Holy Week: Hope and Ultimate Victory
The story of the Passion is one which continues today and every day. It is the story told in the lives of the poor, in the lives of refugees and immigrants, in the lives of people in prison or on death row. It is felt in the lives of married and single parents alike, in the lives of the elderly and infirm and those who feel alone and abandoned. The Passion becomes real in the lives of soldiers and combatants and noncombatants. It strikes the hearts of those who are victims of racism and in those who are powerless to oppression. It is even felt in the life of planet earth which has been, and continues to be, so abused.
Each year the Church invites us to bring all of this to the Risen Christ. We relive the final days of the Savior in order to reinforce our conviction that resurrection always follows death, that victory always crowns our failures. The Risen Christ is our hope, and the guarantee of our ultimate victory. But understanding this can be difficult, especially during the horror of suffering, violence and death. It would be impossible if we failed to believe that without the cross there can be no resurrection.
In the First Reading for Passion Sunday, the prophet Isaiah refers to both “speaking” and “listening.” The true disciple is both a person who can speak boldly with “a well-trained tongue” and a person whose ear and heart are opened for listening. If we are to be a part of healing the brokenness of our world, we need the grace both to listen and to speak.
Matthew's Passion account reminds us of how quickly the Hosannas proclaimed by the people of Jerusalem become shouts of "Crucify Him" by the temple leaders and eventually the people themselves. We’ve heard it all before and we’re inclined to think, “Been there, done that.” But have we?
What do these days say about the atrocities of horror being rained upon Ukraine? What do these days say about multiple meaningless shootings in so many parts of our country and the world? What do these days say about the atmosphere of mistrust and falsehood that surrounds us daily?
Does Crucify Him now take on new dimensions for us? It should.
Holy Week defines who we are. We are the people of the Table, the people of the Cross, the people of the Empty Tomb. We need the experience of Passion Sunday, Holy Week, The Triduum and Easter in order to renew our faith and our hope, to reassure us that the love and power of our Father will not allow evil, sin and death to destroy us.
The Risen Christ is our hope, and the guarantee of our ultimate victory.
Holy Week is the single story of the struggle for communion and solidarity in the midst of great challenges and even injustice and suffering. Our reflection on the Passion of Jesus should make it possible for people with very different spiritual needs to find true meaning in the Cross. It brings us face to face with the reality that despite appearances God does listen to us, that we can forgive those who do us harm and that we can entrust ourselves totally to the Father.
We can affirm the victory of a different kind of king who has overcome the brokenness of the world. Suffering and evil have no power over him nor over us whom he has called to Himself.
The Risen Christ is indeed our hope, and the guarantee of our ultimate victory.