Mar 27, 2015

A Week made Holy

With the celebration of Passion (Palm) Sunday this weekend we begin the holiest week of the Church liturgical year.  It's a week of great drama and a time when the liturgy speaks powerfully to us through symbol, word, and sacramental sign.  If there was ever a time of year for the Church to mix theatrical drama with dignified liturgy this is the time. 

The ancient rites of this coming week begin with Hosanna's but turn rather quickly to cries for Jesus' death and crucifixion as we hear in the reading of the Passion according to Mark 14: 1 - 15: 47. What made the adoring crowds who welcomed Jesus as king turn so quickly against him?  Well, as the drama unfolds we see that Jesus' arrest, false charges, presentation before the Roman power in Pontius Pilate, and eventual tortuous crucifixion was done by an entirely different group, at night undercover lest the adoring crowds riot.  At some point as the Gospels imply, Jesus caught the attention of the Roman occupiers but it was the Jewish leaders who presented Jesus for elimination for they could not impose a death penalty.

So, it begs the age old question who was responsible for Jesus' death?  Well, history and careful biblical study has confirmed that the Jewish people as a whole cannot be blamed for Jesus' death.  Sadly, though, the Jews have been targeted for centuries yet the official stand of the Church is that they are not of fault. The Jews are our brothers and sisters of the Covenant.

So who did?  The simplest answer I've heard is that it was Pontius Pilate and a handful of corrupt Jewish leaders who were directly responsible.  The mass crowds who followed Jesus were powerless and to prevent their uprising, these corrupt officials were stealth about their plot.  Yet, all was in the mysterious plan of God and Jesus' absolute obedience to his Father's will is the rest of the story we know well. Only God could have made the terror of the cross transform to become the sign of salvation - thus we have "Good" Friday.

So, as we begin this holiest of weeks it is good that we enter these timeless events through prayer, word, reflection, sacrifice and participation: the Lord's triumphant entry to Jerusalem, his Passover Supper, his passion, death, burial and concluding with the glorious and mysterious resurrection and the 50 days of the Easter season.  Plan on attending all of the Holy Week liturgies for they are not disjointed from each other; it is one grand and impressive event beginning with our remembrance this weekend. 

May the Lord of glory and mercy guide our hearts and lives. 

Phil 2: 6-11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.