Ready or not, here comes Holy Week. For several weeks we have been trying to tell you to prepare yourself, but now it’s “crunch time” and you must find your personal strength and willpower to follow Jesus, up close and personal.
Pope Francis has been preaching for many weeks, both by word and example, about the personal call of following the poor Christ. He encourages us to act like Jesus by trying to meet others in personal and uncluttered expectation. Seeing goodness and promoting holiness and wholeness is the best way to focus on the mission of Christ—and the Church. (This works outside of Holy Week as well.)
Jesus brilliantly taught early on in His ministry: “Blessed are the poor in Spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt. 5:3) He spoke with equal luster at the end of His public ministry to a criminal dying on the cross next to Him: “Truly I say to you, this day you will be with Me in paradise.” (Lk. 23:43) The public ministry of Jesus lived between those two utterances shapes the life of the believer. It makes the plaintive prayer of the “good thief” so much more compelling: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” (Lk. 23:42)
Ultimately, there is no poverty that can compare with that of the Man of Sorrows dying on His cross. He is totally dispossessed and totally dependent upon His Father. Christian asceticism and meditation, personal prayer and sacrifice, all part of the season of Lent, are focused with specific intensity on this during Holy Week.
I hope you can take some time to join us in your local church or at the Cathedral for Palm Sunday Mass, the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, or the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday. Perhaps you might really want to experience the glorious Liturgy of the Church as She celebrates the Mother of all Vigils—the Easter Vigil—on Holy Saturday night. No matter what—no matter how—please know that you are welcome to celebrate the central mystery of our Faith—the Resurrection of the Lord—on Easter Sunday. We all need to do this because we are all a little like that thief on the cross next to Jesus—we all want Him to remember us. We all want to get to heaven. Jesus has made that possible. Come celebrate Easter joy and be filled with the utter fullness of Christ!