Today marks the beginning of Holy Week, a very special time in the liturgical calendar. This is a holy week because it is the week of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the week in which we all were liberated from slavery and guaranteed a place in the family of Jesus. This week begins with Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The people are greeting with “hosannas” which classically means “Save Now.” These are a people that are desperately in need of liberation. Their cry echoes their desperation to be saved. Some of them were very familiar with the history of Jesus. They have heard how this Jesus healed the blind, how he even brought the dead back to life. How he raised his friend Lazarus from the dead and declared himself as “the resurrection and the life.” They were over five million people in town that day to celebrate the Passover and the news had spread widely about this Jesus Christ who even claims that he is the “I Am.” The expectations were high. Not every one was crying “Hosanna” for spiritual reasons. For some, it was a socio-political liberation. Many had tried without success to overthrow the Romans and perhaps this miracle worker called Jesus would do it. Hasn’t that been what all of his message is about? Shortly after his baptism, he declared his mission as that of setting the captives free and declaring the Lord’s year of glory. It was like the people were crying, “we want the year of God’s favor now.”
Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem was suppose to reflect that of a military warrior and a conqueror, yet, Jesus’ entry was peaceful and calm. How disappointed the people were. What has happened to all the hype? The people thought, he is just like one of the previous revolutionaries who did not succeed. They were afraid that this incident would even cause them more problems in the future. Gradually many are beginning to back off. They do not want to identify with failure. They do not want to be accused with Jesus. They have nothing to do with this man. Even the disciples are no longer sure if they made the right decision to follow this man. Jesus knew this and he challenged the disciples to it. Peter swore that he would never leave Jesus. Oh, I am going to always be with you; wherever you go I will go. Even if it means dying, I will die with you. Yes, he and the other apostles could not watch with him even for an hour. The moment Jesus leaves to pray, instead of spending time in prayer supporting him and themselves, they said to themselves “what a heck with this sleepless nights.” They started sleeping. Even when Jesus returns to them the first time and spoke with them, they went back to sleep. Not too long, the news is out that Judas one of his closest allies has sold Jesus. It wasn’t too long after this, Peter, the Prince of Apostles denied Jesus three times.
When we look at this story, we may say, how could they have done this? They lived with him, travelled with him, believed him, and witnessed all the miracles he performed. How is it that they did not get it? The important question today however is for us. How is it that we don’t get it most times? How many times have we sold or denied Jesus Christ? For how much are we selling Jesus Christ? How much do you sell him when you chose a ball game over a Eucharistic celebration? How much do you sell him when you chose watching the television over prayer? How much do you sell him when you chose to dine sumptuously rather than help the poor or give to the church? We deny Jesus Christ when during our vacations, we rather relax in our hotel rooms than going to church on Sunday. We deny Jesus Christ when we do not pray before eating our meals at the restaurant for shame that people will identify us as Christians.
This Holy Week is an opportunity for us to begin a new relationship with Jesus Christ. We may have failed in all of our Lenten promises, but it is not too late for us to recommit to Jesus Christ and offer to share our lives with him. Let us not be like Judas who betrayed him and went away forever, but let us be like Peter who was repentant after denying him and committed himself fully to him. Peter would eventually offer his own life for the gospel of Christ. Let this week be a period of intensive prayer, a mini-retreat for us. Let us watch with Jesus Christ in prayer. If we do, we will be able to resist the power of the devil in our lives and would stand firm in Christ to the end.