By Caroline Smith
Followers of Jesus are invited to follow his journey – first into Jerusalem and then to Calvary – Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB told the congregation that gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral for Palm Sunday on 9 April.
The Archbishop said that while getting to know Jesus was an integral part of the Catholic faith all year round, His story held particular significance during Holy Week.
“Perhaps at this time of the year even more so than at any other time, we are invited to fix our eyes very firmly on Jesus,” he said.
“Today we celebrate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. We know that it is also the entry of Jesus into the last week of his earthly life. Our reading of the passion today which will be repeated on Good Friday when we will read the account of the passion from John’s gospel, reminds us of this.
“We can expect to find that the things which are of greatest importance to Jesus will emerge in the accounts of these last days of his life.”
Following Jesus in this final journey allowed the faithful to glimpse into the very depths of God, and the nature of our faith, Archbishop Costelloe added.
“In the words and actions, the encounters and the struggles, the prayers and the silences of Jesus, the mystery of God will be unveiled for us and in discovering a little more deeply who God is we will discover too what we are being invited into,” he said.
“Saint Paul offers us a way into the mystery of this week which lies ahead of us when he speaks of Jesus in his letter to the Philippians. Even though Jesus was divine, Saint Paul tells us, Jesus did not cling to his equality with God.
“Rather he emptied himself, he humbled himself, he made himself vulnerable, he surrendered himself into the hands of others, he gave absolutely everything he had so that others, so that we, might have life. In doing this Jesus has revealed to us the hidden mystery of the very nature of God himself.”
In addition, Jesus’ actions and words during this time also revealed what a human life of integrity, honesty, courage and fidelity might look like, and this might set a challenge for Catholics to consider their own lives, the Archbishop said.
“This is the double challenge of this Holy Week which begins today. As I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus this week, do I dare to believe that God is as Jesus reveals him to be? Can I accept a humble God, a self-emptying God, a vulnerable God, a God in other words of astounding and almost scandalous love?
“And if I can, have I the courage to accept that, made as I am in the image of God, this too is the pathway I have to take if I am to be true to myself and to the God who made me? In my own family life, in my career, in my social circles, in my neighbourhood and in my Church community, what will this mean for me? What is it calling me to? What will need to change?
“It will involve a death of course. A death to selfishness, a death to pride, a death to domination of others.”
It was important to remember, Archbishop Costelloe added, that the journey from Jerusalem to Calvary also led to the empty tomb, to resurrection and to the certainty that life is stronger than death, and love stronger than hate.
“May our faith in the resurrection of Jesus strengthen each one of us to accept those deaths without which we cannot live our lives to the full,” he said.
“May we find the courage to walk in the footsteps of Jesus this week and enter into the joy of his resurrection next Sunday morning.”