From St. Patrick’s to Mary Queen of the World
This Saturday, many young people in our diocese will celebrate Palm Sunday and the Lord’s Passion in a unique way. First, they will gather at the Catholic Chinese Mission for a series of activities; then they will embark on a mini-pilgrimage through the streets of Montreal, making their way to St. Patrick’s Basilica, and from there, to Mary Queen of the World Cathedral.
They will process with palm leaves, which will be blessed and distributed at St. Patrick’s. Along the way, they will probably think about the men, women and children who cheered Jesus as he made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem many years ago. These people thought that Jesus had been sent by God to liberate them from Roman authority.
The young people from our diocese will do more that relive that historical event. They will also, and primarily, be thinking of Christ in whom they believe and love. As they walk, they will remember that after having suffered his Passion and passed through death, Jesus was raised by his Father, thus becoming the “the first to rise from the dead… the firstborn of a multitude of brothers” (Rom 8:29).
They will participate in a victory march, proclaiming the victory of life over death, of love over hatred, of forgiveness stronger than any offence. The procession will mark the coming of a new world, established by Jesus: a world destined to spread throughout the Earth and, despite the unpredictability and upheavals of human history, a world built upon justice, respect for others, compassion, mercy and fraternity, liberty, sharing and mutual support.
As they observe the celebration of Palm/Passion Sunday, these young people will also mark the annual World Youth Day. In doing so, they will be united in heart and spirit with young adults everywhere who, each year, celebrate WYD. This year, they will reflect upon the virtue of hope, inspired by a biblical passage to which Pope Benedict XVI referred: “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17).
This question had been put to Jesus by an upright, rich young man, who was dissatisfied with his life. Jesus answered him: “You lack one thing: go, sell whatsoever you have and give it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven: and come, follow me” (Mk 10:21). The young man was unable to give up his wealth and he “went away sad”.
The message is clear. Give freely of what you own, with the greatest possible generosity, rather than seek to grasp everything you can; that is the essence of a fulfilled, meaningful life. Seen in the light of Palm/Passion Sunday, this message can be formulated thus: What makes life beautiful and rich is to offer it for others.
This is what Jesus did. As the greatest sign of love, he gave of himself freely, even unto death on a cross. His disciples are invited to do the same.
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Holy Week brings to mind the places where Jesus lived and died. To maintain the upkeep of these holy sites and to continue the various initiatives of Christian communities in the Holy Land, the Good Friday collection is designated for this purpose. One need not be reminded to be generous so as to ensure a Christian presence in these memory-rich sites.
† Jean-Claude Turcotte
Archbishop of Montréal