Holy Week 2019

This week's reflection is written by
Very Rev. Lewis S. Fiorelli, OSFS

It took me quite a while to let go of the conviction that Easter, not Christmas, was the preeminent event of our Christian faith. For a long time, I clung stubbornly to my fond childhood memories of Christmas: family gatherings, gifts, decorations, special foods and that pervasive atmosphere of good will, joy and peace. I almost forgot: and no school! Christmas, I thought, must be first!

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As a seasoned adult in the “4th quarter of life,” I now see everything very differently. Those happy Christmas memories will always be with me, but I now understand and appreciate as never before the meaning of this most solemn week that we call Holy Week.

I now understand, for instance, why scripture scholars describe our four gospels quite simply and principally as passion narratives-- with long introductions. What happened from the moment Jesus entered Jerusalem that week to that last meal with his disciples to his agony in the garden, arrest, trial, crucifixion and death—the events of that week is the turning point of history.

Through the eyes of resurrection faith, those few days of Holy Week, though dreadful and dark on many levels, reveal the limits to which sacrificial love will go to save the sinner, undoing the selfish deed of the first Adam by the selfless deed of the new Adam.

I would like to recommend a Trinitarian lens through which to gain a very helpful insight into the meaning of Holy Week. In our triune God, there is but one will, one purpose. So Calvary ought not to be understood as the event that changes God’s mind and disposition about us, but the event that fully discloses the extent of God’s saving love for us. As fully human, Jesus, the Godman, unites his human will with the triune God’s saving will for us: “I do always the will of the One that sent me.”

One more helpful insight, this one Salesian. Francis de Sales insists that we must personalize all the mysteries of our faith in order to truly fathom their saving and life-changing significance. He insists, therefore, that we understand Calvary not only as revealing God’s saving love for the human family in general, but for each one of us in particular, “by first and last name.” Jesus suffered and died for me, by name; and he suffered and died for you, by name.

Once that truth moves from the head to the heart, we see absolutely everything differently. And this manner of seeing makes all the difference in how we interact with ourselves, with others and with our world!