Rejoicing and weeping at the same time!
By Msgr. John Wynand Katende
“Either give up Christ or give up your jobs.” Constantine the Great was the first Christian Roman emperor. His father Constantius was a pagan with a soft heart for Christians. When he ascended the throne, he discovered that many Christians held important jobs in the government and in the court. So, he issued an executive order to all those Christians: “Either give up Christ or give up your jobs.”
The great majority of Christians gave up their jobs rather than disowning Christ. The emperor was pleased with the majority who showed the courage of their convictions and gave their jobs back to them saying: “If you will not be true to your God you will not be true to me either.”
Today we join the Palm Sunday crowd in spirit to declare our loyalty to Christ and fidelity to his teachings by actively participating in the Palm Sunday liturgy. As we carry the palm leaves to our homes, we are declaring our choice to accept Jesus as the King and ruler of our lives and our families. Let us express our gratitude to Jesus for redeeming us by his suffering and death, through our reconciliation with God and His Church, repenting of our sins and receiving God’s pardon and forgiveness from Jesus through His Church.
It is on Palm Sunday that welcome Jesus into our lives, asking him to allow us a share in his suffering, death and Resurrection. This is also the time we remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation. That is why the Holy Week liturgy presents us with the actual events of the dying and rising of Jesus.
Proper participation in the Holy Week liturgy will also deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus. This is also the week when we should lighten the burden of Christ’s passion as daily experienced by the hungry, the poor, the sick, the homeless, the lonely and the outcast through our corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
The Greek word “hosiana” originally meant “save us now” (II Samuel 14:4). Nearly 25,000 lambs were sacrificed during the feast of the “Pass Over,” but the lamb which was sacrificed by the High Priest was taken to the Temple in a procession four days before the main feast day. On Palm Sunday, Jesus, the true Paschal Lamb, was also taken to the Temple in a large procession. On Palm Sunday we receive Jesus into our lives as our Lord and Savior and we mourn as his death confronts us with our sin.
Holy Thursday liturgy commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. He instituted the sacraments of Holy Communion and Ordination. We resolve to attend Mass as often as possible.
The liturgy of Good Friday enables us to anticipate the Resurrection “(John 12:32). And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Jesus will lift us up by allowing Him to forgive us our sins, to heal the wounds in us caused by our sins and the sins of others and to transform us more completely into the image and likeness of God.
Holy Saturday is the day when Jesus lay in the tomb. It enables us meditate on his passion and death, and on his descent into hell, and awaiting his resurrection with prayer and fasting. Many churches hold an Easter vigil (watch) service and baptism of adults. We shall be called upon to renew our baptism promises in order to live more fully the Divine life.
Let us celebrate this Easter by giving up those jobs that rob us of Christ the Savior.