We begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday. We commemorate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. The crowd praising him was the same crowd who condemned him to death after several days: “Let him be crucified!” Jesus did not utter any word at this condemnation. The image of the ‘Suffering Servant’ in the First Reading is meaningful: “For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away… The Lord comes to my help… I know I shall not be shamed”
A pastoral note in the Ordo says, “HOLY WEEK embraces the last days of Lent (until Thursday) and the Easter Triduum. The Sacrament of Penance is an excellent way to conclude the penitential season of Lent. It is best celebrated before Holy Thursday evening so that, with heart and mind renewed, all may focus on the celebration of the Paschal Mystery.”
Once again, we journey with Jesus from the time when he was arrested until the time when he breathed his last breath. We share with the disciples the sorrow, mourning and fear. We re-live with them the feeling of emptiness, especially after Jesus was placed in the tomb. The Passion Narrative which we read on Palm Sunday and Good Friday opens to us a variety of things for contemplation.
In the Passion Narrative, we can capture or imagine a number of faces: face of the Pharisees; face of Caiphas; face of Pilate; face of Judas; face of Peter; face of the soldiers; face of the crowd shouting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’; face of the disciples following Jesus from Jerusalem to Calvary; face of the women mourning; face of Mary; and above all the face of Jesus. Each face can give us certain reflections upon our failings, our iniquities, our weaknesses, our desires, our sufferings, our love, our repentance, our hope, and so on. Each of us may ponder: “What is the face/s that I can identify my face with in the scene of Jesus’ Passion and Death?”
As followers of Jesus, we know that following Christ is to follow a man with a thorn on his head and the cross on his shoulder. The cross of Christ is the symbol of not only human cruelty and suffering but also of salvation and life, of unique love and hope, because we believe that beyond the cross is the resurrection, beyond the tomb is the Easter. A proclamation of the mystery of faith at mass reminds us: “Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.”
May this Holy Week be a meaningful week for us in entering into Passion with Christ, suffering with Christ, dying with Christ, and… rising with Christ!
Fr John Hong.