It’s often said that a week is a long time in politics. The Palm Sunday liturgy is like a preview of almost the whole story of Holy Week, from the adulation of the crowds as Jesus enters Jerusalem, through the intimacy of his Last Supper with his disciples, to the drama and agony of his death. Our reading of the Passion today stops short of the wonder of his resurrection – we save that for the Easter Vigil.
How quickly the mood of the crowd changes, when Jesus doesn’t fulfil their expectations! How fickle and dangerous the human heart is! Sometimes when we see the news we can wonder at the heroism and generosity of individuals, while at other times we cannot comprehend how people can be so vicious and inhuman to each other.
In this Holy Week we remember that Jesus, in becoming one of us, has taken on the whole gamut of human experience, embracing our humanity in all its heights and depths. As we walk though Holy Week with Jesus in this Year of Mercy, perhaps we should notice especially the way he shows us how to be merciful like the Father.
At the Last Supper he washes the feet of his disciples, urging us to wash the feet of others, especially those soiled and bruised by the roughness of life’s journey. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he sheds blood and tears with all those who face terrifying and impossible choices. When his disciples want to defend him by force, he joins all peacemakers in rejecting the path of violence and retaliation. On his way to Calvary he weeps over the women of Jerusalem and their children, mourning for all who are vulnerable, oppressed and bereaved. On the cross, sharing the suffering of all who are beaten and tortured, he forgives not only the thief who asks for mercy but also the executioners who carry out this barbarous act.
Whatever else we have to do this week, let’s try to keep our focus on the love of God made visible in the living, dying and rising of the one who came not be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. May our journey through his passion lead us to joy of his resurrection.