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LIVING THE CATHOLIC FAITH IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM
A LAYMAN'S LOOK AT THE JOURNEY OF FAITH

Holy Week: Living Holy Week Every Day...

The story of the Passion is a one which continues today – and every day - in our lives and the lives of the people all over the planet – in the lives of the poor, in the lives of refugees and immigrants, in the lives of people in prison, in the lives of people on death row, in the lives of single parents, in the lives of the elderly, in the lives of soldiers and combatants and noncombatants, in those who are victims of racism, in those who are powerless,  and even in the life of the planet earth which has been so abused.

Each year the Church invites us to bring all of this to the Risen Christ. We relive the final days of the Savior in order to reinforce our conviction that resurrection always follows death, that victory always crowns our failures.

The Risen Christ is our hope, and the guarantee of our ultimate victory. 

But understanding this can be difficult, especially during the horror of gun violence and death.  It will be impossible if we fail to believe that without the cross there can be no resurrection.

In the First Reading for Passion Sunday, the prophet Isaiah refers to both “speaking” and “listening.” The true disciple is both a person who can speak boldly with “a well-trained tongue” and a person whose ear and heart are opened for listening.  If we are to be a part of healing the brokenness of our world, we need the grace both to listen and to speak. One alone is not enough. 

The Passion Narrative that we hear today reminds us that the type of authority that Jesus has is totally different than that of a worldly power.  Christ “emptied himself and became the servant of all.”  We need this same spirit if we are to become “one people healed of all division” and bring an end to the war and violence that divides us, whether it be politically, socially or religiously.

So it is important for us to look at Holy Week as a single event.

As we walk with Jesus through the incidents of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, we recoil again at the ugliness and horror of his rejection, betrayal, condemnation, passion and crucifixion. We study His courage, His struggle to bend His will to the Father's. We understand His agonizing sense of abandonment. We feel His hurt at the treachery of His friends, and ultimately His trusting embrace of the Cross - and the shameful death it promised - knowing that the love and power of His Father would sustain Him and carry Him through to the triumph of Resurrection and New Life.

We all need the experience of Passion Sunday, Holy Week, The Triduum and Easter to renew our faith and our hope, to reassure us that the love and power of our Father will not allow evil, sin and death to destroy us. We must not give in to despair; we cannot give up. The Risen Christ is our hope, and the guarantee of our ultimate victory.

The Risen Christ is our hope, and the guarantee of our ultimate victory.

The Christian way of life, from the first Easter Sunday until today, continues to offer renewed vision and hope to the human family. We can make the Resurrection real.  Sharing in Christ’s passion, we are called to "love differently and radically."  Sharing in Christ’s passion should make us realize that Religion should open our hearts, not close our minds to the world around us.

Holy Week is indeed a single story of the struggle for communion and solidarity in the midst of great challenges and even injustice and suffering:
 
  • in the Passover Meal that Jesus celebrates
  • in the model of service that we see in the washing of feet on Thursday
  • in all the courageous actions of Jesus in the midst of opposition
  • in the betrayal of Jesus by his closest companions
  • in the suffering and death of Jesus on Friday
  • in the victory of resurrection and liberation that is revealed on Easter.
The struggle for communion and solidarity continues today, and it is not an easy struggle.

Christian living requires work, lots of sacrifice, discipline and love. It takes resolve to be persecuted and ridiculed and mocked for being authentically Christian, for being Christ-like. It takes faith and trust in God to admit our own weaknesses and dependence upon one another - rather than looking at each other's faults. It takes selfless courage to forgive our enemies.

Living the Gospel is a constant challenge. It makes us reexamine our mental attitudes, our actions, our speech, and many of the prejudices we grow up with. Hopefully, as we prepare for the Season of Lent, we will continue to be more sensitive to the ways that we exclude certain people from the embrace of our affection. We will constantly try to resist the deep-rooted suspicions that we nurture against persons who, in some way, are "different" from us.

Our reflection on the Passion should make it possible for people with very different spiritual needs to find true meaning in the Cross. Holy Week allows us to discover that despite appearances, God does listen to us and can reverse tragedy; that we can forgive those who do us harm and that we can entrust ourselves totally to the Father. We can affirm the victory of a different kind of king, who has overcome the brokenness of the world.

And we will see that suffering and evil have no power over him, or over us whom he has called to Himself.

The Risen Christ is indeed our hope, and the guarantee of our ultimate victory.

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