Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday, invites us to remember who we are as disciples of Jesus and what he has accomplished for us.
Holy Week is the time of the year when the Church not only paints for us the great narrative picture of Jesus’ last days, but explains to us the story behind the events.
From one perspective, Palm Sunday is the return to a historical moment. Jesus did enter into Jerusalem amid cries and shouts of joy.
Equally true is the story of his suffering and death recounted in the Gospel as it will be retold once again on Good Friday.
But there is so much more —
We are invited to see these events through the eyes of faith.
The Church sets before us these mysteries of the faith not simply for remembrance, nostalgia, recollection and history, but because each of us, personally, is touched by the events of Holy Week in a way that we are brought into the very action of what we commemorate.
The Church calls us not just to a commemoration historically of the events of two thousand years ago, as laudable as that might be, but also to enter the mystery itself. We are not bystanders, but rather participants.
The narrative of redemption opens with the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Here we are reminded that Jesus proclaims a kingdom that will never end and of which he is Lord. But we also learn that his kingdom is of the Spirit. His realm is a spiritual one, not a temporal, political one. He has come to fashion a new creation that is formed in faith and resides, first, in the hearts of his followers.
We arrive at Holy Week aware that each of us is on our own personal faith journey, our own pilgrimage that we hope leads us through whatever sufferings we endure to the glory of the Easter garden.
This is not the easiest time to be recognized as a person of faith. This is a culture where religious faith is increasingly dismissed and people of faith are expected to be less visible.
Yet we also know that living our faith and visibly bearing testimony to it can have wonderful effects.
At the beginning of this Lent, as I spoke with a young adult who will be received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, I asked him what brought him to the Church. He replied that over a year ago, at the request of his girlfriend, he started going with her to Mass. In long conversations with her, now his fiancée, he said he began to grasp something of what a sacrament is and why it meant so much to her.