Sunday, March 24, 2013

Holy Week: A Time of Change

(Palm Sunday 2013 (C): This homily was given on March 24, 2013 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14-23:56.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Palm Sunday 2013]


The very first Holy Week was a period of time when changes took place in many different people: some of the changes were good, and some of them were not-so-good.

One of the most disturbing changes in the not-so-good category took place in the hearts and souls of certain residents of Jerusalem.  Think about it: Some of the same men and women who were hailing Jesus as the Messiah on Palm Sunday were screaming for his blood on Good Friday!

The changing tide of public opinion: one day you’re the greatest person on earth, the next day you’re “public enemy number one”!

(That’s why we should always try to please God, and not human beings.)

And how about the change in Judas Iscariot?  That was another terrible tragedy of Holy Week!  This man went from being a close, intimate friend of the divine Son of God, to the worst traitor in the history of the world!

Peter also changed for the worse during these few short days, when he denied three times that he even knew our Lord—although, thankfully, he eventually changed back through repentance.

Actually all the apostles changed for the worse, since, as St. Mark tells us, they all abandoned Jesus as soon as our Lord was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. 

But, thanks be to God, many other people changed for the better during the first Holy Week!  The “Good Thief,” for example (who is only mentioned in Luke’s version of the passion), changed radically as he hung next to Jesus on Good Friday.  He made a 180 degree turnaround in his heart, and so he joined our Lord that day in Paradise!

(All of which shows that deathbed conversions can and do happen!  Yes—they might be rare, but they certainly are possible.)

The Roman centurion who stood at the foot of the cross changed for the better: he became a believer—a man of faith—after he saw the way that Jesus died.

Joseph of Arimathea changed in a positive way by becoming an openly-committed disciple of Jesus when he came forth to claim our Lord’s body for burial, having been a secret disciple of Jesus before that.

Even our Blessed Mother underwent a kind of change from Palm Sunday to Good Friday.  She went from being “the rejoicing Mother” of the Messiah as she watched her Son enter Jerusalem in triumph, to “the sorrowful Mother” of the Savior as she stood at the foot of his cross—in the process becoming a role model for us as we struggle to deal with our daily crosses.

I share these thoughts with you today in this brief homily to encourage us all to make some time for the Lord during this Holy Week—because if we do that we also have the opportunity to change for the better!  This Holy Week is like the first one in that sense: it provides an opportunity for us to change our lives in a positive way!  But for that to happen, we need to enter into it by our active participation. 

Let me conclude now by sharing with you this week’s schedule of events here at St. Pius.  When you go home, I highly encourage you to put at least some of these events on your calendars:

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we will have morning Mass as usual at 7am; on Thursday, Friday and Saturday we will have morning prayer at the normal Mass times.  The Easter Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening at 7pm, followed by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the church hall until 11pm (a time for us to remember the Lord’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane).  On Friday we will have Stations of the Cross twice: once outside at noon (specifically designed for young people and families); then, at 3pm, here in church.  The celebration of the Lord’s Passion will take place on Friday evening at 7; and the first Mass of Easter—the glorious celebration of the Easter Vigil—will be held at 7:30pm on Saturday night. 

Please note: there will be no 5pm Mass next Saturday!  The normal time for our vigil Mass is changed (as hopefully we will be—for the better!—when this Holy Week is over).