Max Lucado, in his book, And the Angels were Silent, reminds us that each of us has got a donkey that the Lord needs. He writes: Sometimes I get the impression that God wants me to give him something and sometimes I don't give it because I don't know for sure, and then I feel bad because I've missed my chance. Other times I know he wants something but I don't give it because I'm too selfish. And other times, too few times, I hear him and I obey him and feel honored that a gift of mine would be used to carry Jesus to another place. And still other times I wonder if my little deeds today will make a difference in the long haul.
We are towards the end of the Lenten journey. A question to ask ourselves, how is it going? The Church celebrates today as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday and we enter into the Holy Week, and welcome Jesus into our lives, asking him to allow us a share in his suffering, death, and resurrection. In order to receive a new life, there is need of death to happen, the death of our selfishness.
On Holy Thursday there is a Chrism Mass in Cathedral Churches because it is a solemn observance of Christ's institution of the Eucharist and priesthood. In order to make the opportunity for most priests and laity to attend this Mass, the Diocese may celebrate prior to the holy week, as we celebrated in our diocese. At this 'Chrism Mass,' the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination, and Anointing of the Sick.
The Holy Thursday liturgy in the parish communities, celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown. Washing of the feet takes place in this Mass. Food brought for the poor will be brought at the offertory. After the Holy Thursday evening Mass, the Blessed Sacrament carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain 'entombed' until the communion service on Good Friday. And finally, there is the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the people during the night, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives before the betrayal by Judas. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection.
Holy Week can become "holy” for us only if we actively and consciously take part in the liturgies of this week. Holy Thursday institution of Eucharist Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my body broken for you; this is my blood and shed for you” and we see on Good Friday that sacrifice is completed on the cross. He broke himself for us and fed us. This is also the week when we should lighten the burden of Christ’s passion as daily experienced by the needy people through our corporal and spiritual works of mercy; break and share.
As the Church enters into the week before Jesus' Passion and death, Pope Francis writes in his Holy Week message, Jesus is present "in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own: they suffer from slave labor, from family tragedies, from diseases." At the end of every Mass we hear that “Go Forth, the Mass is ended.” We are commissioned and send out to meet those brothers and sisters in need. In other words, to do the washing of the feet in our daily life. Happy and fruitful Holy Week!