My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Our Lenten journey has led us to the holiest week. Holy Week.
All the prayers and sacrifices and works of service that we have done for these 40 days to prepare us to accompany Jesus on his final pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
And in these days, we need to stay close to Jesus, to share in his passion and to help him to carry his cross.
In the liturgy today, we are asked to play the part of the people in the crowds that follow Jesus and welcome him into Jerusalem. So sometimes, we are the ones who go with him, waving palm branches and singing hymns as he enters into Jerusalem. But some other times, we are also part of the crowd when they turn on Jesus and begin to reject him and call for his death. Sometimes, we are the ones shouting, “Crucify him.”
This is the drama we have just re-lived in our Procession and in our Gospel today. When you hear these stories of his Passion all throughout this week remember — he did it for you and he did it for me.
As we accompany Jesus in these coming days, as we look at him in his suffering — we know that he is hanging on this cross for us. We know that he has laid down his life for each one of us. For you. For me.
St. Paul tells us in today’s second reading that
He emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave …
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
This week, think about the humility of Jesus. He was God and yet he left all that behind, emptying himself to become one like us. Jesus Christ shows us the way.
He calls us to empty ourselves, to become servants of God and servants of our brothers and sisters. Jesus said if we want to follow him, we need to take up our cross every day.
And following his way of the Cross is a way of service, of setting aside our needs to think about others. So, this week, try to spend time looking at the crucifix — see the love that Jesus pours out for you and for me. For each one of us.
And let us ask him for the grace to follow him.
Our first reading today from the prophet Isaiah reminds us that to follow Jesus means we must be prepared to suffer — just as he did — for the sake of the Kingdom.
So, let us ask for the grace to follow Jesus — with all our strength and all our heart. We ask for the grace to be like Simon, the Cyrenian in the Gospel today, who helps Jesus to carry his cross.
We ask for the strength to open our hearts to say “yes” to what God is asking of us.
My dear brothers and sisters, just as Jesus enters Jerusalem today — he longs to enter into our hearts and into every reality of our lives.
Let us welcome him this week and walk with him.
Let us accompany him as he goes up to Jerusalem to celebrate his last Passover.
Let us stay close as he makes himself the paschal Lamb who is sacrificed — offering his Body and Blood in the gifts of bread and wine on Holy Thursday.
Let us stay near him in his agony in the garden and through his trial and scourging on Good Friday. And let us help him carry his cross through the sad streets on his way to Calvary.
So, as we accompany Jesus on his journey this week, we need to remember that this story does not end at the cross. We are on our way to the empty tomb of Easter morning!
And let us pray for the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, who walked with her Son every step of the way, who kept vigil at the foot of his cross. May she go with us and guide us along this way that leads to the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
1. Readings: Isa. 50:4-7; Ps. 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24; Phil 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47