In many parishes around the country Catholic congregations sing a Lenten hymn entitled, “Jerusalem, my destiny” in order to drive home the point that Jesus’ ministry had to move inexorably towards Calvary. So many times in the gospels we read that Jesus set His face towards Jerusalem where He would ultimately be tried and condemned. Jesus challenged His disciples to take up the Cross and follow Him. Paul understood this pivotal obligation of the disciple when he declared, “I glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As we enter into Holy Week our thoughts certainly rush towards Easter but we cannot get to Sunday without passing through the painful events of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Terrie Nelson-Johnson compares the Paschal Mystery to Jesus running a marathon. Often we would like to stand on the sidelines and cheer Him on. We are even ready to offer him Gatorade or wipe his sweat-drenched brow. At one point Jesus stops and challenges us to run the race with Him. In some way all of us have to enter into the Paschal Mystery of our own lives.
As you know, the days including and following Palm Sunday are the high holy days as they recall the central mysteries of our faith. It has been a long-standing tradition in our community to take part in the celebration of the Sacred Triduum, the holiest three days of our liturgical year. Come and celebrate the gift of the Eucharist, the priesthood, and the commandment of love on Holy Thursday, the self-sacrifice of Jesus on Good Friday, and the gift of new life in Christ’s resurrection on Holy Saturday. These three days draw us deeper into the mystery of Christ and form us into the people of Easter. Join our sojourners as they receive the Easter sacraments during the vigil.
In a special way I would like to encourage all of us to spend some time meditating on the supreme sacrifice of the Son of God. Please dedicate some time to read the passion narrative in one of the gospels and prayerfully contemplate His sacrificial love for us. If it helps, we can rent the movie, Jesus of Nazareth, by Franco Zeffirelli and watch the last hours of Jesus’ life. Perhaps we can take part in the Way of the Cross on Good Friday and retrace Jesus’ painful steps. Let us find ways to unite ourselves with the suffering of Jesus so that we may enter into His glory at Easter.
As we look at Jesus crucified, let us remember that the crucifixion is not merely an event that took place long ago in a distant place. The crucifixion still goes on
The crucified Christ is every man, woman and child that share in the ridicule, rejection, betrayal, physical torture, bloodshed and the horrible death of Jesus Himself.
As long as men and women are ostracized for whatever reason, the crucifixion goes on.
As long as women and children are sold into sexual slavery in Asia, the crucifixion goes on.
As long as hunger ravages the precious young bodies of children in Africa, the crucifixion goes on.
As long as political prisoners languish in prisons with no recourse, the crucifixion goes on.
As long as dissenting voices are silenced often through physical torture, the crucifixion goes on.
As long as millions fall victim to the scourge of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, the crucifixion goes on.
As long as wealthy nations and individuals happily consume the goods of this world even as billions at their door waste away because of hunger, disease, and political oppression, the crucifixion goes on.
As long as refugees flee their homeland because of war and violence, the crucifixion goes on.
As long as children work endless hours in dark factories with no hope of enjoying their childhood, the crucifixion goes on.
As long as someone is tortured, beaten, debased, rejected, executed or bled to death, Jesus continues to be crucified.
As long as we did it to one of His brothers or sisters, we did it to Jesus.
It is our inescapable Christian duty to stop the crucifixion.
May we bear the marks of His suffering on our bodies so that we may participate fully in His resurrection! Have a blessed and fruitful Holy Week!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...