April 2, 2021

Pastoral Ministry / Saul Llasca

We are called to follow Jesus’ example of love

Saul LlascaDo you remember Holy Week last year? And Easter? I am certain it was the strangest Easter you have ever faced.

Last year, we also did not have a procession honoring the Blessed Sacrament. There was no veneration of the cross on Good Friday, and no adults receiving the sacraments during the Easter Vigil (baptism, confirmation and Communion). It was undoubtedly a sad Holy Week.

Thank the Lord, Holy Week is different this year. Yes, we still observe the many protocols—limiting the number of people in our churches, social distancing during Mass, all of us wearing masks—but thankfully, we are in church marking Holy Week in 2021.

As Catholics, Holy Week is an integral part of our faith. We celebrate what makes us Christians—the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who freed us from sin and death.

Palm Sunday reminds us that Jesus Christ is our king. We join the people of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago and acclaim Jesus as the king of our hearts, the king of our lives, the king of salvation. This Jesus clarifies that his kingdom is not of this Earth; he is a king who likes to be with sinners and the poor. Jesus exercised his kingship by washing his Apostles’ feet and giving his life on the cross for us. For by his love, he saved us from sin and death.

On Holy Thursday, we celebrate Jesus giving himself to the Apostles and to us in the holy Eucharist. Jesus gives his life because of love for his Church, and by his love, we are saved.

One day at St. Therese of the Infant Jesus Parish in Indianapolis, we were discussing in a religious education class how much Jesus loves us. One of the students noted that “Jesus loves us more than Dad and Mom, and more than we can imagine.” Another student said, “I know how much God loves us.” He stretched out his arms and pointed to Jesus on the cross, with his arms outstretched in love, and added, “See how much God loves us?”

On Good Friday, we join Jesus in his suffering as he carries the cross—our cross—and dies on the hill of Calvary to take away our sins. We call this day “Good Friday” because this is the day when Jesus brought goodness back to us, dying on the cross to free us from sin and death. It is also the day of the cross. Every time you look at it, Jesus is saying to us, “This is how much I love you!”

On Holy Saturday, as Jesus laid in the tomb, a silence covered Jerusalem. We sometimes experience a similar silence in our lives, including a silence brought upon us during the last several months by COVID-19. The silence is not something to be avoided, but is a gift, a chance to hear our Lord. A real conversation occurs when both parties are willing to listen to each other. I like to believe that silence is an opportunity for us to hear what God wants to communicate to us.

Jesus wants to share his glory with us. He wants to give us newness of life.

As Easter approaches, let’s prepare to receive Jesus in the Eucharist; let us make our hearts available to him and our brothers to forgive, forget and feel the presence of God in our lives. Let us be open to the goodness of God, to the freshness of eternal life. Let us be thankful for such an act of love, and let us answer by loving our brothers and sisters as Jesus has loved us.

(Saul Llasca is coordinator of the archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry. E-mail him at SLlacsa@archindy.org.)

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