Jesus’ joyous entrance into Jerusalem on that long-ago Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, which we celebrated a few days ago. Now are we in the middle of the days preceding Christ’s crucifixion and subsequent resurrection on Easter Sunday. It’s amazing how the events of one week have had a colossal impact on history and on our lives to this very day.
Like the weeks of Lent, Holy Week is a time for earnest reflection about the ultimate sacrifice that was made by Christ to save us from our sins. The magnitude of that sacrifice is enormous—the life of Jesus traded for our own. But it needn’t be a one-way sacrifice.
As Catholics, we’re commanded to imitate that glorious gift on behalf of others, as written in Ephesians 5:1-2: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Again in Hebrews 13:16 we read about sacrifice: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Holy Week is a fitting time to think about what we can do in our own lives to act as Jesus did: sacrifice something for the sake of others. In Christ’s case, it was his life and precious blood. In our case, it might be something small, such as giving up an afternoon at home to help an elderly neighbor. Or it might be something big, such as forgoing buying a new car so you can put money in the kids’ college savings account.
Whatever the sacrifice, large or small, what truly matters is the spirit in which it was made. As the words of 2 Corinthians 9:7 say, the Lord wants us to give with a joyful spirit: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Our hearts should be filled with the loving spirit of Christ so that we may love one another as he loved us.
As you reflect on the meaning of Holy Week and take in the power of the resurrection, remember that we are called by Christ to sacrifice ourselves for the good of our neighbors, especially the poor. As Jesus gave himself up for you, let us give of ourselves on behalf of others. To learn about how you can help the poorest of the poor in Christ’s name through Cross International Catholic Outreach, click here.