We are coming to the end of Lent and Holy Week is near. Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday traditionally marks the beginning of Holy Week. The Church invites us to walk with Jesus in His passion, death and Resurrection. It is one of the most sacred times of the whole year for us, Christians. During Holy Week, we have one more chance to draw ourselves nearer to Jesus and be prepared to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The Holy Week liturgy invites us to reflect on how Jesus was abandoned, denied, arrested, cruelly crucified and died on the cross. Jesus’ humiliating death brought new life to the world. We will experience how evil was defeated and witness how humility wins in the end. To fully experience the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection in a meaningful way, we must not simply experience these events as an idea or story, but instead believe that they are the core of our faith in Christ, inviting us to encounter and witness Him.
What’s so important about Holy Week? Jesus was God, He did not claim equality with God but emptied Himself, became human – one of us (Phil 2: 5-11). He was fully human and at the same time, totally God. As a man, he was faithful and obedient to his Father. He was not forced to take this journey to Calvary, rather he chose it willingly. He continued to be obedient, even to the point of death. His focus was on the steadfastness of His love for God and for His people. Jesus did it as an act of love.
Let our journey through Holy Week bring new life, new courage and new hope in each of us and in our families and our community. Encounter Jesus everyday, as he walks beside us.
The Holy Father, Pope Francis has released an Apostolic Exhortation entitled “Christus Vivit” – CHRIST IS ALIVE, on 25 March 2019 – for our young people. As we celebrate World Youth Day this Palm Sunday, I would like to bring to our young people’s attention, the essence from the above document: youth ministry, faith and vocation discernment.
In this document (composed of nine chapters, divided into 299 paragraphs) the Holy Father encourages the youth not to abandon the Church. In the midst of all these sexual abuse scandals, which have been so disheartening, he reminds the young people to stand beside the Church because “Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world.” He wants them to be alive since Christ is alive!
The Holy Father recognises that our young people feel the presence of the Church as “a nuisance and even an irritant” because of sexual and financial scandals, and that the priests and bishops are not sensitive to them. As a commitment to their personal vocation, the Holy Father encourages them “to discern their pathway”, “to grow in holiness”, “to make an effort to grow spiritually” and “to seek righteousness, faith, love and peace, (2 Tim. 2:22).”He also warns them on the use of modern technology which can lead them to isolation, selfishness, lack of communitarian aspects and expose them to the worst evils. Instead, he encourages them to pray in silence – discern and listen to God. Finally, Pope Francis wishes that young people “keep running the race” as the Church “needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith.”
I ask that the young people of the Church of St. Joseph, commit to your role as youth ministers – for the present and the future of the Catholic Church. Build bridges of friendship and mutual respect with one another in unique ways. Find your faith and lead our Church to new life! God bless.
HAVE A SOLEMN AND PRAYERFUL WEEK
Rev. Fr. George P.