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We enter into Holy week, also called Passion Week, in order to enter into the Lord’s last days of life on earth, his final moments of suffering.  He was first praised and accepted by many but then suddenly rejected and unjustly punished.  Jesus prayed to his Father that the cup of suffering would pass but at the end he said “not as I will, but as you will.”  In his darkest hour, all the disciples, his closest friends, left him and fled. Jesus not only felt abandoned by those close to him on earth but he even felt abandoned by his Heavenly Father.  From the Cross he quotes David from Psalm 22 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”  We should remember this because he suffered it all for love of us. 

It is important to know, however, that in these days, we are not just remembering a great historical event that saved us from hell so that our souls can obtain heaven, but we enter, through the liturgy, into a great mystery, the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ – his life, death, and eventually his Resurrection.  All of this happened once nearly 2000 years ago and it is good to remember them, but the liturgies help us to experience even now the saving grace of Christ’s Passion.  As we enter into this grace and fully and actively participate in it, it changes us - it makes us holy.  So it is us who welcomes Jesus with palms in hand and great enthusiasm, but then within a short time it us who are denying him, abandoning him, and crying out for his crucifixion.  That is what our sins do even now to the Body of Christ.  But Jesus suffers for us to give the grace to make us holy.  And so as we enter into this saving mystery in these days it truly becomes a Holy Week. 

Remember, the liturgy is God’s work of grace on us, and it is our response of worship to God.  Through the liturgies this Holy Week, we enter into God’s amazing grace, into his justice which condemns sin and into his mercy which forgives it.  Christ’s Passion makes this possible.  Christ is still offering his life now for the salvation of the world.  He is still experiencing the passion of being initially praised and accepted but then being ignored and rejected. He still is offering the greatest gift to his friends, his body and blood through the Holy Eucharist, and he is still experiencing betrayal from them that leads to his suffering and crucifixion.  Yes, Christ is Risen and in Heaven but through his spirit he is still on earth, suffering with the Church until she dies and rises again. So when we feel hurt by others Christ is close to us. All of us have experienced this. We may at times have even felt abandoned by God. In these moments we share in Christ’s sufferings and he shares in ours.  Saint Padre Pio once had a vision of Christ suffering and asked him, “Jesus, why are you in such agony?”  And Jesus replied, “I will suffer until the end of the world.”  Jesus is still with us.  He is still working to save us.  He still takes on our burdens and still takes away the sins of the world.  So I encourage you to take part in all the liturgies this week if possible: Holy Thursday, at the Mass of the Lords Supper, Following him on the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, and after keeping vigil by his tomb on Holy Saturday, rejoicing in his Resurrection at the Easter Vigil.

Lent has helped us prepare for these days. It has been a penitential season for us.  A time of repentance of sins.  A time to seek forgiveness and to offer forgiveness as the Lord has shown us.  Many of you, hopefully, have gone to confession. If not there is still time.  There is an ocean of mercy being poured out from Heaven, from the Heart of Jesus, upon us during these holy days, if we receive it.  God wants to forgive us. He wants us to forgive one another.  To say we are sorry.  That is what penance is: To say you are sorry and then show it through your actions.  These past several weeks have been a penitential time for our Archbishop Wilton Gregory. He admitted to making a mistake in buying a mansion and now he has said he is sorry and has plans to sell it. It is a great sign for us in this season of Lent, a time to face our faults with humble repentance.  We all make mistakes.  We all sin against God and one another. If we fail to ask forgiveness, we cause Christ and his Church to suffer.  As your pastor I want to ask your forgiveness for all the mistakes I have made, for anything I have done to offend anyone, for any shortcomings.  I pray that this Holy Week will make me holier so that I can serve you better.  I pray that it is a time where we all realize more what Christ did for us and is still doing for us so that we can’t help but to humbly ask forgiveness for causing him to suffer.  And that we may extend that forgiveness to one another.  May God bless you in this Holy Week.

Father Timothy Gallagher

4-11-2014

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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