by Fr. Joseph A. Galdon, SJ
THE CELEBRATION OF HOLY WEEK IS great! It is really joy, for the message of Holy Week is how to be holy and happy. Holy Week reminds us to pray, to make sacrifices and be unselfish in love for God and all our brothers and sisters.
Holy Week is really the greatest week each year because it is essentially the week of Jesus’ love for us. Our students and teachers say that Holy Week is the educational seminar of Jesus on love for His apostles and for us. He said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. Follow me! My words and my works are healing, praying and helping others. If you love me, you will keep my commandments and do what I taught you. If anyone loves me, he will keep my words and imitate my works. If you love me, I will give you peace. My peace I will give you—the peace of love and spirituality, and not just the physical peace of this world.”
Holy Week is the week of love and peace. That is why it is a week of joy.
Holy Thursday love
On Holy Thursday, at the Last Supper with His apostles before He died, Jesus taught us all about love. Love, of course, is the greatest source of happiness and joy. Jesus’ first lesson of love was humility when He washed the feet of the apostles.
He said to them: “Do you understand what I have done to you? If I have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. You should love and serve each other as I love and serve you.”
Jesus also told them: “I am the vine and you are the branches and the leaves of the vine. Make your home in me, just as I have made my home in you in the vine. Whoever remains in me bears a lot of fruit, but whoever does not remain in me withers like a leaf that falls from the tree and is burned in the fire of fallen leaves. I have told you this that my joy may be in you. Love one another as I have loved you!”
At the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, Jesus also gave the apostles and us the great gift of His love. He gave them and us His body and blood in the Eucharist. In the bread and wine He gave them, He gave us Himself which is the greatest gift of love and joy. Then He went out to Gethsemane to pray and give Himself to God and to die on the cross for the love of us.
Good Friday love
The cross on Good Friday is sadness and pain, for Jesus was tortured and put to death by many of His sons. But the cross is also joy because Jesus died for us—to forgive us all our sins.
The cross is God’s love for us, and His love for us is the greatest source of joy in our lives. The prayer of St. Francis de Sales says that “the everlasting God has, in His wisdom, foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to us as a gift from His inmost heart. The cross He gives us is not really bad. He has blessed it with His holy name—the cross of God!—and anointed it with His grace for us. The cross is His consolation and joy for us, for He sends the cross to us from heaven and from His love. The cross is a special greeting of love from God to us, and His mercy for us.”
Sister Anselm always told us that Jesus is dying on the cross. She said that Jesus is love and we ought to run to the cross and love Jesus in all our lives! A spiritual kwento that Sister Anselm would have liked also says: “I have a cross in my pocket. I carry it in my pocket. It is a reminder for me that I am a Christian—a follower of Christ—no matter where I may be. This little cross in my pocket is not magic, nor is it a good luck charm. It isn’t meant to protect me from every physical harm and problem.
It is simply an understanding between my Saviour and me. When I put my hand in my pocket to bring out a coin or a key, the cross is there to remind me of the love Jesus gave to me. It reminds me, too, to be thankful for my blessings day by day, and to try to serve Him better in all that I do each day. The cross in my pocket is also a daily reminder of the peace and love I ought to share with all my brothers and sisters. So I carry a cross in my pocket reminding me that Jesus gave me love on the cross and is the Lord of my life.”
Those stories are good reminders of the love and joy of the cross during Holy Week.
The Resurrection on Easter Sunday is the joy of the love of Christ. Because He loved us, He has risen from the dead. Jesus gave us a share in His risen life when He rose from the dead. On Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to His mother Mary, to Mary Magdalen, His women friends, and the Apostles.
John says they were all filled with joy when they saw the risen Lord. We are also filled with joy on Easter Sunday when we see the risen Lord in our minds and hearts. Our cultural symbols of Easter Sunday are the day of Spring, the Easter Eggs, the Easter Rabbit and the Easter Lily. They are all symbols of new life, love and joy. These symbols teach us that we must have new lives, and practice love as Jesus taught us at the Last Supper.
We must make sacrifices for love and joy as Jesus did on the cross on Good Friday. Then we will rise to a new life of holiness and joy as Jesus did when He rose from the dead on Easter morning. St. Agustine said that we are Easter men and women, and Alleluia, the song of joy and love, ought to be our song. Joy be with you in Holy Week The Holy Week message is a message of love and joy because God loves us and Jesus died for us and was risen from the dead for us. Holy Week reminds us that Jesus is our gracious God, our healing God, our reconciling God, and our redeeming God.
He gives us lots of grace, He heals our problems, He forgives our sins, and He brings us back to holiness. That is why we ought to rejoice, especially during Holy Week which is a reminder of Christ’s love for us. Holy Week tells us: “Joy be with you! Christ be with you! Listen to and follow the word of God! What is very important for us is to remind ourselves that “People of God” are really “People of Love and Joy.” God gives us His love in Jesus and He gives us peace and joy, especially during the Holy Week each year. Let us be happy and pray and improve our holiness this Holy Week because Jesus gave us His love. Thank you, Lord!