• The purple of our Lenten penance is yielding to the red of our martyred savior’s blood, the blood of our salvation
• The chorus of praise we sing… “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord”…is silenced and we hear his friend say “I do not know the man” while the crowd cries out repeatedly… “Let him be crucified”.
• Today’s traditional procession with palm branches held high… remembering Jesus’ triumph as king …becomes the way of sorrows and the Triumph of the Cross.
Holy Week has begun and we celebrate anew the boundless love that God has for us.
This week is Holy because it is a week of love like no other. We recall …we relive… we enter into… the greatest expression of God’s love for us, and our never failing source of hope… the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
In Matthew’s Passion narrative we can see that we have a Savior in Jesus who shares the trials and tribulation of our human existence. We see in Jesus one who suffers great physical pain and knows the sting of false accusations and the outrage of injustice. We see in Jesus one feeling the loss of fair weather friends and abandonment in his time of need. We see in Jesus a person mocked, ridiculed, and reviled for what he believes and for the good that he did for others, when it wasn’t the popular or easy thing to do.
We see in Jesus someone preparing for His death, and drawing His last breath and yet we hear from him no words of condemnation, anger, or regret.
Jesus died as He lived… a man of faith.
Jesus died as he lived… obedient to the will of the Father.
Jesus died as he lived… filled with compassion and mercy and love for all.
He died as He lived… teaching us through His words and actions that God’s love for us, sinners though we are, never diminishes.
In today’s Gospel Jesus is laid in the tomb, and the stone is rolled into place and the tomb sealed while those who followed him look on. They had no hint of what was next but we know the rest of the story… we know that his story is not finished.
We also know that our story isn’t finished either and that we are not passive bystanders in the crowd watching Holy Week parade by one more time.
We are to walk the way of Jesus, that St Paul describes to the Philippians and to us. Paul tells us that Jesus descended in order to ascend, he emptied himself, he humbled himself, he became obedient, and through this way of his, God highly exalted him.
Our Holy Week and our life’s journey is like that way of Jesus… we descent in order to ascend… we empty ourselves of ourselves so there is room for others… we rightly humble ourselves before God and forgo death dealing pride and self righteousness so there is genuine joy in our dependence on God… and in discovering our life giving dependence on God… the one who loves us and only wants our well-being… we gladly become obedient because we never want to be separated from God’s great love.
No… We’re not passive bystanders simply retelling familiar stories and repeating familiar rituals… We have our work cut out for us… we have our Holy Work… during Holy Week… to follow the way of the cross of self emptying… humility… and obedience.
So let “the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwell in you” so that together we may celebrate God’s gift of love and our source of hope…the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.