We are about to begin Holy Week, the time that the Church offers us to intensify our communion with the Lord Jesus, through contemplation and the celebration of his paschal mystery. The purpose is none other than to form Christ in us (cf. Galatians 4:19), inserting us into the fruitful dynamism of his life given for love. Saint Vincent did not refer to anything else, when exhorting his Missionaries:
I beg Our Lord, Monsieur, that we may be able to die to ourselves in order to rise with Him, that He may be the joy of your heart, the end and soul of your actions, and your glory in heaven. This will come to pass if, from now on, we humble ourselves as He humbled Himself, if we renounce our own satisfaction to follow Him by carrying our little crosses, and if we give our lives willingly, as He gave His, for our neighbor whom He loves so much and whom He wants us to love as ourselves (CCD III, 616).
Next, we present brief summaries of the spiritual meaning of each day of Holy Week, so that we can experience it enlightened by the Word of God, nourished by the Liturgy, and inspired by Vincentian spirituality. The ripe fruit that we hope to harvest is that of a growing conformity with Jesus Christ evangelizer of the poor, who invites us to awaken dawns of resurrection in the midst of the nights of history.
We begin Holy Week. With branches in our hands, we acclaim “the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” humble, stripped, serene, determined to give his life for love, in a gesture of sovereign freedom (cf. Luke 19:28-40). This is why Jesus remains silent before his accusers: his defense is his own fidelity, the integrity of his life, the coherence between his words and actions. The Father knows and sustains him. From Jesus, Messiah-Servant, we learn that there is nothing more important than an upright conscience and a generous heart, because life only grows and matures as it is given. With good reason, therefore, Vincent de Paul will say, “The more we are like Our Lord, stripped of everything, the more we will share in His Spirit” (CCD VIII, 175).
MONDAY OF HOLY WEEK
Near Jerusalem, feeling the weight of persecution, Jesus of Nazareth makes a stop in Bethany, warmly welcomed by friends (John 12:1-11). They do not seem to fear danger. They have learned to be free like the Master, free to love and serve. The silent and bold gesture of Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, reminds Jesus of the anointing received from the Father and comforts him with the balm and fragrance of a sincere and pure love. A different feeling moves Judas, in search of himself, covertly oriented toward his own interests. The Son of God continues his course. The seed thrown will not be lost, because life given in the freedom of love never fails to bear fruit. The Father will know what to do. It is Saint Vincent’s desire for his people: that we become true friends of Christ. “I ask O[ur] L[ord] to be the life of our life and the only aspiration of our hearts” (CCD VI, 576). Only in this way will we be authentic missionaries.
Vinícius Augusto Teixeira, C.M