Main Site Navigation
March 11March 11
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do’ ” (Lk 23:34).
As we walked with Jesus on the road to Calvary on Palm Sunday, he shared the above words in the Gospel of Luke. As part of the crowd persecuting Jesus during the liturgy, that phrase was spoken for us.
A few verses later in the same reading, one of the thieves hanging next to our Lord, understanding that Jesus had done nothing wrong and was being unjustly punished, asked: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). Like the thief, we are sinners who must seek mercy and forgiveness for our wrongdoings. Jesus’ response is meant for us, too, as we walk our journey of faith, not only on Palm Sunday, but each day.
And like the thief, we hope and pray, when we leave this Earth, we hear Jesus say to us, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43).
We mark Good Friday by listening to the evangelist John’s account of the Lord’s Passion and death, re-living Peter denying Jesus, seeing our Lord unjustly persecuted, and watching him die a horrible, senseless death as a crowd watches. And we pray fervently we do not follow Peter’s example, because our faith tells us to have the courage to stand up against injustices. And it implores us to see Jesus in others and be Jesus for others—even our enemies.
On Holy Saturday, we are encouraged to attend the Easter Vigil, which begins at dusk. It is also at the Vigil that catechumens are received into the full communion of the Church by baptism, being confirmed and receiving Communion for the first time.
In Luke’s Gospel proclaimed at the Vigil, we are with the women of Galilee, who come to the tomb with spices to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. They find it empty and are told by two angels that he has risen from the dead. They return and tell the Apostles what they have seen and learned. As witnesses of faith, on Easter and beyond we must proclaim Jesus is alive, eager to work through us for humanity.
In this short time frame, we go from the darkest day in humanity—Christ’s Passion and death—to a time when the “light of the world” illumines all darkness by his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Sadly, many in our world today continue to be enveloped by darkness. We need only look at the ongoing unjust invasion of Ukraine by Russia, those still facing challenges brought on by COVID and our brothers and sisters around the globe being afflicted by human trafficking, hunger, homelessness and countless other heart-rending situations who desperately need Easter’s light to shine on them.
We again pray for peace where there is war, for sustenance where there is hunger, for shelter where there is no place for people to live and for Christ’s light to shine on all those facing such untenable circumstances.
As we mark the Passion, death and resurrection of our Lord this weekend, we would do well to remember Pope Francis’ blessing urbi et orbi (“the city and the world”) shared on Easter 2017:
In every age, the Risen Shepherd tirelessly seeks us, his brothers and sisters, wandering in the deserts of this world. With the marks of the Passion—the wounds of his merciful love—he draws us to follow him on his way, the way of life. Today too, he places upon his shoulders so many of our brothers and sisters crushed by evil in all its varied forms.
The Risen Shepherd goes in search of all those lost in the labyrinths of loneliness and marginalization. He comes to meet them through our brothers and sisters who treat them with respect and kindness, and help them to hear his voice, an unforgettable voice, a voice calling them back to friendship with God.
He takes upon himself all those victimized by old and new forms of slavery, inhuman labor, illegal trafficking, exploitation and discrimination, and grave forms of addiction.…
The Risen Shepherd walks beside all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes.…
In the complex and often dramatic situations of today’s world, may the Risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace.
In the midst of today’s world filled with chaos and heartache, we must remember we are an Easter people, where our faith in Jesus crucified and risen is imitated each day.
And may our words and actions, done with love, confirm to all: Christ has risen. He is risen indeed.