With our liturgy this weekend, we enter into Holy Week, a time of remembering what our Lord and Savior has done for us. I am always struck by how we are thrown back and forth between celebration and suffering.
For example, take our liturgical service for Palm Sunday. We begin with palms, recreating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This is a solemn declaration and celebration that He IS the kingly Messiah the Jews were waiting for, but a different kind of king than human nature would expect. Shortly after the procession, our first reading warns us that the mood will change: I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. Finally, we read the Passion according to Luke. God’s idea of a king is clearly presented: one who lays down His life for others, rather than lording it over them.
The same dynamic occurs on Holy Thursday. Jesus and His disciples celebrate the most holy Passover meal. But Jesus makes two crucial innovations: He washes the feet of His disciples, once again emphasizing the kind of kingly Messiah He is. Then He substitutes His own Body and Blood for the Passover lamb: Jesus is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world!
The final example is the contrast between Good Friday and Easter, our culmination of Holy Week. The intense sorrow and despair of Good Friday give way, after a prolonged period of silence, to the joy that Mary Magdalene felt as she realized that her Lord was truly alive.
I invite you to participate in our services this week, walking through these events in the life of Jesus. Our lives can feel heavy with sorrow as we experience all that is happening around us. Our celebration of the events of Holy Week will help us to remember that Jesus is truly risen and that, ultimately, all will be OK. With that realization, we can experience the same joy that Mary Magdalene did.
Church sign of the week: The ability to speak several languages is an asset, but the ability to keep your mouth shut in any language is priceless.