As I sit in my home waiting to attend Easter vigil where my dear friend is entering the church tonight, I am having a difficult time holding back that word. You know the one. It’s the exclamation of jubilation!
But there is good reason that we withhold exclaiming our joy prior to Easter. Joy is not with us yet.
Holy week began with an exciting Palm Sunday where we welcomed the coming King with the waiving of palms. We sense his presence in our midst, and cannot help but be joyful…excited!
But then when Thursday rolled around, our joy from Sunday became guarded. Truly, on this side of the resurrection, we can understand the beautiful happenings on Holy Thursday. Two of those happenings are reasons to feel joyful. The 1st is the Holy Eucharist. We can only imagine how the disciples finally made the connection from the Bread of Life Discourse in John 6, to this evening where Jesus actually gave them his very body and blood in the form of bread and wine. The light bulbs over their heads must have been glowing enough to light up the room! It finally made sense!
The 2nd thing of importance that night was the institution of the Holy Priesthood. As Jesus washed their feet, commissioning them to become servants to each other, they became Christ to all of us, commissioned to perform the duties Christ had for them to do in his absence for the emerging church. It would be their responsibility to protect the faith and doctrines under the Guide of Saint Peter and all subsequent Pope’s. They would form the very 1st Magisterium, with their 1st Council in Jerusalem to settle the issue of Circumcision for Gentiles.
All of this was to come to pass, but that night their hearts were also heavy. They knew someone among them was a traitor and would betray Jesus.
And so we too felt the ominous shadow on Holy Thursday…just days after jubilation the previous Sunday.
Then as we took part as Catholics in Good Friday services, we remembered the horrific enduring of a torturous death by our Lord and Savior. For many of us as we venerated the Holy Cross during Good Friday, the tears flowed throughout those moments. We were brought back to the shame Christ endured, when in actuality we are shamed for our sin. It was our sin he died for and it became abundantly clear yesterday. Each wound from the crown of thorns, each rip upon his back at the scourging, each blow from the guards…and each nail that tore through his flesh was not because of the Jews. Not because of Pilate. Not even because of Judas. It was because of our sin. And so Good Friday laid heavy upon our hearts.
Then as today dawned, and some were preparing for an Easter feast tomorrow, we are still in mourning. Our Lord died and was buried and he is not here. It’s a feeling of emptiness to think that Christ departed the world…even though it was only until Sunday morning.
And all through our time of waiting during this season, the need for Alleluia is most evident today. If we are honest with ourselves, we desperately need Christ and we desperately need to joyfully shout our praise to him. But not today. He is gone.
But do not let your hearts be troubled today. Your Lord soon comes! He is preparing to emerge alive from the grave….. Your Savior comes!
So as you celebrate on Sunday, you can let your Alleluia resound to the heavens! In fact….you need to release that joy with all your heart. Amen!