Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
This is the first day of Holy Week. A week’s events in the life of Jesus is compressed in one hour today, from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to the Last Supper, the arrest and crucifixion and finally to the burial of Jesus. Today we all will take something home from our Church, the blessed palms. People will place them in their rooms and cars as a sign or Jesus’ presence. It is actually the sign of the Glory of Jesus but it also reminds us that Jesus won this glory by his suffering and death.
We too have our struggles to understand suffering. It’s amazing how many people want to blame suffering on God. We know it was part of Jesus’ mission to suffer and that it was in God’s plan. He prayed, “Not my will but your will be done.” When problems arise for us, does it make sense to think this is God’s will for us? A lot of people do. For some, it helps them to cope with the tragedy while others turn their back on God claiming he is cruel and unfair. If we stop to think about life, so many problems that we deal with we create for ourselves. We may use our God-given gift of free will in a way that damages us, or our problems come just because we are human, as we grow older our bodies decline. Other times our problems come by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I believe all good things come from God and that God came to save us from evil, even physical evil. That is why Jesus healed people and asked the apostles to do the same. At the same time, I believe that sufferings are inevitable in human life. There is something we should know: without Jesus, pain is a suffering but with Jesus, pain is a sacrifice.
Something more to reflect on from today’s Gospel is the nature of the crowd. Who would have thought that the crowd that welcomed Jesus with such enthusiasm during his entry into Jerusalem, would turn against him so quickly within days demanding his crucifixion and wanting the release of Barabbas who had been condemned for murder? Their welcome and shouts for Jesus were superficial. Their support for him was only skin deep. It was easy to be part of a crowd that welcomed Jesus and be part of the crowd that condemned him to death. It is easy to be part of the crowd that receives Holy Communion and that receives Confirmation. How many of that crowd come to meet Jesus during Mass every Sunday? It is easy to be part of the crowd that puts on an impressive display of condolences at a funeral or congratulations at a wedding or Baptism. How many of that crowd come to meet Jesus on Sunday? It is easy to be part of the crowd! In the account of the Passion, the crowd was not there for Jesus when he needed them the most. The crowd did not go with Him to the cross. The crowd abandoned Jesus. Only a few women and John went to the Cross. So much for the crowd! Each of us has to ask him- or herself am I part of the crowd? How deep is my love for Him?
During the week ahead, meditate on the Passion of Jesus and let it become a source of healing for you also. Do not waste this week. Spend this week with Jesus reflecting on his Passion. Come to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. The crowd which welcomed Jesus with palms turned against him just as quickly and abandoned Jesus. Peter too turned from Jesus to save himself. Do we still hear the judgment of our conscience when we sin? (CCC 1778). “When a person listens to his/her conscience, the prudent person can hear God speaking” (CCC 1777). See what we have done to Jesus. Flee from sin and be healed “through his wounds we are healed.” All of you have the Best Holy Week of your life.
God Bless You,