The holiest week of the year is now upon us. Our Lenten journey comes to its culmination as we enter Holy Week. We join ourselves with Jesus during his passion and death and then rejoice on Easter Sunday with the celebration of his resurrection.
As we prepare for Easter Sunday, we should remind ourselves that it was an act of surrender that led to the glories of that day. In common usage, the word “surrender” implies weakness and defeat; we’ve given in to the opposing party and lost.
In the context of Holy Week, we have a different model of “surrender”: the complete surrender of Jesus to God the Father on the Cross. In the Gospel of Luke, we read: “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’; and when he had said this he breathed his last.” (Lk. 23:46)
In the midst of his suffering which he freely embraced, Jesus turned and surrendered himself to God the Father. He had his agony in the garden but came through that with a renewed determination to do the will of his Father and allow himself to be fully received by God the Father.
Holy Week presents an opportunity for us – whatever pains we have, whatever challenges we're experiencing, whatever sufferings we might be enduring -- to join ourselves with Jesus and to say, "Father, I turn myself completely over to you." Just as Jesus suffered on the cross, we can join ourselves there with him and truly receive that same love of the Father.
In moments of suffering, it can be hard to see God’s plan, to find him in the midst of our pain. And yet, Jesus on the Cross can join us now and we can join him by placing ourselves fully into the hands of the Father. When we do that, then stand back and see God’s plans for us unfold beyond what we could have imagined.
Surrendering to God leads to victory with Jesus. God wants to impart to us his consolation and give us our own resurrection moments as we place our confidence in him alone.
Let’s take advantage of these final days of Lent. When we began our Lenten journey, I asked all of us to consider what I call the “plus one challenge” -- to add one more element to your spiritual life, or your spiritual practices during Lent. Whatever you've done thus far, Holy Week is upon us, and I reiterate that challenge.
In addition to our Sunday Masses, I would encourage you to make it to one (or all) of the special Holy Week liturgies, particularly during the Triduum. You might consider going to the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, participating in a Good Friday service, or the Stations of the Cross. If you've never been to an Easter Vigil on Saturday night, make that one of your priorities.
Add something new, different, and additional to your celebration of Holy Week. Renewed by these liturgies, reach out with love to someone in need. Show someone the love of Jesus in a special, unexpected way.
With Jesus, we know that as we surrender ourselves to God the Father, he will renew us, and restore us.
Have a blessed, transformative Holy Week. Together, with Jesus, let us say ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ (Lk 23:46).
Most Reverend Robert J. McClory
Diocese of Gary