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Insiders & Outsiders: A Reflection for Holy Week

March 25, 2013

Holy Week Reflection
By Fr. Mike DeTemple, O.P., University Chaplain
Luke 19:28-40; 22:14-23:56 – Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem and the Passion

Every year, Holy Week begins with the double proclamation of Jesus’ joyful entry into Jerusalem, coupled with one of the Gospel narratives which recount the story of his Passion and death. It is difficult to comprehend such contrasting events, taking place as they do within such a short span of time. At the beginning of the week, Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem with jubilation and five days later he is publicly executed as a criminal.

This week is the high point of the Church’s liturgical year: a time set aside for prayer and reflection – to think about all that happened during the final days of Jesus’ life on earth. We do this – we remember and relive these events – so that we can draw closer to the Lord; grow in our love for him and in our desire to serve him. There is much to meditate upon: a conspiracy among religious leaders; the agony he experienced in the face of suffering and death and the perfect prayer he uttered there: “thy will be done;” the false accusations, perjury and injustice at his trial; the betrayal, denial and abandonment he experienced from his closest friends; the faithfulness of the women who followed him; his torture and abuse at the hands of civil authorities; his sense of abandonment on the cross; his harrowing death; his burial in a borrowed tomb.

Throughout this narrative there are striking contrasts:
• Between the humility, courage and compassion of Jesus and the arrogance, cowardice and hatred of those who killed him.
• Between Jesus who prays, forgives and speaks the truth and those who curse, lie and condemn.
• Between Jesus who is betrayed, deserted and denied by his closest friends and those who band together to destroy him.
• Between the powerful Insiders who focused upon themselves and their selfish ends and the humble Outsiders: his mother, the other women at the cross, the Beloved Disciple, Simon of Cyrene, the Good Thief and Joseph of Arimathea, who focused on Jesus, who know who is and who are faithful to him to the end.

"Christ at Table / Christ of the Soup Kitchen" by Fritz Eichenberg

“Christ at Table / Christ of the Soup Kitchen” by Fritz Eichenberg

All of this is brought to the Cross, where heaven is joined to earth and where all the evil within us is forgiven and redeemed; to the Cross, a scandal to the Insiders, but salvation to the Outsiders; to the Cross, the moment when Jesus was most powerless and yet saved the world.

Throughout it all Jesus gives us an example to follow. This week we are invited to put on the mind of Christ as St. Paul describes it: “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at; rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in human likeness . . . he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross!”

He poured out his life and humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, for us and for our salvation. As we reflect upon his passion and death, we may be moved by God’s grace to grow in humility and obedience in our relationship with God; to pray for our enemies; to embrace our powerlessness, to forgive and to seek forgiveness. We may be inspired to respond more fully and with gratitude for all that Jesus has done for us and to imitate his self-giving, sacrificial love.

Even in his suffering and death, Jesus has shown us how to respond to life with faith and love. He was an Outsider who became our Servant, even unto death. This week we can join Jesus among the Outsiders, the ones who were faithful to him and loved him to the end. For it is to them that the Kingdom of God belongs.

 

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