Dear Fathers, Sisters and Brothers,
Greetings of the Season!
The month of April this year begins with the Holy Week – the most sacred week for the Christians as we rightly believe that God has revealed his greatest love for the humanity in his beloved Son, Jesus Christ on the cross (cf. Rom 5:8). While cautioning us not to bypass these days of the week like any other days of the year, the liturgy of the Holy Week, at the same time, invites us to ponder deeply on the paschal mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a prelude to celebrate this unfathomable mystery of faith worthily, we have prepared ourselves and our parishioners with a lot of Lenten programmes which are much relevant to this season. So to speak, some of us went even to the extent of motivating our people to fulfill ‘Each Day, A Lenten Activity’ campaign individually and sometimes, as groups. All these Lenten activities, I believe, did not aim at performing some formalities in the Lenten days or flaunting ourselves in front of others (cf. Mt 6:5, 16). All these should help us renew ourselves and get immersed in the spiritual atmosphere of the Holy Week, especially the three days of the Easter Triduum which are the central days of the liturgical year.
Thanks to Fr. John Benitto, the Superintendent of Schools who gave me the chance along with Fr. Immanuel Raj to give a day of Lenten recollection to the teachers at the Church of Christ the King, Christu Nagar. More than 200 teachers from our diocesan schools actively participated in it. In order to break the ice, right in the beginning of my recollection talks, I raised the question whether the cross of Calvary symbolizes a murder or death of Jesus. There were varied opinions among the teachers: some came forward with scanty references from the Bible to establish that it was a cruel murder well executed stealthily and surreptitiously by the political and religious powers of the time and some others contended that the death of Jesus was the eternal plan of God for our salvation.
Elucidating on both of these, I guided them to understand the last days of Jesus from the perspective of the ministry and life of Jesus and invited them to bear the same spirit of the early Christians who struggled to understand the murder of Jesus that occurred in history on the cross and, at the same time, believed that the death of Jesus on the cross wrought salvation to the world. In the light of the talks, I clarified, so many prophets and martyrs down the centuries in the ecclesial and secular domains have been the victims of religious fundamentalism and political oppression. Today’s India is no exception to this. Denial or restraint of freedom of speech and murder of the human rights activists in our country is to be seen in the array of Jesus and others like him in history. The Holy Week is an opportune time for all of us to meditate not only on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus but also to reflect on our journey of following Jesus closely on his way to Calvary with the hope of resurrection.
In his audience delivered on March 31, 2021 Pope Francis, reflecting on the suffering of humanity, said: “In this Calvary of death, it is Jesus who suffers in his disciples. During his ministry, the Son of God disseminated life by the handful, healing, forgiving, reviving … Now, in the hour of his supreme sacrifice on the cross, he brings to fulfillment the task entrusted to him by the Father: he enters into the abyss of suffering, he enters into these disasters of this world, to redeem and transform. And also to free every one of us from the power of darkness, of pride, of resistance to being loved by God. And this, only God’s love can do this. By his wounds we have been healed (cf. 1Pet 2:24), the apostle Peter says, by his death we have been reborn, all of us.”
May the Holy Week be a time to remember His actions, reflect on His messages and recommit to living as His disciples in the world today!
Wish you all a blessed Easter!