Week, for in many ways, this week will be the most challenging of the Church’s liturgical year. We are to recall the events that lead to the Crucifixion of Jesus, and to His Resurrection. We are being challenged to reflect more deeply and personally on what those events mean to our world, our Church and for ourselves personally. We are being summoned to; if just for this week, live a life of intensive prayer and meditation. We are being challenged to open our minds, our hearts and our souls to the presence of our Resurrected Savior, and be willing to be transformed by Him; transformed into bearers of the Good News. Evangelizers, by word and deed; to let others know of the love and mercy of our God!