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With Eyes Fixed Squarely On Calvary


”We can’t let Holy Week be just a kind of commemoration. It means contemplating the mystery of Jesus Christ as something which continues to work in our souls.” ~ Saint Josemaria Escriva

As we embark on Holy Week, the carefully chosen Scripture Passages begin to piece together the circumstances and events that would ultimately lead to our Lord’s Passion. In fact it was during Saturday’s Gospel (John 11:45-56) that we encountered the bloodless and calculating Caiaphas, who would callously theorize “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” Of course his statement does capture the essence of Jesus’ mission on Earth; one man would die so that many could have life.

Today’s Gospel (John 12:1-11) strikes an equally ominous note as Scripture for the first time begins to shed some light on the depravity of Judas Iscariot, an alleged friend of Jesus and one of the Twelve, as he chides Mary of Bethany for pouring out a bottle of expensive perfumes oil on Jesus’ well trodden feet, drying them with her hair

In sanctimonious fashion, Judas bemoans the fact that the money spent on this aromatic oil could have instead gone towards providing for the poor. But today’s passage reveals that Judas was skimming from these funds, lining his pockets with the money that was meant for the poor that he purported to care about

Tomorrow Jesus will formally announce the betrayal of one of the Twelve and the denial of Peter. Wednesday Judas will indeed fulfill this tragic prophecy. Thursday we will celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and then Friday of course will signal the beginning of the Triduum by way of that most solemn of days, Good Friday The rituals of Holy Week, which have evolved over the years, help us to enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ.

“Dear friends in Christ, for five weeks of Lent we have been preparing, by works of charity and self-sacrifice, for the celebration of our Lord’s paschal mystery. United with him in his suffering on the cross, may we share his resurrection and new life.” These are the words which ushered in the Palm Sunday Mass. They serve as the crescendo of a Lenten Season that now segues into Holy Week. During Holy Week, we relive the last days and waning moments of Jesus Christ’s remarkable earthly life. We accompany Him during his suffering, death and resurrection, complete with the gamut of emotions that such a journey entails. We move from profound sorrow to immense joy, with the hope of deepening His presence in our lives and our trust in his promise of eternal life in the Heavenly Kingdom.

I challenge you to take a page from Mary of Bethany’s playbook this week and do something extravagant. Forgive a bitter enemy. Better yet, attend Mass one morning and offer up Holy Communion for him or her. Make an eye-popping donation to a favorite local charity. But two dozen plush Easter Bunnies and bring them to a cancer hospital for children.

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And remember to keep your eyes fixed squarely on Calvary. For in the words of the great Francis de Sales, “Mount Calvary is the academy of love.”

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