Growing up, I was sometimes involved in school productions; this usually meant weeks, if not months of preparation and as we got closer to the actual events a great sense of anticipation and excitement. More often than not, however, once the production happened there was I felt a sense of anti-climax; almost as if the event itself never quite reached the levels of my expectations. I found there always seemed to be a contrast between my expectations and hopes, and how things actually turned out.

I see some of that contrast in the readings used during Palm Sunday. At the beginning of our Liturgy, we have the triumphant entry into Jerusalem of Jesus, hailed as the one coming from the Lord; the one the Jews had waited so long for. The thoughts and feelings of his disciples at that time must have been so exhilarating. They were all together with their teacher as he entered the Holy city. The crowds were with them crying out Hosannah, they were on an upward trajectory; this was their moment. The moment they and the Jewish people had looked forward to for so long.

Contrast that, however, with the Passion narrative, where the crowds have turned against Jesus and the disciples have scattered, instead of Hosannah the crowd now cry out ‘Crucify him!’ The disciples must have had serious doubts as their dreams and hopes seemed to be shattered by the blows Jesus took on [their and] our behalf. The king of Israel; on whom they had hoped so much; given a crown of thorns and mocked by the Romans and the Jewish people; and finally nailed on a cross and killed before being hastily put into a tomb. At that time, they must have thought it was all over. At that time, they must surely have wondered what Jesus was preparing them for.

Their feelings of anti-climax must have been so deep and painful, and yet as we know this was not the end. Three days later they would experience a far greater exhilaration than that entry into Jerusalem. But for now, as our Lenten journey approaches the end, we share in their highs and lows, and we anticipate the Easter celebrations.

For Easter to have any meaning for us we need to experience the sadness and pain of that first Holy Week. We need to witness the Last Supper where the Son of God got down on his hands and knees to wash the feet of his followers as well as ask us to eat his flesh and drink his blood. We need to remember the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and ask ourselves how many times we have betrayed Jesus? We will sit and pray, watching on Thursday night, hoping for the energy to stay awake as we pray. We will remember the three denials of Peter and ask ourselves how many times we have denied Jesus before the cock crows for us? We have to watch as Jesus is taken away to be tried and scourged and ridiculed knowing that our sins added weight to the cross He carried. We, as Christians will venerate the Cross, the weapon used to kill our Saviour and remember that he did all of this for us.

This week, we will experience contrast, and while there will be lows, we know that there will be highs. For me those highs are enhanced by our experiences of the lows. I wish you all a good Holy Week.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

CCC 557-560: Christ’s entry into Jerusalem
CCC 602-618: the Passion of Christ
CCC 2816: Christ’s kingship gained through his death and Resurrection
CCC 654, 1067-1068, 1085, 1362: the Paschal Mystery and the liturgy.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria and Iraq.
  • Those preparing for Sacraments this Easter.
  • Those families who will complete the Baptism preparation programme this weekend at St Bede’s.

Deacon Tony Darroch 23rd March 2024.