Palm Sunday begins Holy Week. I find most Catholics love this Sunday. First, we get palms! Some of you will braid them (probably during my homily) to stick behind your home crucifix or some other visible place to help you remember. Jesus entered to cheers of joy, cheers of welcome, cheers of such promise. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! This same Liturgy has the reading of the Passion, according to Matthew’s Gospel this year. Often read in parts (as we will do here at Holy Family), the drama of the Lord’s demise is made evident to us. And our earlier cheers of praise become calls to ‘Crucify Him’. The fickleness of the human heart is on display, but a fickleness we know resides within us. With this Sunday, we usher in the final push of our Lenten practices and the final preparations for the great celebrations to come. The season of Lent is drawing to a tremendous life-ending, life-changing, life-transforming climax. We will celebrate the Holy Triduum (Holy Three-Days) of the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection.
Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week have no particular name or title. Yet, here in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Tuesday is the celebration of the Chrism Mass. During this Liturgy presided over by Archbishop Thompson in Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral surrounded by all the priests of the diocese and representatives of lay & religious all the parishes from across the whole Archdiocese, the three Holy Oils will be blessed and consecrated. Oil to strengthen the Catechumens. Oil to anoint the sick. Oil to signify the Holy Spirit at Confirmation and Holy Orders. The priests renew their Sacerdotal Promises to serve and sanctify the People of God through our humble service. It is a moving experience.
Wednesday is also called Spy Wednesday. It is the day we recall the shady cloak-and-dagger work of Judas Iscariot to arrange to hand over Jesus to the authorities. Selling Jesus for the meager profit of 30 pieces of silver. While that might have been a mighty sum in his day, it is an infinitesimal price for the Son of Man and the Savior of World. What motive moved Judas? This side of life, we may never know. But my own conscience cries out to me of the penny profits I’ve personally accepted in exchange for my own sinful betrayals of the Lord.
Thursday, known as Maundy Thursday, has us celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Not only did Jesus institute the New Covenant of the Eucharist and install the Apostles as the neophyte priests of Christ’s nascent Church, but He rooted that priesthood in self-sacrifice and selfless-service. Robing Himself in a towel, He washed their feet. Maundy coming from the Latin Mandatum – to Command – reminding not just priests but all Christians to ‘Love one another as I have loved you’.
Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence – a day of darkness, sorrow, penitence, and mourning. Our Lord is Crucified upon the Tree of the Cross to undue the eating from the Tree in the Garden of Eden. As in all things, Christ has our Good in mind, our ultimate good, as He shows us the true reach of life-giving Love in the laying down of His life for you and me. We bend the knee or kiss the Cross to remember. We are challenged to take up our Cross and follow after Him, to lose our life so that in Him we may find it.
Holy Saturday, also sometimes called Black Saturday, recalls the Lord’s rest in the darkness of the Tomb. A few weeks back, we heard Jesus call Lazarus forth from his temporary Tomb. Jesus too will remain here only temporarily. But no one else will call Him forth. By His own power – the power of the Holy Spirit in union with the Father – Jesus will soon rise. He will remove the sting of death. He will take away death’s victory. He will restore life – His own and all who follow Him.
Follow Him through these Holy Days of Holy Week. Follow Him through their Holy lives conformed to His the whole year round. Blessings and Prayers upon you as you walk this Holy Week with our Lord.
Holy Thursday Mass at 7p + Good Friday Memorial at 3p + Easter Vigil Liturgy at 8:40p
Easter Sunday Masses at 8a and 10:30a
Nothing Less than saints for the Holy Family of God.
Holy Family, Taking up the Cross to walk with the Lord, Pray for us.
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries