Palm Sunday: Entering into our salvation with Christ

Today, the final stage of our journey begins as we enter Jerusalem with Jesus Christ. The people cheer and welcome Him, but behind the scene the plotting already begins…

It was two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread, and the chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by some trick and have him put to death. For they said, ‘It must not be during the festivities, or there will be a disturbance among the people.’
He was at Bethany in the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a virulent skin-disease; he was at table when a woman came in with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the ointment on his head.
Some who were there said to one another indignantly, ‘Why this waste of ointment? Ointment like this could have been sold for over three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor’; and they were angry with her.
But Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. Why are you upsetting her? What she has done for me is a good work. You have the poor with you always, and you can be kind to them whenever you wish, but you will not always have me. She has done what she could: she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. In truth I tell you, wherever throughout all the world the gospel is proclaimed, what she has done will be told as well, in remembrance of her.’

Mark 14: 1-9

Our celebration of today is twofold: on the one hand we are happy because Christ is among us. We honour Him like the woman, who are may or not have been St. Mary Magdalene, with the costly oil. And it is good that we do so. If we do not honour Christ, our good works for the poor are empty, because He is the poor man, the hungry man, the sick man. Just like faith without good works is just empty words, so good works without faith are just empty actions.

But in the meantime, the events of the coming week are also present. The authorities are plotting to have Christ arrested, but quietly, so as not to disturb the festivities and the people. There is little doubt that Jesus knows full well that they are doing so. He knows why He is in Jerusalem. His anointing is a preparation for His sacrifice. The sacrifice is made pleasant before God. Jesus is honoured and through Him, His Father also.

So the Passion begins…

Art credit: Speculum humanae salvationis of Colgone, ca. 1450


The tools of our salvation, the Arma Christi

As displayed in the Cathedral of Saints Joseph and Martin, Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden, the tools which were used for Christ’s sacrifice and our salvation.

Today, these remind of the reason for our Holy Week celebrations, the ultimate gift of self that Christ made to save us from death.

Via Lucis, introduction to a devotion

In the final days of Lent, and especially on Good Friday, we walked and prayed the Via Crucis, the Stations of the Cross. I have written about that earlier. Today I came across an interesting counterpoint to that: the Via Lucis, the Way of the Light. It is a devotion recognised by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and consist, like the Via Crucis, of fourteen stations. These stations focus on fourteen specific events in the time between the Resurrection of the Lord and His Ascension into Heaven. 

The aforementioned Congregation has this to say about it: 

For centuries the Via Crucis involved the faithful in the first moment of the Easter event, namely the Passion, and helped to fixed its most important aspects in their consciousness. Analogously, the Via Lucis, when celebrated in fidelity to the Gospel text, can effectively convey a living understanding to the faithful of the second moment of the Pascal event, namely the Lord’s Resurrection. 

The Via Lucis  is potentially an excellent pedagogy of the faith, since “per crucem ad lucem.” Using the metaphor of a journey, the Via Lucis moves from the experience of suffering, which in God’s plan is part of life, to the hope of arriving at man’s true end: liberation, joy, and peace, which are essentially paschal values. 

The Via Lucis is a potential stimulus for the restoration of a “culture of life” which is open to the hope and certitude offered by faith, in a society often characterized by a “culture of death”, despair, and nihilism. 

I came across the Via Lucis in the blog of Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa. He discusses one or two stations every day, starting with his blog post of 5 April. The entire Via Lucis can be found here in English. 

'The Incredulity of Saint Thomas' by Michelangelo Caravaggio (1601-02), depicting the eighth station of the Via Lucis