Welcoming Jesus

03-28-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Welcome! I am so happy that you are here. These are the words and sentiments expressed in the readings and prayers as we begin this week called Holy Week. Today is Palm Sunday, the day Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem. The welcome turned sour in a matter of five days. Jesus did not enter Jerusalem thinking He had finally reached everybody and that what He came to do was completely understood. In Matthew 20:17-19, Jesus takes His apostles aside and says; “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” We have a pithy saying: “Forewarned is forearmed.” This is not the case for Jesus. Foreknowledge or forewarning did not make Him take up arms or make Him fearful, or cause Him to turn around and just walk away. That is what makes this week Holy Week. While God’s love in Jesus was questioned, attacked, and rejected in Jesus, that love would not be deterred, abandoned, or compromised. Jesus did exactly what needed to be done in the situation He was in at that time in that place.

God’s love is a gift that is always there. The question is how welcome do we make the bearer of that love in our lives. In Jesus we see the power of humble love. His love is not overpowering, constricting, or confining. It is His love that not only shows us the power of divine love, but once we accept His love we are changed. Every week becomes a Holy Week, every day becomes a Holy Day. That does not mean we spend all our waking hours in prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading. It means we are so filled with gratitude and hope that we become bearers of that love to one another, we become life-giving members of the Church, the Body of Christ in this world.

As we celebrate Palm Sunday today, it is good to think about how we welcome Jesus into our lives. How often do we thank those who love us and allow us to love them? It is not just our words and gestures, but our whole mental attitude. Welcoming Jesus is not something I have to take time for, but an opportunity to be renewed, refreshed, and energized by the apex of love, God’s love.

On Holy Thursday we will celebrate the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion as Jesus took the bread and wine at the Last Supper and changed them into His Body and Blood, His very self. In telling His apostles to do this in memory of Him, He instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the Sacrament of priesthood. Here we see the vision of Jesus extends far beyond the bounds of the room where the Last Supper was celebrated to all human beings who will walk the face of earth until the end of time. What a precious gift the Sacrament of Holy Communion is because that is exactly what it is, a Holy Communion, a Holy Meeting, a Holy Encounter with Jesus.

On Good Friday we are invited to look beyond the error of human ignorance and closed minds of those who rejected and crucified God Himself to the love of Jesus that refused to be extinguished or vanquished. How good God is. How good Good Friday is. How good every day is when we are energized and inspired by this love.

On Holy Saturday we will welcome new members into our parish family through the Sacrament of Baptism and feed eleven more with the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation. This is a Holy Night illuminated by the power of God’s love seen in the Resurrection of Jesus. Our Risen Lord proclaims He is stronger than sin and death and invites us to walk the path to the fullness of life with Him every day of our lives.

Easter is about the life-giving power of God’s love that fills us with hope every day and every breath of our lives.

I encourage you to take part in our Holy Week celebrations in our church building or online. “My house is your house” are God’s words to us. How wonderful it is when we say in return, “My house is your house.” Even more, how blessed we are when we say with joy, gratitude, and humility, “My heart is your heart!

I offer Psalm 122 for your prayerful reflection.

I rejoiced when I heard them say:
Let us go to God's house.
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built as a city
strongly compact.
It is there that the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord.

For Israel's law it is,
there to praise the Lord's name.
There were set the thrones of judgment
of the house of David.

For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
"Peace be to your homes!
May peace reign in your walls!
In your palaces, peace!”

For love of my brethren and friends
I say: Peace upon you.
For love of the house of the Lord
I will ask for your good.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. Amen.

Psalm Prayer: When you rose from the dead, Lord Jesus, you formed the Church into your new body, and made of it the new Jerusalem, united in your Spirit. Give us peace in our day. Make all nations come to your Church to share in the gifts in fellowship, that they may render you thanks without end and come to your eternal city.