We have little experience in our culture outside of Palm/Passion Sunday to welcome the Savior and Redeemer the way our ancestors in faith did. Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day parades do little to prepare us for this great feast. Can we imagine the excitement and anticipation of the people as onlookers waved olive and some palm branches and proclaimed their blessings? Yet on this day the people welcomed their king, yet in a few days that enthusiasm and welcome changed to “Crucify Him!” The crowd’s change of heart illustrates the problem of holding God to our expectations. The crowd expected a liberating leader from the Roman oppression. Jesus instead takes up his cross and invites us to do the same. Through his death and Resurrection he is indeed a liberator, but from death and sin, not from the Roman oppressors. But unable to see past their need, the crowd’s disappointment turns into anger and a desire for capital punishment. As we enter into Holy Week, Palm Sunday teaches us to let God be God, and to trust in God’s wisdom not only to meet but to shatter our expectations.
On Holy Thursday at 7:30 PM we are invited to share in Jesus’ mandatum and be of service through the washing of feet, celebrate Eucharist and then stay awake for awhile in reflection and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament on the Altar of Repose. On Good Friday at 7:30 p.m. we gather in silence listen to John’s Passion, pray intercessions for the world, venerate the cross and share in a communion service. On Holy Saturday we reconvene for the Easter Vigil where we will baptize, confirm and offer Eucharist for the First time to four young ladies in our parish. We start with the new fire outside at 8:15 PM, sing the Exsultet, listen to the history of our salvation through several scripture texts and sing God’s glorious praises in the Gloria and Alleluia and the Easter Gospel. We prepare for and celebrate the Rites of Initiation and then renew our own baptismal promises before entering into the Eucharist. We sing Alleluia! And then go forth tired to greet the new day, the day of Resurrection on Easter.
May our almsgiving, fasting and prayer help us to celebrate these great holy days.
Lenten Blessings, Father Larry Hendel