Holy Week
Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) B

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

With the dust settling in its wake, the serpentine line of people wound its way around the town, bobbing up and down as the devotees knelt and rose at every station of the cross. This is my memory of Holy Weeks past, when the word “holy” meant something. Even the little children knew that there was something different about the days of the Paschal Triduum. Parents cautioned them to be more quiet and not play around so much. Business slowed down even at the ever-busy market stalls, as the people observed the holy days. The procession around the town was so long during Good Friday that the tail end was just leaving when the head of the procession arrived at the doors of the church – and our town was not that small.

Action starter: How can you make this week holy for yourself and your family?

I am describing Semana Santa four decades ago when roads were dusty and cars were few. Those were the days when the liturgical activities in the church did not have to compete with karaoke bars, vcd movies, and television games. Those were halcyon days when even the gamblers left the mahjong tables in order to join the religious procession. Those were the days when people were more conscious of what was holy.

When the Bible speaks about what is holy, it refers to what is consecrated. It means that a place, a person, a thing, a time, or an event is made separate for God’s purpose. It is God who makes space, time, objects, and people holy. All things derive their holiness from God, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 19:2). Whether it be in terms of ceremonial holiness (worship) or ethical holiness (righteousness), what is holy is deemed to be dedicated to God. A holy nation, or a holy people is that which abides with the laws of God. On the other hand, an unholy people disobeys God.

When we enter the Holy Week, we enter a holy time. It is not like any other time. It is a time dedicated to the affairs of God. It is a time to examine our own relationship with God. It is a time to ask ourselves whether God is at the center of our lives and whether we love God with all our hearts, our minds, and our strength. It is also a time to see whether we are in right relationship with people, according to God’s plan and commands. It is a time to examine whether our lives are pleasing to God.

In our country, some will spend the holy week as if it were not holy at all. For some. the long holiday is a time to go to the beach or go to some resort and live it up. On the other hand, some devotees who recognize the holiness of this week, will see this time as propitious for finding amulets or talismans, or concocting various herbs for healing and protection, or visiting secret caves and nooks to gain special powers.

In order for us celebrate the Holy Week in its authentic sense, let us be reminded that this week is made holy by the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. All our various devotions and spiritual exercises this week should strengthen in us the resolve to follow the way of Jesus, including the way of the Cross. It was by the Holy Cross that He has redeemed the world.