Palm Sunday and Holy Week 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ – my beloved!
Normally the celebration of Palm Sunday and Holy Week should leave each of us feeling at least emotionally, if not physically, exhausted. It is almost like being on a roller coaster with so many ups and downs. Beginning with Palm Sunday we experience the exultation and jubilation of the crowds who hail Jesus by singing Hosanna and laying palm branches at his feet. Not much later these same crowds are jeering Jesus and shouting “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” We should be hurt and saddened by watching our beloved Christ, whipped, beaten, stripped and crucified. We witness the death of Jesus on the Cross and like the Blessed Mother, John and the beloved disciples are heartbroken. We experience as the holy women did the emptiness of the tomb.
The emptiness of the tomb. I have only had one experience in my life when I truly felt the emptiness of the Tomb. I had gone on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and early, early in the morning myself and a priest went over to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre just as it opened. There was no one there. I got to kneel at the empty tomb of Jesus for a while until the tourists came in. This year will mark the second experience in my life when again I will truly feel the emptiness of the tomb, not in the Holy Land, but here at the Parish. An empty experience devoid not only of the presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Saturday morn, but devoid of your presence. Wow – talk about empty and devoid. In that emptiness those words spoken by the angel to the women should yield some consolation “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.’” (Matthew 28:1-10) I pray that in the midst of experiencing so much desolation given how Jesus suffered and died – and the fact that you and I are journeying alone in such emptiness- may God give you both consolation and strength.