March 28 – Palm Sunday
Unlike Holy Week and Easter last year when the Churches were closed and livestreaming was the only option, this year we are able to have a limited number of people present to celebrate the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter. The Diocese of Joliet sent a memo on March 4, 2021 to all parishes stating that despite the increase in the number of people being vaccinated and relaxation of restrictions in some Dioceses and businesses that for now, parishes are directed to hold to the current requirements that have been in effect. SO, IF YOU WANT TO ATTEND IN PERSON ANY OF THE HOLY WEEK SERVICES AND/OR MASS ON EASTER SUNDAY, YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER ON THE PARISH WEBSITE OR CALL THE PARISH BY MONDAY, MARCH 29. Many of the services and Easter Sunday Masses will still be livestreamed. Let’s all pray that a return to “normal” will not be far off!
Today we begin Holy Week. Twice we will hear the account of the passion of Jesus. In today’s gospel from Mark, and on Good Friday from the gospel of John. In these readings we focus a lot of our attention, and rightly so, on the suffering of Jesus and all he endured out of love for us, to save us. I also challenge us with another perspective regarding the passion accounts of Jesus. Among all the cruel and violent persons we hear about in Christ’s suffering last hours, it is easy to overlook those who were kind. At Bethany, Simon the leper offers him hospitality, and a nameless to us woman, with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil anoints Jesus. Since Jesus will soon be executed as a criminal, with the possibility of no Jewish funeral rite or burial place, this was a tender moment of deep meaning. She put herself in danger to honor him and his sacrifice. In Jerusalem there was Simon of Cyrene who helped carry his cross, and Joseph of Arimathea who courageously asked Pilate for the body of Jesus and laid him in a new tomb. All of these people, and perhaps more whom we do not know, were glimpses of light in a day of darkness. They were peace amidst the conflict. Joy amidst the sorrow. Celebration in the midst of tragedy. With this in mind, we are challenged this week to be in solidarity with someone who is suffering. Discipleship requires the way of solidarity. Jesus emptied himself. Jesus sacrificed. Jesus gives himself completely for all of us. What sacrifices might God be asking of us to better live in solidarity with those who suffer across the globe and in our local community? Solidarity is the God-given ability to love others who are different from us and to see them as our brother or sisters. Solidarity compels us to work for justice, make sacrifices for the common good, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Pope Francis writes: “This word solidarity runs the risk of being deleted from the dictionary because it is a word that bothers us; it bother us. Why? Because it requires you to look at another and give yourself to another with love.” This week, be one of the named or unnamed characters in the passion narrative who showed kindness to Jesus!
Have a Blessed Holy Week!