The great Christian apologist and writer, C.S. Lewis wrote that, “Christianity is a thing of unspeakable joy.
But it begins not in joy, but in wretchedness, and it does no good to try to get to this joy by bypassing the wretchedness.” On Palm Sunday we begin “the week that changed the world.” This and every year, Holy Week is a time for us to remember that nothing great is accomplished without suffering. We cannot, as Lewis suggested, get to the joy of Easter without the wretchedness of Good Friday.
Christian discipleship always has a cost as no Christian can faithfully live the Gospel without encountering the cross. If we wish to rise with Christ on Easter, we must share his suffering on Good Friday. Everyday life is a series of routines that can deaden us into self-absorption at work, at school, in our families and also in our lives as Catholics. Even the broken body of Christ on the cross can become a rather regular piety and object of devotion that can fail to inspire us. Thus Holy Week is essential to our lives as Catholics.
Holy Week is a time to awaken ourselves from our usual routines and cast off the distractions of daily life and to reencounter the crucified and risen Lord. This Holy Week we must listen more attentively to the Word of God; make room for silent meditation and earnest prayer with the eucharistic Lord; venerate the cross with greater devotion and reverence and celebrate the new life that Christ has given us on Easter with great joyfulness. The great St. Augustine reminds us that “since our Lord Jesus has made the day glorious by his resurrection which he had made doleful by his death, let us recall both days in solemn memorial, keeping vigil in recollection of his death and rejoicing in celebration of his resurrection. This is our annual feast.”
Holy Week, the week that changed the world, is the door that opens our lives to share the pain and sorrow of the crucified Christ but also to celebrate the glory and splendor of the Risen Christ on Easter with a new and “unspeakable joy.” The words of Palm Sunday call us to “go forth in peace, praising Jesus our Messiah, as did the crowds who welcomed him to Jerusalem.”
Let Holy Week 2011 be the week that changes our world once again as we go forth “in peace praising Jesus our Messiah.”