Monday, March 30, 2015

Holy Week: How is this Week Different from All Other Weeks?

And so it begins. Yesterday, with hosannas and palms, we welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, but then followed him in a "preview" of his arrest, torment and death.  Palm Sunday is the prelude to the most solemn week of the year, a week when we watch with fascinated horror as the only-begotten Son of God suffers and sacrifices himself for our sins, knowing that the story does not end there, but that he will be raised up in glory.

Even though we know this week ends in the joy of new life and our salvation, we are called to participation in Jesus' journey through death.  Here on Monday, we have had our Palm Sunday reminder of what is to come, and have been returned to the dying days of Lent, to stand on the brink of the Easter Triduum. It's a sobering moment. Daily life must go on, but with a consciousness that this is a week like no other. Fr. Austin Fleming today, in a lovely prose-poem, says we have four more days to get Lent right, followed by three days to enter the mystery.

I think that it's only coincidental that until sundown on Thursday it is still Lent. Really, these next few days are different than the Lent that came before. While this is more obvious to those of us who prepare and rehearse for the liturgies of the Triduum, even to the Catholic in the pew, these days should have a different character than previous days of Lent, characterized by seriousness, preparation and anticipation.

These are not days to take lightly for those who take discipleship seriously. What we heard yesterday during the reading of the Passion was the human experience of Jesus' journey through Paschal Mystery. What we prepare for is the divine experience of the ultimate sacrifice of love - and the glory that will be its result.

Ponder. Wait. Be like the "disciple whom he loved" -  be with Jesus this week - all the way to the Cross and beyond. Be with him on Thursday night as he shares himself in the Washing of the Feet in the Eucharist. Be with him on Friday, as he suffers and dies for us on the Cross. Be with him as he rises in new life and light from the tomb on Saturday night, so that you can be with him in Easter joy on Sunday and beyond.