Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday – the beginning of our holiest week of the year. I wonder if we will make this a HOLY WEEK, truly lived with Jesus, in which we accompany him into Jerusalem and walk with him, from his entry into Jerusalem until Easter Sunday when he gifts us with new life, a life beyond our imagining.
We know that we are all called to holiness and that the only way we grow in holiness is to be prayerful and reflective.
At our synod last year so many people spoke of and asked for help to grow closer to God. This week gives us a wonderful opportunity to do that.
Holy Week reflects our lives. If we were to take the Passion story from any of the four gospels and think of the many characters in the story, the many incidents that happen and the many words spoken, then apply them to our own lives we would find ourselves over and over in that story.
We are Peter at times – not only denying Jesus, but denying our friends and family members when we don’t stand up for them and support them.
Some days we are Judas – when, rather than living the truth because it might cost us our reputation, we betray God or others; we betray who we are as disciples because it is more convenient for us.
There are also days when we are members of the crowd who called out for Jesus’ death. We may not use the words ‘crucify him’ but we do actually crucify others in our society when we criticise, condemn, or judge others and fail to bring them life and hope.
We may easily crucify the poor, the vulnerable and the stranger, or the person whose ideas we do not agree with and who doesn’t fit into our way of thinking. We crucify others by ignoring them.
It’s easy, too, to be a member of the crowd who jeered, insulted, shouted and made fun of Jesus. We do not need to think too deeply to remember those who we make fun of and insult with sharp and critical words.
We may be Mary at the foot of the cross, watching in silent agony as her son was scourged, mocked, insulted and jeered at. When there are situations of agony in our lives, when we watch a family member or a friend suffer, it may be that the only thing we can do is watch in silent prayer, and simply try to be people of faith who put our trust in God.
This Holy Week is a powerful time to pray deeply about our own lives and all the characters we will meet this week in prayer and as our reflections on the scriptures remind us of who we are before God. As we enter into this mystery we measure our progress in holiness by looking at all those gospel characters and simply asking ourselves how we are doing in becoming more Christ-like.
Clearly we look at Jesus himself. We journey with Jesus and see moments of our lives reflected in everything that he went through. My prayer is that, like Jesus, we offer our lives in loving surrender to God, no matter what he asks of us; that we give ourselves to God and others as he did, knowing that this can be for the good of the Church, that we can help the Church – our sisters and brothers – to grow in holiness.
When we do offer ourselves as Jesus did, even in suffering and dying, there is no doubt that we will also find new life. May this coming Easter be a time of rich blessings for all, of new life for all.
As the writer and cartoonist Michael Leunig says:
That which is Christ-like within us shall be crucified. It shall suffer and be broken. And that which is Christ-like within us shall rise up. It shall love and create.