As we enter into Holy Week and make our final Easter preparations, I think the spirit of this week presents us with an accurate picture of who we are. The rapidly changing and confusing nature of the events of this week can easily be seen as fitting into our modern world. We've seen stars rise and fall in relatively short amounts of time. We can also see ourselves in the events of this week. Like the Apostles, we cheer for Jesus on Sunday, only to abandon Him on Friday.
On Palm Sunday, it's easy to see ourselves in the crowd, waving palm branches and being exuberant over our belief that real change is about to occur. Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem may have had the festive spirit of a presidential inauguration with scores of supporters lining the street filled to the brim with excitement over the great things that are about to happen. The Jewish people viewed themselves as slaves to the system, meaning that the salvation that they expected Jesus to bring to them only intensified their emotions of hope. Here was the promised Savior who would free them from brutality and oppression.
Yet, like the Apostles, by time we get to the end of the week, we're quick to flee. Like Peter, we don’t know this man. The hopeful anticipation wears off and we're tempted back to our daily routine of sin. Yes, Sunday was a pinnacle, but its promises didn't materialize fast enough, so we're back to sin. We all live this hypocrisy. We all go to Mass on Sunday and experience the peace and serenity that following God's law offers, but when we get out of Mass and back into our lives, it's a real challenge. We have to figure out how to beat this cycle, recognizing that there's no silver bullet.
I think one of the other traps that we fall into is the belief that it's solely up to us to overcome our human weakness and defeat evil in our lives. In a sense, when we believe that it's all on us we fall victim to our pride. Objectively, we can do nothing on our own; it’s our Creator who makes us and sustains us in existence. We aren't pre-determined, rather, we're allowed to make our choices that God respects. Our choices convey a message to God about what our heart truly desires. Instead of having sole responsibility for defeating evil in our lives, it's up to us to start the process. The path to holiness is one part us, two parts Him. God provides the grace, opportunity, and protection, but that grace is only available to us when we're willing to accept it.
When we fail, when we find ourselves, like Peter, weeping over our rejection of God and His love, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is our way back. It's not only how we get back to a state of grace, but how we gain the strength to do better in this fresh start. We have failed, we have failed, we will fail again. The difference between Peter and Judas is that Peter got back up, dusted himself off, and moved forward.
Holy Week is an exciting time as Easter appears on the horizon. As we spend this final week contemplating the mysteries of our faith and the renewed sense of hope that the season of Lent has given us, take time to envision yourself in the events of Holy Week. Celebrate Christ's entry to Jerusalem, be with Him in front of Pilate, follow Him on His journey to Calvary, and find His empty tomb on Easter morning. As you picture yourself living out these events, resolve to be open to the grace that you need in your life to more closely and lovingly follow Christ through His passion, death, and resurrection.