Fr Kevin’s Column 3/28/21

Dear friends of God,

This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. It is the beginning of the holiest week of the year in our Catholic Christian Tradition. It is such a sacred time that we even call it Holy Week. This Holy Week will look slightly different because of COVID-19 but we will come together in prayer and care for each other.

 

This Sunday we remember Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. After our palms are blessed, we will hear a Gospel before the procession. We are in the year of Mark, so we will have Mark 11:1-10 proclaimed for us. In that Gospel, we will hear the crowds say, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” Later that week, we will hear some of those same people call for Jesus’ death. That might be a reminder not to follow the crowd in our world. A crowd can easily turn into a bloodthirsty mob. We will hear the passion reading twice this week. The first time is this weekend when we will proclaim the passion from Mark’s Gospel. On Good Friday, we will hear the passion from the Gospel according to John. Even though the passion reading rotates every year between Mark, Matthew and Luke on Palm Sunday, we always hear from John’s Gospel on Good Friday.

 

Before we get to Good Friday, we celebrate Holy Thursday. This is the day that we remember the Institution of the Eucharist. On the night before Jesus died for us, he gave us his very self in the bread and wine of the Eucharist which we believe to be his body and blood. He gave us himself to empower us to serve each other and our human family and to live in God’s Kingdom in all of creation. Pope Francis describes the Eucharist in cosmic terms in his encyclical Laudato Si: “.Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: ‘Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on a humble altar in a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world'” (236). Our altar in Pinconning is cosmically connected to both heaven and earth. That is the great gift of the Eucharist for the life of the world. That is what we will honor on Holy Thursday.

 

On Good Friday, we gather around the cross with regret for our sins and sorrow at the level of human violence that would lead to us killing God. I came across the following reflection that I use every Good Friday. The funny thing is that I do not remember where it came from, but I have used it for a number of years.

 

Adoration of the Holy Cross is an act of prayer through which we think about the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. The word “adoration” comes from the Latin word adore. When we adore the cross, we are focusing our deep respect toward what the cross means for us. We come forward and show our strong devotion, respect, and honor for the loving act of Jesus dying on the cross. We are honoring not the wooden symbol, but rather the saving act of Jesus’ death on the cross. We are sorrowful because the cross itself was used to execute Jesus in a humiliating, painful, and shameful way. But we honor the image of the cross because it reminds us of the love Jesus had for us by allowing himself to be sacrificed on the cross that way. We know that death on the cross was not the end. We are thankful for the cross on which Jesus triumphed over death. And so we adore the Holy Cross.

 

The cross reminds us the lengths that God will take to bring us back to himself.

 

On Holy Saturday, we gather in the evening for the Easter Vigil. We gather in the dark to hear about our salvation history. We listen to these stories of faith for the generations when God continually reached out to his children to bring them back into loving relationship with him and with our neighbor. At the vigil, we enter deeply into the death and resurrection of the Lord. It is the beginning of our 50-day celebration of Christ’s Resurrection and our own resurrection as well. We begin to see that God came to save the whole human family and all of creation.

 

May these Holy Days be a time of deepening love for our God of radical mercy as we enter into Jerusalem with our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Much love,
Fr. Kevin