Sixth Sunday in Lent - Year C - 20th March, 2016

The Paschal Mystery

Today’s Gospel presents us with two processions – the first, into Jerusalem from Bethany on the Sunday. It moved into Jerusalem with Jesus being acclaimed as King. The second, departed from Jerusalem on the following Friday and went outside the walls of the city in what looked like disgrace. A man carrying his cross, crowned with thorns, mocked and scorned and about to be killed. It was far removed from any form of triumph. Was the joyful welcome on Palm Sunday an illusion, a sham?

No the procession on Palm Sunday was not an illusion. The crowds who greeted Jesus did not know how right they were. This was indeed the King of Glory as we shall see on Easter morning, when we celebrate his resurrection, his triumph over sin and death.

As followers of the Lord Jesus, we are called to share in his passion. We will suffer as he suffered, yet in the knowledge that God will not abandon us. He is with us through all our suffering. We are not asked to believe that suffering is good in itself but to see that good can come of it and to recognise in Jesus God's solidarity with all those who suffer.

With the evening celebration of Eucharist on Holy Thursday, Lent ends and the Paschal Triduum begins. In the course of three days we will celebrate the one Paschal Mystery, entering into the event of Jesus' life, suffering, death and victorious resurrection. Each of the days help us focus in on the different aspects of that one Paschal Mystery.

Holy Thursday, which commemorates the Last Supper, also remembers Jesus' command for us all to lovingly serve one another through the practice of the priest washing the feet of parishioners. Through this liturgical celebration we remember the centre of Jesus' life which was His ministry of love and service.

Good Friday directs our attention to the aspect of Christ's suffering and ultimate death which won for us eternal salvation. We come together to reflect on the Passion, to venerate the Cross, to kneel in common prayer and silent meditation.

During the day on Holy Saturday we continue to focus on Jesus' death as we remember Him buried in the tomb, but, come the time of the Easter Vigil in the evening, our attention dramatically shifts to the aspect of Jesus' resurrection and the new life.

The Paschal Triduum is one event that never ends on the Cross, it always ends with the victory of the Resurrection!

To fully enter into the celebration of the Paschal triduum; to seriously consider participating in these liturgies of the Triduum; the effects of celebrating this holiest of times with your parish community can be a truly uplifting spiritual experience.

Fr Kevin O'Shea C.M.