Holy week is on us once again. The beginning of this week is always one of those bitter sweet moments. You are excited for lent to be over, excited for the promise of Easter, but you also know that before you can get there you have to get past good Friday. You have to live through the Holy Thursday, the Passion and death of Jesus to get there. Over the last few years, that has gotten harder and harder for me.
A few years ago I attended an Ash Wednesday at a Parish that was not my own. It was one of those, well I need to go so I will go at this Church down the Street during lunch. For me it really was one of those, get in do what I need to do and get out type of moments. That was until I heard the priest’s Homily. I don’t remember his name, I don’t even remember what he looked like, but I remember one thing he said. And I am going to paraphrase here because it has been 6/7/8 years now.
I don’t understand when I look out over the congregation during holy week and there is not one person in the crowd weeping. How can you hear these things, and not be sad. This should be about one of your best friends, about a horrible death that they endured. Sure you know the ending. You know that He rises from the dead, but right now, This week, He is suffering, and will be put to death before the week is out. If that does not make you sad…
That has stuck with me, and I guess it is me getting older, but every year going through Holy week gets harder. And I think that is as it should be.
Having said that, yesterday was Palm Sunday, and I always look forward to the Homily.
This year we went to Mass at Our Lady of Mercy. Not our normal Parish but a good one and one that has a Sunday Evening Mass that works out really well when I or one of the older boys has to work over the weekend, which my eldest son did this weekend. The kids were all being relatively well behaved, I was actually sitting next to my wife, (more on that later this week) and I was really kind of excited that I would be able to sit still and listen to a homily.
Here is where we get to the title of the post. I learned something this weekend. Apparently a couple of times during the year the priest gets a choice, to either give a homily or just have silence. I have never been to a Mass where a priest chose the silence. Well last night he did.
I will admit, at first I was disappointed. Well in truth, at first I was nervous. The littlest one was sleeping on the pew, her next older brother, as also mostly asleep, but the next one up was pretending to sleep and mostly bothering his order brothers. During a moment of silence is not the time to have one of the kids start giggling, or one of the little ones really wake so I grabbed the one who was awake and held him on my lap to keep him quiet and this mostly work. But then I was back to being kind of disappointed. I had really been looking forward to hearing something really good. Instead, I felt like the priest had kind of wimped out.
However, as I sat there, holding my son in my lap, glad that this was keeping him quiet, a thought occurred me. This is the thing that I had been working on. This is the thing that I have been struggling with. Sitting quietly and listening for what God wants to tell me. I mean I don’t think that I am going to hear the word of God in any special message or anything, but just listening, hearing what He has said to me thought out the day. And if you can sit quietly and just think about the Gospel reading for a few minutes a just listen to Gods words replaying in your head, that might be the best Homily of all. Better yet, this Gospel reading, the Passion. Understanding the pain and suffering that is about to happen it our Lord. Spending time reflecting on that…
So that was the Homily and that did and didn’t happen. The priest did say one thing before he asked us to be silent, “Reflect on the idea that when Jesus was in the garden praying, He was really suffering. Why? Because the evil one with with Him, and showing Him a century when we are so self centered that most of us will completely miss what is happening this week.” That was one of those things that you know, but don’t really know and it was a great point to focus on.
So, while I was a little disappointed that there was not a spoken Homily. It was a pretty great way to start holy week. And if you are like me and really look forward to a great Homily and feel like you still really want one you can always listen to Father Robert Barron who did do a wonderful Homily this weekend.