The drama of Holy Week begins today as we reflect on the Passion according to St. Luke. Our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah proclaims, “The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” The question we can ask ourselves is: In what areas of my life am I ‘weary’? Is it at home? Is it at work? Is it in our prayer life? Let us implore the Holy Spirit to lead our hearts and minds to the words of today’s Gospel that will rouse us from weariness.
There is a moment that I find particularly meaningful that is only found in the Gospel of St. Luke. It is the dialogue between Jesus and the two condemned men crucified with him on both sides. They are both not named, however tradition refers to the repentant criminal as Dismas and the unrepentant criminal as Gestas. The fact that they are not named invites us to consider, how are we like these men? In what areas of my life am I like Gestas? In what areas of my life am I like Dismas? We refer to Dismas as St. Dismas because Jesus promises him that he will be with Jesus in heaven. This is remarkable because by Dismas’ own admission, he says that he deserves to be crucified for his crimes. However, his true repentance is reflected in his prayer of abandonment, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus responds, “Amen, I say to you, this day you will be with me in Paradise.” St. Dismas can also represent all of humanity. We all face the certainty of dying someday. Jesus can therefore be seen as speaking to all who trust in him his pledge of salvation and eternal life.
Looking back to Isaiah’s promise of a word that can lift us from spiritual weariness, it is helpful to spend some time reflecting on the examples of Gestas and St. Dismas. How can we avoid closing our hearts like Gestas in favor of opening our hearts like St. Dismas? When are the times in life that you feel like you are carrying a heavy cross? When are the times in life that you feel crucified, perhaps even justifiably? When are the times in life when you feel weary?
During Holy Week, we are invited to feel and experience God’s mercy in our lives. When we find ourselves crucified in life, we encounter a God, who far from abandoning us, wants to be crucified right next to us. This week we encounter a God who wants to be crucified for us, in our place for the sake of our salvation. Let us make this week Holy by allowing the mercy of God to touch our hearts.
Accept the challenge to make this Holy Week a Retreat Experience for you and your family. Spend these first few days meditating on the mercy of God clearly shown in St. Luke’s account of the Passion. Open your heart to our Savior by attending the Tenebrae Service on Wednesday at 7:00 PM, prayerfully participate in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday at 7:00 PM, the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday at 3:00 PM, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday at 8:00 PM or the Mass of the Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday morning. Let us make this week Holy by opening our hearts to God’s mercy and sharing his love with everyone we encounter.
May God love and bless you!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, IHM