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Thu, June 04, 2020

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Holy Week 2020

Use this extraordinary Holy Week to go deeper into God’s goodness and truth
By Fr Vincent Toal
 
We have arrived at Holy Week, the culmination of the Lenten journey.
 
This is no ordinary week in what we perceive as extraordinary, unprecedented times.
 
Despite the isolation of lockdown, we are still encouraged to come out of ourselves and enter into the great mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.
 
We are invited, in these days, to seek recollection and prayer, so as to draw more deeply from the source, the fount of grace.
 
Use this time to go deeper into the truth of God’s redeeming love – His sacrifice unto death, lifted up on the cross; descent into hell and rising to new life – His victory over sin and death.
 
Easter is the great festival of life, rebirth by baptism, the triumph of hope over fear, light over darkness, love over hate.
 
Rather than bemoaning our restricted circumstances, this is an opportunity to strip back the veil and ask searching questions about how we live our Baptism, our call to be disciples of Jesus.
 
I will celebrate the Holy Week liturgies with the Carmelite Sisters who are no strangers to lockdown – only they call it ‘enclosure’. Over these weeks, we are being encouraged to become creative contemplatives, putting the brakes on the frenetic busyness of life, taking time to notice and care for all that surrounds us. Be assured that the nuns hold everyone – especially the most vulnerable and lonely – in their prayers.
 
Lent is the time to repent – to think again about our life, our ongoing encounter with God, the obstacles we place in the path and the sincerity of our commitment to overcome them.
 
If we haven’t woken up to that imperative this Lent of 2020, then what will it take to shake off the lethargy, the half-hearted, self-satisfied attitude and secularist mindset.
 
When you read or listen to the Passion accounts – Matthew on Palm Sunday, John on Good Friday – take note of the characters who accompany Jesus on his way to the cross. By and large, they are weak, all tainted by sin – betrayal, denial of truth, cowardice, greed, scapegoating, corruption, false witness, despair, pride, self-interest.
These are precisely the vices which wrong-headed, ‘forward-thinking’ commentators celebrate and applaud – and they want us to get back to ‘business as usual’, as soon as possible. Meanwhile, they pounce on the coronavirus confusion to peddle their elitist agenda, like ‘healthcare rationing’ – euthanasia by the backdoor. The devil does indeed make work for idle hands.
 
At the Last Supper, Jesus instructs his disciples in every age to “do this in memory of me” – offer sacrifice out of love. Washing the disciples’ feet, he invites us to service of one another. No greater love a man can have than to lay down his life for his friends.
 
Amid the darkness of the Covid-19 pandemic, people have risen to the challenge – overcoming fear, to reach out in love for their neighbour. Society has been challenged to reassess priorities, to value solidarity over selfishness, to champion care over the blind pursuit of profit, stack the shelves with generosity rather than stripping them through greed.
 
Easter heralds a glorious new dawn. The trumpet of salvation acclaims the risen Christ – gloom and darkness are dispelled.
 
The sanctifying power of Easter scatters wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters harmony and brings down the mighty.
 
Rejoice! Exult!