In Your House I Shall Celebrate The Passover
Holy Week is like a world-wide retreat. The sacred celebrations walk us step by step through the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry: his saving Passion, Death and glorious Resurrection.
It used to be easier to participate in these Holy Week liturgies, when many businesses and schools would close down on Good Friday, and a great silence seemed to fall on the world. But now, the pace of daily life doesn’t let up, and we can easily forget that these holy observances are even taking place.
At the heart of Holy Week is a celebration that is often overlooked, but that breaks out from this solemn season and spills over into the whole year, even for those who cannot seem to step aside from the daily grind.
The Chrism Mass – traditionally celebrated the morning of Holy Thursday, but often celebrated on Tuesday of Holy Week out of convenience – recalls the institution of the priesthood at the Last Supper, and spills over into the other sacraments. At this Mass, the Bishop consecrates the holy oils that will be used throughout his diocese in the coming year: the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick and Sacred Chrism. These holy oils bless and sanctify the whole of our daily life.
Catechumens, answering Christ’s call to follow him in the Christian faith, are blessed with oil to give them strength and protection along the long and challenging journey. Jesus said, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). These catechumens fulfill Jesus’ words in a striking way. As Jesus is lifted up on Good Friday, his saving grace draws these men and women to discover in him the fountain of eternal life.
All our illnesses and infirmities are united to the saving Passion of Jesus through the Anointing of the Sick. St. Paul wrote that “I make up in my flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, the Church” (Colossians 1:24). The Oil of the Sick brings consolation and communion with Christ to those who seem cut off by sickness and frailty. His saving Passion is extended throughout the year in our sufferings, and even our sufferings are caught up in his redeeming love.
Sacred Chrism anoints the newly baptized, is conferred in the Sacrament of Confirmation and Holy Orders. It is a sign of being set apart for God, being united and conformed to Christ in specific ways, and given his strength and power for particular service in the Church and in the world.
When Jesus prepared to celebrate the Last Supper, he sent his disciples to prepare the place. He instructed them to find a certain person and say, “In your house, I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples” (Matthew 26:18). You and I are that certain person. Jesus desires to celebrate in our lives and in our homes the saving sacrifice of his love. Through the sacraments, he unites us to himself, and we discover that he is truly united to us. Even if you cannot make the Holy Week celebrations this year, let the Lord enter your home and your heart daily, throughout the entire year. Let him make your life a pleasing sacrifice along with him, to honor and glory of God, a pleasing sacrifice for the salvation of the world.