Keep Company with the Lord and Witness to your Faith during Holy Week, says Archbishop of Birmingham
Archbishop Bernard Longley has asked Catholics in Birmingham to “keep company with our Lord this Holy Week” and to “witness before your neighbours and friends to your faith in the cross and resurrection of Christ.”
Drawing attention to the evils of human trafficking and to “all those whose lives are restricted by the greed and unscrupulousness of others,” the Archbishop says that The Passion, “makes us all the more aware of the troubled world in which we live.” And that the needs of the world are never “remote from the concerns of our faith or from the heart of the suffering Saviour.”
Archbishop Longley – Reflection for Psalm Sunday
PALM SUNDAY 2014: ST CHAD’S CATHEDRAL
And sadness came over him and great distress…he fell on his face and prayed.
Today’s Procession and Mass of Palm Sunday opens a door for us to enter into the mystery of Holy Week. During this week the Church is asking us not just to be observers overlooking a spectacle but to acknowledge that Christ has already made us participants in the saving events of his death and resurrection because of our baptism. In the liturgy we experience afresh all that he went through for our sake and we are invited to live its impact in our own lives.
Today’s liturgy began with the solemn commemoration of our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. We are moved by the way he was welcomed joyfully into Jerusalem and the hope-filled acclaiming of our Lord as the Son of David and Messiah. For one fleeting moment the people recognise who he is. The irony is that some of these same people will have watched bewildered and confused as Christ was condemned and led away to suffer his terrible death only a few days later. Perhaps some of them would be among the first people to accept the preaching of the Apostles and to be baptised after Pentecost.
Through our baptism we are profoundly affected within the liturgy by what we witness. We accompany our Lord as he willingly comes to Jerusalem to make the final sacrifice. This Holy Week lies at the centre of our lives as Christians because it recalls the events that have already changed each one of us and which have changed the world.
In the Garden of Gethsemane St Matthew’s Gospel tells us that our Lord fell on his face and prayed. Already in this moment of intense prayer our Lord has laid down his life in obedience to the Father. As we accompany our Redeemer in the last few days of his life the Gospel accounts give us a remarkable insight into his own heart and mind. So St Matthew also shows us very vividly the depths of our Lord’s sorrow as he prayed: sadness came over him and great distress.
Our focus this week on the cross and passion of Jesus Christ makes us all the more aware of the troubled world in which we live. We have been very aware over the last few weeks of those who have been exploited in our own country through the evils of human trafficking. The helplessness of our Lord on the cross brings to mind all those whose lives are restricted by of the greed and unscrupulousness of others. These issues are not remote from the concerns of our faith or from the heart of the suffering Saviour.
As we enter into this Holy Week we want to continue what we’ve begun, living each day in solidarity with our suffering Lord. Today I thank the Seminary community from St Mary’s, Oscott for their presence with us at the Cathedral. Please remember them and all the priests of our Diocese, especially as they gather together on Wednesday to celebrate the Mass of the Chrism and to renew their priestly promises and re-commit themselves to serve the Lord and his holy people.
Reflect again for a few moments now on the account of our Lord’s passion. May you grow in strength, keep company with our Lord this Holy Week and witness before your neighbours and friends to your faith in the cross and resurrection of Christ.