Holy Week: The Tears of God
In this beautiful homily for 5th Sunday of Lent, Year A, Father Hanly looks at Holy Week and helps us understand the tears of God.
Readings for Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A
- First Reading: Ezekiel 37:12-14
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
- Second Reading: Romans 8:8-11
- Gospel: John 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45
Today is the 5th and final Sunday of Lent. Next Sunday we begin the Season of Holy Week. A proper title for this would be “Holy Week: The Tears of God”.
I remember Jerusalem in the Spring of 1997, and I am in a grocery store, doing some last-minute shopping before Yon Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. I pick up an advertising handout lying on the counter. Tucked away on the bottom of the last page, I read the words of a Rabbi who is calling his people back to God.
His words: “As the shadow of Yom Kippur nears, I fear that the Jewish people are in deep trouble. The source of my fear is this: God is crying and we are not there to wipe away his tears.”
For me to find such a profound thought here among the cabbages and turnips, touches my heart and I ask: “Why is God crying?”
The answer? He weeps over the pain and suffering of the world, and nobody seems to care.
How could I have forgotten this? Is not our own Holy Week an invitation to us all not just to share in God’s glory, but also to shoulder God’s pain?
Holy Week: Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday the streets of Jerusalem are filled with excited crowds waving palm branches, welcoming the Messiah with triumphant shouts: “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Few notice that the king rides on a poor man’s beast of burden, the lowly donkey, and he rides to the place of his humiliation and final rejection on Calvary. The cries of triumph will soon change to shouts of “Crucify him!” and God, who knows the future, looks down and weeps for His only begotten Son.
Holy Week: Holy Thursday
“The Last Supper.” “You shall never wash my feet!” Peter is angry and ashamed that his Lord would kneel before him with water basin and towel in hand, like a common slave.
Jesus replies: “Peter, if I do not wash your feet, you can have nothing to do with me.”
The lesson is clear: God himself washes feet, and until the disciple learns that it is only in humble service to others, that we are able to touch God’s love, especially in serving the world’s poorest and most needy.
Yes! God feels their pain and shares their tears and asks us to do the same. It is in solidarity with just such as these that “the sacred bread is broken and the wine is poured out,” and Jesus commands his disciples to “do this in memory of me.”
Holy Week: Good Friday
Holy Friday is the cross, symbol of humiliation and death. It now becomes the manifestation of God’s great love for all mankind. Mysterium fidei. The Mystery of Faith: God puts his faith in us, and we put our faith in Him.
We can only look on in wonder and open both hands to accept the gift of his love with grateful hearts … God’s gesture of his concern for us all.
Do you think he is deaf to the cries of anguish that rise up from our broken world? The divine Lover not only hears our cries but he comes also to share our pain. Locked in his embrace we are healed and saved.
And finally, Easter Sunday
“He is risen!” Love conquers all, even death.
Easter is the explosion of God’s love into a world that is not quite ready to receive it. But God is ready, and we are ready. “The fields all around us are ripe for the harvest.” And so we continue his work of love in this world until that day when our work is done and Christ brings us home to our Father’s house, where “it is written” “every tear will be wiped away,” even the tears of God.