Fr. Bryan Howard
Palm Sunday – 25 March 2018
Holy Week is the holiest week of the Christian year. During this week we set aside our normal routine to offer special praise and worship to God, to remember His Passion and death, and to ask for the grace to grow closer to Jesus in our daily lives. Even with all of the extra prayers, devotions, and rites, all of the extra time that we spend in Church during this week, remember that it’s not holy because of what we do for God, but because of what God did, and still does, for us. We don’t make things holy, God makes things holy. In fact, that’s what holiness is, closeness to God.
On Holy Thursday, with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Last Supper of Jesus with His disciples, and how He told them, “Do this in memory of me.” On Holy Thursday night, the night before His Passion, Christ gave us the Mass, He gave us His very body and blood.
On Good Friday, we remember the Passion and crucifixion of our Lord, and how He gave His life for us. We remember that He died for love of us and to draw us closer to Himself.
On Easter Sunday, we remember His resurrection and how, in rising to new life, He has invited us to receive the new life of the Holy Spirit, just as He appeared to the disciples on this day and, breathing on them, gave them the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ may have been God made flesh, but He was also fully human. During this week, remember how much Jesus struggled. Remember how, after the Last Supper, He took the disciples out to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked Peter, James, and John, “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” They couldn’t. They kept falling asleep. This is what Jesus is asking of us during this week, “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” He is asking us to sit and pray with Him.
Remember how, during the time when He needed them most, all of the apostles except John abandoned Him. At that point in their lives they weren’t ready to embrace the Cross of Christ. Jesus is asking us, during this Holy Week, not to run from the Cross, but to learn from it, and to let the Cross of Christ bring us closer to Christ. Jesus gave us the Mass, the memorial of His suffering and death, He gave us the Cross, His victory over sin and death, and He gave us the Resurrection, the new life of the Holy Spirit, but the path to the Resurrection always goes through the Way of the Cross.
St. Frances de Sales said, “If you contemplate Him frequently in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with Him, you will grow in His Likeness, and your actions will be molded on His.” Spend time this week in prayer, sitting with Jesus, keeping watch with Him, thinking about His life, His Passion, His death, and His resurrection, and letting Jesus fill your soul with grace and help you grow to be more like Him in imitating His faith, compassion, charity, courage, and perseverance.
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Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.