Monday of Holy Week
It’s Holy Week in the Western Christian World, there’s anticipation in the air. Here, in Chicago, the Cub’s home opener is Holy Thursday, April 5; an early spring thaw at ground has produced blooms and blossoms that make one forget it was winter three weeks ago. The official weather record says there are only 9 winters when snowfall averaged 20 inches or less (this year’s average), since 1885. Many colleges and school districts let their students out for Spring Break over the last couple of weeks, and Easter frocks are on display at the traditional big merchandisers. Spring is definitely in the air. It doesn’t feel much like Lent anymore.
However, Lent is for the rest of the week. We read the Passion of Jesus at yesterday’s Palm Sunday liturgy, and it will be repeated for us during our Holy Week liturgies. What began last Ash Wednesday with good intentions and determined sacrifices, a period of serious consideration of our need for conversion and repentance, is coming to an end.
There are probably some who would anticipate this reflection’s admonishing us to "keep the Lenten promises and resolutions" for the rest of the year; it would be "good for us"! Instead, however, we should listen to the undercurrents in the texts of the Prophet Isaiah and the Gospel of John. They plunge deeply into the meaning of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah, and of the Passion of Jesus in John’s Gospel. Isaiah proclaims the justice and mercy of God in His Servant. In today’s Gospel, Jesus boldly proclaims his willingness to embrace his dying, so that belief in Him as the one who gave life to Lazarus could become the hope of all people. Both texts can’t help but acknowledge that in the great mercy and love of God, the Passion of Jesus is the instrument of his Resurrection, which He will share with all who believe in Him.
We often ignore the Responsorial Song when preparing these reflections (speaking for myself, of course!), but today we hear the theme of Resurrection-after-defeat poetically proclaimed by the Psalmist in Psalm 27:
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
The Resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate victory of justice, for it is the victory of the Just One over all that is injustice. The Resurrection of Jesus is the demonstrative sign of the Covenant God made with His People, more radiant than the rainbows that color the skies. The Resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate liberation of those who have been imprisoned by sin and who have lived in the darkness of hopelessness or despair.
This week’s liturgies are the proclamation of the Church that we have embraced Jesus’ Resurrection because we are embracing his Cross as the instrument of our salvation.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.