Last week Monday, a parishioner was kind enough to pick my son up from school. To show our appreciation, we decided to bring “Grandma” a thank-you gift.
But when we got to her house, no one was home. No big deal. We’ll just leave the gift at her door and go home.
But my son had a different idea.
He decides to go inside the house to find “Grandma”. So he turns the door knob—and the door opens! We then hear a faint beep-beep-beep! And I said to my son, “What did you just do?”
I dialed “Grandma’s” number on my cell. Suddenly the alarm went off, loud enough to wake up the entire neighborhood. Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo!
I finally reach her. “S., this is Father Leo. We’ve got a bit of a problem.”
“I’m sorry I can’t hear you!” she says.
“I know we just set off your house alarm!”
Not one of my shining moments. In an instant, a gentle gesture of kindness became this loud noise of alarm and panic. To me, this story sums up Holy Week.
Holy Week: that week on our calendars covering Palm Sunday through Good Friday. It begins with sounds of joy and praise as Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. But it ends with his death on the cross.
Bleak, isn’t it?
Like what happened at “Grandma’s” house, how could something so benign go so wrong?
On the surface, the story of Holy Week is tragic. Jesus was a good man. A good friend. A kind soul to the poor and needy and hopeless.
For many, the world was a scary, cynical and hopeless place. But Jesus was a light in this darkness. Jesus was the king we all longed for.
But fate and cruel men snuffed this light out.
A good man senselessly taken away from us. Why did this good man have to die? He could’ve done so much good in this world. Feelings of loss, anger, sadness and fear filled the air.
That could’ve been the ending to our Holy Week narrative. The ending of our own story. We live; we die and eventually we are forgotten.
But we all know that’s not true. In our hearts and minds, we can’t believe it to be true.
If it were, what’s the point of living? What’s the point of loving one another as Christ loves us? What hope do we have when at the end of our lives, we die and that’s it?
No, Holy Week is not about death at all. Holy Week is not about the hopelessness of the worldly powers beating us down. Holy Week is not about how the good we do in this life ultimately doesn’t matter.
Holy Week is really about love. It is about the full extent of God’s love for his people through Christ. That this love can conquer hopelessness, despair and even death itself. The impossible made possible through God.
If nothing else, let this be our Holy Week lesson: Reflect upon and model the example of love that Jesus taught us.
Love without fear or hesitation or selflessness. This divine love is the true power in this often cold, cruel world. Not the hate-mongering. Not the reinforcement of our deepest fears our current political climate seems to encourage.
Instead let us heed Jesus’ words in John 15: My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.