Image: Pingo National Landmark near Tuktoyaktuk
With our celebration of Passion Sunday, we come to the end of our Lenten journey of fast and sacrifice and enter the sacred time of Holy week. In many ways it has been a Lent unlike any other. We have gone from life as normal to a new normal of social distancing, closed churches and overflowing hospitals. While the Pandemic that rages around us continues and will continue for some time to come, we step back from all of that for a moment and allow our liturgy to lead us into a different time and a different space.
This is a very intense time in the life our worshiping community. It is a time of highs and lows, peaks and valleys. Today, we began with an antiphon proclaiming hosanna to our King, a reference to Jesus entering Jerusalem in Glory. The hope of all the people were pinned on this one man who was thought to be the long-awaited messiah, their saviour from earthly bondage. Our gospel story today ends with same man being taken from a cross and being laid in tomb surrounded by only the few who remained.
Our Holy week is a microcosm of an entire human lifespan. It mirrors all the things we experience as human beings and as we watch the events unfold this week, we will recognize ourselves in the faces of many of the characters that we will hear about. At times we have been the faithful disciples that Jesus joyfully breaks bread with. At other times we will be the same disciples who cannot stay awake with our Lord for one hour. We have been the adoring crowds who shout hosanna to our King, and we have been the mob that condemns an innocent man.
The one constant factor through it all is the faithfulness of Jesus. Whether praised or scorned, sanctified or vilified Jesus remains faithful to the mission for which he was sent, to be our redeemer, offering abundant mercy.
Through the events of Holy week, we have an opportunity to enter deeply into the mystery of what God has done for us. It is an opportunity to spend some time in quiet and contemplation, the Lord knows he has certainly given us the time to do that this year. To take a step back from the ordinary routine and to express our gratitude to God even in these most challenging times.
Through we are not able to be physically present at the liturgies of this week we can still enter a special union with Christ who died for us. We can walk the road that Jesus walked. Because Jesus was willing to embrace the cup of suffering, we can bring meaning to our present suffering. Because of Jesus’ faithfulness to his Father’s will we to know that we can live lives of faithful service to God, to our families and to our communities. And because Jesus conquered death, we know that we also will rise again.
Passion Sunday, Holy week our Easter Triduum, these are sacred times for us, not because of what happened long ago in a different time and place, but because of what God is doing in our lives today, right now, right here. Jesus is our messiah. He has not come only to free us from earthly bondage but to bring us a freedom much more profound, the freedom of being fully human, fully alive in this life and in the life to come. As we enter Holy Week, let us welcome our Messiah with open and joyful hearts.