As we progress further into this new year is it not a good idea to make the words of the opening stanza of TODAY’S PSALM [27 or 26] an anchor...
THE PLOT THICKENS! Do not lose it (him). Remember that Jesus Christ IS the plot. He was content to go with the flow of it. So must we. He went with the flow because it was his plot, the Father’s plot, and it must become OUR plot! We have to become part of the plot. No-good standing on the sidelines. GET INTO IT.
From the very beginning Jesus instructed the disciples to become involved.
THE PALM GOSPEL [MATTHEW 21: 1 – 11] tells us that “when they drew near to Jerusalem …. Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village …. say ‘the Lord has need of them’.” Last Sunday we read that both Martha and Mary address Jesus as Lord. However, if we ignore Jesus’ remark to Satan during the temptations when he refers to himself in an oblique fashion, this is the first time in Matthew’s account that Jesus appropriates the title to himself.
In other words it is
THE LORD who initiates and lays hold of Holy Week. The week begins with the Lord – and ends with the RISEN LORD! This is an essential element of the plot. It is vital for us to accept this fact if we are to follow him this week. Jesus freely presented himself to the events that make up this week. It was not thrust upon him.
Then, from the very beginning he involved the disciples. We must be involved. No matter how many times we have been through this week in the past we must be involved – perhaps as never before.
THE LORD HAS NEED OF US! This is a sobering thought. Jesus, the Lord, needs us to be with him this week – needs us to show our support, our understanding, together with OUR FAITH AND COMMITMENT.
Recall last week’s reflection and Jesus’ “unbind him and set him free?” Now we read “untie them and bring them to me.” He needed them. He needs us.
WE ARE A PART OF HIS PLOT: this fact we cannot escape.
However, we must not become maudlin – Holy Week is not for weeping, and neither is it for beating ourselves with guilt. The first day, Palm Sunday, is a day of praise – and it ends with the alleluias of Holy Saturday. The last stanza of
TODAY’S PSALM  says it all: “I will tell of your name to my kin, and praise you in the midst of the assembly; ‘You who fear the Lord, give him praise; all descendants of Jacob, give him glory; revere him, all you descendants of Israel’.”
Even the reading of the Passion today, as well as Good Friday, should be done within the context of praise, thanksgiving, and joy … the plot is unfolding and it leads to the discovery of
RESURRECTION! Holy Thursday introduces a clear and distinct interlude of sheer joy. Even the Stations of the Cross should be a journey of peace and provide us with reminders that we are, indeed, needed by the Lord (look at Simon of Cyrene and Veronica). The unveiling of the Cross on Good Friday afternoon is an invitation to joyful adoration of THE PLOT!
It is vital for us to
SERVE THE PLOT all the way through Holy Week. In TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [PHILIPPIANS 2: 6 – 11] Saint Paul tells us the Lord took on “the form of a servant.” This week the Lord needs us to do the same. However, here the secret is to remember that he “emptied himself.” I must empty myself in the sense that I acknowledge and accept that this week is not about me – IT IS ABOUT HIM. I must unbind myself and set myself freesimply to be there for him. I must do not ‘do’ Holy Week in order to score ‘brownie points’. Rather I set myself free in order to accompany him as a faithful servant – no more, no less. This is not a week for earning or taking, but it is a week for GIVING. It is a week for giving the confession of tongue, heart and mind “that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
At the start of Holy Week we need to know clearly that Jesus Christ came to teach not an ideology, philosophy, or even a theology. He came to teach a
WAY! It is a way that was truth and leads to life. He led the way to Jerusalem, to his passion and death – but also to RESURRECTION. This is the way we follow during Holy Week. We go behind and with him. It is his presence and our following which give us courage. DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF ‘DOING’ HOLY WEEK WITHOUT HIM – without following in his presence. I have always had difficulties with the description of martyrs as those who ‘gave their lives for the faith’. They did not do so! They gave their lives for Jesus Christ.
This is what
TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [ISAIAH 50: 4 – 7] tells us to do. We must not be rebellious nor turn backward. Remember that “the Lord God helps me … therefore I have set my face like a flint.”
Now, a flint is a natural material which can be used as a tool or weapon – or as an igniting spark. Holy Week should help us to become tools and weapons for the Lord, to set ourselves alight and become igniting sparks for others.