We have been through a lot in the last one year. As the human race, as a global community, as the people of God, we have been ground in the mill. Yes, today we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the memories and the experience of the pandemic is still very fresh in our minds. Many of us are still grieving. Many of us are still hurting. Many of us are still enduring losses. Many of us still need help. The toll that the pandemic has taken of our physical, mental, emotional, fiscal, and spiritual health is simply incalculable. And then, there is our humanity. Our pride, our dignity, our self-reliance, our self-sufficiency have also taken a hit. Indeed, we have been through a lot the last one year.
Today is Palm Sunday. Today we begin Holy Week. In this coming week we will come face to face with the passion and death of Jesus. And perhaps, we will also come face-to-face with all that we have endured over the last year. But at the end of Holy week, we will also come face-to-face with the resurrection. And perhaps, we are already visioning the possibilities of a post-vaccinated, post-pandemic world. Not all is lost. We are not beyond recovery. Redemption is still at hand.
Indeed, redemption is at hand! Easter is on the horizon! However, just like the pandemic, as we see the signs of hope, how easy it would be for us to throw all caution to the wind and begin to prematurely celebrate. But that would only set us back.
The road to Easter is through the way of the cross. Before Christ was glorified, “he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him” (Phil 2: 7-9). To get to Easter we must traverse with Jesus through Holy Thursday – the day on which he taught us the meaning of servanthood by washing each other’s feet and breaking ourselves for others. On Good Friday – the day on which he laid down his life in love for others, we must walk with Jesus as he carries his cross. We must wait patiently outside the tomb on Holy Saturday– the day on which Jesus entered the darkness of the tomb to raise us to eternity. In other words, to share in the resurrection of Jesus, we must become servants, take up our cross, and embrace the limits of our humanity. There simply is no other way.
Let us, then, enter Holy Week willingly with Jesus. We do so remembering that just as at the end of a pandemic lies hope and healing, at the end Holy Week lies the joy of Easter resurrection. I hope that the next time I see you, it will not be at Easter. Together let us embrace the journey of the Lord who leads us from darkness to light, from despair to hope, from death to life. Let us embrace the journey and the destiny.