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MAKING THIS WEEK A HOLY WEEK

Father Francis's picture
Holy Week

When Jesus mounted the donkey and made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago He was fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey.”

The people, full of praise and admiration for Him, went so far as to spread their cloaks on the ground and to wave branches they had cut, shouting “Hosanna! Blessings on Him who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming kingdom of our Father David! Hosanna on the highest heavens!”

Jesus was so popular He could have done anything He wanted with the crowd. But lurking in the background were His enemies, the Pharisees, priests and scribes, who did not like what they saw. It was important that they act swiftly and make plans to be rid of Jesus. This frenzied popularity had to be stopped.

We wonder then whether this crowd was the same as the Good Friday one that shouted “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Jesus certainly knew. If they were, it shows the fickleness of human nature.

While Jesus rode the donkey He could see the week ahead unfold. It was to be the busiest week of His life. He became man to offer salvation to all. This was now to be accomplished.

His first concern, of course, would be for His mother, who had made it possible for Him to become man. He was aware that for her the harsh, unjust and cruel treatment He was to suffer from His enemies would bring deep sorrow. How hurt she would be to see Him brutally scourged, falsely condemned as a criminal, made to carry a cross through the streets of Jerusalem, stripped of His clothes, nailed to a cross and hanged there helpless in excruciating pain. And to know there was nothing she as a loving mother could do.

Jesus knew how strong His mother was and that she would accept all His Father would demand of Him for the salvation of sinners. Nevertheless, as a thoughtful Son, He would have prepared her – and she was able, therefore, to offer her sufferings with His for the redemption of mankind.

Next, His thought would go to His faithful Apostles who had remained true to Him for three years but whose loyalty was about to be severely tested. He knew Peter, His leader, would profess his undying love for Him. Yet, even after being warned of denying Him three times he would fail Him, not through malice but human frailty. John alone of the 12 would be faithful and help His mother through this painful ordeal. The rest of them would desert Him.

He thought of Mary Magdalene from whom He had cast out seven devils. She would show her gratitude by remaining faithful to Him, standing at the foot of the Cross and desiring to give Him a worthy burial.

Likewise we must believe, because He came to save all, He also thought of you and me at the start of the busiest week of His life. Let us live every day of this week with Jesus and try to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we can bury our sins in Jesus’ grave and rise with Him to a new life on Easter Sunday.

Let us make sure that we will do all we can not to miss one Church service this week.

On MONDAY we shall hear in the readings about Mary anointing the head and feet of her Lord before the day of His burial. We hear Jesus warning His friends, “You will not always have Me with you.”

On TUESDAY Jesus acknowledges that, of those two friends, Judas will betray Him and Peter will deny knowing Him.

On WEDNESDAY, which is called Spy Wednesday, Judas negotiates with the Chief Priests a price for betraying Jesus.

On HOLY THURSDAY we are with Jesus at the Last Supper when He ordains His first priests and gives us the Blessed Sacrament as His parting gift. We watch Him in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prays in anguish to His Father, “Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, let Your will be done, not Mine.” We witness His betrayal by Judas, His arrest and His being labelled a blasphemer by the High Priest.

On GOOD FRIDAY we see Him dragged before Pilate and Herod, scourged, crowned with thorns and condemned to be crucified. We follow His mother Mary, John and Mary Magdalene as He painfully makes His way to Calvary. We witness Him being nailed to the Cross between two thieves and His slow agonizing death.

On HOLY SATURDAY we wait with Mary our mother and long for the day of the Resurrection, Jesus’ triumph over Satan, sin and death which we celebrate at the Easter Vigil, a ceremony we should not miss because this is when we ought to congratulate Him for all He did for us. It is the greatest service in the Church’s calendar.

Lord Jesus, Satan is going to be very busy this week, very craftily tempting us not to come to Church. He will find very good excuses for us not to attend. Help us to ignore him and stay close to You. By being close to You, we can make the coming week not just an ordinary week but a truly HOLY WEEK. Only then shall we be able to enter fully into the triumph of Easter day.

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