MANY precious insights and lessons can be derived if we enter into the spirit of the Holy Week. Let us thank God for all of them and strengthen our resolve to go through the Holy Week keeping our faith and piety as vibrant as possible. That way, we can predispose ourselves to continually discern these insights and lessons, refining, polishing and deepening them as we go along.
Among these precious insights and lessons is the idea of human and Christian perfection which, I believe, is patently shown by Christ as we liturgically celebrate his Passion, Death and Resurrection.
For many of us, our usual understanding of what is perfect and complete is when we manage to pass a certain test, conquer a
certain battle, win in a certain contest, all measured in human terms.
That is to say, that the victory and conquest is measured in terms of points scored, wealth earned, popularity gained, or in terms of mere physical and mechanical perfection.
Those standards of perfection and completion obviously have their proper value and place in the sun, but they definitely are still far from what is ideal to us as persons and as children of God.
They are far too exclusive, not inclusive, and are unable to find value in suffering, and reason and meaning in the many human imperfections and natural limitations that we all have.
It’s an understanding of perfection that is not realistic, given our wounded human nature and damaged condition. It fails to consider many other things that are unavoidable in our earthly life.
In this Holy Week, from Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, to his death on the cross and resurrection, what we see is Christ’s determination to perfect and complete his redemptive work by obeying the will of his Father, no matter what it costs.
Our idea of human and Christian perfection has to conform to that model shown to us by Christ. It can be very strict and demanding insofar as the human and natural standards are concerned, but all of that should not in any way undermine the charity and mercy that has to be extended to everyone no matter how they are.
We have to realize that our human and Christian perfection is achieved to the extent that we follow Christ all the way to the cross so that we too can share in his resurrection. It is a perfection that will always involve suffering, that is, the cross of Christ that paved the way to his resurrection.
What the Holy Week teaches us is to train ourselves to suffer with Christ, to take up the cross of Christ without fear. We should be reassured of the victory that can be the consequence of this attitude, banking also on the reassurance that was once expressed by St. Paul:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor 10,13)