During Holy Week, we see Jesus' love for us played out before our very eyes. The final days of Jesus' life show us most clearly how deeply He loves us.
Jesus gave Himself totally out of love for us, till His very last breath. The Gospel puts this beautifully: "Having loved His own who were in the world, he loved them till the end" (John 13:1). Jesus was the grain of wheat that came down to earth to die and bring about the harvest of eternal life. His wounds won our salvation. Pope Francis often speaks of how Jesus saves us by showing the Father His wounds in heaven, to set us free and give us life. "By his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
How can we respond to a love that is so deep? Here are two basic movements that we can put into practice:
1) Our first response is to simply receive Jesus' love for us. Letting His love reach deeper and deeper into our hearts and our lives. Letting Jesus heal us, forgive us, save us, free us. Opening ourselves to Him. Receiving Jesus' personal love for us, we can love Him in return. We can spend some time with Him, speaking to Him as a friend. Simply saying "Thank you." Offering Him our day. Entrusting our loved ones, our needs, and our worries to Him. Giving ourselves to Him each day. We can see Him wash our feet at the Last Supper, sit with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, walk with Him on the way to the Cross, and visit His tomb early on Easter morning. We can put ourselves into the scenes of the Gospel, see how He acts, and listen to His words as if we were there in person. We can hear His voice telling us, "Come, follow me", "Trust in me", "I am with you", "I love you", "Love one another as I have loved you".
2) Next, receiving Jesus' love leads us out of ourselves. The love Jesus gives us transforms our relationships with others. Jesus sends us to go and love Him in return in all the people in our lives. We love Him in them and especially in those who are most in need. For the suffering of Jesus is not limited to those hours of agony that He spent on the Cross. Jesus' wounds continue in our world today in all those who suffer.
And so this Holy Week, let us ask ourselves: Who do I know who is struggling or hurting at this time? What wounds do I see in my family members and friends? What can I do to bring healing and reconciliation? How can I be a peacemaker? Who can I forgive or ask for forgiveness?
Beyond the hurts of the people we know, there are many wounds that can remain invisible to us. People in our neighbourhood who are isolated, alone, homebound. What can we do to check up on them, asking if they need anything or just showing them that we care?
There are many wounds in our society that we can easily overlook. The silent violence caused by abortion and euthanasia, happening in hospitals and clinics across our cities. Jesus suffers in those who die in these inhuman ways. What can we do in response? We can support homes for mothers in need like Our Lady of Guadalupe Home in Windsor, Ontario, and the devoted work of the Sisters of Life. We can promote palliative care and mental health, volunteering our time, donating, or raising awareness. We can cherish people in our lives who are elderly, disabled, or struggling with mental illness. We can pray that people see the value and dignity of life at every stage, no matter how fragile. We can contact our elected representatives at all levels of government, asking them to advocate for and invest in care for those who are vulnerable.
The wounds of Jesus stretch across our world. Let us open ourselves to Jesus to receive the healing love He offers us. Next, let us open ourselves to others so that His healing love can pass through us to them. As Jesus' wounds continue in our midst today, so too does the power of His love. He wants to heal the entire family of humanity, and He wants our help to do it, day by day.
Julian would be happy to hear from you, with any questions, insights, or suggestions you may have regarding this blog series. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julian Paparella is a theology student at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Rome. Born and raised in London, Ontario, he has worked in pastoral ministry in Montreal and Paris, especially with young people. Julian strives to communicate our faith in a way that resonates with everyday life, helping people to better experience God today. He is married to Marion.