How can one possibly take it all in? How can we possibly embrace and be embraced by Jesus’ sacred passion?
Each year as we enter into Holy Week, we read the passion account from the synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark and this year Luke. Though the outline of events are similar, there are particular differences.
For Luke, there is a special sensitivity to the sinner and the vulnerable.
In all four Gospels, a sword is drawn at Jesus’ arrest, and the ear of the slave of the high priest is cut off. Only in Luke are we told that Jesus heals the slaves’ severed ear. God’s mercy is not limited to those who are good. The healing occurs, and Jesus is the conduit of such grace.
All four Gospels present a trial of Jesus before Pilate. But only Luke includes an interrogation before Herod. At the end of the scene, Pilot and Herod, once enemies become friends. Jesus was for them a mediator of reconciliation. God’s grace flows from divine goodness, not from human virtue.
All four Gospels tell of two criminals crucified with Jesus. Only Luke tells us that Jesus promises one of them eternal life. The repentant thief has no claim on salvation. Yet God’s love will not be deterred by sin and Jesus becomes the means to welcome this nameless felon to paradise.
You and I are not perfect people. All of us have sinned. All of us have made mistakes that have hurt ourselves and others. Yet none of our sins negate the power of God’s divine love.
We may have wrecked our marriage, betrayed a friend, taken advantage of someone who is vulnerable, turned our back on countless people in need, and have been indifferent and cold to those closest to us.
We may be controlled by prejudice, fed by greed and fear.
We may be imprisoned by addictions of all sorts: food, alcohol, prescription drugs, lust, gambling, shopping, social media, sloth or fill in the blank.
We may be at the point this Holy Week where it feels hopeless and we feel helpless.
Or maybe this Lent has strengthen us so as to be able to stand at the foot of the cross with Mary in all her grief.
Wherever this Palm Sunday and this Holy Week finds you, seek to enter into it with your entire being. Let us surrender to the power of the mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
Take some time today to talk with your family about how this week will be different from every other week of the year. You may choose to limit screen time, pray together, read the daily Scriptures, fast or change your schedules to be here for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter vigil. Whatever it might be, seek to deeply experience God’s gift of salvation won for us by Jesus Christ.
Please do not simply pass from waving palms branches today to singing alleluia on Easter without passing through the crucible of the cross.
Let us open our heart, our mind and the very depths of our soul so as to journey together with Christ this Holy Week.