Traditionally during Holy Week, we focus on the sufferings of Jesus. However, it is not suffering, not even the suffering of Jesus, that makes this week holy. Rather, it is holy because of the inexplicable and immeasurable love that prompted that suffering. Genuine love empowers, even transforms us. We know that love of family can engender unselfishness, and love of country can inspire heroism. This week we see that, driven by love for all, Jesus willingly accepted the consequences of his messianic role.
This week is holy because of love, but it is love misunderstood. Jesus is a hero, but not in the traditional pattern of heroism. He actually looks more like a victim. He is not triumphant, as we understand triumph. Instead, he appears to be a failure. Judging by one set of standards, standards not unlike those of many people of his day, he has not met our expectations either. But according to another standard, the standard of unconditional love, he has far surpassed all of our expectations.
Parents, lovers, patriots, committed people of every kind often disregard their own desires and comfort for the sake of those they love. Are they heroes? Of course they are! Are they failures? Certainly not! Have they frustrated our expectations? Quite the contrary. Human sacrifice like this gives us an insight into the meaning of the sacrifice of Jesus. The love that prompts us to give of ourselves is but a reflection of the magnanimous love of God which, in the guise of suffering and death, unfolds before us this week.
The conditions of our world may make us feel that this is a terrible week, not a holy one. However, we can change this, if only in some small way. We will make it holy if we can begin to realize the depth of God's magnanimous love. We will make it holy if we can bring unconditional love into the lives of those around us. We will make it holy if we live according to the paradoxical standards of Jesus who, though publicly disgraced, is still our hero.
-- Diane Bergant, CSA