With the Palm Sunday liturgy we enter in to the Holy week. The church invites us to enter into a journey to accompany Jesus in his last week, to reflect and renew our Christian lives in the light of Jesus’s life. The triumphal entry of Jesus in to Jerusalem comes first to our minds. Every one acclaimed him as king and Lord, Savior and Messiah. The euphoric crowd did not hesitate to take their own cloaks and to spread it on the road. With olive branches in their hands they sang and shouted Hosanna meaning ‘save we pray.’ The jubilant crowd soon deserted him, because the chief priests and Pharisees were looking for an opportunity to get rid of the insurgent. Jesus knowing the opposition building up against him, withdraws himself from the crowd. He planned to have the yearly celebration of ‘Pascha’ with his family consisted of the band of twelve disciples. Judas goes out and brings in soldiers and priests to arrest Jesus. They could not touch Jesus as he said “I am he.” They fell to the ground. Even in the garden Jesus touched and healed Malchus whose ear was cut off by Peter. Jesus was taken before Sanhedrin, before Pilate and Herod, they mocked him and led him to Golgotha, and accompanied by jeering crowd they crucified him on Calvary in the midst of two robbers. The burial and three days entombment comes to an end with the surprise story of the resurrection.
A flash back in to the life of Jesus. So many characters come and go. Judas became the betrayer, Peter who was ready to die for Jesus denied Jesus three times, a young man who followed Jesus left even his linen cloth and fled naked (Mark 14:52). Nothing is known about other disciples, John seems to be watching and following him form far. The jubilant crowd of his triumphant entry turned against him and they cried for his crucifixion. People stood side with the robber Barabbas. Pilate in fear of losing his power washed his hands and declared himself innocent. Herod who was curious enough to see Jesus, questions him and finally sends him back to Pilate. Soldiers mocked him, and beat him, they did their job, the chief priests and the leaders took their stand as righteous people inciting the crowd to clamor for the crucifixion of Jesus. Women of Jerusalem wept for him, Veronica makes a daring move and wipes the face of Jesus. Mary the mother of Jesus would have been in the crowd unable to bear the pain of seeing her son led to be slaughtered. Simon of Cyrene helps him to carry the cross. One of the thieves mocked him, but the other pleaded for mercy. One of the soldiers gave him vinegar to drink, Jesus cried and said “Father forgive them they do not know what they do” finally he breathed his last with these words “Into your hands I commend my Spirit.” Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea gets permission, brings down the body from the cross and buries the body of Jesus.
In the Gospel narrative of the passion everyone is involved. Each one of us has got a role to play. Everyone is given a role in Christ’s passion. Though we may not be like the worst people of Jesus’ time, yet for the journey of the Holy Week, we must own our place within it. To be a part of the Body of Christ is to be with him on the cross. So many characters come across Jesus’ life just in one weeks’ time. Holy week is an opportunity for us Christians to go through our lives. On our Christian life’s journey. To what character can we compare ourselves, to Peter, other disciples, women of Jerusalem, Mary, Veronica, Simon, soldiers, crowd, self-justified Pilate, Pharisees,. Nicodemus and Joseph of Atimathea? In my life who are the prominent characters that come to my mind whom I need to forgive, and seek forgiveness? Do I still move along with the crowd and think myself innocent? Do I create crosses as a result of abuse, lack of respect for others, greed, pride and selfishness? Do I try to escape from the cross I have to carry, like caring for parents, fulfilling my obligations and responsibilities?
In our brokenness, and sinfulness, we ask that Jesus remember us. We pray that we may be better than we are, and receive better than we deserve. We pray that we, who often deserve to be forgotten, may be remembered. We may bear the crosses patiently with the grace and strength we receive from Jesus. That we may care for those who suffer because those who are afflicted are often innocent of wrong doing and that those who are persecuted are often without guilt or sin. That we may have a heart of compassion, a tongue that utters words of forgiveness, and hands that perform works of healing.
“The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy Name, anointed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, and an alms of the all-merciful love of God.” ~St. Francis de Sales