Monday, March 30, 2015

Palm Sunday and Holy Week

Jesus entering Jerusalem
On Palm Sunday, we begin Holy Week, the chief week of the Christian Liturgical Year.

We focus in particular upon the Paschal mystery (the dying & rising of Jesus Christ): the journey of Jesus from this earthly life through the mystery of death into a transformative heavenly life.

The word “paschal” refers to the passing of the angel of death over the homes of the Hebrews in ancient Egypt (a passing over that spared their first-born child from death).  In a larger sense, the Passover refers to the exodus or liberation of the Hebrews from their oppressors; and every year the Jewish community re-experiences this in the Seder service, which they will celebrate at sunset on April 3.

Palm Sunday we reflected upon a paradox of triumph and tragedy: the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and the Gospel proclamation of the passion and death of Jesus.

This coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday are known as the triduum (from a Latin word which means a period of three days).

On Thursday we commemorate the Lord’s Supper: the washing of feet (a symbol of service); and the eating of a meal—a sacrificial meal-- in which Jesus gives himself to us sacramentally in the signs of bread and wine (a symbol of our oneness with God and our fellow human beings).

On Good Friday we meditate upon the passion and death of Jesus, with a simple communion service.

Even in the tragedy of Good Friday there is the triumph of Easter; Jesus, crucified, risen and in our midst.

The Easter vigil includes: fire (Jesus as the light who illuminates the darkness around us); the proclamation of the story of our salvation in Scriptures; the renewal of our baptismal promises; and the Eucharist.

Easter proclaims that Jesus is risen; alive among us, and especially alive in the sacramental life of our Catholic community.

Many of us could write a passion tale about ourselves or others.  The English Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote a poem about The Wreck of the Deutschland, which he dedicated to five Franciscan nuns on the ship.  He saw in their deaths a parallel to the sufferings of Jesus for the sake of the many.  Hopkins concludes the poem with this line referring to Christ:

Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us…

As used in this poem, the word “easter” is a nautical term, meaning steering a craft toward the east, into the light. And that light is Jesus Christ.

Yes, “Let Christ easter in us” so that we may reflect his life by practicing virtues.  “Let Christ easter in us” so that he may give us courage to bear our crosses as he bore his cross for us.

“Let him easter in us” so that at the end of our earthly voyage Christ may carry us away within himself forever.

No comments:

Post a Comment