Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
March 28, 2021
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We enter today into this Holy Week, and in the Gospel passage that we just heard, we relive the last days and final hours of our Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly life.
The Gospel is written so that we become “witnesses.” We become part of the story.
So, today we go with our Lord up to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. We have a seat at the table as he celebrates his last supper, and we witness the drama of his betrayal.
We try to keep watch with him in the garden, and we are there when the mob comes to arrest him. We witness the mockery of his trial, the cruelty of the soldiers, the falling away of his closest disciples.
And finally, we walk alongside our Lord, with Mary our Blessed Mother, as he carries his cross and is crucified.
So as we begin this Holy Week, let’s ask for the grace to enter into these mysteries in a deep and personal way. Let us truly accompany Jesus and Mary our Blessed Mother on this final journey.
As we walk this path with Jesus and Mary, we remember that everything that happens in these final moments of our Lord’s earthly life — happens according to God’s plan of salvation.
And we know the “end of the story.” Our Gospel today ends with our Lord suffering and dying on the cross, feeling abandoned and alone. Everything appears to be lost — but it’s not! And we know that. The victory is already won. God wins in the end!
St. Paul tells us today in the second reading: “Christ Jesus … humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him.”
Year after year, we remember the passion and death of our Lord. But always we know that Good Friday leads to Easter Sunday. The way of the cross leads to the Resurrection. Our God is the God of the living, not of the dead. Jesus dies in order to rise.
The lesson for us again in this Holy Week, is to have trust in God’s mercy, in his providence. God’s plans for us are all for love, for life, for our happiness and joy.
Of course, we are celebrating Holy Week again this year, in the midst of a pandemic. The grip of this deadly disease is loosening. Still we labor under the cloud of infection and uncertainty.
My brothers and sisters, whatever crosses we carry in our lives, whatever hardships we face, we need to know that Jesus is walking with us.
We need to know that he goes with us in our sufferings, that the crosses we carry are a part of his cross. We are carrying his cross with him, like Simon, the Cyrenian, today in the Gospel.
Knowing this does not take away the pain or the fear, it does not spare us the disappointments and losses in our lives. But it tells us that our pain is not the last word of the story. God will wipe away every tear. If we carry our cross with him, He will lead us to the resurrection.
As we accompany Jesus and Mary throughout Holy Week, they are showing us the meaning of love.
Love means self-surrender. Love means handing over your whole self, everything you expect out of life, everything you want and have, all your actions and thoughts — putting it all in God’s hands, to do his will.
In his humanity, Jesus had a choice to make. We heard his anguished prayer to the Father in the Gospel today. “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.”
This is what love looks like. Not what I will, but what God wills. This is the love we are called to, my dear brothers and sisters.
Holy Week makes us “witnesses” of our Lord’s love for us.
Let us ask for the grace this week, to testify to the love we have witnessed. Let us open our hearts to one another, as he has opened his heart for us.
As we accompany Jesus and Mary on their final earthly journey together this week, let us say to God, as they did: “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”
May Mary our Blessed Mother go with us this week, as we carry our cross with her Son, that we might join him in his resurrection.